As I began to paint and update the plain cream colored interiors of my K-Line Union Pacific Passenger cars, I found the 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.  This Sun Valley upgrade was going to be a challenge because K-Line picked an Observation Lounge car that 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 color interior photos of the Sun Valley 1575 (aka LA-901) or its sister car Nob Hill from the "City of San Francisco" car number 1576 (aka SF-901).   

So, to research the furniture, details and colors inside this car I turned to the 592 page book "The Union Pacific Streamliners".   Even though the all the photos in the book were in black and white.  It gives many build details, plan views and includes some manufacturing images of the cars when delivered in new condition to the Union Pacific.   

In the Streamliner book I found out this K-Line semi-scale reproduction interior didn't match the actual Pullman built interior of the Union Pacific's 1575 Sun Valley car.  It looked like the K-Line 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 existing K-line interior from the shell and separating the benches and tables from the plastic base.  Although the K-Line bench seats and tables were in the wrong locations; they were perfect size and will be reinstalled as close as I can to the real UP floor plans.  

To make the 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 due to the clearance for cars power wires and end cap.  I elevated the basswood floor on wooden strips to gain clearance above the existing power and ground wires from the trucks.  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 ft Union Pacific 1575 Observation car.  As with my other builds this meant the 83 ft UP 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. 

In the black and white photo below you can see the soda fountain/bar end of the Sun Valley car in 1937.  The car had very dark carpet (brown weave according to Streamliner book), 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. 

In the next 1937 photo they turned the camera to show the Observation end of the car with lots of comfortable lounge chairs (same bench seats and tables as shown above) 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.  Sure, 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    

Even though I never found an interior color photo of the Sun Valley in books or online, posted this Union Pacific advertisement that gave me a description of the colors I needed to make my Observation car replica come at close as possible to the real thing.  Below this image it says "City of Los Angeles" Steamliner Observation-Lounge.  This 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.


Score!  With this information I was able to paint my lounge chairs, benches, tables and full interior to match the original colors of the Union Pacific 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 .  If I ever get back into my Observation Lounge again I may upgrade to this detailed Soda Fountain Set from Delta Models.



The final touches before I reassembled the car was wiring 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 all the interior upgrades in this series click on the links below:


Photos (14)
Original Post

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.

Thanks Hancock52,

That stock K-Line interior should be a great fit for anyone upgrading a Southern Pacific Daylight/Cascade passenger train from 1950 to about 1959.  The book “Classic American Streamliners” even shows a full color photo of the Cascade Club lounge.


Photos (1)

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.



Photos (13)

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.

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