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Home / News & Reviews / Product Reviews / RailSmith N scale P-S 56-seat coach

RailSmith N scale P-S 56-seat coach

By Steven Otte associate editor | April 20, 2021

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two passenger cars side by side

two passenger cars side by side

A lightweight Pullman-Standard coach that saw service on the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Union Pacific, and others is available in N scale for the first time thanks to RailSmith Models. Built to PS plan 7510 starting in June 1946, these 56-seat day coaches replaced heavyweight coaches on name trains after World War II.

A streamlined beauty. Our sample represents Northern Pacific car no. 517, part of an 18-car order for the NP’s Chicago-to-Seattle North Coast Limited. The cars were delivered in 1947 with skirts and painted in the NP’s Pine Tree scheme; in 1953, it was repainted in the two-tone green Loewy scheme, named for famed designer Raymond Loewy, and the skirts were removed. This is the version represented by our sample, but RailSmith also offers the car in the Pine Tree scheme.

Many of these cars also saw service in the Mainstreeter, the Alaskan, and the Portland-to-Seattle pool trains. The cars bore the Loewy scheme until 1970, when NP merged with three other railroads to form Burlington Northern. Some of the cars were transferred to Amtrak when it took over long-distance rail passenger service in the U.S. in 1971.

The cars had 56 seats, two large restrooms (called “dressing rooms”) at the vestibule end of the car, and an eight-seat smoking lounge at the blind end. Large windows let those in the smoking lounge see the main compartment, the adjacent hall, and the end door.

Interior of a passenger cae
The cars have a one-piece plastic interior that doesn’t match the Pullman-Standard plan, but looks fine from the outside.

The once-over. RailSmith’s newly tooled N scale model looks impressive. The body shell’s sides and ends are a single injection-molded plastic piece, into which snaps a separate roof piece. The flush-mounted window glazing has painted silver gaskets, adding to the car’s realism. The sprung diaphragms are also separately applied pieces; they don’t quite touch when the cars are coupled.

The one-piece molded undercarriage also snaps into the car sides. I used my thumbnails to gently pry the sides apart and remove the shell from the floor. A one-piece molded plastic interior snaps into the floor and sandwiches two thin metal weights. The generic interior doesn’t match P-S plan 7510, lacking both the smoking room and the dressing rooms. The seats match up to the window spacing, though, giving a realistic impression from the outside.

At the blind end of the interior are two stanchions that reach to the ceiling, carrying a pair of metal contact strips. These are connected to the electrical pickups on the trucks in case the owner chooses to install a lighting unit.

The model closely resembles a photo of a prototype car from the same series published in NP Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment by Todd Sullivan (Morning Sun Books, 1995). The colors seem to match, too.

The paint is smooth, even, and thin, obscuring none of the fine molded rivet detail around the doors. Color separation is crisp, and the white printing is opaque and legible.

I compared the model’s major dimensions to those on a prototype drawing published in The Official Pullman-Standard Library: Vol. 3 (W. David Randall and William M. Ross, RPC Publications, 1986). They all matched, as did the placement of windows, grab irons, and other details.

I coupled two of the cars together on my N scale Spartanburg Subdivision layout and pushed them around through the tight curves and no. 5 turnouts. Although they handled the 11″ radius, they overhung the inside of the curves, and would look better on broader curves. I would not recommend trying to run them on 93⁄4″ radius track. The couplers were mounted at the correct height, but I had to adjust one of the trip pins to clear the closure rails on the turnouts.

Fulfilling a need. These cars are an important part of postwar passenger service for several western railroads. Even if you don’t model the North Coast Limited, Mainstreeter, Empire Builder, Challenger, or City of San Francisco, these cars would fit right into any postwar streamlined consist. These newly tooled, nicely decorated cars would be a fine addition to any N scale fleet.

Facts & features

Price: $46
RailSmith Models
P.O. Box 188 Prineville, OR 97754
Era: 1953-1970 (NP Loewy scheme)
Road names: Northern Pacific (two-tone green “Loewy scheme” and Pine Tree scheme); Great Northern (Empire Builder and Big Sky Blue schemes); Illinois Central; Southern Pacific; Spokane, Portland & Seattle (broad stripe, Empire Builder, and four stripe); and Union Pacific.
– All-wheel electrical pickup
– Blackened metal wheelsets, in gauge
– Flush-mounted clear window glazing
– Skirted or unskirted body, as appropriate
– Sprung diaphragms
– Truck-mounted knuckle couplers
– Weight: 1.4 ounces (matches RP-20.1)

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