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Sleeper #2448

Sleeper #2448

The 10-roomette, 6-double-bedroom sleeping car was at one time ubiquitous on the long- distance trains run by many railroads. Different versions of this basic car type were built by Budd, Pullman and ACF in the late 1940s and early 1950s. When Amtrak inherited these cars in 1971, they eventually chose to keep only certain groups of Budd-built sleepers.

A number of 10-6 cars had come from the Southern Pacific, and among their distinctive features were large side nameplates that once sported Daylight logos. They also rode on a unique style of trucks that was only found on Southern Pacific cars. After the cars were converted for head-end power by Amtrak's shops in Beech Grove, IL they were appropriately christened with Grove-series names that represented types of trees. All of these cars have now been retired from Amtrak service, but a few were leased by VIA Rail in Canada and still run to this day.

Walthers sells an excellent model of the 10-6 sleepers inherited from the Union Pacific, but a few changes are needed to match the styling of the SP cars. First of all, I used round and triangular needle files to carefully carve off the molded nameplates and restore the correct fluting contour. This was very delicate work, since any imperfections would be highlighted once the car was painted. At the same time, I also removed the molded bolt heads for the horizontal grab irons toward the rear of the car, since they would be replaced by a single vertical grab. After sanding the fluting smooth, I cut new nameplates from .005" styrene and attached them with a non-solvent cement to prevent warpage.

The next major change is more subtle but really adds a lot to the car. One of the unique features of the UP 10-6 sleepers was their unusually tall letterboard above the windows, so I needed to add more fluting at the top of the car sides to get a standard-height letterboard. After trying to decide how best to do this, it turned out that by clamping a straightedge to the car side, I could scribe new fluting with a sharp X-acto knife. It may seem unlikely, but the act of scribing raises a bead that is very close in size to the existing molded-on fluting! I added two extra flutes to get the right appearance, making sure to align them straight and parallel. Finally, I added strips of styrene across the bottom of the step traps and later filed them to the proper radius, since SP cars had much taller step traps than most other railroads' cars.

When decorating this car, I tried to match it as closely to a factory-painted Walthers 10-6 that I already had. It might have actually been possible to start with a prepainted car and mask the window strips before touching up the silver. I found that Floquil Old Silver, airbrushed close to the model and at high pressure, is a very close match to the color and luster of the Walthers factory paint. After it dried, I applied stripes from Microscale's 87-426 set, then added Amtrak logos from 87-424. The car numbers and names are custom decals that I printed in the correct typeface to match the lettering Walthers uses. I sealed the decals with Dullcote to kill the unrealistic shine.

I modeled the distinctive SP-style trucks using the 41-N kit available from Train Station Products, though they now sell the 41-ND style without clasp brakes. I trimmed and reshaped the outer ends of the sideframes following photographs and my scale drawings, then added a thin styrene flange across the bottom to represent a cast I-beam drop equalizer bar. I also glued styrene spacers inside the trucks to let them mount to the Walthers bolsters. The underbody equipment on this car still needs to be rearranged to match the prototypes, since some appliances were located differently than on UP cars.

Click photos to enlarge
Sleeper #2448 Oak Grove rolls along North Creek on the NEB&W club layout at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 4/26/05
The car passes by the steep rock faces near Willsboro bay on the layout. 4/26/05
Side view of the car at the same location. 4/26/05