NScale160.com

I like passenger trains

Kato F40PHI LIKE matched streamliner sets of the 30s and 40s as well as the trains of the Amtrak era. I've been forced to develop a tolerance for the heavyweight clerestory-roofed cars of the 20s and 30s because they lasted so long. My goal, for lack of a better term, is to replicate the industrial outskirts of a major/generic mid-western or southern city that will permit the reasonable presence of many different railroads' named trains as well as their numbered lesser siblings. I'd like to find a unique locomotive to represent each different train, but there's just not that much variety. It would be neat to customize these trains with upgrades like diaphragms, couplers, and lighting.

Most of my passenger equipment is from Kato or Con-Cor. Most modelers in N scale have relatively little in the way of passenger equipment. I, on the other hand, have about 150 passenger cars to about 300 freight cars. In my opinion the freight cars are simply set dressing to provide a realistic background for the passenger cars.

There are a lot of passenger trains that intrigue me. That makes it very hard to decide what to model. The images below from Media by McCann show some of the passenger trains I would like to model and a little of the train's history. Clicking on the image or the train's name will take you to the page describing what I know or need to learn to model that train.


In high school I somehow read about New York Central's Twentieth Century Limited. That got me interested in model railroading in general and passenger trains in particular. It took me a long time to switch from prefering NYC to my prefered railroads that now fascinate me. NYC passenger paint schemes.


The early streamliners were not necessarily the prettiest trains ever made, and they certainly were not very practical. Burlington's Pioneer Zephyr and Union Pacific's M-10000 soon gave way to "real" passenger trains with individual locomotives and cars. The inflexible style of the earliest streamliners brought their careers to a fairly early end.

A number of years ago Fine N Scale made a great kit to build a Pioneer Zephyr. It was recently made ready-to-run by ConCor. I have one and am thinking about getting the optional fourth car for it, though $140 seems pretty steep for one N scale passenger car. ConCor will soon have the M-10000 in N as well. I have that on order.

Atlantic Coast Line streamliners come in two flavors. Early ones had a purple strip across the top of the car (I think these were part of a shared service?) while later ones had simply a purple background behind the name on the car's side. I first became interested in railroads in the Southeastern United States when I saw a picture of a purple diesel in the Doug Nuckels Book CSX and its Predecessors in Color. Life Like (now Walthers) offered their E7 in an ACL purple scheme. Con-Cor has their Budd cars in the purple stripe version and the Atlantic Coast Line & Seaboard Air Line Historical Society offers decals to do the "stripeless" cars. Tomar Industries offers a lighted drumhead as well.


The Central of Georgia had a number of passenger trains, with just two of them somewhat noteworthy. The Man O'War ran from Columbus, GA, to Atlanta and Nancy Hanks II from Atlanta to Savannah meeting a connection (The "Little Nancy") from Augusta in Millen. Neither of these trains can be modeled ready-to-run. Man O' War can be modeled with four undecorated ConCor Budd cars. Nancy Hanks II requires a good bit of fabrication work on ConCor's older smoothside cars, painting and decals to make a credible model. E7 or E8 locmotives have to be painted and decaled as well. All the decals are available from Microscale Industries, Inc. Man O'War had an actual observation car and a lighted drumhead. Nancy Hanks just ended with the last car in the train! My wife is big Central of Georgia fan; I'm looking forward to honing my skills enough to eventually make these two trains come to fruition. You can visit the Central of Georgia Railway Historical Society for a lot more information about these trains and the CofG.

Tom Alderman of Marietta, GA, gave me this introductory info. Southern's first train to carry the name "The Crescent Limited" was back in the 1920s and 1930s. It was pulled by the famous PS4 steam engines. The word "Limited" was dropped in the mid/late 1930s.


In 1941, Southern took delivery of new E6 diesels for "The Crescent" but the cars remained heavyweight. At this same time, a new streamlined coach train, "The Southerner" began service, also diesel powered. After World War II in the late 1940s, the old heavyweight Pullman cars on "The Crescent" were replaced with streamlined stainless cars.

Fred Klein has a great page of information regarding the prototypes for many of the common plastic N scale passenger cars. Take a look when you get done viewing here (but not before!)


The Union Pacific railroad was famous for its City of... trains. I would like to model either the City of San Francisco or the City of Los Angeles. Don Strack's roster of Union Pacific passenger cars has even more than just the streamliner-era. His UP locomotive roster, complete with painting information is also very useful.

Jim Cullen has graciously allowed me to use some of his material to tell you how to build a better P70 with just a reasonable amount of effort. I combine Jim's text and model pictures with some prototype pictures of my own.

I've been an Amtrak fan since I first got to ride in one of their trains from Columbus, OH, to St. Louis, MO, and back as a teenager in 1974. I got to do it again the next year. One highlight of the second trip was getting to ride in the cab of an SDP40F for about 150 miles. I've tinkered with converting an ancient Lima FP45 into a stand-in for the SDP40F, but didn't get to (want to?) finish. Now that Athearn has a good looking FP45 I wonder if they are willing to stand up against the "rivet counters" and "prototype police" and offer it in one or more Amtrak schemes?

As will often be seen on this site and in my emails or forum postings I am quite an Amtrak fan (OK, as a modeler, I'm not so sure about their business model though I do want them to succede). I would one day like to be able to replicate trains from several different eras and paint schemes. Today this is becoming easier and easier to do. The graphic shows one of McCann's GIF's, this time of Amtrak's Silver Meteor. I have photographed the south-bound Silver Meteor or its north-bound Palmeeto counterpart on several occassions those times.

I think that Jerry LaBoda must have the world's largest collection of passenger car links. I often visit Jerry's site to see pictures of prototypes when I'm hoping to find a match. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Have you ever wondered what time of day your favorite train(s) passed through different cities on their routes? I found a website that will give you that information. Take a look at Eric Bowen's website Streamliner Schedules for some fun reading. His site is clearly a labor of love!

Jim Hebner's Amtrak photo collection is just a superb reference for anyone with an interest in Amtrak. Jim's site is so good that it actually has a picture that I took of the depot in Yemassee, SC. I just looked for in and the Y-Z cities are missing. I've emailed Jim asking him about it. I'll add the link as soon as I hear from him.

As this page grows I plan to include links to resources, data, consists, paint information, and so on. It may end up being a rather eclectic hodge podge of info, but it will serve as a useful single point of access for me.

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