Friday, December 20, 2013

The Pay Car is Here!

It's payday at Peters and the pay train has just arrived!
"There, just coming around the curve, was a glittering vision of brass and varnish half hidden in a nimbus of smoke and dust. Two short blasts on a whistle greeted the gang, the vision hesitated for a minute, while the section men disappeared in the nimbus and reappeared as suddenly as if they'd been shot out of a gun, and here came this vision gliding up to the platform with bell ringing and pop valve sputtering sotto voce, like a young lady trying to suppress a ticklish cough. It was the pay car.  
   At each joint in the engine jacket was a band of brass 4 inches wide. Dome, sand box, chests and cylinders were encased in brass polished until you could have seen to shave in it. Her front end and her dainty straight stack were rubbed with plumbago until they shone like a small boy's heel. All her brightwork was smooth and spotless and glittering, while all the rest of her surface was striped and curlicued with all the colors the general shops could mix.
   Coupled to the engine was a wheeled palace built on graceful lines in freshly varnished paint which rivaled the brasswork on the engine in brilliance. The plate glass windows were curtained in bright-hued brocade. Not a speck or a flaw was to be seen. Even the wheels bore only so much dust as had been gathered on the day's run."*

Employees at Peters await their turn at the pay window. Yes,
The S&C does employ women telegraph operators.
Unlike the direct deposit "pay checks" of today, getting your monthly wages in the nineteenth century was a big affair. Most railroads dedicated a locomotive and car to the pay service and, on a large line, it spent most of its time running everywhere there was an employee of the railroad. You climbed aboard the car, signed the pay roll and received a stack (it didn't matter that it wasn't that tall) of gold and silver coins representing last month's work.
   I wanted the S&C to have its own pay car. Information on them is not that easy to find. There are a few old articles about the process and some text books advising how many men with rifles, pistols and cutlasses should be on the car but nothing really good for modeling. Most of the photos I saw were older, lighter locomotives  but very well kept up with older, well-kept coaches converted to pay service. Based on these facts, I built my car.

Built from a Bachmann old-time coach, the Aurelia serves as the S&C's pay car.
  The basis of the car was a Bachmann old-time coach. There are several good features of this car. The windows are proportionally good and the roof is well-detailed. The trucks have the right wheelbase and appearance of 1870s-early 1880s trucks. I began by removing the over-large truss rods and end railings. The truss rods were replaced with Grandt Line turnbuckles threaded onto nylon fishing line while new Cal-Scale end railings were used on the platforms. The old cast-on handrails were scraped off and wire was used to form new ones.
   Every once in a while, in a photo of an older car, you see molding arranged in an oval on the side of the car. This was used for the car's name or number. I wanted this effect on my car. The oval piece is from a Grandt Line structure dating set. This set comes with several "shields" on which to place the building date and one of them is an oval of about the right size.
    After painting in the standard S&C scheme, I added decals proclaiming the car's purpose along with its name, Aurelia, which is from the Latin for golden being, of course, what the car carried.
   The locomotive, the C.A. Coscia, is the dedicated engine for the pay train and was discussed in my post on October 31, 2013.

* __________, The Passing of the Pay Car. The Railroad Gazette, New York: July 26, 1907.


  1. Don,
    This looks really spectacular. What type paint did you use for the Ochre?

    1. I used a mixture of 2 parts SP Armour Yellow and 3 parts Reefer White (all Floquil enamels) to get the body color. Roof Brown was used for the trim.

  2. Who produced the decals for the coach, like for the letterboard linework, scrolls and lettering?

    1. The artwork was developed by myself using Adobe Illustsrator and based on a Virginia & Truckee restored coach in the Nevada State Railroad Museum. They were printed on my Alps printer.