The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A HO Pullman Conversion

A variety of models have been converted from HO to OO. Today the model featured is one such example, a conversion of the AHM (Rivarossi) heavyweight Pullman. It was a part of a 1920 heavyweight series of models.

In the first photo the conversion is seen on top of a vintage J-C Models Pullman. It is full scale for OO and in comparison the AHM model does look a bit undersized from the side. William Gilbert started this conversion and it was about 90% done when it came to me. What he did was split the car down the middle, add an OO scale roof (J-C models roof stock), and add a very nice interior, seen in the second photo. My main tasks were to finish up the roof details and add trucks and Kadee couplers

I suspect a sticky point for Gilbert was the trucks, as there is not enough space to use Scale-Craft trucks under the car and it really needs six wheel trucks. However, I have four pair of these trucks around that were modified by a prior owner who filed off the ends of the trucks. With both ends of the sideframes essentially gone they would fit the car. I had used them on another car previously, adding at that time upgrade wheelsets.

On this car the trucks work great! It handles the curves on my layout beautifully being a bit under 80 foot in OO and I enjoy seeing the interior and details of the model, with the windows being another nice touch (I usually leave them off – have seen too many cars where the windows are damaged). On the down side, it really does look a little small. It does match a few other cars I have though (some Nason in particular is closer) and I have two more of these HO conversion projects that were started by Gilbert (but less far along) that I can build up to match as well.

The J-C Pullman in the photos is also notable, one of a pair that I just finished up that had been started by the late Pierre Bourassa and came to me about 80% done. He had brush painted them a shade of green that was a bit off and there were some details not completed and no decals. They were a little rough; I worked the pair over, more details, new paint, HO decals. One interesting detail is he used Scale-Craft frames on the cars, seen in the last photo. It is those frames actually which make the pair not presently operable on my layout, there is not enough truck swing allowed. I could modify them, but even if I did 80’ cars don’t operate well on my layout. For now I will leave them as shelf models. I believe Bourassa planned by leaving the roof removable to add an interior similar to what Gilbert had added to the AHM car, and if I work on these more I will add the interior details.

UPDATE: I got inspired just a few weeks after posting this article and got a train of five full size J-C and Famoco Pullmans set up and running on the layout. It is all about good trucks, clearance for the trucks, and sufficient coupler swing to actually get the cars to operate, even if they do "look" a bit big for the layout. With that for inspiration I got the Bourassa cars running as well, with modified frames, upgraded trucks, and new couplers. They are nice cars and I like the removable roof; at some point soon I plan to add interiors that match the Gilbert HO conversion Pullman, I have all the parts to do it.

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