The Poor Man’s Black Diamond in HO

A “Pike-sized” Passenger Train

Unless one can afford (and find) brass models, there are no exact models of LV passenger cars available in HO except for Bethlehem Car Shops’ 800-900 series commuter coach. On the back burner, I have been working on a “good enough” model of the early 1950s Black Diamond, using an assortment of kits, to run at our annual club show. My goal is to get it close enough for someone to say “Oh, that’s the Black Diamond!” but not spend the time on it that would be needed to satisfy the real purist. This project is in the same spirit as a series of articles that ran in Model Railroader, entitled “Pike Sized Passenger Trains.” I don’t expect to finish this project anytime soon, but I keep seeing questions about modeling LVRR passenger trains, so I’ll share my thoughts on how to approach this.

Mickey & Warfel’s Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Cars – Photo and Diagram Book No. 1 is an indispensable guide – it features HO scale profiles of most of the LVRR’s passenger equipment. My recommendations come from simply laying some plastic passenger car kits over these drawings.

pass carThe Athearn “standard clerestory coach,” with the battery box covers cut off, laid over the drawing of LV coach 1501 in Mickey & Warfel’s book. Note that many of the LV’s “heavyweight” cars had 4 wheel trucks, a fact often difficult to spot in photographs of entire trains.

Fortunately, the LV’s older cars were rather short, and the Athearn baggage, combine and coach kits can “stand in” for some of them, as long as you don’t count windows or worry too much about their shape. Cutting off the battery box covers and adding a sheet styrene skirt enhances the look. To go a step further, you could replace the Athearn 6-wheel trucks with 4-wheel trucks for some of the cars, but this requires relocating the bolsters on the underframe, and body-mounting the couplers.

Some of the shorter cars that were modernized in the 1940s can be represented by Con-Cor’s smooth side streamline cars. In most of these cases, the truck swapping goes in the opposite direction, since most of these slightly longer and heavier cars had 6-wheel trucks.

The Valley’s 81 ft diners and parlor cars can probably be represented by Rivarossi cars – heavyweights, or streamlined for the modernized cars. I haven’t really looked closely at these cars since I obtained the Black Diamond consists.

The Pullman Standard deluxe coaches can be represented by Eastern Car Works’ no. 1300 Osgood Bradley commuter coach, either as is, or you can replace the roof and ends with ECWs Pullman Standard roof and ends, which are available as a “core kit.”

Finally, the standard commuter coaches are well represented by the Bethlehem Car Shops kit no. 710.

Put a consist of these cars behind a pair of Proto 2000 PA-1s, and you’ll have a “good enough” (IMHO) Black Diamond – better, if you don’t mind doing some kitbashing.

PS – Part 1 of an excellent article by Bob Chapman on “Kitbashing B&O’s National Limited” appears in the March 2002 issue of Model Railroader. Chapman covers replacing windows, ends and roofs on Rivarossi cars. These techniques used should be directly applicable to modeling LV passenger equipment, if your standards for “good enough” are on the high end of the scale!

– Ed

#9 The Black Diamond – Westbound – April 1952 Consist
1 Baggage & mail (except Sun.) Any one of 1025 to 1036, 1040 or 1042 Athearn RPO
1 Baggage Any one of 1201 to 1234 Athearn baggage
1 Parlor Either 1553, 1554 or 1002 1002: Con-Cor 72 ft streamline diner.
1553 & 1554: possibly one of the Rivarossi streamlined cars.
1 Diner Any one of 1007, 1009 to 1015 Possibly one of the Rivarossi heavyweight cars.
1 Smoker SC82 1503 or 1504 Athearn clerestory coach (too short) or Rivarossi heavyweight coach (too long).
1 Coach R92 1510 1511 1512 1513 1514 Eastern Car Works #1300 Osgood Bradley Commuter Coach
2 Coach (WR) (Sat.only) 888 890 891 893 894 895 896 897 898 899 900 901 902 903 904 905 906 907 908 909 910 911 912 915 917
New York – Lehighton
Bethlehem Car Shops #710 LV Coach
1 Coach (exc. Sat.) 892 912 914 916 1475 1476 1477 1478 1479 1500 1501 1502 1515 1516 1517 1518 1519
Bethlehem (from Phila. via RDG) – Buffalo
892 – 916: Bethlehem Car Shops #710 LV Coach
1475 – 1500: Con-Cor 72 ft streamlined coach.
1501, 1502: Athearn clerestory coach
1515-1519: Eastern Car Works #1300 Osgood Bradley Commuter Coach
#10 The Black Diamond – Eastbound – April 1952 Consist
1 Baggage & mail (exc. Sun.) Any one of 1025 to 1036, 1040 or 1042 Athearn RPO
1 Baggage Any one of 1201 to 1234 Athearn baggage
1 Parlor Either 1553, 1554 or 1002 1002: Con-Cor 72 ft streamline diner.
1553 & 1554: possibly one of the Rivarossi streamlined cars.
1 Diner Any one of 1007, 1009 to 1015 Possibly one of the Rivarossi heavyweight cars.
1 Smoker 1503 or 1504 Athearn clerestory coach (too short) or Rivarossi heavyweight coach (too long).
1 Coach R92 1510 1511 1512 1513 1514 Eastern Car Works #1300 Osgood Bradley Commuter Coach
1 Coach 892 912 914 916 1475 1476 1477 1478 1479 1500 1501 1502 1515 1516 1517 1518 1519
Buffalo – Bethlehem (to Phila. via RDG)
892 – 916: Bethlehem Car Shops #710 LV Coach
1475 – 1500: Con-Cor 72 ft streamlined coach.
1501, 1502: Athearn clerestory coach
1515-1519: Eastern Car Works #1300 Osgood Bradley Commuter Coach
1 Coach (Fri.) 888 890 891 893 894 895 896 897 898 899 900 901 902 903 904 905 906 907 908 909 910 911 912 915 917
Lehighton – New York
Bethlehem Car Shops #710 LV Coach
5 Coaches (Sun.) 888 890 891 893 894 895 896 897 898 899 900 901 902 903 904 905 906 907 908 909 910 911 912 915 917
Lehighton – New York
Bethlehem Car Shops #710 LV Coach