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Cab Car #9646

Cab Car #9646

In the late 1960s, the Penn Central ordered a fleet of all-new streamlined multiple-unit electrics from Budd. Dubbed the Metroliners, these cars featured a distinctive round cross-section but were plagued by mechanical and electrical problems. When Amtrak was formed in 1971, it tried for a number of years to make use of this fleet, but finally gave up and put them in storage. However, a few were rebuilt into unpowered cab cars for use in push-pull service with the Amfleet cars - which were actually derived from the basic Metroliner design. There were two main versions: the East Coast type and the West Coast type.

The East Coast cab cars, mostly numbered in the 9640-series, are not too different from the original Metroliners, aside from the obvious front-end changes. Some are still in service on trains that must perform complicated switching moves or reverse directions. However, the West Coast cars, mostly in the 9630-series, have Amfleet II-style side doors, with the larger windows. They were used primarily for San Diegan service, but have been replaced by the California Fleet bilevels.

This model was made following the prototype's example, starting from an old long-out-of-production Bachmann Metroliner. I cut out the cab front door and replaced it with one from a standard Walthers Amfleet car, enlarging the door window in the process. I did the same on the rear end, simply as a matter of preference: the diaphragms I used fit better on the wider Walthers door. I made a new floor from styrene, adding bolsters and coupler mounts from the Walthers car, and detailed it with Train Station Products trucks, some underbody components from the Walthers Amfleet, and a few scratchbuilt parts. I added numerous details to the body, especially on the front end. Polly Scale Stainless Steel paint gave the model the proper appearance for an Amtrak car, and Reefer Yellow and Engine Black were used to do the warning stripes on the front. The underbody got a base coat of black, then some touch-up with Grimy Black. Microscale's Amfleet Phase 3 decals and Kadee's knuckle couplers completed the model.

More information about the construction of this model will be available at a later date. I have written a detailed article explaining this kitbash, and I may decide to post it here for viewing. Thanks are due to my friends Matt Liverani and Matt Tjaden for inspiring me to do this project, helping to get me started on it, and offering comments and tips along the way.

Click photos to enlarge
A 3/4 view of my kitbashed model of Amtrak Cab Car no. 9646. On the front end is one of Kadee's #58 scale-size couplers. 5/4/02
The right side of the 9646. With the exception of the three cab windows, all of the glazing is tinted. 5/4/02
Left-side views of the completed cab car and stock Metroliner. 5/5/02
Right-side views of the completed cab car and stock Metroliner. 5/5/02
The inside of the shell, showing the custom-built circuit board and its screw-on clamp. Note the shards of the original window glazing, which could not be completely removed. 5/5/02
A view from above. Roof detail includes an air horn, strobes with mounting bracket, and a radio antenna. Also note the former pantograph and insulator mounts to the rear. 5/4/02
The underbody details. Along one side we have an A/C unit, air tank, two sets of transformers, and some brake controls. On the other side are the battery boxes and another A/C unit. 5/5/02
Comparison photo of the front end of the cab car next to a stock Metroliner model. Note the many modifications and added details. 5/4/02
Comparison of the rear ends, showing the removed details and replacement door. The stirrup steps were missing from the cab car when this photo was taken. 5/4/02