For you passenger train guys: Kansas City-Florida Special Diner-Lounge Cars...

Discussion in 'Heavyweight Cars' started by TAG1014, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    I keep a notebook where I gather bits and pieces of (usually passenger car) information. This info is from various places and some of it has been posted before, but here is what I've compiled about the Kansas City-Florida Special's big diners:

    "Kansas City" was the only car actually decorated with shadow stripes as such. It was converted to diner-lounge (from 1508) in April 1936 and wore the Frisco green paint scheme. In April 1941 it was painted in the blue/gray Firefly-Meteor colors. In May 1947 it was painted back to green. It was painted in the shadow stripe scheme w/red trim (on the ends, roof and window area) and silver trucks in October 1950. The stainless fluting was added (still with red trim) April 1955. All these cars probably had black trucks at times after fluting was added (see "Frisco In Color" page 120).
    "Springfield" was converted (from 1510) in October 1937--Painted ALL red w/ Scotchlite lettering in October 1952--Name was changed to "Memphis" 6-19-54--Fluting added April 1955.
    "Birmingham" was converted (from 1509) 4-36--Fluting w/red trim added 12-54. All these cars had small crew sleeping areas added about 1959.
    From 1956 Assignment List, Each Car Was Equipped With:
    --32 Diner Seats
    --10 Lounge Seats (9 on “Birmingham”)
    --2 Settees (Seating two each)
    --2 Cocktail Tables (Seating 3 each)
    --Radio, No vestibules.

    If you, like me always wondered what/why the big red and stainless KCFS diner was doing parked at the Springfield Depot during the day (Appearing in lots of photos by Arthur Johnson, Mike Condren and others), here's how it was handled: The car would arrive from Memphis and Birmingham at 2:15 AM on tr. 106 and during the day it was turned, had supplies replenished and was parked by the business cars across from the depot building. Early the next morning the car was coupled to tr. 105 and departed southbound at 3:30 AM.

    Tom G.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2013
  2. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Tom, the operational info is splendid. This type of switching is why the Springfield passenger depot would make a nice layout in itself, especially for the modeler wanting to focus on passenger ops.

    Your notebook provides a nice chronology. Ken McElreath has modeled one of these cars in the red with fluting; I would have to refer to the FMIG Newsletter index to recall the edition where he describes his process.

    Best Regards,
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2014
  3. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    Ken Mc has posted some pictures of his car on here, but I never can find anything like that using the search feature. Neat pix if you can find them.


    PS: I've always heard that the fluting applied to the big diners was recycled from the sides of the original Texas Special and Meteor E-7 engines when they were re-decorated (To look like E-8's). I never saw any documentation of that and I don't know if that was actually done or just some of that "Frisco folklore."
  4. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    Originally the diner-lounge ran with the Kansas City-Florida Special over the entire route between KC and Birmingham. It was always between the coaches and the sleepers, serving early breakfast into KC northbound. In the early 1960's the Frisco pulled the car off at Springfield northbound and added it southbound, with the result that only two cars were needed instead of three. In addition, the car was carried at the end of the train behind the (single, by that time) sleeper to minimize switching moves at Springfield. The traveler could have breakfast and lunch southbound before arriving at Birmingham about 4pm, and he could have lunch and dinner northbound out of Birmingham, since the car was picked up at noon there.

    When the cars were rebuilt for KC-FS service in 1936, I think they had solarium windows in the lounge end; at least, I've seen one or two photos showing that. My question is, "When were the solarium windows closed up?" Was it when the lounge area was reduced to add the dormitory section in 1962, or earlier? The interior photos contained in the book "Birmingham Rails" shows solarium windows but are undated, possibly taken soon after entering service in 1936.

    Here are some photos of my model of "Kansas City" after the fluting was added but before the dormitory section. My model has no solarium windows, because I thought they were closed up before this period.

    Ken McElreath

    Attached Files:

  5. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    Looks like those solarium windows were closed at least by 1955 (From looking at the photo of "Kansas City" in Marre's Frisco In Color, page 120). I think three cars were still being used even after the northbound service was cut to Springfield. I used to go by the depot every day to and/or from work and all three cars were regular visitors.
    One other thing about the KCFS diner operations: The Pullman green painted diner-lounge 1506 seemed to be the first choice stand-in for the regular cars, however there's a 1962 Gordon Mott photo of full diner 638 standing in on the KCFS taken at Amory, MS.

    Tom G.
  6. Rancho Bob

    Rancho Bob Member

    I want to say that the gentlemen who was from Springfield...last name started with a "B" but I'm having a senior moment....told that to Bill White and myself about 40 years ago.

  7. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    A couple of times I've started out to do the square footage math to try to figure if the lower panels of six E-7's (Four Meteor, two Texas Special) = the upper and lower sides of three big dining cars, but never followed through. Looks like it would be mathmatically possible...maybe??

  8. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Ken, your model of "Kansas City" is possibly one of my favorite Frisco passenger car models, HO Scale or otherwise.
  9. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    I agree, great prototype and model info for sure. IMHO these Passenger models don't seem to garner the attention they deserve. It is good to see them represented here in model form.
    Thanks for sharing the photos!!
  10. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    There is a reference in some article in my collection to the fluting from the EA7s being recycled for use on these heavyweight dining cars, so I believe Tom's earlier statement is correct. I will try to find where I read that and pass it along, as I never throw anything like that away.

  11. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    Boy, Ken Mc's "Kansas City" is a "centerfold!" I love to ogle that model railroad "porn"...:cool:


    Edit I: Greg, every time I heard that story (about the fluting), I was always skeptical because the (two or three different) people telling the story all were pretty good "spinners."

    Edit II: Ken Mc--Although I'm in N scale and I'd have to go about it differently, can you walk us through your modeling (or kit-bashing) of your HO "Kansas City?" I'm especially interested in the venetian blinds and window tinting.

    Thanks, Tom
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2013
  12. rcmck

    rcmck Member Supporter

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2013
  13. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    Well if Lee Buffington said the E-7 fluting was used on the dining cars, you can carve that in stone!

  14. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter


    My "Kansas City" project description probably won't help you much, using 40-year-old materials as it did. But since you requested, here goes.

    The basic car body was a Walthers wood-and-metal Great Northern diner kit, modified and customized as follows:
    Cut out window panels as necessary to open areas for window overlays.
    Added end grabs and soldered steps to sides.
    Glued ends and sides to wood floor. Soldered (VERY carefully) sides to ends.
    Made new window panels from sheet styrene and cut individual window openings to match the car plans, then glued in place on the car sides.
    Glued aluminum fluting panels (from a British Company, I don't remember the name) to the car sides.
    Substituted a Walthers wood arch roof, shaped with rasp and sandpaper, added drip strips of wire, installed Walthers diner vents and brass antenna stanchions from some brass parts manufacturer.
    Added Walthers underbody details, brass AC unit and generator.
    Installed Central Valley cast trucks.
    Made interior of wood and card stock and Walthers castings for dining and lounge furniture, stainless steel kitchen.
    Windows are tinted transparent plastic sheet, with file card stock shades for lounge and Walthers venetian blinds decals for dining section.
    Made flower holders and flowers for tables by rolling Kleenex, gluing and then cutting into 1/8 inch sections, dabbing red paint for flowers. A nice touch.
    Added rubber diaphragms (manufacturer ?) and Cal-Scale steam and air lines, plus Kadee couplers.
    Painted with Floquils, plus light "in-service" weathering on trucks, ends and roof (the areas that didn't get regularly washed).

    That's it. My passenger car fleet consists of largely Walthers wood and metal kits and cast parts as starting points. Many modelers have derided these as "primitive" by today's detailing standards, but they enabled me to really capture the look and feel of Frisco cars. You could modify them in many ways and have a great time doing it. Today's super-detailed RTR models don't permit much of anything to be done to them, in my opinion.

    Ken McElreath
  15. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    In response to an earlier post, Larry Thomas mentions that the fluted stainless steel trim from the EA7s was saved and later applied to certain heavyweight cars in his two-part article on SLSF passenger service that appeared in the November and December 1984 editions of PTJ. Never throw anything away!

  16. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    Ken--Thanks for the run down of your diner modeling. Before I switched to N scale, I had several of those Walthers cars and it sure seems to me that those kits (wood with tin sides and cast ends) would still be popular if they were on the market. Seeing your modeling always jump starts me into new (or unfinished) passenger car projects even though I kit-bash and re-detail in plastic and model a different scale.

    Tom G.
  17. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    Has anyone seen a photo of one of these cars with end windows from after the fluting was added? Below is 1506, the usual stand-in, in 1961 in the spot where the KCFS diner usually laid over, clearly showing that it retained its end windows, presumably until it was retired. I was unaware that they started placing the diner-lounge on the rear when they cut it back to Springfield, but if true then the patrons of the train the day after the photo were in for a treat -- an observation car!

    SLSF c1506 SPG 10-61.jpg

    On the other hand, in the photo to which Tom refers which was taken in Amory in December 1961 clearly shows SLSF 638 between the last coach and the Pullman.

    SLSF 638 Amory 12-61.jpg

  18. TAG1014

    TAG1014 Supporter Supporter

    I used to see the KCFS diners at the depot almost every day in the 1960-62 period and I'm pretty sure by then the red and silver cars didn't have any solarium windows. 1506 was there once in a while, but I din't pay much attention to the windows I was mostly just noticing that there was a different color car present. My opinion: I think they would put the diner between the coaches and sleepers when they had time to do so. Another thing that got my attention during that time period was that there was nearly always (but not every day) a SR coach and and cars in the consist that still had "The Texas Special" lettering.

    Tom G.
  19. Rancho Bob

    Rancho Bob Member

    I want to say that the Kansas City sat on the team track (I used to call it the Strang Track) in Lenexa for a few work service.


    Hi, Bob. Gee, it's been too long!
  20. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    At that time, it was assign to the tie gang.

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