Upgrading Model Power Heavyweight Passenger Cars

Last week I wrote about the steam shuttle to Many Lost Ways National Park.

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I built this train a few years ago, before MicroTrains and Walthers introduced their very nice heavyweight passenger cars. My options at the time were brass car sides or these units from Model Power.

The Model Power cars have serviceable carbodies, but the lettering, running gear and couplers left a lot to be desired.

Bodywork and Paint

The most noticeable drawback to the carbodies was the lack of any steps. I remedied that by cutting the entire platforms from the ends of a couple of cheap cabooses I bought from the junk bin at my local hobby shop. With some careful filing, I was able to neatly fit these beneath the vestibules on both ends of the parlor car and the passenger end of the combine.

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On the baggage end of the combine, I cut bits of ladder from an old bridge kit and glued them in place as stirrup steps.

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The car ends had poorly molded brakewheels next to the diaphragms. I removed these with a sharp hobby knife and filed the area smooth.

Next I thoroughly cleaned the models and sprayed them Bomber Tan. After the paint dried, I lettered the cars for the Four Corners, one of the predecessor roads to the FCFL.

I brushpainted the diaphragms and other details, then lightly weathered the cars with weathering powders.

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Interiors

I removed the plastic interior inserts with molded seats and sprayed them dark red. I then added a handful of passenger figures, trimming their legs and torsos to fit as needed.

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I made a paper template of the window openings and used it to cut strips of manilla file folders for window shades. I glued these to the inside of the window glazing.

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Running Gear

I discarded the Model Power trucks and replaced them with MicroTrains trucks.

The trucks came with plastic inserts that fit neatly in the factory truck-mounting holes. The inserts are pressed in from above, and the mounting pin is pressed in from below, holding the truck in place.

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The trucks come with couplers that are supposed to be mounted on a tab with a long slot in it. A small screw is supposed to go through the slot, making the coupler adjustable. I wanted the cars to couple more closely, so I trimmed the tab about 1/16″ and glued the couplers in place with CA. This works for my short train, which doesn’t put much stress on the couplers.

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Close coupling!

I’ve since acquired a couple of the newer, higher quality heavyweights – I’m proud that these look pretty good alongside them.

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