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Sleeper #2300

Sleeper #2300

In the late 1980s, three prototype cars of an entirely new design were built by Budd for Amtrak. Dubbed the Viewliners, they featured a unique stainless steel carbody with two rows of large windows. Two sleeping cars and one dining car were delivered, and quickly began to mingle with the standard Heritage cars on long-distance routes. The design was considered a success, and although no more diners were ordered, 50 sleepers were eventually built by Amerail and are now found on many long-haul trains.

For several years, Walthers has offered a model of the production Viewliner sleepers. I had long planned to paint one in Phase III as one of the two prototypes, #2300 and #2301, but this project was finally jump-started when I prepared the artwork for making the distinctive "Viewliner" logos that these cars sported.

Starting with an undecorated model, I made several detailing changes to make the car correctly represent prototype #2300. First I used some .010"x.020" styrene strip to add the rib between the rows of windows, which was missing from the Walthers car. Next I fabricated two angled gussets for each end, embossing rivets as needed on their triangular cover plates. These gussets resemble those used on Amfleet cars. I added grab irons where appropriate, and also installed the included stirrups. I added some tiny strips of .005" styrene to the vents in the middle of the sides to divide them into sections like the prototypes, and carefully relocated the small car-indicator screens near the vestibule doors by chiseling them off and cementing them back down in the proper location. Finally, I used a scriber and a needle file to carve a dividing seam on the vestibule doors to represent the separate Dutch-style doors.

The underbody of the Walthers model is not exactly correct for the prototype sleepers, but is close enough that I decided it would pass. However, one important aspect of the prototype is that it rode on trucks of a Japanese design for experimental purposes. No models of these appear to be available, so until I have a chance to scratchbuild a master part and cast copies in resin, my car still rides on the standard GSI trucks. In the meantime, I did add the bolted-on plates above the triangular shock absorbers, which I had left over from a set of Superliner II trucks made by Train Station Products.

When the model was finished, I airbrushed it with a gray primer to check for defects. Next I sprayed on a 'wet' coat of Floquil Old Silver to give it a shine simulating stainless steel. Meanwhile, the underbody received a 'dry' coat of Old Silver to prepare it for weathering. I dusted on some Roof Brown and Weathered Black to give it a dirty appearance, then went back over it with a light spray of Old Silver to maintain the metallic appearance. I made sure to spray the sides of the equipment boxes that are visible, since these remained silver on the prototype. When the paint was dry, I applied Microscale decal stripes, then added my custom Viewliner logos and car numbers. I sealed everything with a coat of Micro Satin, which maintains the shine of the silver.

Before reassembling the car, I blackened the edges of the window inserts with a permanent marker to simulate the rubber gaskets. I also painted the raised edge of the diaphragms with silver. To improve operation, I removed the steel diaphragm springs from inside the car, replacing them with styrene. Finally I added Kadee couplers and reassembled the car. It's now ready to join my Heritage cars as an early-1990s sign of the future!

Click photos to enlarge
Side view of sleeper #2300 on the NEB&W club layout at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 9/24/05
Opposite side view of the sleeper. 9/24/05
Another view, showing some of the detail added to the end. 9/24/05