Passenger Equipment

Discussion in 'General' started by Coonskin, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Okay... so I'm investigating developing a new track plan for the "Ozark Sub" portion of my Kansas City & Gulf theme the I've used as my modeling theme before. As is always the case, even with my new out building: Space is at a premium.

    Historically I embraced the concept that for most layouts, and the confines they dwell in, means that curves are inescapable. BUT... big curves are truly only cosmetic once the minimum limits of the equipment is established. By that I mean: IF the equipment will dependably negotiate 18" radius, then anything larger is merely for pleasing the eyes. Thus, in the past, I've used the tightest curves the equipment can dependably negotiate for unseen track areas, (think: hidden stages), and then used as large radii as practical for the visible curves.

    All is fine and dandy when you stay with my previous limits of 4 axle power and no equipment longer than 60' or so. All the engines and cars worked great negotiating the hidden stage tracks of my last layout. (You really don't want to know what said equipment was called upon to negotiate, and did so without complaint!)

    Well, that was when I was modeling the KC&G in their post-passenger era (1970), this time around I'll be doing the early-mid 60s... so me thinks the struggling remnant of their passenger service will need to represented.

    Steam generator equipped "freight" type engines (think GP7's and F's) were long ago allowed for on the KC&G's fictional paper roster, and some examples of same have been in-process on the roster build projects forever. (Now to be finished!!) OH... speaking of which, here is a pic of one of them:


    Which FINALLY brings me to my question...

    What "shorter than true scale" passenger car options are available, either new or on the secondary market?

    I recall that Athearn made "shorty" passenger cars... but I also recall they loosely represented lightweight 40s - 50s era "streamline" cars. The KC&G didn't have the funds for much in the way of streamliners, and what they did own was more sell-able as their finances dwindled (the KC&G is currently in receivership, trying to fight their way out of bankruptcy)... thus the last of their passenger service is being covered by repainted heavy weight type equipment. They're trying to dump passenger service altogether if that darn ICC would cooperate.

    SO... are there "shorter-than-scale" heavy weight cars available, and what kind of absolute minimum radius do think they can handle?

    Lastly: Think a P2K (or other) Alco PA could be okay on 18" radius? Or even (shudder) 15" radius?

    ANY input would be appreciated as a "start here" point for equipment purchase/testing purposes.


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  2. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    Walthers and the former Roundhouse both offered 60' heavyweight cars. The Roundhouse cars were meant to represent Harriman-design equipment such as would have been found on the IC and UP. Con-Cor used to make 72' streamlined cars, though I am not sure these are available new any longer. You might have to scour flea markets or HOswap on line to find them. Athearn had 72' heavyweight cars, including diners, baggage cars, RPO, coaches, sleepers and even a observation with a rear platform, though I am guessing a run-down operation like what you are modeling probably would have limited itself to coaches, head-end cars and maybe a Pullman. I have a couple of those cars already weathered and lettered for Frisco if you want them. The Athearn "streamline" cars were modeled after Budd prototypes and would not be appropriate to what it sounds like you are doing.

    I would not try to run anythig on 15" radius unless you are thinking about industrial switching in very close quarters, e.g., inside mill property or street running.

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  3. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Hi Greg!

    Thank you very much for your input.

    Some observations/additional detail...

    To my eyes, the 72' Athearn cars are really nice looking. I'm not much on the "Harriman" (rounded roof/no clerestory) look. I can't help but feel the Athearn cars would reliably pass through 18" radius curves (which COULD be used in hidden turn back curves). After all, during the marketing hey day "back when", that was pretty much the standard train set radii. I would go so far as to say that any heavy-weight type "condensed" (not full scale length) psgr car model will pass through 18" without problems. Of course, doing so would require retaining the "talgo/swinging" coupler arrangement found on said models (and may even require some tweaking) along with limiting under body details, but I would be fine with such caveats.

    I also suspect that the P2K PA will be fine on 18"... but was hoping to have experiential input from some you guys "out there" before an undec of same ends up on my shelves!

    You're likely correct about such cars on 15" radius. I've never tried that, and at a glance, I would think that they would not reliably pass-through 15". In the past I've used 15" on hidden track in desperate situations, and I know from experience that using 4 axle power and cars no longer than 60', zero issues resulted. I'm talking one such instance the hidden 15" radius was routinely used as a switching lead for my Fort Smith yard scene. SO, there were times the engine had hold of 20 or so cars, wrapped around portions of 15" return loop, and pulling or shoving was not a problem. Didn't look visually appealing if you looked behind the view blocks... but functionally it was fine. (Remember: I care not how a model train looks on hidden track PROVIDED the operation is reliable.) However, I suspect my idea of adding token passenger service to the layout, will preclude such curve radii design antics.

    As for what actual passenger equipment I would prefer: I envision one engine, a baggage car, and a couple of coaches. Gone off the KC&G by the early-mid 60s would be the likes of full length trains w/sleepers: The "Gulf Coast Flyer" died before the years I'm modeling. Even the token remnant of the "Mountain Maid" is but a shell of its former self. Engines would either be a single steam generator equipped GP7 or F7, both of which have been on the shelf for umpteen years. (But now there's hope of me actually completing them!) In fact, the KC&G would drop passenger service all together if that darn ICC would let 'em! :D

    In my perfect model railroad world: I would have a tired looking PA pulling some faded heavy weights as the KC&G dutifully tries to persevere to provide the required passenger service through the agonizing months of endless ICC hearings.

    Of course, ALL of the above discussion is IF I decide to go for the Ozark Sub layout theme. IF I go with the KC Lines layout theme, I don't foresee the need to represent KC&G passenger trains, for the layout would represent a jointly used line that goes out to an industrial area of KC, and thus, said track would be off the KC&G's main line.

    All fer now!

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  4. pensive

    pensive Member Supporter

    I have several of the Athearn heavyweight 72' cars and they can negotiate a 15" radius curve. Not so with the P2K Alco PAs that I own, they won't get around a 21" radius curve. Amazingly, a Bachmann decapod can negotiate my 15" loop. Go figure.

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  5. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    THANK you Rich!

    I'm very glad to hear from someone that uses them that the Athearn 70' cars will be okay on smaller radius. They are my favorite cars among the shortened psgr car offerings. As for 15": I'm adjusting my track plan to do away with the idea of reusing 15" in the leads to the stages. I've increased that the unseen track to 18" radius and likewise I've increased the diameter of the helix to 22" radius. Doing so didn't have objectionable dominoes that fell following the changes. I know I can move the trains I envision safely up/down a 22" radius helix, for I had two of them on my tri-level Frisco (later to become the KC&G) layout.

    P2k PA: It's that loooooong footprint of the Alco trucks. Without seeing one in front of me on 21" radius, I'd almost be willing to wager it's the center driver that's causing binding. My thinking was to machine the center driver to make it "blind". Then I'll bet it would track like a weasel in a drain pipe.

    HOWEVER... I've got plenty of fish to fry, so a PA is for "later" when I have a much better handle on my overall theme. Not so psgr cars: IF I go with the Ozark Sub theme for my KC&G, then I will need those to represent the last passenger train(s) on the schedule.

    Another question: Were the US Mail contracts pretty much history for many of the lines by the early-mid 60s?

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  6. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    The Post Office Department, as it was called then, cancelled most of the outstanding RPO contracts in October 1967. A few runs lasted into 1968 and one on the Penn Central in the Corridor lasted into the 1970s. At the same time the RPO contracts were cancelled, the majority of bulk mail and storage mail was moved to freight trains to take advantage of lower freight rates.

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  7. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Thanks Greg. So, it's possible there's still a mail contract that the KC&G is still under obligation to fulfill, hence the issues they're having getting the ICC to go along with cessation of passenger service on the KC - New Orleans line. :D

    Anyone know if the Fort Smith Sub's "Meteorite" was still handling mail in the in the early-mid 60s? (The FS Sub psgr train ceased Sept. '65.)

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