The Erie Lackawanna Railway
Modeling the Railway and the Equipment
Page 1

Click on underlined words to see photographs.

These are the pages for modelers who would like to know how some kits ae built and bashed.  It isalso  a running dissertation on the continuing remodeling and upgrading of equipment to come close to the prototype.

Posted JULY 1, 2001

Funaro & Camerlengo's Rendition of the Erie's 11 arch window Stillwell Suburban Coach Kit (2300 series) #P-201

Here's a little background on the prototype:
In 1912 a high speed electric railroad called the New York, Westchester and Boston opened for business.  It linked rural suburbs in the Bronx and Westchester with the Interborough Rapid Transit Co.  (IRT) subway lines at 180th Street in the Bronx.  the railroad utilized the highest standards of engineering and construction available at the time.  the entire line was built without grade crossings so multiple uinit trains could operate at high speeds.
many novel innovations were incorporated into the railroad, but perhaps the most enduring and well known were the introduction of Stillwell design coaches.  These cars were designed by L. B. Stillwell, the consulting engineer of the N.Y. W. & B. and built by the Pressed Steel Company. The cars were unique for their time.  Unlike most 1912 railroad equipment, the Stillwell design relied on rugged body framing to provide strength to carry the load of the car - not a huge steel fish belly underframe.  The side framing consisted of a series of gothic arches, diagonally braced and attached to both the frame and roof.  The result was a strong, durable car body that permitted a relatively light underframe.  Industry press reported that the design provided unusally good protection to the passengers, particularly in the event of accident that could lead to the most dreaded of all wrecks - telescoping.
Despite the fact that the Stillwell passenger car was a vast improvement over the steel cars that were its contemporaries, only one other railroad purchased them new.  The Erie Railroad was in the process of upgrading it's suburban lines and looked favorably on the N.Y. W. & B.  Apparently viewing electrification as inevitable, the Erie selected the Stillwell design to replace is wood commuter car fleet.  The initial order for the cars were identical to those of the N.Y. W. & B. except that they lacked the center door and electrical equipment.  It was assumed that it would be added after electrification.  Later deliveries of longer cars were added to the roster.  They were also equipped for the conversion to multiple unit cars.

Although originally purchased by the Erie in 1926 with a capacity of 86 passengers and numbered in the 2300's series, these 11 arch window coaches also ran on the Chicago and  Western Indiana Railroad as commuter coaches in the Chicago area.  The C. & W. I. was owned by a consortium of railroads that terminated in Chicago.  Later in life some of them ended up in California on the "Skunk Train".  The New York, Susquehanna & Western, being owned by the Erie Railroad at the time, also used these coaches on suburban commuter trains and they could be seen around the Jersey City Terminal of the Erie in the 30's, 40's and 50's resplendant in their silver and maroon livery.  Erie Stillwell coaches were pulled by 4-6-2 Pacifics in their younger years and then by EMC E8A's , Alco RS2's and 3's, EMD GP7's and even F-M Trainmasters in the diesel era.  The coaches themselves survived through the Erie Lackawanna merger and were the stable of the commuter trains until replaced by the Horizon coaches and the GE U34CH engines in the 1970's.  Here is the entire data on these coaches from George Elwood's web site.

Well, this is our most ambitious building project to date.  We will construct a "craftsmen kit", a first for relating in an article.  All other articles written by this author were of bashing "shake the box kits".  This one is DIFFERENT!  We do have some experience in this area.  We built the original F&C Stillwell coach and combine and an Boonton coach from the same manufacturer, but many years have past and the old eyes and joints are not the same as in yester years.

Our first step in this project is to carefully read the instructions, twice!  Then after realizing the instructions are incomplete and lacking in  real guidance, I threw them aside.  Each piece of this kit was picked up and examined before any work started.  Then every single piece was cleaned off by taking a sharp Exacto #11 bladed knife and cleaning the flash from each in turn. The largest, of course, is the one piece body.  Over 80% of the windows were clogged with flash and both end doors interior and exterior had to be cleared.  Large mold vents (from the molding process) left on the bottom of the body had to be cut off.  After all the flash was removed, we then took a fine steel file and filed the bottom of the body sides and ends flat.  Then next large part is the underframe.  This had minimal flash which was removed and then again filed flat on each side and end.  Next, the end sill castings were cleared of flash as were the truck frames and then the miriad of small underbody parts and the four sets of steps.  A couple of things that had to be done such as drilling out the holes for the truck attachments, test fitting the underframe in the body, and steps into the end sill castings.  Here's what the parts looked like all cleared of flash and ready for construction.  One thing to be very careful of is to make sure the truck frames have tapered holes in the side frames for the wheelsets.  These can be cleared out very carefully with a small Phillips head screwdriver.  Then test fit the wheelsets into the frames.  Make sure they spin freely.  We will do this again after painting.  Notice we have NOT glued anything yet. Patience here is a must.  Don't try to get it done fast by being impatient (the author has learned this from experience).

The Body
We now turn our attention to the detail of the body.  At the bottom ends of each car are two grab irons. We drilled two holes with a #78 drill for each of the grabs and test fitted them into the holes. Turned grab irons are included in the car parts.   Next we refered to pictures on page 153 in "The Official Pullman-Standard Library, Volume 10 Northeast Railroads", noted the placement of the handrails at each end of the cars.  #76 holes were drilled for the handrails, Detail Associates 229-2504 3/4" scale round brass were shaped and installed (test fitted again) in both ends. We used the DA parts even though a green coated wire appears to be included with the kit to fit this need. A personal choice because it doesn't look like there is enough of this "coated green wire" to complete the underbody details if we used it for handrails.  The next step is a "bugger".  There are handrails that are inside the vestibule that parallel the steps on each side of the coach.  These are only one in each side doorway on the inside wall of the car.  It is very difficult to drill these holes and also to measure their size, shape the 3/4" scale round brass to the proper shape and install them, but we hang in there, invent some new curse words and do what ya got to do, very carefully.  Here is a picture of the "inside" handrails.  As you may be able to see, they are angled down at the same angle of the steps.  To finish the handrails, we drilled holes on each side of each door and this time used the coated green wire to complete the car's multitude of handrails. Now, we set up all the handrails and grabs into their holes and simply touched them at the holes with a drop of CA type (Krazy glue) glue.  We did that with the end of a bent paper clip.  That will be sufficient to hold them in place.

On the ends of the car, there are buffers, (separate parts) one for each end, that should be glued to the end of the body on the car with CA glue.  On the roof placed slightly past the door and centered over the far left window is the small round stack vent for the toilet (again see PS vol.10 book pictures to see proper placement).  One drop of CA glue and place this part on top of the roof.  At this point, the car body construction is essentially finished. One part not included are the main vents on each end of the roof.  These vents are apparent in almost all pictures of this 2300 series cars. (See page 16 of the Erie/DL&W Color Guide)  We fashioned our vents out of scraps of wood the first being a 2' x 2' scale square 1 foot high.  You can also use Plastruct 90810 Styrene Square Rod .250" x 10".  The second piece of wood was 2 1/2' square piece of wood 1' high. You can subsititute Plastruct 90779 Styrene Strips .100" x .250" x 10".  We glued these two together to create the vents needed and then filed the bottom with a round file, the shape of middle of the roof line .  These two vents are staggered on the roof one on each side and on each end.  See picture for proper positioning.  Also, they did not include the step drop plates for each door. These are hinged metal plates that usually are in an upright position against the car inside at the far ends of the car and have a handrail on their bottom for climbing the steps. These again are not included with the kit, so at this point we cut four 3' X 3' scale pieces of Plastruct .025 styrene, drilled holes in two corners opposite each other, fashioned handrails out of the coated green wire and CA glued them to the 3' x 3' plates.   We took all of this down to the paint shop (garage) and with a can of Floquil Pullman Green, sprayed this entire car both inside and out.  Side. Bottom. Top.

The Underbody
A lot of this is going to be guess work.  We couldn't find much on the underside detail of the Stillwell coaches in any reference material, but we will do our best.  The manufacturer DOES NOT include underside detail specifications for the model although they have included a lot of underbody detail parts.  We resurrected the "old" kit instructions and they weren't in them either.  We scoured the net looking for "wreck" pictures that included Stillwell coaches to see the underbody detail, but couldn't find any.  From the side view of pictures and the manufacturers diagram, we decided where some of the detail go.  Please forgive us if we took some liberties here.  We're guessing!  After putting out an urgent plea for help on this subject, Vincent Lee was kind enough to share some underside pictures of the 2400 series Stillwell cars with us.  We took this information, the parts we had from the kit and "improvised".  Instead of verbally detailing the placement, we'll just let this picture tell it all.

This is the placement of the detail parts, train lines and brake equipment as best we could figure it out.

We then took the underbody, the steps, the vestibule end underbody pieces and the truck frames and painted them in our paint shop, all Pullman Green.  The smaller parts such as the truck frames, steps and vestibule underbody parts were fastened to our paint stand with Scotch tape before painting so that they didn't blow around during spraying.  We then drilled holes in the center of the truck bolsters with a 1/16" drill.  We took the truck frames, cleaned out any painted spur points and placed the wheelsets into the truck frames.  This is again only for testing purposes at this point and to assure that the wheelsets freely rotate in the frames.  Make sure they are free wheeling.  After this is done, take them out again.  Next we take the 1/4" brass round head bolts and put them into the truck frames and then screwed the frames into the truck bolsters on the underbody.  Screw these down until the truck frames have no play and can not turn at all.  Then back the screws off about 3/4 of a turn (270 degrees).  This should give them enough play for proper tracking, but not allow the car weight to "roll it over" or to lean excessively to either side.  The next step is to plan for the final attachment of the body to the underframe.  As opposed to the steps indicated in the instructions which require attaching piece of angled styrene to the inside of the body of the coach and then somehow screwing them through the underbody to the styrene pieces glued on the coach body, we choose to use the two very long bolts included with the kit to attach the underbody to the body shell.  We will, however, glue six styrene angles to the underbody before assembly to keep the underbody square when inserted into the body.  Cut six pieces about an inch and one half long from a piece of quarter inch styrene angle [Plastruct 90506 Stryene Angles 1/4" x 24" (pkg 5)].  Glue these flush with the side of the underbody with AC glue, three to a side, placed a half an inch from the ends and the middle one centered on each side of the under frame.  At this point, we applied 3.25 oz. of weight to the inside (top) portion of the underbody.  We had weighted the parts before assembly of the car and found it to weight 3 and 3/4 oz.  Applying my rules for (not the NMRA's) weight of 1 oz for every 10 scale feet, this car needs another 3.25 oz. of weight.  A 72' foot car equals 7 oz plus or minus.  Now we took the body shell, turned it upside down and found the two large circular stubs from the molding process.  In the center of each, we drilled an 1/16" hole about a eighth of inch deep.  Now we screwed the long bolts into each of the holes.  We took the underbody and lined it up with the body shell.  The bolts will then be lined up with the underbody.  We carefully marked with a pencil the where the bolts lined up on the centerline of the underbody.  We then drilled an 1/16" hole through each of the two marked areas on the underbody's centerline.  With the long bolts this will hold the body to the underframe and give you the ability to get access to the inside of the car in case you want to light it or create an interior.

Finishing the Body
The next steps are to insert the vestibule underbody pieces gluing them with AC glue into the vestibules of the body.  Some trimming of the pieces must be done here to get them to fit properly.  Note that the steps have two different shaped sides.  The side with the square side goes toward the inside of the car body.  Then glue all four steps into the body.  The final body part is the drop plate that is glued to the outside end of the body over the top of the steps.  These are oriented with the handrail toward the bottom on the outside and toward the top on the inside of the car.  We measured and cut pieces of the included acetate for the windows of the car.  Remember, measure twice, cut once.   After inserting and gluing the acetate, we determined where the rest room is in the car.  That's right under the first window where you have assembed and glued the short stack on the roof.   We then painted the last window in the coach under the stack with bright silver Floquil paint. This is to simulate the blocked out window in the prototype with a piece of metal.  Again cut and glue the acetate for the other side of the car body.  No painting necessary on that side. This finishes the assembly of the body of the Stillwell coach.  At this point, we elected to decal the car sides with "ERIE" and the car number before assembly of the coach with the underbody.  The decals supplied seem to be for the milk cars and not specifically for the Stillwell coach.  We used the large sread out ERIE and the small numbers for the coach.

Here is a list of valid car numbers for this series Stillwell coach from Group D, Sheet 8: 2300-2355, 2357-2379, 2381-2383, 2385-2387, 2389-2394, 2396-2399.

The letters of ERIE were cut separately and centered on the coach side between the arched windows.  the car numbers were centered under the sixth window and centered vertically between the bottom of the windows and the edge of the lower body.  As usual with our decalling, we thoughly wetted the decals in water, transported the decal and backing sheet portion to the place on the car they were supposed to be applied and slid the decal off the backing sheet.  Very carefully move the decal into place with the end of your Xacto knife.  When we were satisfied with its placement, we used a small paint brush to apply a drop of Micro-Set solvent.  This brings the decal down to surface of the car body.  We set the car aside, waited a few minutes and reapplied the solvent again.  We repeated this two more times.

The body and the underframe come together
We now have the two main components of the Stillwell coach assembled and ready for attachment.  Carefully insert the underbody into the body shell.  Line up the two long bolts and screw them in place to secure the underbody to the body.  This now completes the assembly of the kit.  We now took the assembled coach less wheelsets and couplers to the paint shop to dull cote the entire model.  This will secure the decals on the body and give an overall similiar coating to the entire model.

Final touches
The wheelsets of your choice (LifeLike 21526  -  36" metal wheelsets) should now be inserted into the truck frames and again checked for proper "spinning" and freedom of movement within the truck frames.  Couplers are not included with this kit.  We used the coupler of our choice, the Kadee #5.  First assemble the Kadee #5 coupler into a Kadee draft gear box. Then glued the assembled box with coupler onto the square section of the vestibule insert on each end.  The height of these should be in checked with a Kadee height gauge and be tested to assure that they function freely springing back and forth before gluing to the underframe.  This model should be able to take a minimum radius of 22 inches.  Small pieces of the green coated wire can be now extended over the vestiblue ends to represent the continuance of the train line, finishing the underbody details.  Here's the finished model.

Powder Room side

Top Side

Tool Box Side


A note on kit versions and painting:  According to the Erie & Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment, this series (2300's) Stillwell's were painted entirely Pullman Green.  Some discussion has ensued about their being Olive Drab, but the "experts" say definitely Pullman Green.  In later years, some of these cars were modernized by having a steel plating put over the arched part of the windows and repainted.  The roofs and underbodies then received a coat of black and the bodies were left Pullman Green, so two versions of this kit are appropriate, arched windows and "modernized".

Kit and Parts Listing
P-201 Funaro & Camerlengo Erie Arch Window Stillwell Coach Kit
Detail Associates 2504 3/4" round brass
LifeLike 21256  -  36" metal wheelsets
Floquil 130045 - Pullman Green spray can 3 oz.
Floquil 130010 - Engine Black spray can 3 oz.  (optional for modernized version)
Floquil 110045 - Pullman Green 1 oz. bottle (for touch up)
Floquil 110101 - Bright Silver 1 oz. bottle
Plastruct 90506 Styrene Angles 1/4" x 24" (pkg 5)
Plastruct 90810 Styrene Square Rod .250" x 10" (pkg 5) - for roof vents
Plastruct 90779 Styrene Strips .100" x .250" x 10" (pkg 10)  - for roof vent tops
A-Line Proto Power West 13000 1/2" x 1/2" x  3/16" weight strips (3 oz.) pkg. 2

General 90 Pinvise
General 1251 Model Railroad Reference Rule
Exacto 3202 #2 medium knife
Exacto 11 #11 knife blades
Floquil 644003 #3 Camel Hair Brush
Small screwdriver straight end
Small screwdriver pointed Phillips head end

"The Official Pullman-Standard Library, Volume 10 Northeast Railroads", by W. David Randall & William G. Anderson,  pages 150 through 154
"Erie / DL&W Color Guide to Freight & Passenger Equipment" by Larry DeYoung and Mike DelVecchio, pages 14 through 21
"Erie Lackawanna Color Guide to Freight & Passenger Equipment" by Larry DeYoung , page 23

(c) Copyrighted in 2001 by Joseph W. Jordan, Jr.

Click here to move to page 2 of the El Modeling section  which features the SDP-45 conversion, building a transfer caboose from scratch, detailing the Phoebe Snow Tavern Lounge Car #790, and detailing a Union Pacific baggage car.  Click here to go to page 3 for detailing an NJDOT ex-Santa Fe car and an Athearn SW7 conversion to an EL SW-8