Assembling a Branchline Pullman

By Garry Spear

As I build my first Branchline Pullman I will keep a record of questions, thoughts and comments about the construction.  The first car is the 8-1-2 PRR Pullman CENTWOOD.

The car is factory painted so care must be taken to assemble the car.  To allow for painting, weathering and overcoating I will vary the construction sequence.  Step 1 is to assemble and glue the sides to the car body.  I deferred the glueing in this step to later, but I did place the car sides on to the underframe to straighten the underframe and make the car easier to handle.

Many web pages have additional Pullman information.  The pages by Tom Madden are some of the best and he "has just put seven Pullman underneath equipment layouts on his www.pullmanproject.com by Tom Madden website, for those who want more correct underbodies than the generic Branchline ones.  The Branchline brake cylinder location is generally OK for 1x18 UC systems, but the UC brake valve location varies quite a bit from Plan to Plan.  The layouts are PDF files, generated in Adobe Acrobat 5, and are HO scale if printed full-size on 8 1/2 x 14 legal size paper. Included are ice and PM/PMB a/c layouts for 3979A 8-1-2, 3585A 10-1-2 and 3410A 12-1.  There are actually two different PMB layouts for the 8-1- 2, but one of them seems to apply to only four cars."  He will be adding other layouts as the parts become available.

He has "also added a page of comments on working with the Branchline underbody parts, and that's also accessible from the pullmanproject home page."

Underframe Next is to assemble the center sill and details to the underframe details.  All parts are very tight fitting and I had to open the mounting holes or otherwise file the parts to dry fit them before glueing.  I hand to file the backs of the center sill sides to allow them to slip into the floor before glueing.  Also, the non brake cylinder center sill side had to be shortened with a few file strokes.

Brake Cylinder and Details
I had a problem with the hand brake pin being about 1/16" to long; shortened the part and glued everything together.  Another solution, from a friend, is to drill out the center of the wheel and slide the hand brake pin into it.

Brake Cylinder and Details
Here is a closeup of the air brake cylinder and associated details.  Steps are next to be assembled.  Note the alignment guides on the step sides go behind the steps.

Steps
The steps are assembled and now on to the couplers.

Coupler Assembly

Coupler Mounted on the Car with the Yoke

Coupler Mounted on the Car
Couplers are assembled and mounted using the standard supplied mount.  I have tightened the screw and locked the coupler so it does not swing.  Now on to the air conditioning, which is Electro-Mechanical on CENTWOOD.

Various AC & Underbody Parts
Many of the AC & underbody parts need to be assembled, here are most of the assembled underbody parts.  Be sure the keep the parts identified for the mounting process.

Mounting Pads for Underframe Equipment
Some of the underbody equipment will mount directly on the floor supports, brake cylinder side.  I decided to create mounting pads for equipment on the other side.  Most or all pads would not be needed if I had glued the sides to the car, because most of the underbody equipment could be glued directly the the side.  Next is to paint the mounting pads and apply more of the underbody equipment.  The Brine Tank is not needed for CENTWOOD.

Mounting Pads painted and Major Underframe Items Mounted

Trucks
Branchline's trucks are well detailed and assembled as part of the kit building process.  Here is a short write-up on improving their performance.  Assembly and Improving Branchline Trucks by Denny Anspach

Steam Vapor Exhausts
To Assist in locating and glueing the Vapor Exhausts I left the tit of plastic on the top of the Exhaust and used it as a locating pin.  I spotted the mounting location (I use a sowing needle mounted in a pin vice) and drilled a #60 hole.  Then I glued the Vapor exhaust into the hole.

Assembled Interior
The interior was assembled on the workbench as a separate assembly.  This will allow easy painting and decorating of the interior.  All interior partitions were glued into place.

Assembled Interior Inside the Car
Before placing the interior into the car I drilled the truck mounting screw holes with a #60 drill and shorten the weight by 3/4".  The shortened metal weight was now glued into the car between the holes locating the truck mounting screws; the shortened weight will allow easy replacement of the self tapping truck mounting screws in the future.  I gently filed the bottom edges of the interior to assist in guiding it into position.

The Assembled Car

The Assembled Car
The different sides of the car.

I have not completely assembled the car at this point in time; no windows, no end chains or diaphragms, and not all the underbody details. I want to test run the car and be satisfied with its' performance before I finish the assembly.  Future options are diaphragms (I normally use Walthers' folded paper), additional weight, metal couplers, weathering, etc.  I have ordered additional cars and I am using this car as a test bed.

Two different Plan 3979A Cars
Here are two different window configurations for Plan 3979A car.  The front car is the BL car; the back car is a kitbashed AHM 12-1 car with NERS parts.  Most of the PRR Plan 3979A car were from lots 6353, 6359, and 6377; these lots had a short center window in the ladies washroom.