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As I began to paint and update the cream colored interiors of my K-Line Union Pacific Passenger cars, I found the other non-updated interiors of my "City of Los Angeles" fleet matched less and less.  Especially the K4690-31575 Sun Valley Observation Lounge car at the end of the train.  The Sun Valley upgrade was a challenge because this car was made in 1937 and replace in UP service by the 9000 series Flat End Observation dome cars in 1955.  As a result, I couldn't find any interior color photos of the Sun Valley #1575 (aka LA-901) or its sister car Nob Hill #1576 (aka SF-901) from the "City of San Francisco".   

To research the furniture and details inside this car I turned to the 592 page book "The Union Pacific Streamliners".   Even though the photos in the book are in black and white it gives plan views, building details and manufacturing images of the car when delivered to the Union Pacific.   Also, after reading the Streamliner book I found out my K-Line  interior didn't match the real interior of Union Pacific's 1575 Sun Valley.

It looked like K-Line's interior with the half-round bar in the center is a much closer match to Southern Pacific’s Daylight Lounge car called "Cascade Club".

I started by removing the old plastic K-line interior from the shell and separating the benches and tables from the base.  Although the K-Line bench seats and tables were in the wrong locations; they were perfect size and will be reinstalled later.  To make a new floor I used a thin sheet of 1/16” x 3” x 24” basswood.  Then cut it to the same size as metal K-Line base with the rounded curve on one side. The barbershop end of the basswood floor was cut slightly shorter to allow clearance for vestibule doors/end cap.

Elevated the basswood floor on wooden strips to gain clearance above the existing power and ground wires from the trucks.  Next, the new floor then got mounted on top of the metal K-line base using the same exact screw locations that held the plastic interior. The trick is to line up your wooden strips with the factory screw hole locations.   

In 1999 K-line made this 18" long semi-scale compressed version of the real 83 foot Union Pacific 1575 Observation car.   As with my other builds this meant the Union Pacific plans did not line up with the semi-scale K-Line windows.  The most important part of this build is to position the tables, benches and chairs so the passengers can see out the windows like in real life.  Start with marking your exact window locations with a pencil on your new basswood floor (using the shell as reference).  Then starting at the back of the car arrange and glue your lounge chairs, benches and tables to match your window spacing.  You can then you can figure out how much space you have left to start putting up the soda fountain/bar and barbershop walls based on the UP plans.

Black and white photos on pages 188 and 190 of the Streamliner book black showed the soda fountain/bar end of the Sun Valley car in 1937.  I read the car had brown weave carpet, art Deco Lamps, bench seats and two different color lounge chairs.   Apparently riding in a new lightweight aluminum car was all the rage back in the late 1930’s and Union Pacific made sure to put shiny aluminum trim on all the walls, benches, lamps and furniture inside this car.  On page 189 other photos from the Streamliner book had images of the observation end of the car with lots of comfortable lounge chairs and ashtrays.

If you have never done a passenger car interior upgrade before I would recommend this to be your first.  The reason is almost everything can be store bought.  The bench seats and tables were reused but the lounge chairs, ashtrays, barbers chair, chairs for writing desks, soda bottles and 1930 art deco style lamps were all from ScaleCityDesigns.

Even though I did not find any interior color photos of the Sun Valley in books or online, posted a original Union Pacific advertisement that gave the descriptions I needed to make my observation car match as close as possible to the real thing.  The advertisement image said "City of Los Angeles" Streamliner Observation-Lounge car resembles a finely appointed living room.  Walls are light blue.  Draperies are effective in tan, blue and rust.  Venetian blinds match tan seat coverage and carpets.  With this information I was able to paint the lounge chairs, benches, tables and full interior to match the original colors of the Sun Valley observation car from 1937.  In the photo below you can see the Sun Valley shell next to the UP plans (printed on 11x17 paper) and my new full color interior.

To help with the mid century look some figures were from a Preiser pack (part# 65602).  Other figures were Arttista from the Train Shack in Burbank and the rest were the K-Line figures that originally came with this car.  Since most the Preiser and Arttista figures are about 1/45th scale and the floors are higher than normal, you will need to trim the feet off.  Also, you may need to trim the bottoms on your figures to make them fit in the seats better.  If you don't feel like creating the Soda Fountain/Bar area from scratch I would suggest the complete 1/48 scale Soda Fountain Kit with all freezers and countertops (part DM-505) from

Before reassembling the car I wired in a 3mm cool white LED for the Union Pacific Overland Drum Head, 2x 3mm red LED's for the side marker lights and another white bulb for the rear backup light.  I was able to grab power for the new LED's from the existing wires in the ceiling.

I will attach the original UP plans for this car at the end of the post.  I hope this write-up with plans helps others who want to upgrade there UP 1575 Observation Lounge car.


*** Edit***

To look at the other interior builds in this series click on the links below. They are listed in the order I run them on my layout:


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  • Union Pacific Sun Valley 1575 plans
Last edited by T.Albers
Original Post

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That’s another very fine job of research and modeling the prototype.

Later on and in case the comparison might be useful I’ll post pictures of my own different approach to creating an observation car interior based on the same basic K-Line assembly your car has. First, as general points:

1. It’s interesting that you have found the basic similarity between the K-Line interior and the “Cascade” prototype. K-Line and then Lionel used that interior assembly in innumerable boat-tail observation cars in just about all the railroad liveries they produced - in Lionel’s case until the 21” ABS cars started to be made. My research did not disclose the source of the K-Line design  but then I have not worked on UP cars before.

2.  What it did disclose was that the interior colors and furniture arrangement of cars of this kind changed often over their service life. You’ll also find that with dome and dining cars.

Thanks for posting this very interesting series.

This is probably a lesson in how NOT to create a prototypical observation car interior but it was the approach I took using much of the same raw material you had. That includes the K-Line interior assembly although this one was actually used in a Lionel car based on K-Line tooling, which is part of the 6-31755 MKT Texas Special set (21" aluminum body cars). 

Here is the original assembly after I started work on it, mainly trying to fill the innumerable holes in the floor that are typical of K-Line's assemblies:

Original_Interior copy

As you will see below, eventually I gave up trying to smooth out the floor and put a "carpet" over it instead.

The car itself was a beauty of a streamliner; few pictures survive and this is the only one in color I have found:

MKT Texas Special Obs

The stock interior is in fact nothing like the arrangement in the prototype, which was a 2-1 bedroom/buffet/lounge. To start with I only found this sketch plan but later on tracked down the blueprints:

MKT_Obs_PLAN copy

The detailed plans come from Randall & Anderson's Official Pullman-Standard Library, vol. 15 on the Western Railroads. Here's the lounge seating area as designed:

Plan 1A copy

As you will note, there is no half-circle bar in this arrangement. I thought seriously about modeling the interior as built but I found very few photo records of it and I decided that (a) I wanted to keep the bar and (2) modeling the original would be too time-consuming. (I was dead wrong about the latter.) The interior images were either very grainy or were, I eventually surmised, probably of the Frisco observation car and not the MKT:

MKT_Obs_INTERIOR copyTexasSp_Obs_Panels copy

So this is where the whole scheme I built turned into a fantasy, starting with the bar but eventually including everything else and especially the passengers:


Tail_Starboard copy

The Tiffany lamps shown above are LED-illuminated. They are in the smoking section of the car; the other two sections are (a) drinking and (b) stud poker/art appreciation (I told you it's a fantasy scheme). I'm particularly fond of the party passengers shown below; I swear that I tried gluing the blonde in an upright posture and she tipped over and set in the posture you see (the goldfish bowl came later so she'd have something to ponder):

VeraB_1 copy

Here is the completed rebuild and the car on the rails, which given the lighting features I added glows away like a Christmas tree when powered up:

Final copyDSC00453 copy

I also LED-illuminated the drumhead, marker lights and the tail light. From the blueprints it emerged that the tail light was in fact a red Mars light and I added a simulator module to duplicate that.

Incidentally, the "Cascade" car you have a cutaway drawing of appears to have been typical of a number of Southern Pacific tavern and lounge cars. I have thought about modeling this one, which is the Shasta Daylight "Timberline" car:

LARGE_Shasta_Daylight_Timberline_Tavern copy

I think that the Cascade was part of a 3-car articulated set. Some years ago Golden Gate Depot made a version of one of the single tavern/lounge cars which I have and as you can see below the area where the bar is does not have windows:


The interior is otherwise prototypical in terms of seating but the area where the bar would be is just blanked off and it would be difficult to see the bar if I tried putting one in. Unlike GGD cars, K-Line and Lionel did not go in for prototypical window placements but I don't mind that.



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Hi Hancock52, great modeling on that observation car!  You have added lots of details to look at and that’s what’s going to make the interior more enjoyable to look at as it goes around the layout.

Also, where are you finding all those scale items for the tables? Last time you told me search for 1/48 dollhouse stuff on eBay but in this Observation car you have a wine list menu on the bar, martini glasses filled with alcohol, liquor bottles and playing cards.  Dang... I’m just not finding those 1/48th items on eBay.



T.Albers posted:

Also, where are you finding all those scale items for the tables? Last time you told me search for 1/48 dollhouse stuff on eBay but in this Observation car you have a wine list menu on the bar, martini glasses filled with alcohol, liquor bottles and playing cards.  Dang... I’m just not finding those 1/48th items on eBay.

Regarding the wine menu and similar table items shown in the pictures (mostly other menus, napkins and other linens used in the cars), these I made myself from images available on the web, which I printed at high DPI and slightly above scale size with an inkjet photo printer and glued them in place. Original items of this kind from MKT and Frisco (especially the latter) have been preserved and there are lots of images of them online. The same goes for UP; take a look at this page from Streamliner Memories for examples:

The filled Martini glasses came from a truly very  talented miniaturist (Janet of DesertMinis) who has now retired from online retailing. I bought up a quantity of her quarter scale food and drink items for two dining car projects. However she said she'd be willing to make further cocktail items on an ad hoc basis; if you are interested in some of these shoot an email to the address in my profile and I'll see what I can do. (You can find the glasses themselves at the two sources linked below; the real art is in making a miniature drink out of them.)

The liquor/wine bottles and cards are the easiest to source. The bottles are 3D printed in clear plastic and only require a coat of glass paint on one side of them to look filled. Some also come with separate printed "labels" although it's a fiddly job to apply them. The best sources I found are at:

(1) This site is a little difficult to navigate but if you go to the “Quarter Scale Finished Items” page that’s where the playing cards are listed as items DAY-5 and DAY-6 and there are other glassware and related items in the same section; and

(2) another and more extensive quarter scale source with a vast catalog is at Go to their 1/48th scale section.

Last edited by Hancock52

Update 5/18/2021

It’s been 2 years since I made this Sun Valley interior out of basswood and times are changing.  A few weeks ago my son gave me a 3D printer for my birthday.  FYI:  I do not know the first thing about 3D printers or how to print things.  He said, “Go to the ThingyVerse website and print items for inside your O scale passenger cars”.  I searched that website and did not find anything I could add inside my 1930’s ~ 1950’s era passenger cars.  After explaining this problem to him, he said “Go to the TinkerCad website and create your own items”.  Hmmm, you mean I could just create any object I wanted for my streamline passenger car interiors and print it in 3D?  Okay, now we are talking.

I watched a few YouTube videos on TinkerCad.  Once I was ready to create, I looked at my different passenger car interiors and picked the Sun Valley Observation car to be redone.  The Sun Valley was picked for several reasons.

  • I did not like how my basswood Soda Fountain/Bar turned out. I built it with a square outside corner and it does not look like the original.
  • I did not like how my magazine end tables turned out. It was the best I could do at the time using basswood.
  • I never could not find the historically correct aluminum chairs to go at the two writing desks.
  • I did not like my bench seats with attached writing desks. They are rough and I don’t think they look like writing desks at all.

I was ready to create my first drawing using TinkerCad.  To use this program I just had to drag shapes onto the workplane and stretch/shrink them to create things.  There are lots of different shapes to choose from squares, circles, triangles, etc... You can even pick negative shapes to remove sections of your drawing.  After several hours, here’s my first TinkerCad drawing of a 1937 style magazine end table w/ lamp looked like after combining all the shapes together to be a single object.  After a few failed prints I learned the end table needed to be turned on its side so it will print correctly on the 3D printer.

thumbnail_image [2)

The end table looks large in the drawing but these items are really small.


Experimenting more with this new TinkerCad program, I printed the end table with a 3mm opening in the bottom for an LED.  My thought was to put illuminated lamps in this observation car.  It turned out the white plastic was too thick for the light to shine through so I bought a roll of clear PLA filament.


Nope, way too much light gets through the clear PLA.  Even after painting the end table I could not stop the bright light from bleeding through the end table.  But it’s fun to experiment and learn.


Pleased with my first drawing on TinkerCad, I looked at more old photos of the Sun Valley and decided to try and recreate the 1937 art deco radio that was in this observation car.  Again, after a few hours here’s my second drawing.  With this object I could 3D print it in the vertical position.

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I decided to print the AM radio in clear PLA filament.  Then paint everything a brown/wood color except the radio's glass channel selection area.  The end result should give my visitor the illusion you are looking into the radio to select an AM station.


Okay, I’m learning to make simple objects in TinkerCad and having fun.  I’m not fast at making these drawings, and I go through several failed versions but I’m learning.  Now it’s time to try and recreate the bench seats and writing desks in this observation car.  I used a lot more shapes in TinkerCad and this took a lot longer to draw.  Luckily I only needed to draw one set of bench seats below, then I mirrored the image and flipped it over in TinkerCad.  Again, I had to combining all the shapes together to be a single object then turn the drawing on its side so it would print correctly on my 3D printer.  Since I’m using a basswood floor that is elevated for the trucks power wires I had to make the bottoms of the benches shorter than in real life.  My favorite part of this miniature recreation is the small brass lamps on the writing desks.  They are the exact same lamps with built in pencil cups that are shown in the original photos inside the Sun Valley.

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Finally, it was time to tackle that Soda Fountain/Bar.  As a beginner it takes me a long time to draw these more complex items but I feel these 3D printed creations are turning out better than I could ever make using basswood and styrene.  The small sinks were made by dragging in a negative shape on TinkerCad.

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The area on the left is the Soda Fountain/Bar and on the right is the barber shop.


I wanted the outside of the Soda Fountain/Bar to match that classic 1937’s art deco look shown in the original black and white photos inside this car.  Those old photos it showed it had a rounded outside corner, two aluminum trim strips with wood grain paneling at the window level.  Here's the drawing:


Here's the printed version:


Here’s what it looks like with a little tan paint, wood-print paper and glued in place.


The three art deco aluminum trimmed chairs used inside this car had a difficult time printing.  I drew them several times and each time my 3D print failed.  In the end, I made the aluminum legs really thick to get the chair to print correctly.  It’s not really a problem, because nobody can see the chairs legs anyways with the passenger car shell in place.

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But what my visitors can see looking into the windows are those neat looking brass writing lamps on the two writing desks and the front of the Soda Fountain/Bar.


This was a fun first project with my new 3D printer.  In my opinion, 3D printers are a good tool for O Scale modelers.  I still have lots more to learn about drawing objects in TinkerCad so I can get good like the other members on this forum.  Also, I have to work on dialing in the settings on my 3D printer.  As an example, the lamps on my magazine end tables did not print as clean as I wanted.  So, I cut the lamps off and went back to using my original ScaleCityDesign metal lamps and glued them on top of the 3D printed end tables.  The next step in this project is to reinstall my original passengers and lounge chairs.



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Last edited by T.Albers

Greetings @T.Albers - and fantastic to see more of your work. The only thing I am going to try to add at this stage concerns 3D printing.

As noted further up this thread, in recent years I have used 3D printed "quarter scale" items in my passenger car interiors. Some are very fine examples of the miniaturists' art; some, particularly if very small,  are as rough as older white metal cast parts. I don't have a 3D printer and have always considered the learning curve too steep or at any rate too long. Based on your experience maybe that's not right - but for the time being I have found an alternative.

Recently I laid in a stock of 3D printed "quarter scale"or 1/48  parts sourced from makers other than Shapeways and have found that the printing of these very small scale parts seems to have moved on a long way just in a couple of years. They must be using a different filament now because the detail and finish are, in a word, staggering in their precision and realism. These are not train car interior parts but they do for my purposes.

You mention a passenger car magazine table with an illuminated lamp. I wanted to put a small table lamp in one compartment of my Lionel 21"/scale  "Lone Star" business car. I sourced it from a company called "Tru2Scale" who make diorama and dollhouse fittings.

When I came to the point of trying to put an LED inside it, I found that it had already been molded with the hole for the wire right through the minuscule lampshade support as well as the base. There is such a thing as a Z size LED (available from Evan Designs) that can be threaded up through the lamp and shade - or a larger size can be threaded from the top down if there isn't a resistor installed already.

This is a project in progress and I do not have many photos so far, but this one on the left shows the lamp in place and the second shot shows a bathroom with scale fittings 3D printed from yet another supplier called "LaserShrinkRay" (a British lady). These are tiny enough to challenge a macro lens so not everything is in focus, but note the 3Detail of handles. Most of these parts available pre-painted too, which saves effort and reduces the potential for mistakes - at least in my case.

Bear in mind also that I only produce facsimile/fantasy passenger car interior schemes. With this one I tried to stay close to the prototype, which I have seen, but in the end the advantage of using someone else's machine-made parts won out:



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Last edited by Hancock52

Great job on those rooms @Hancock52 !  That Z-scale light was the exact look I was going for the lamp in my build but I had a swing and miss on my lamp.

Its always good to see photos of your projects and see the fine details and sources you have found.   I didn't know about Z scale lights, LaserShrinkRay or Tru2Scale.  Besides all those great room details, the flooring in your Lone Star looks incredible.   

I have only scratched the surface of the TinkerCad program.   The learning curve was not that bad after watching a few videos.  You can use it for free to see if its something you like.   

I have been tempted to try 3D printing myself, for passenger car interior fittings, but don’t know enough about the machinery, let alone the software, to take the plunge.

The parquet flooring in the photos is also from Tru2Scale. It’s printed on some kind of fabric that does not fray easily when cut. It’s totally non-prototypical but provided some good contrast. The Z LEDs lighting from Evan Designs is a relatively new product. In person it looks like a bright light bulb; could probably have dimmed it down by a color wash over the face of the LED. Instead I had to put several brush coats on the lampshade to keep unevenness in them from showing through. Airbrushing would not have been so effective.

Here's just a couple of other images just to round off what I was saying about current standards of printing.

@T.Albers mentioned not getting chair legs to print properly, and I have had that too, and with other fine scale supporting parts, even with commercially supplied items.

Lately however it has not been so - these are two more items provided by Tru2Scale that are roughly similar to some fittings I know were in the real Lone Star car after it was refurbished some years back. The curve and really tiny proportions of the legs are rendered with incredible accuracy and the finish is totally smooth, but I don't know what filament was used in printing them:


The only problem is how to fix them in place if they are freestanding - glue on those feet isn't going to have much to adhere to!


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@Hancock52 posted:

Here's just a couple of other images just to round off what I was saying about current standards of printing.

@T.Albers mentioned not getting chair legs to print properly, and I have had that too, and with other fine scale supporting parts, even with commercially supplied items.

Lately however it has not been so - these are two more items provided by Tru2Scale that are roughly similar to some fittings I know were in the real Lone Star car after it was refurbished some years back. The curve and really tiny proportions of the legs are rendered with incredible accuracy and the finish is totally smooth, but I don't know what filament was used in printing them:

The only problem is how to fix them in place if they are freestanding - glue on those feet isn't going to have much to adhere to!

Yep, those are great and look like they were made on a resin 3D printer.  I hope you considering using super thin CA glue, if not the pad of glue is going to be bigger than the feet!  Resin printers have the advantage in O scale because they can print very fine objects like your tables.  The legs on those items are super delicate and would be difficult to make on a basic 3D printer.

Currently I'm working on making wine bottles and glasses for the Soda Fountain/Bar area of the Sun Valley.  Also, I wanted to test and see how small of an item I could reasonably create on this 3D printer.  Some of the tiny glasses turned out good and some didn't.

wine and water glasses


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A couple of months have passed and I still have this observation lounge car on my work bench.  While searching the forum I have found pictures of fellow members installing pull down shades and venation blinds in their passenger car windows.  As long as this car was apart, I thought I'd give it a try.

My research turned up this observation car used tan venation blinds in the passenger lounge area and most likely silver pull down shades in the crew areas.  eBay had an old set (circa 1957) of Walters O-scales tan blinds and I clicked buy now.

walthers blinds

walthers blinds package

After installing the silver pull down shades in the crew areas I trimmed the old water transfer decals and applied them to my car.  The 1957 water transfer decals worked great.


At this point, it seemed like a good time to update the cars incandescent overhead lights to LED.  I purchased a Hennings 21000 Passenger Car LED lighting kit and mounted the circuit board in cars front hallway.  Realizing there wasn't any other place to hide the circuit board, I just pulled down the tan venation blinds in the front of the car.


The LED lighting worked so good... I had to install more details inside the lounge car.  Namely, the walls and curtains were too plain.   According to historical data this car needed blue walls, a tan ceiling and brown weave carpet.  The curtains were a striped pattern and the colors were done in tan, rust and blue.  Based on old photos, here's the best curtain pattern I could recreate.  The reason my pattern is extra long, was so I could cut the exact lengths needed to fit in-between the windows.

tan rust blue drapes

And here's what the new curtains look like installed next to the blue walls and tan venetian blinds.


This is a semi scale car and a basswood floor was used during construction.  Therefore, I needed to lower the height of the chairs so my passengers would not be sitting above the windows.  This was done be removing the legs off the bottom of the chairs.   In this car most my passengers are 1/45 scale and there feet and bottoms needed to be trimmed so their heads would be about the middle of the cars windows.  Here's an inside view from the back of the car looking forward towards the bar.


I'm ready to put this lounge car back on the shelf and move on to the next project.



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Last edited by T.Albers

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