SOUTHERN PACIFIC COMMUTE CARS
(BASED ON THE ATHEARN R/R COACH)
© 2007 David Reed
When I first started building these cars back in
1987, I assumed that 72 feet meant the length of the
car, not the seating section compartment. My cars are
not the correct length of 80 feet, but are a good
compromise. It should have 25 windows per side, not 16
per side. With Richards help we will give you other
ideas for these cars.
Construction of these cars will begin with the car
sides. Lay the car on its side with the brake wheel
end on your right, and remove the underbody toolbox
facing you. Next you need to plate over the end
windows on the left side of the car and do the same on
the other side as well, so that these are opposite
each other - these are the bathrooms.
Roof detail consists of adding Detail Associates
#6604 roof vents. These vents are 2 ft. off the center
line of the roof. They are spaced from left to right,
5 ft 3in. from the end, then 10 ft. on center for the
next 5, and then 5 ft. 3 in. from the other end.
Next using a #79 drill bit and pin vise, drill
holes to install a pair of Detail Associates #6602
roof grabs to the right of the end door, above the
The sides of the car need holes drilled for
installation of Detail Associates #6601 vestibule grabs
on either side of all four doors. The ends get a pair
of Detail Associates #6602 grabs along the frame rail,
on either side of the end doors. Install the brake
wheel at this time. Also the vestibule door windows need modifying to single pane windows.
The underframe construction consists of removing
the entire underframe and its cross braces. Remove the
center toolbox compartment, except for the side that
is opposite the brake wheel, which will be left in
place. Fill the floor opening and the back of the tool
box that you left on the frame with styrene. You may
fill the holes with what ever
styrene thickness you wish to use.
Next fill in the truck holes on the frame with
Plastruct #40105 3/16 inch tubing, cut flush with the
underframe and the floor.
The final details to add are the underframe detail.
Use Cal-Scale #AB-300 Passenger Car "UC" Brake set. I
mounted mine more on a guest-a-mation, not having
anything to work with. The instructions in the brake
set are of some help. At this point you may leave the
detail as is, or add the brake lines and detail as I
have on my model.
Last to add is the passenger car trucks. I used
MDC (Roundhouse) #2937. You will need to remove the
coupler arms from the trucks. I'm not sure about these
being the correct trucks, but at the time I built the cars,
there was no other choices.
For mounting the trucks after painting and decaling,
I used #2-56 round head screws, washers, and nuts to
fasten them to the underframe.
At this time you may add diaphragms to the ends of the cars of your choice.
I used Walthers #977 rubber diaphragms and striker
plates from Walthers paper diaphragm kits. At the time
I built these cars, there was not a selection as there
The passenger car interior is IHC #20171 1920's
coaches, cut to fit the Athearn car. I painted the
interior a light tan. Add figures of your choice.
All that is left, is painting and decaling.
The roof and underframe are painted Engine black and
the sides and ends are painted SP Dark Lark Gray. The
truck side frames are also painted SP Dark Lark Gray.
Decals I used were Micro-Scale #107.
This is how you can start a fleet of SP commute
cars or SUBS for your layout. All you need now is a
Train Master, EMD GP9, SD9, GP40P-2, or SDP45 for the
diesel era. For those in the steam era you need a
Pacific, Mountain, or a GS.
PARTS LIST FOR COMMUTE CARS
- #1854 Undec. Standard Round Roof Coach
- #AB-300 Passenger Standard Steel "UC" Air Brake Set
- Detail Associates
- #6601 Vestibule Grab Irons
- #6602 Roof Grab Irons
- #6604 Harriman Style Roof Vents
- MDC (Roundhouse)
- #2937 Standard 4 wheel Trucks
- Evergreen Styrene
- Engine Black
- SP Dark Lark Gray
- Microscale #107 - Passenger Car - General Service Cars with Grey Lettering
- Prototype Modeler July 1986 pages 34-38
- Southern Pacific Passenger Cars Volume.1 Coaches and Chair Cars - by The Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society
- information on the 60ft, 72ft Commute coaches and 85ft Bi-Level Commutes
- Official Pullman Standard Library, vol. 6, Southern Pacific Post-War Cars - by David Randfall & Ross William
- Has photo essays floor and elevation plans for the 1955 and 1968 MLC-1 and MLC-3
- Western Prototype Modeler Feb 1979 pages 30-41 - Southern Pacific Steel Coaches Common Standard Class 60-C-1 thru -4 by Sheldon King
- Here is 12 pages of history, data, 12 prototype photos, model photos and information and even a set of plans to 3/16 scale
Other ideas, options and suggestions...
SP classed their earlier passenger cars by the length of the passenger accomodation. So the 72-IC-x commute coaches were actually 80 feet 8 7/8 inches long as measured over the diaphragm striker plates.
As David said in the article above; he was not aware of this fact at the time he built these cars and the Athearn car is too short but does make a good representation for the time and effort involved.
As far as trucks are concerned; another person has suggested the Eastern Car Works #9003 4 wheel passnger trucks are usuable.
To get a more scale length car using the Athearn round roof coach is possible but, a totally scale model is unobtainable for one reason or another.
The roof profile on the Athearn car looks a little too flat to my eyes.
The 72-IC-x cars has 25 windows per side including the frosted toilet window. The Athearn car as bought only has 16 windows.
On the commute coach the toilets were in opposite corners, on the Athearn coach they are both at one end. How much fun would it be to cut the sides from the roof and then assemble parts to get offset toilets...
You could of course just cut two coaches 36 scale feet long and cement them together, the join would be close enough in the middle of a pier and would probably work, but why make life easy...
If you cut 37 feet from one end of one coach and 36 feet from the other end of another coach, you get a 73 foot coach with 18 windows. The windows are about the right size but the piers in between the windows should be 5 1/2 inches instead of the 15 inches that Athearn have. You end up with 18 windows instead of 25...
On the commute coach the toilets were in opposite corners, on the Athearn coach they are both at one end. How much fun would it be to cut the sides from the roof and then assemble parts to get offset toilets :-)