Although I have a number of scale sized passenger cars on my O-gauge layout, as a project, I decided to make passenger cars with:
1) 1/8″ thin Luan underlayment (may not be found everywhere)
2) top grade 2×4 (1½” x 3½” in reality)
3) thin wooden strips
4) resized computer/printed out images with redone lines, windows, and colors
5) trucks purchased from a nearby hobby store
6) White glue and black paint
Because part of my railroad is suspended about 8 inches from the ceiling of my basement game room, viewers cannot see close details of these passenger cars. Interestingly enough, no one has ever asked about their composition because a line of them looks convincingly like matching cars for a Pennsylvania GG1 I already own. The colors help sell the idea that these cars are for real as you can see in Picture 1.
I started by cutting a 2×4 into 10 ¼” lengths. These I sanded very smooth. Each would eventually become a Pennsylvania Railroad Car. In the top of Picture 2, you can see the solid block I’m referring to.
Next, using a jigsaw, I cut pieces of 1/8″ Luan as shown in the bottom of Picture 2, one for each side. The height of this piece allowed me to cut out the wheel areas. Then I glued one to each side of the 2×4 block and clamped the assebly
Next, I took pictures of a GG1 passenger car I’d seen in O-Gauge Railroading Magazine and downloaded it to my computer. Using Microsoft’s Paint program, I created two sides and two end pieces using these downloaded photos as a guide for window placement, and door placement in the two end pieces. I tried to duplicate the colors and lines as accurately as possible. See Pictures 3 and 4.
In some of the windows I did my best to draw people’s heads so the car looked occupied. There is nothing worse than a car without passengers. When I finished, I had 2 heavy paper passenger sides as seen in Picture 3. Obviously, after working so hard on one side, I simply duplicated it for the opposite side.
As shown in the cutaway diagram in Picture 2 and in Picture 4, I cut a Luan roof larger than the top of the car and round sanded all sides. This is not hard to do because the wood is so thin. The roof extends about 1/8″ over the top of the car. To this I cut, sanded, and glued a second roof (colored red in Picture 2). It was about ½” shorter on all sides than the roof under it. Finally, I cut a piece of wooden parting bead I bought at Home Depot (a strip ½” x 1″), beveled its ends downward with my sander, and glued it to the very top of the car’s roof as you can see in Picture 4.
To finish up, with a two brass screws, I mounted the trucks to the underside of the passenger car as Picture 5 shows. I measured exactly where each truck would go and then drilled a pilot hole. The trucks were not expensive. I bought them at the local Iron Horse Hobby Store, which is near my home. These trucks feature operating couplers that are yanked open via Lionel’s magnetic remote control track. I’m sure you can find passenger car trucks that are more impressive than the one in the diagram. If not, you can always highlight with silver paint.
These passenger cars are not light. But a heavy GG1 can easily pull several of them. I have other passenger cars which I’ve made in the same fashion as described above. They turned out just as nicely but are far lighter. I will show them in an upcoming article. You can spend a lot or a little depending on your railroading philosophy. This project is worth the effort. You can add a new car any time you have time to spare.
Happy Railroading with this easy, worthwhile project.