Amtrak California Cars

(Work in Progess)


Amtrak California has unique passenger trains for their service inside California. The train consists of EMD 59PHI and GE Dash 8-32BHW locomotives and bi-level passenger cars made by Amerail. There are two paint schemes. The Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin train is painted in silver, dark blue and black while the Surfliner is in silver and blue.

The F59PHI engine is available from Athearn, painted in Surfliner colors, while the Atlas  Dash 8-32BHW is in San Joaquin colors. 

The passenger cars have not been available in N-Scale as far as I know. Union Station Products, a manufacture of car sides in HO and N scale produced a HO scale set of those passenger cars, which is available with a matching core kit. 

The set includes

#8000 - Coach (Trailer)

#8200 - Baggage Coach (for the San Joaquin)

#8300 - Coach, Cab car

#8400 - Dinning Car

On my request, they issued also a N-Scale version although no core kit is available. With the kit, Union Station also send a lot of information on the passenger cars including drawings of the cars and the locomotive, which helps with the painting and decaling.

After researching what core kit I could use, I found out that ConCor's Amtrak bi-level coach cars are a perfect match. The Union Station Products car side fit exactly the Superliner car body. The roof section of the ConCor does not match the Amerail but it is good enough until I can find something better.

Only a few changes are necessary to build those cars.

Each Union Station car side has two pieces; the car side and a glass piece with a protective film. Union Station suggest to remove the protective film except on the windows as a masking tape. This might work in HO-Scale but does not work in N. Also the Amtrak California have tinted windows which gives us an easy way to make this kit work in N-Scale.

I decided to glue the car sides directly onto the ConCor body and after painting the car, I would apply the (tinted) windows from the Inside. To do this, I had to cut the ConCor car to make room for the windos.

I made a photo copy of all the car sides (notice that the car sides are not identical) and used the copy as a template to cut the ConCor body. I also decided to fabricate my own doors since they are only on the glass piece. Cutting out the windows in the glass piece was not successful. I hope, that Union Station could do the doors in regular Styrene, if a lot of N-Scale customers would asked for it.

I made the doors out of a piece of styrene, using the glass piece as a template for the windows.

Although there is not much plastic left on the ConCor model, it is not problem since the wall a very thick.

Since I was planning of using Kato Superliner trucks (prototypical trucks are not available), I had to change the truck mounts. Kato trucks have electric pick up and I wanted to be able to illuminate the cars. This is not necessary and the ConCor trucks are fine, besides the fact they only come with Rapido couplers.

If you order Kato Superliner trucks (come in pairs) make sure you also get the screws. Only the older style Kato trucks come with the screws.

I used three different diameter Evergreen Styrene Rods, 1/8, 3/16 and 1/4.

The rods inside are only necessary if you want to have a second floor installed.

Cut list:

1/8" rod (Evergreen #224) : 13.5 mm

3/16" rod (Evergreen #226) : 8 and 1.5 mm

1/4" rod (Evergreen #228) : 8 and 1.5 mm


I glued the 3/16" into the 1/4" rod before I made the cut.


I used the Kato truck to cut holes into the floor for the electric pick-up brass pieces. 

Make sure that the cuts are big enough that the truck can swivel easily.

I kept the front and rear wall, which I regret now. It would have been easy to filed those walls level and use the wall pieces that come with the kit.

After gluing the car side to body, I hand drilled the holes for the grab irons next to the entrance doors and at the rear and front of the car and the stirrups at the end of the cars with a #80 drill. The Union Station kit has slight markings where the holes should be but after consulting pictures of later Amerail models, I made some adjustments.



There are no decals available for the car and I had to do them myself. I used Microscale yellow parallel stripes for the line above the lower windows and hand painted the orange triangles after I failed with Microscale trim film. If I would have know the problem with the trim film, I would have airbrushed the orange first but it was to late to change it.

I also painted a Athearn F59PHI since it is more common engine than the Dash 8-32BHW.

I am still in the process to finish the project but so far everything worked out well and the Union Station car side kit is a great addition since I don't believe we will see those cars soon as RTR.

I am in the process of adding American Limited Models, Operating Diaphragms for ConCor Superliner and will body mount the couplers to get the car a little bit closer together.

I also have to cut the plastic glass pieces of the Union Station kit to fit the cut out space in the ConCor body and cover them with tinted film I got from Tap Plastic. I got a 1 x 1 foot of tinted film that is sticky on one side for about $2.

More to come!