NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Sat Jul 3 18:48:33 EDT 2021

Jim, thanks so much for sharing the explanation and the pictures. An
excellent "e-article"
Well done.

Frank Bongiovanni

On Sat, Jul 3, 2021 at 5:02 PM NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at>

> More than 25 years ago Jim Nichols gifted me a HO scale undecorated
> Athearn diner body which he had modified to more closely resemble a N&W
> diner. He relocated the doors while also lengthening the body. (See photos
> 1 and 2) At the NWHS Convention in Spencer, NC, he good naturedly prodded
> me about having the body, so by the following year at the Roanoke
> Convention I had mostly completed the model. It lacked some roof vents at
> that time. I was determined to finish this model!
> By my 1956 modeling era the prototype diners had had the small window on
> the blind end plated over; I cut a piece of .020 plain styrene to fit the
> opening and glued it in place. I elected to keep the wood sash windows per
> the model. (See photo 3)
> I removed the roof ribs on the Athearn shell with a modified chisel blade
> in an X-acto handle. I then removed the vents and grills on the sides of
> the clerestory using a sanding disc in my Dremel tool. I filled in any
> imperfections with Tamiya putty and sanded these areas smooth. (Photos 4
> and 5)
> Except for N&W diners number 1023 and 1024, the other diners when
> air-conditioned had half-tubes which are visible on the clerestory sides.
> To simulate this detail I used Evergreen Scale Models (ESM) No. 243 half
> round laminated the half round to ESM 125, .020 x .100 strip styrene.
> (Photo 6)
> In reviewing the prototype photos I noticed the doors on the kitchen end
> of the car do not extend to the bottom of the side sheet. I cut a piece of
> ESM .020 x .080 and fit it in place; I applied some Tamiya putty, allowed
> it to dry and sanded the joint smooth. (Photo 7)
> The underframe needs to be lengthened to match the car body. I reviewed
> prototype photos and decided the battery box casting on the Athearn
> underframe needed to be on the kitchen side of the car. I cut the
> underframe into three pieces. (Photo 8 and 9)
> I used a scrap of .040 styrene to assist in reassembling the lengthened
> underframe. I used a longer piece of .040 styrene for the other end as
> there will initially be a gap in the underframe that will be filled in.
> I inserted the rejoined underframe in the kitchen end, and the remaining
> piece of the underframe in the opposite end of the body. I carefully marked
> my piece of .040 styrene so I could draw lines that would assist me in
> joining this all back together at the appropriate length. I then glued this
> piece of styrene to the end and allowed it to dry, using my lines as a
> guide as to placement. I then applied glue to the styrene piece and the
> longer underframe and slid the styene piece into the longer piece. I
> inserted the lengthened underframe into the car body and made certain both
> ends of the underframe were flush against the ends of the car body. I left
> this to dry and cure.
> I measured the thickness of the Athearn underframe with my dial caliper
> and learned it was approximately .060 thick. I measured the opening in the
> underframe where I had rejoined the pieces together and determined it was 4
> x 9 HO scale feet. I cut a piece of scrap .060 styrene to this size and
> glued it to the .040 styrene that was bridging the gap between the original
> underframe pieces. (Photo 10)
> I determined the stringers on the Athearn underframe were .040 x .040 and
> used Evergreen Scale Models No. 142 to recreate these on the piece I used
> to fill the gap in the original underframe. (Photo 11)
> The underbody detail was my next area of concentration. In reviewing the
> photographs and images available to me I noted an abundance of photographs
> of the kitchen side of the car, but just a few of the opposite, or aisle,
> side of the car. As mentioned earlier the “battery box” casting on the
> Athearn underfame was retained, although reversed so it shows on the
> kitchen side of the car. I also reviewed drawings in the NWHS archives,
> particularly drawing F 43606. The best photographs available to me were
> both found in *Norfolk and Western Passenger Service 1946-1971, *by
> William E. Warden revised by Kenneth L. Miller. The photograph on page 87
> is a good aisle side view. An additional benefit for me of this photograph
> is that it was taken of Train No. 1 on the Shenandoah Line in August 1956,
> which is what I model. A nice photograph of the kitchen side is shown on
> page 125.
> I had on hand a smattering of passenger car detail parts from New England
> Rail Supply, Precision Scale, Details Associates and Bethlehem Car Works.
> Jim Nichols suggested using detail parts from a Branchline Trains 8-1-2
> Pullman Sleeper. This was a kit to model an Atlantic Coast Line car but Jim
> indicated the trucks were the correct type to use for the N&W diner. I used
> various detail parts and the trucks from the Branchline sleeper to further
> detail the car. (Photo 12)
> Other details included drilling holes to insert the handholds. The shell
> as modified by Jim lost some of the rivet detail along the top of the
> sides. I used rivet decals from Micro-Mark and applied these to fill in
> that detail.
> With the major construction complete it was time to paint the various
> components. I first gently washed the shell and underframe in warm water
> with detergent and allowed it to dry. After priming all components I pained
> the truck sideframes Scalecoat II No. 2018 Coach Olive, and the underbody
> Scalecoat II No. 2118 Engine Black (Satin). I painted the roof using Polly
> Scale Roof Brown with some Polly Scale Oily Black added; in hindsight I
> wish I would have added more of the Oily Black.
> The car body was painted using Scalecoat II paints. Jim Nichols suggested
> a mix of 2.5:1 of Scalecoat II N&W Red with ATSF Red. I could not find a
> bottle of the ATSF red so I used Scalecoat II S2089 CP Rail Bright Red.
> Decals are from a set produced years ago by Rail Graphics for Roanoke
> Rails. I believe Shell Scale now offers a similar set. (Photos 13 and 14)
> When everything was dry I used Evergreen Scale Models No. 9007, .015 Clear
> for windows, and window shades from American Model Builders Set #381. I
> have not added any interior detail as of now.
> N&W Class De Diner No. 1017 is ready for service! (Photo 15). I enjoyed
> this project and am happy to have an accurate model of a N&W diner to run
> on my railroad.
> Jim Brewer
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