Passenger car conversions

In building my Passenger car fleet, I have hit a few snags that I have had to work around. Some not so bad some real head scratchers. When I first got into large scale I bought 9 Aristo streamline passenger cars. They were a miss matched bunch of road names as I rework everything I buy before it hits the rails.

  Not knowing any better I first took two diners and cut off both of them just past the kitchen door and proceeded to make an articulated chair car. Proud as I was with my accomplishment I toted it to the ECLSTS to show to Lewis Polk to see if there were any way to just get a few unmolested blank bodies so I could make the cars I wanted. As I said to begin with I just didn't know this was a no no. Uncle Lewy proceeded to tell me that his aluminum passenger cars could not be modified or altered without a full machine shop. I didn't even show him the articulated car I had produced with a Zona saw and some drill bits and files.

   Any way I failed to let Uncle Lewy deter me and have produced my own set of passenger cars. What I am starting with here is a coach I am turning into a baggage car. Coaches are in abundance where baggage cars are harder to come by.

I will be blanking out most of the windows and cutting out two baggage doors at one end. Again I give fair warning 'Do Not Try This At Home Without A Full Machine Shop.

   In the above pic you can see a couple of the tools I use to make the cuts. You should be able to see the two horizontal cuts for the baggage door.

    And from the inside.

Here I'm cutting through the ribs to speed the process.

And with the first door cut into the car. Now onto the other side.

The above is to show one of the reasons I prefer Zona saws over an xacto saw. But I must admit that the bend does help give a little extra leverage for moving the blade. The xacto blade above has the hollow back spine where a Zone has a solid rigid spine.

   Over the New Year weekend I have managed to cut the door out on the opposite side and to decide on the selective compression for a believable car. Windows are for the aisle side. ......

and then the dorm side.   ........


Tape on both sides show the future window arrangement for this car which has the crews quarters in it. the two square windows are the berth areas and the small window is a betterment room for the conductor I believe. there is a three hole water closet between the two sleep areas. All metal removal is done at this point and I can start filling in the original openings.


Above is the dorm side of the car with all window openings filled

And from the inside showing the backing I used to hold the fill in place.

And the aisle side plugged and ready. It's onto the aluminum patches for the passenger door openings.

You remember the door cut out pieces. One was recut to make the door fill pieces.

After both were cut it was time to fit them in place.

Reinforcement was applied inside and allowed to dry.

And putty applied .

Now to start blending the flutes. There are a couple of areas that need to be blended because of their original machining which distorts the flute. Other than those it's just file to fill.

First fill is a liquid metal to fill the gaps and provide strength. Also helps form the high spots of the flutes.

Same side but it got a second fill with Bondo spot putty. Seems to be a bit finer than the liquid metal.

Trim was needed to finish the new baggage door openings. I used my scrap pieces from the window opening filler and rounded it over along one edge.

Baggage doors Had some internal clearance issues, so I decided to make backers for a thin skin covering.

As you can see these were notched to fit around the inside film tracks. Both doors also needed one window cut in them so the backers were prepped while off the car.

Once prepped the top portion of the backers wre test fit before gluing in place.

Note the doors also received a small stip across the bottom.

And the door blanks were cut for their respective openings as marked in case there were any variances. Windows were cut after the skins were glued in place again to avoid errors. Gutters were added next using .020 angle.

And grab iron holes were drilled in both the sides and the roof as needed. 

Next up were  the roof vent, both AC and air for the baggage area. Following pics show the AC vent pieces, the basic frame constructed and then capped.


As you can see, once in place the top front of the vents get rolled a bit. 

on the aisle side you can see the placement of the grab iron mounting holes.

And thanks to Norman Schaake a simplified way of dome vents for the baggage area.

These are simply 1/4" carriage bolts, 3/4" long fitted into 1/4" predrilled holes. I did cut a 3" piece of .010 plastic to wrap the square base of the head so it looks round.

And before I hold up work on this till warmer weather I did give it two coats of aluminum primer to find any correctable issues.

That will be all till I start the next alteration.


Almost forgot that about eight years back I bought some ball bearings to up grade the trucks as the cars as added to a consist will add a good deal of weight. The following show the ball bearings and how I drilled out the journal boxes and filed the axles to fit for their use.

      the difference between the original sleeve and the ball bearing

Axles were locked in my drill and filed using a flat modeling file for a few seconds. We are talking thousandths of an inch here and you don't want a sloppy fit.

Two journals with drilled out one on left

drilled with BB in place

Size difference

And now on to the next car. I first started with blanking out some of the unneeded windows

Next I taped the side and marked out the new window areas.

Next I started cutting out the upper windows with a center punch and drill press. With the fluted sides you really need to take your time to keep the bit from wandering. Also note that before I started drilling I re-taped the side to respace the window pattern.

Then file out the are and move on.



The five upper windows are ready, now time for the lower ones

The lower windows mostly wound up in existing openings so I cut plugs and then cut out those windows.

Then it was back to punch and drill for two of them.

and with the five lower windows cut in.

I checked to make sure there was a straight line.

Now on to the other side to duplicate in reverse

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