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Quick Look: Lowell Smith N scale sleepers

Read this review from the April 2018 Model Railroader
Lowell Smith N scale sleepers

Price: $54 each

Lowell Smith Signature Series
P.O. Box 219
Gresham, OR 97030

Car names: Death Valley and Grand Canyon

Era: late 1940s to early 1950s

Comments: The Lowell Smith Signature Series has launched a new line of N scale passenger cars, the Pullman Park Series. The first two cars in the line are Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. 12-section, 1-drawing-room sleepers Death Valley and Grand Canyon. The cars are custom decorated for Lowell Smith by Micro-Trains Line Co.

Pullman 12-1 sleepers were assigned to the Santa Fe, but there were no cars named Death Valley or Grand Canyon (Santa Fe did have a 10-section observation lounge name Grand Canyon). The manufacturer named the cars after parks served by or associated with the ATSF.

The models follow Pullman Plan 3410A, which had four-tread vestibule steps. The layout of the blue one-piece plastic interior matches drawings in Sleeping Cars of the Santa Fe by Michael W. Flick, Dennis J. Kogan, and Terry W. Lehmann (Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society, 2012).

The cars are painted in Santa Fe’s shadow-line scheme, which was used from the late 1940s through the early 1950s. The labor-intensive scheme involved painting stripes on smooth-side cars, then feathering gray paint below the stripes to simulate fluted siding. The effect was well rendered on our samples.

The models’ dimensions closely follow drawings for a plan 3410 car in the January/February 1981 issue of Mainline Modeler. The cars weigh 1.3 ounces each, which is .1 ounce too light per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1. The plastic wheelsets are correctly gauged. The body-mounted Magne-Matic couplers are at the correct height.

I tested the cars on our Salt Lake Route layout. The cars navigated the no. 6 turnouts and the 123⁄4" double crossover without incident. The cars will run on 93⁄4" radius curves, but they’ll look better on broader curves.

Though these cars aren’t named after real Pullman 12-1 sleepers assigned to the Santa Fe, the realistic paint and lettering make them look plausible. Pair these cars with lightweight fluted-side equipment and you’ll have a realistic looking mid-century train.

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