Passenger Car Modeling

I’ve always been a fan of American passenger trains, from the Broadway Limited right down to the Georgia Railroad mixed-consist freight and passenger trains.  It’s a combination of things that draw me to them.  There’s the prospect of traveling someplace in luxury, able to sleep while the train rolls though the night.  There’s the different passenger train liveries, along with each railroad’s unique food service (china patterns, signature dining car dishes and dining accommodations) and each railroad’s available sleeping car options. At one time, the sleeping cars were owned by the Pullman Company and operated by the individual railroads.  But, due to a legal decision in 1948, the railroads took owner ship of these cars and after that they were labeled with the name of the individual railroad, with a small sized “Pullman” at each end.

There were some glorious cars out there, along with some equally interesting special cars such as a Pennsylvania Railroad 10-5 sleeping car decorated in the red and silver livery of the Frisco and Texas Special.

And, for through service to Texas on the Missouri Pacific Eagle:

There were lots of these interesting examples, and that was just for the exteriors. Likewise, there were numerous floor plans. The most common was the ten roomette, 6 double bed room (10-6):

Many railroads had 10-6 sleeping cars; each car was identified by an unique name.  Each unique name was within a name-series for each railroad.  As an example, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 10/6’s were largely in the Rapids series. So, you would have cars with names such as Raritan Rapids and Shenango Rapids.  On the Southern Railway, the 10/6’s were in the River series, with names such as Tiger River and Catawba River. The sleeping cars of the Santa Fe were in the Palm series, and so on.  Some railroads, such as the Southern Pacific and Northern Pacific used numbers, much more boring.

And, this is just of the 10-6 car configuration. There were cars classified as 4-4-2, 14-4, 12-BR, 7-4-3-1.  Literally thousands of cars, each unique to itself by name or number, part of a fleet of passenger cars that included coaches, diners, tavern lounges and observation cars. In short, a complicated and fascinating subject. Just the one study of the cars of one railroad can be interesting unto itself. Consider this list for the Great Northern Railroad.

In the “early days” of railroad research, the go-to source was a book self-published by Robert J. Wayner called “Car Names Numbers and Consists”:

Car Names Numbers and Consists was published in 1972, and at over 250 pages, it is one of the most thorough books on the subject of American passenger cars.  It was typeset on an old-fashioned typewriter long before the days of word processing and on-demand printing.  It is a truly remarkable book.  In my forty years of using this book I have only spotted one possible error and noted a few areas that are somewhat vague. His coverage of the eastern railroads and the western railroads is remarkable, especially consider the sheer numbers of various railroad cars that are covered. Yes, his coverage of the Louisiana & Arkansas is a bit thin, but this book dates back to pre-Internet days, not to speak of the fact the the topic is, itself, obscure.  There have been subsequent books about individual railroads, but every railroad researcher that I know has a copy of Car Names and Numbers.

In addition to this title, Wayner self-published 27 other books, including one about the New York Metropolitan Opera.  To be sure, some of his books have not worn well with time. “Diesel Locomotive Rosters” is laden with errors, due, in no small part, to the fact that it is a reprint of the Railroad Magazine series on the topic, which dates back to the 1950’s.  But, overall, Wayner remains the place to start for a lot of passenger car research.

Railroad research has significantly improved over the years, thanks in no small part to the internet and its ability to distribute the work of many individual authors and researchers.

So, between the different car colors and the lore of the train, passenger car modeling is interesting and rewarding.

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