MODELING: Pullman-Standard PS-1 Project

This is a project that has been kicking around my workbench for a long time.  It probably had is genesis with two events from the past. The first was a series of posts by Brett Whelan on his efforts to upgrade a Lionel PS-1 boxcar.  Brett had purchased several modelings and decided that the Lionel was the most accurate on the market.  His process was probably done about 15 years ago.  To date the Lionel model is the best one available.

My objective is to build an accurate model of a Rock Island PS-1.  The series I picked to model was built with Barber S-2 trucks, 6-foot door opening equipped with a Superior 7-panel door, Creco door closing mechanism and Universal Handbrake.  This car configuration was numbered in the 21000-2290 lot which was part of a large order of 2,000 cars built in 1951 and 1952.

I started putting together a file with plans, photos and descriptions prior to the start of construction.  This is my usual practice for building models.  I discovered that I knew very little about these iconic boxcars.

The above illustration came from a Pullman-Standard advertisement.  It defines the magnitude of this important design.    Nearly every railroad should have at least one of these classics on the layout. They were available in both 40′ and 50′ with several different door openings and the usual varied of hand brakes, trucks, doors types and other specific hardware items. In addition to these variations, the Pullmand design evolved  over time.  Pullman added  six embossed panels at the top of the roof.  They changed the roof with the addition of a raised panel at the ends.  The underframe configuration of stringers running from the bolster to the car end changed from two per side to three.

Lots of railroads decided to buy significant quantities of the cars.  Ed Hawkins and Ted Cullota tabulated information of the various orders and configurations.  I have attached a link to the spread sheet on these cars.


As I starting to research thsi project, I discovered how little I knew about these historically important cars.  Since they were a product of Pullman Standard, I reached out to Bob Webber at the Pullman Library in Union, IL for help in locating information on this specific 2,000 car order for the Rock Island.  The Hawkins/Cullota spread sheet provided information on order #8028  for the Rock Island.  Bob put me touch with the leading authority on the Rock Island, Steve Hile.  That lead to a connection with Ed Hawkins who’s credentials are well established by his efforts on the incredible series of publications callled the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia.  This connection yielded lots of useful information.

One of the questions I asked the experts as the if and when the pressed stiffeners were applied and in particular to the Rock Island car order.  Ed clarified this detail with the following information.

The prototype car photos came from my personal collection.
The Rock Island car had 6 pressed stiffeners at the top of the ends have often been referred to as “rectangles,” they are actually the shape of a “right trapezoid” due to the upper portion angled to follow the roof slope. Most of them are hidden by the hand brake in a normal 3/4-BL view. The far left pressed stiffener is even hidden by the right edge of the hand brake in the attached direct B end view. The only way to see all 6 is a good 3/4-BR view.
These stiffeners were first used on PS-1 ends for cars built in 1949. Starting in Oct. 1953 the height of the stiffeners was reduced roughly by half of the height shown in this view. A transition from the taller height to shorter took place between 11/53 to 2/54 such that PS-1s built 3-54 & later had the shorter pressed right-trapezoid stiffeners.

I collected a couple plans for the 40′ PS-1 boxcars.  Two were published in the Mainline Modeler and one came from an old Simmons & Boardman plan book.  Upon closer examination, I noticed differences in the underbody such as stringers and location of crossbearers.  In addition, the roof panels changed during the long run of PS-1 production and well as the bolster tabs on the sidesill.  I have taken the liberty of using an annotated photo created by Ted Cullota showing a couple changes the occured between the 1941 version and the subsequent production lots in 1951.  He used the excellent Kadee HO models to illustrate changes to the design.

The car on the top is the earliest style of roof used on PS-1 boxcars.  The lower one is what the is on the Rock Island car and the Lionel body.

I referred back to the model Brett Whelan had started.  The images below were shot by Brett on his Lionel conversion.  He removed the oversized grab irons and ladders to start with.  The holes were plugged with styrene rod.  The unique end grab iron was fabricated by Brett.

The underframe was a typical 3-rail design that didn’t lend itself to a scale model.  He created his own with cast bolsters, crossbearers and crossties.  The stringers and centersill completed the basic frame.

Brett’s work is very clean and precise.  He came up with an approach to modeling the weld seams on the side sheets. It involved removing the original ridge cast in the Lionel model and replacing it with a scribed line that had altered by pressing the edges together.  My approach is use Archer decals to simulate the welded seams.

My model takes advantage of ideas shown in his modeling.  I reused the original bolster casting done by Brett.  I had the parts cast in a modern urethane material along with new patterns that I prepared for the crossties and crossbearings.   The parts along with a replacement underframe will be marketed by Twin Star Cars.

Here are the new crossbearers situated on the frame.

The crosstie is placed on the frame to see how well it fits.

The Lionel body is the only part of the original I ended up using.  I started by removin the original weld lines and the upper and lower door tracks.  Most ready to run or kit boxcars undersize the doors. I suspect this is done to simplify the die design.

The body looks pretty sad at this point.  I still have some sanding to do on the weld lines and door guide preparation before applying the decal weld lines.  They are fragile so minimizing the handling of the body is a good idea.

Next time I will press ahead with the body finishing and detailing.  In parallel, the underframe and parts will be sent out to the resin foundry to make parts.









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