Amazing limited production model trains.

Building Them Right: Creating the Pennsy Cars

What does it take to creating the Pennsy Cars? Let’s talk about it.

The Pennsylvania business cars are the 32-35th cars in this Executive Line Series. I thought I’d stop and share the resources I used to make these cars. It will help you see a few of the challenges of this series.

In the case of Pennsy, I used these two books.

RESOURCES:  Both of these books (see images below) were produced by our friends at the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. Like several other railroad historical groups that produce similar books, these are amazing resources that help keep the guess-work out of important things like recreating a car ‘as close as possible’ to the real one.

Lettering diagrams, actual color specifications and drift cards, are here for reference. ‘Drift Cards’ are what the railroad called their color sample sheets. The diagrams in these books are not redrawn but are the actual ones used. So if it says ‘Imitation Gold’ (Deluxe Gold) then that is what it must have been, and that is the exact case when it comes to these business cars.

Until 1953, according to these books, the lettering and stripping was ‘Gold Leaf’ on Pennsy cars, and was changed to ‘Imitation Gold’ after that.

COLORS:  This brings us to the comparison of other producers such as Kato and Micro-Trains Line color choices. It is always important to see what has been done before, because you will want to match a train in consist. I think that most agree that what has been done from these two is acceptable when it comes to the Tuscan Red body and the ‘Imitation Gold’ lettering & stripes. Although it is easy to follow suit, it is also important to be right and make a change if necessary. That was the case for the Union Pacific cars, as the correct yellow and gray makes a beautiful car! In the Pennsy’s case, the lettering used by these other two producers looks to be what Pennsy calls ‘Synthetic Buff’, which is a lighter tan color. I found no reference to use that color on the cars I was creating.

BODY DETAILS:  When I had the idea and realization that we needed business cars in N scale, the complication was on several levels, and mostly because these cars are unique and often ‘rebuilds’ of other cars. Micro-Trains was great to work with and allowed me to design both versions of the business car. In doing that, you may have noticed that there are several interchangeable parts that help make cars more unique. Different platforms, porch ceilings, and the full radial roof help was my solution to create 54 different unique variations of business cars. 

When we review the photos of these cars in books, we can determine some of these details that are chosen to bring the car to reality.

We may be able to get really close, but even with that it may not be close enough for some folks, so they may go ‘without’ and never have private varnish or office cars on their home rails. But for ‘most’ isn’t this hobby fun?

Check out the Pennsy New York HERE
Check out the Pennsy Philadelphia HERE

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Lowell Smith

A native of Portland, Oregon, Lowell Smith married his church choir sweetheart Barb in 1978. After a lifetime of rail-fanning, Lowell and Barb ventured out in 1992 to launch a new business in Portland, Oregon. Read more

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