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Coach #4631

Coach #4631

In the midst of the mighty streamliner era, the Union Pacific was amassing a large fleet of 44-seat chair cars, known as "leg-rest coaches" for their comfortable seats with plenty of legroom. The cars were also famous for having spacious restrooms with smoking lounges. While most of these cars were of the typical smooth-side construction, having been built by Pullman, ACF and St. Louis Car Co., one small group was built by Budd and featured slab side panels instead of the usual fluting to better blend in with the other coaches. Their window pattern was also the same as the other cars, which represents the only time that one standard design was followed so closely by the various car builders. The cars rode on UP's unique 41-CUDO outside-swinghanger trucks, which differed very slightly from the more common 41-CDO.

Along with one group of the St. Louis-built cars, the Budd coaches were inherited by Amtrak and rebuilt for head-end power as part of the Heritage program. They normally served on long-distance trains along with similar coaches from the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe before being displaced by newer Amfleet II coaches. Since they were no longer needed, most were rebuilt into 1700-series express baggage cars and are still distinguishable by their smooth side panels. One car survives as a luxury charter coach, having been refurbished by a private agency.

Modeling the Pullman, ACF and St. Louis versions of the UP chair cars is much easier thanks to a ready-to-run model from Rivarossi and kits from Brass Car Sides and American Model Builders. For the Budd version, however, I had to nearly start from scratch. I used the roof, ends and vestibule from an old Rivarossi corrugated-side coach, and made completely new sides from styrene. To locate and cut out the window openings, I used a computer-drawn template, then built up the surface details using styrene strips. I also reworked much of the original molded detail to better match the detailing on the Walthers Budd cars. The underbody is also scratchbuilt from styrene, with the equipment patterned after the Walthers castings, and the car rides on 41-CUDO trucks from Train Station Products. The diaphragms, also a distinctive UP style, are from American Limited Models.

Though the prototype cars were built from stainless steel, Amtrak painted them with Platinum Mist as was their custom for smooth-side cars. Over time, this weathered to a dull gray color and in many cases began to peel off. I represented this by painting the car with Polly Scale's Flat Aluminum and later weathering it with Dullcote and dustings of black and brown. To achieve a more accurate color, however, I would recommend Floquil Platinum Mist as a base coat. The decals are from Microscale, with custom-printed car type and numbers.

Click photos to enlarge
Side view of the car outside State Line Tunnel on the New England Berkshire & Western club layout at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 12/3/04
Different angle of the car at the same location. 12/3/04
The 4631 is shown passing fall foliage outside of Proctor, VT on the club layout. 12/3/04
Overhead view of the car near Saratoga Springs, NY. 12/3/04