Here's a how-to guide for anyone that wants to make a 4-4-2 Pullman sleeping car:
This project started after I finished the interiors of my other K-Line Pullman cars. I really wanted a Union Pacific sleeping car in my fleet with a different style window arrangement. And there’s not a lot of options available for people in the 3-rail, unpainted, semi-scale, 18” aluminum shell only market. Searching around the older posts in this OGR-Forum I got an idea to create a sleeping car from a 1990’s era Phoenix Railways 18” aluminum shell that I found on eBay
First, here’s the how-to on making an interior that correctly fits a Phoenix shell
For this build I recommend getting a frame with trucks already mounted from a used 18” aluminum K-Line streamline passenger car. Used semi-scale K-Line car like this can be found at train swap meets or eBay for around $40. On your 18" K-Line donor car start by removing the 2 black screws on each end that hold on the end caps. Pull each end cap away from the shell and unplug the wires going to the overhead lights. Slide the black metal frame with stock K-Line interior out of the K-Line shell. Next, remove the small screws that hold the old plastic floor onto black metal frame. Once the old plastic interior is gone, tack down 1/16" wooden strips with CA glue. Important note: The Phoenix Railways shell needs to be elevated 2mm using styrene spacers. Glue the spacers on each corner of the frame as shown below.
Follow the arrows below to find the four really good reasons why you need raise it 2mm.
- It makes your new Phoenix shell match the same roof height as your existing K-Line passenger cars.
- 2mm's allows clearance for the incoming power wires under your new 17 ½ x 2 ¼” x 1/32" basswood floor.
- Allows your new 1/32" thick basswood floor to slide perfectly into the side slots of the Phoenix shell.
4. Finally, the most important reason for the spacers is they allow clearance for the trucks to turn freely under the Phoenix shell. The K-Line frame with trucks centered very nice under the 18" Phoenix shell. Only one set of the trucks needed 1/8” of filing on its top inside corners to make it around my layouts tight 42” curves.
I could have stopped right here and had a really nice silver passenger car for my layout. It ran good and looked good but I wanted this car to match the rest of my Union Pacific cars so I kept going. Tack down your basswood floor with CA glue to the wooden strips then reinstall the factory screws from the bottom. Leave some room up front for a Hennings 21000 Passenger Car LED lighting kit's LED circuit board in the hallway between next to the bathroom. Keep the plans close by on a printed sheet of 11" x 17" paper. For this build I decided to mark the where the rooms are located on the basswood floor and then move the windows in the aluminum shell as needed.
Yep, this is a different approach than my other sleeping car builds were I would normally shrink or stretch rooms to match the shells window openings. This time around I was going to build the correctly sized rooms and move the windows in the aluminum Phoenix shell to match. Glue the walls in place. I'll attach my patterns at the end of the post for both the full and half size walls that fit inside this Phoenix shell. They are ready to print on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper.
Paint the floor, paint the walls and add mirrors in the rooms. After the walls were dry I added chairs, a toilet and sink from ScaleCityDesign. 15x K-Line bench seats part# K4400-009-02 were ordered from Brasseur Electric Trains at .50 cents each. These bench seats are very nice but not long enough to be used as full convertible sofas in the rooms. Not a problem, because with a little bit of modification you can extend these to the length of the room. To make a sofa, use 1-1/2 bench seats per room. This can be done by cutting one bench seat in half and attaching it to another full size seat. This 22 passenger, 4-4-2 series sleeping car has rooms marked A ~ J and some of the rooms can be made into a en suite by opening the partition door between rooms.
I like to include unique details from the plans inside each new interior. That way, no two passenger cars are the same. I know a lot of these details below can’t be seen looking in through the tiny outside windows but I had fun including them in this sleeping car. The figures in this build are from K-Line, Arttista, Phoenix Scale Miniatures and Scale City Design. The upper berths inside the four compartments are currently folded up and stored until this evening when the tired passengers can enjoy the warm blankets made by the North Star Woolen Mills in Minneapolis. On the "A" end of the car you will find the clean linen and soiled linen lockers.
On the "B" end or vestibule end of the car behind the common toilet-washroom the Pullman plans showed a closet for coats. To get the correct colors for the brown carpet, tan walls and different furniture I found photos posted online of the existing Union Pacific 4-4-2 sleepers in museums.
On this corner behind the folding seat for the sleeping car attendant is the water cooler and extra storage space for passenger's luggage. Putting door outlines and door handles in the main corridor gives my guests something to look at on this side of the sleeping car. The normal direction of travel for the Union Pacific's City of Los Angeles sleeping cars was vestibule forward.
On the plans this corner had an electrical locker. Note: online photos showed these 1941 sleeping cars did not have the stainless steel wall/kick plate down the main corridor to prevent luggage from scuffing the tan interior walls.
This passenger has her luggage ready for arrival and just put down the Sunday newspaper. Next door a passenger is smoking his cigar and reading a book next to his wrinkled jacket. Hats, coats, luggage, bags and other small items are from Preiser kit# 65811.
This dad is holding his sleeping baby while next door the passenger in pink is enjoying a cup of tea that was delivered to her room. In the center of this sleeping car is an empty compartment and empty drawing room.
This family in this drawing room has the partition door open to a connecting compartment. The father is sound asleep on the sofa after staying up all night with the toddler
This passenger is putting on her lipstick and next door a business man waits with his briefcase and hat while looking at scenery passing by the window.
Modifying and painting the Phoenix Railways aluminum shell
Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles train ran many different types of sleeping cars over the years. In 1937 Union Pacific’s 7th train ran articulated sleeping cars. By 1940 Union Pacific’s articulated sleeping cars were falling out of favor (due to maintenance issues with these cars) and 19 new style sleeping cars were ordered. These sleeping cars were ordered for the City of Los Angeles 7th and 9th trains and the City of San Francisco 8th and 10th trains. The 19 new Pullman Standard cars started to arrive in July 1941 and all had the same 4 bedrooms, 4 compartments and 2 drawing room sleeping arrangements.
There’s only so much information I can get out of black and white photos in books. To make the outside of this shell correctly I wanted to visit a real 4-4-2 sleeping car and take some detailed photos. According to an internet search only two Union Pacific 4-4-2 sleeping cars are left in existence and the Millbrae Train Museum near South San Francisco had one of them. The sky was gray and overcast the morning I arrived.
The museum’s empty parking lot allowed for unobstructed views of their Pullman 4-4-2 sleeper named Civic Center. This allowed me to get good detailed exterior photos of both sides that morning. Pullman Standard delivered the Civic Center in September 1941 to the Union Pacific and it ran on the famous City of San Francisco train.
Now that I had detailed photos I could start the modifications to the empty aluminum shell I found on eBay. First was to add the upper and lower full length moldings out of 1mm half round styrene strips. Then, shorten the 5 windows in the middle of the Phoenix shell using flat 2.0mm styrene (same for both sides of the car). Blank off the extra window on the end. Next spray everything with Tamiya gray primer. After applying primer to the outside of your shell, look for any imperfections from the blanked off window sections. If you find any, sand down or fill the imperfection and primer step again. Repeat this process until the area is smooth. Since I'm working with an 18” semi scale shell it did not have enough room to include the double window openings in the middle drawing rooms.
This is only my second time using an air brush and I remembered the important lesson from the last time I tried to use it. This time I went out and purchased air brush ready paint. The paint used was Tru-Color Amour Yellow #TCP-026 and Harbor Mist Gray #TCP-025. First apply the Amour Yellow paint with the air brush, once dried tape off and apply the Harbor Mist gray to the roof and skirts. Then, spray with Krylon glossy (2 coats). After that step apply the decals. The final step was to spray with Krylon flat (2 coats). In 1941 Union Pacific’s premier City fleets used Amour Yellow, Harbor Mist Gray and red lettering w/red stripes as the paint scheme. The full length anodized aluminum molding above and below the window were standard on all these 1941 sleepers (this molding was painted Amour yellow in later years). Early paint schemes the 4-4-2 sleepers used the Cities full name in the upper-center section of the car. Then in the 1950’s the trucks were painted silver and the City name was removed to show only Pullman in the center so the cars could be swap around the different routes to meet demand. I picked the later paint-lettering scheme with the Pullman name in the center so this car would better match my K-Line passenger cars.
Side view of the Phoenix shell's modifications to better match a 4-4-2 sleeper (same modifications done on both sides).
Other exterior details were added to the shell at this time like clear windows, inside hand rail and outside side steps. The diaphragm was part# 48-225 and roof vents were from ScaleCityDesign. The end caps were Lionel part numbers # 2532-041 and 2532-042 from Brasseur Electric Trains. Union Pacific provided each of the 4 upper berths with 2 small windows so passengers could look outside during the night while in bed. A Cricut machine was used to create a sticker for the look of window openings with silver frames and black for the glass. Microscale decal sheet #48-114 was used for the red stripes. Microscale sheet #48-195 was used for the large Pullman name and smaller Union Pacific decals. Following the advice of other forum members I used Micro Set under the decals and Micro Sol over the top of the decals and covered everything with clear flat coats of Krylon.
The names of these 4-4-2 sleeping cars built in 1941 were for well-known locations/streets at the destination cities in California. The sleeping car names below with * asterisks in front have been saved in museums.
7th CoLA train Cabrillo, Figueroa and Arcadia.
9th CoLA train Los Feliz, San Gabriel, Olvera and Playa Del Ray.
(Extra sleepers to meet seasonal demand were Palos Verdes and Verdugo).
8th CoSF train Chinatown, Cliff house, Twin Peaks and Yerba Buena.
10th CoSF train *Civic Center, *Hunters Point, North Beach and Sutro Heights.
(Extra sleepers to meet seasonal demand were Angel Island and Lakeside).
For this build I picked the 4-4-2 sleeping car named Figueroa because it ran together with The Little Nugget lounge and Sun Valley observation cars on the CoLA 7th train. The O-Gauge Figueroa decal can be found on the Champ Decal set P-30. The Figueroa sleeping car had accumulated a lot of miles when it was finally retired by the Union Pacific in 1961. It must have very been worn out after 20 years because the Union Pacific sold it to a scrap yard for recycling.
I liked the quality of the 18" Phoenix Railways aluminum shell and would recommend them to anyone who wants to build an extra sleeping car for their consist. Thank you to all the OGR forum members for the positive feedback on these builds over the last year. And thank you for following this series.
To look at the other builds in this series click on the links below. They are listed in the order I run them on my layout: