Tasha Oates updated November 29, 2010


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  • Diner Interior From Palace Car Co. Components

    By Mark Malmkar

    Dining cars are always candidates for interior detailing since they have large windows. When you see the white tablecloths flash as the car goes by, there is no mistaking it for another car. Detailing these cars will make them even more visible in the consist. 

    Diners were standardized and didn’t vary much from railroad to railroad, or decade to decade for that matter. Half the car was dining room and half the car was kitchen and pantry. The dining room portion is highly visible but the kitchen is often without windows and not visible. So I chose not to detail the kitchen in this model.

    The model detailed in this article is a stock Con-Cor 85 foot painted for Santa Fe. It represents the series 600-606 cars used on the Super Chief. For an interior kit I selected a Palace Car Co. Kit number 9565 which is specific to the Con-Cor 85-foot diner. The kit comes with a primed metal floor/weight on which to cement the parts, plus it brings the weight of the car up to NMRA standards. Dining chairs and tables are included in the kit, plus two precut partitions, a styrene strip for walls, and cast-resin appliances and lockers. Two of the resin pieces were not of the correct style for the Santa Fe diner and were not used. To obtain enough lockers and refrigerators to authentically represent this series of diners, I added two packages of 5136 detail parts.

    Preparing the body shell is the first step. The factory weights need to be removed. I bent a screwdriver for a special project years ago and used it to pry them out. Take it easy or you could crack the car floor or poke screwdriver through it. The sprue stub where the plastic was injected will be in the way if it isn’t removed. The best way I found to remove it is to use a curved file and a little effort. A sharp chisel is another tool that will work. The floor should be smooth and flat for the best mounting of the interior.

    Lighting kits can be used in conjunction with Palace Car Company interior kits, but installing those kits is beyond the scope of this article. Each lighting kit is different, but most can be used with the floor/weights in these kits. Some may need extra holes drilled in the weight for wires, others need the holes enlarged for clearance. The steel floor/weight can be easily machined or modified as needed to make lighting kits work.

    Temporarily place the floor/weight into the body and decide on truck mounting. The weights will work with the original mounting pins. The holes are the proper diameter to be tapped to mount trucks with 6-32 screws. They can also be drilled larger for screw clearance holes. To make sure the screw threads in the body shell would match up exactly with the threads in the weight, I tapped the weight first, then tapped down through the plastic truck mounting hole. I temporarily held that end down with a screw while I tapped the second hole at the other end. I used 7/l6-inch-long size 6-32 screws to mount the trucks instead of 3/8 inch. I like the extra length of threads coming up through the floor/weight. Doing this heavy-handed work now is better than waiting until all your fragile details are in place.

    Decorating the floor/weight is an option. Floor details most likely cannot be seen with the roof on the car, but some modelers choose to include them because "they know it is there." I selected some paper carpet patterns from a Palace Car Company "Floor Decor" package and glued them in place on the weight.

    While the floor/weight is temporarily in the shell I determined where the windows were located and where the walls and partitions would be. Once wall location is determined, you can paint the interior of the body shell. Santa Fe used southwestern colors, and I chose beige for the interior walls. Walls and partitions should be assembled and then painted. The kitchen was left unpainted.

    Individual chairs and parts should be painted before cementing to the floor/weight. Colors chosen for this diner were taken from a Santa Fe color brochure for the J 950-era Super Chief. Dining chairs in this model were hand painted on "painting board.

    The painted board is a foot long piece of HO scale 1x4-inch styrene with a strip of duct tape tacked sticky side up. Individual pieces are stuck to this tape and the board can be maneuvered easily to paint all sides. Pieces even stay attached if you spray paint a base coat before hand painting. Appliances and wall components are shown being painted using this board.

    One clearance problem became obvious with this interior as it was being assembled. The Con-Cor shell has six rectangular holes in the floor for locking tabs on the roof to go through. Two of these were at one end of the car where refrigerators and lockers would cover up these holes after assembly. After gluing the lockers I took a razor saw and a file and cut away a notch for clearance. This will not be visible from outside of the car. The holes at the other end of the car were not a problem. The middle two in the dining room can be avoided by carefully locating the chairs away from them.

    Once the walls are assembled and painted and the chairs are painted, one can begin assembly. The key is to never allow chairs, tables, walls or other components to extend past the edge of the floor/weight. Doing so may prevent the windows and roof from clearing the interior and firmly locking in place. It is also possible to send pieces ricocheting around the inside of the car when the window glass snags them as you press it into place. I cement the walls and appliances in place first, following pencil marks I made on the floor while it was temporarily in place in the car body earlier. I also mark the center of the windows so I can glue on the chairs. I find it easier to glue the chairs on with the interior outside the shell. More room for my "fat" fingers. My cement of choice is Super Glue Gel.

    Align the chairs evenly. Don’t worry if they are not perfect. It will look like the chairs were randomly used and placed back under the tables. The tabletops are cemented onto the "post" in the middle of the chairs. I prefer to do this with the interior inside the car so I can center the tables in the windows. I emphasize to take care and not get the table past the edge of the floor/weight. Sight along the windows to make sure the tables are level as you glue them in.

    After the glue has set, you can place your interior inside the body and attach it in place. The aforementioned truck mounting screws is one way, and to simply glue it in is another. If your models never leave the layout you could let the floor/weight lay loose in the bottom. The window and roof shell will keep it in place. (My car frequently gets hauled around, and boxes do get turned over. Of the several interiors left "loose" in the cars, only one has ever gotten damaged from the weight bouncing around. The Rivarossi diner was in airplane luggage and I had left the roof off. Photo 10 shows the car after repairs were made.)

    Super detailing – I’ll leave to you. If you wish to add plates to the table or flowers in the vases, that’s okay. We are only limited by our creativity and patience. This interior kit will go a long way in improving a model’s appearance.


    The Palace Car Company offers a wide range of interior detail parts for HO scale passenger cars. They offer specific kits for cars like this Con-Cor diner as well as separate components. There's an Index of all previous articles on modeUnl passenger cars and operations on our website at www.railmodeljournal.com.

    Here's what you need, one dining car shell and one Dining Car Interior Kit. The interior kit is shown unpackaged so you can see the parts. The two white cast-resin appliance pieces to the right were not used in this model. 

    To prepare the stock shell for the interior, the factory weights must be removed and the sprue stub cut off. An old screwdriver with a slight bend will pry the weights out easily, and a curved file works best to remove the sprue stub from the floor bottom. The beige color of the interior walls can be seen in this view.

    The Palace Car Co. interior kit comes with a metal floor/weight to which the pieces are cemented. It is shown here decorated to look like carpet and linoleum. The kitchen area was painted a rusty brown.

    A handy tool useful for painting small parts is a strip of duct tape tacked to a piece of board. The duct tape will hold the parts, even through spray painting. These were painted by hand.

    Refrigerators and lockers are shown lined up on the painting board. The five pieces on the right are not part of the kit, but are available as separate parts. They more accurately portrayed the lockers in the car end.

    Wall and partition sub assemblies are shown here after painting. Their assembly and decoration are more easily done before they are cemented to the floor weight.




    Article Details

    • Original Author Mark Malmkar
    • Source Railmodel Journal

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