One of the exciting highlights to Union Pacific's 1955 Domeliner fleet update was their ten new 8000 series dome diners. Union Pacific did something no other railroad had done at that time, they created a dining section in the dome area so passengers could eat under the stars. I wanted to recreate the same 1955 feel in my semi-scale K-Line K4690-38003 dining car but found there was so many color photos from the 1955 Domeliner launch it was difficult to find my exact 8003 cars interior. Union Pacific made five 8000 series dome diners to run daily on their "City of Los Angeles" trains (dining cars 8000 ~ 8004) and another five for the “City of Portland” of trains (dining cars 8005~8009). It seems Union Pacific had a different color schemes for each dining car.
In the Union Pacific 1955 PR departments photos below you can see one of the 8000 series dome diners with white walls and green drapes and another dome diner with green walls and white drapes.
And then there's the furniture inside the dome diners... was the 8003 dome diner from the "City of Los Angeles" fleet delivered with white chairs and pink tablecloths? Or pink chairs with white tablecloths?
So, to research the exact colors, furniture and details to upgrade the interior of my "City of Los Angeles" 8003 dome diner I again turned to the 592 page book "The Union Pacific Streamliners". It gives build details, plan views and includes manufacturing images of the cars when delivered in new condition to the Union Pacific. One of the fun facts in this book was how important it was for the Union Pacific staff to always provide flower vases with fresh red & white carnations on each of the tables. As with my other K-Line Union Pacific passenger cars the Streamliner book showed my reproduction K-Line semi-scale interior didn't match the actual interior of Union Pacific's 8000 series dining car. UP wanted to make the passengers feel they were dining in a fine restaurant. So, UP ordered these dome cars with round dining tables downstairs. The downstairs area had seating for 4 people on one side of the car and 2 people on the other side instead of the traditional square/rectangle tables. Not only did my K-Line interior have full size rectangle tables downstairs, K-Line did not even try to model the tables in the upstairs dome area. K-Line only put coach seats in the upstairs dome dining area.
I started by removing the K-Line shell and cutting off the old downstairs plastic dining section just after the kitchen. Then separating the downstairs benches and tables from the old plastic base. At this point I could have turned around the existing kitchen area to match the Union Pacific plans but if I did that, my viewers would only see a blank hallway wall through the outside window. Since a shiny kitchen is more interesting for my viewers to look at I painted it silver, added some figures, other small kitchen details and left it attached to the metal K-Line frame in its original location.
The tables and bench seats K-Line provided in the downstairs dining area were incorrect per the UP plans but were perfect for reinstalling in the new dome dining area upstairs. To make the new floor for the downstairs dining area I used a thin sheet of 1/16” x 3” x 24” basswood. Then cut it to the same width as metal K-Line base. The end opposite of the kitchen was cut slightly shorter due to the clearance for 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 85 ft Union Pacific 8003 Dome Diner. As with my other interior upgrades this meant the 85 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 downstairs tables 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 arrange and glue your 3 round tables (the large tables were 5/8” dowel cut 1/16" thick with bandsaw the other tables were slightly smaller) on each side to match your window spacing. You can then you can figure out how much space you have left to put up the interior bulkheads, walls and curved staircase based on the UP plans.
To find the correct colors for my K-Line passenger car interior I contacted the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay Wisconsin. Why them? Because Union Pacific donated the actual 8003 dome diner to this museum in November 1971 when it was retired from service. And the 8003 is still there today as a beautiful example of an unaltered and completely original 1955 interior. The museum was incredible helpful on this project and I really enjoyed talking to there staff. As it turns out each dome diner in the UP’s 8000 series had a unique mural hand painted on the bulkhead wall next to the curved staircase. Once I knew this, I could easily identify the 8003 downstairs dining area in any book or online photo (see the mural below with two trees in front of a distant mountain and yellow sky).
With this information from the museum I was able to paint the round dining chairs (I found these 1/50th scale chairs on eBay) and round tables to match the original colors of the Union Pacific dome diner from 1955. In the next photo you can see the K-Line 8003 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, I recommend trimming the bottoms on your figures to make them fit in the seats better. The silver plates and flower vases were from Michaels Hobby Store. If you zoom into the photos below, you will notice the fresh red & white carnations are on the tables just like UP wanted.
In the next photo you can see the repurposed bench seats and tables now located in the upper dome dining area. You will have to remove the old floor from the dome area by cutting it off from the outside. Once the old floor is removed you can attach a new floor using some of the 1/16” x 3” x 24” basswood and then glue the repurposed bench seats and tables in place. Note: per the UP plans one side of the dome dining area seats 4 people and the other side only seats 2 people. I cut some of the extra bench seats and tables from the old downstairs area in-half to get the new seating arrangement.
The Gold Room on the "City of Los Angeles" train with its white seats and Hollywood & Disneyland themed wallpaper sits in the center of the car below the upper dome dining area. It was a reservation only dining room and called the Gold Room because the tableware was gold plated. To make this room, I had to give the viewer the illusion it sat even lower than the rest of the car. So, I trimmed the bench seats and tables almost to the floor. This way it gives the view in from the outside window the look I needed.
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 their UP 8003 Dome Diner.
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: