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Walthers Chesapeake & Ohio Converted Troop Sleeper

The Walthers C&O troop sleeper conversions in Pullman Green would be appropriate for use after 1948 until the late 1950s with the Allied trucks.

Product Review: Walther's Chesapeake & Ohio
Converted Troop Sleeper

by Gary Quale

Walthers has recently introduced ready-to-run models of the baggage and express car conversions done by several railroads of the surplus WWII Pullman troop sleepers. The specific model reviewed is Chesapeake & Ohio’s car number 362.

The Prototype

America’s railroads were severely challenged by the demands of World War II for the movement of people and material. Annual rail passenger miles traveled quadrupled from just before the war to its depths in 1944. At the same time, the War Production Board placed emphasis on directing the country’s industrial output to needed war materials. As a result, relatively few new passenger cars were built during the war years, so this huge increase in passenger traffic was largely handled by stretching existing resources to their limits.

Chesapeake & Ohio Converted Troop Sleeper

Prototype photo of a typical Pullman troop sleeper.

To help alleviate this situation, the Defense Plant Corporation contracted with Pullman to build 2400 troop sleeping cars to be delivered between 1944 and 1946. For production efficiency, Pullman based the design on the AAR standard 50’ 6" boxcar design. The cars lacked typical box car ladders to the roof and roof walks. Other modifications included smaller 3’ wide side doors, addition of 10 large windows, 2 lavatory windows, and 6 small upper berth windows on each side, end doors with diaphragms, passenger train steam and signal air lines, and special, smoother riding Allied "Full-Cushion" trucks. The first half of the production had step wells and trap doors under the doors centered on each side of the cars. Latter production eliminated the step wells and used simple strap foot rungs.

After the end of WWII, the government sold these now excess cars to the railroads at "war surplus" discounted prices. The Chesapeake & Ohio acquired 244 troop sleepers and 8 troop kitchen cars at prices of $1,950 and $2,500 per car. Most became maintenance of way camp cars, 15 became cabooses (for only four years before being transferred to MOW use), and one became an auxiliary steam generator car. Twenty-five sleepers were obtained for the ex Pere Marquette district in December 1947 and were converted for baggage/Railway Express Agency use in 1948 and early 1949. The C&O conversion date records may not be completely accurate, as a photo taken in April 9, 1949 shows car 356 lettered "Chesapeake & Ohio" in Pullman Green, still with all its windows, roof vents and narrow doors, in spite of the C&O records stating the conversion was completed on January 29th of that year. These cars were originally numbered in the 339-363 series. Three of the cars were diverted to work train service, and in early 1952 the remaining cars were renumbered to 355-376.

When built, the cars were painted in standard Pullman green and carried the "Pullman" name on the upper car sides. The C&O conversion of these cars for head-end use included blanking all the windows with steel plates, widening the side doors to 6’ width, and removing the roof ventilators. The Allied Full-Cushion trucks had a reputation of derailing and were outlawed on interchange equipment in the late 1950s (one source says 1956 and another 1959). The C&O troop cars in on-line maintenance service, including those formerly used as cabooses, continued to ride on the Allied trucks. The troop cars converted as baggage cars received standard "Commonwealth" type single drop equalizer passenger car trucks of about 7’ wheelbase by the early 1960s.

In 1951, the C&O adopted its lightweight car tri-color (federal yellow, enchantment blue, and aluminum, later changed to gray) paint scheme for its heavyweight passenger and head-end cars. Most photos of the modified troop sleepers from the 50’s and 60’s show them in this tri-color configuration, although there is a published photo of number 362 in the early 1960’s still in Pullman green, with blanked windows, wide door, and passenger car trucks.

The Model

The Walther model of the troop sleeper compares closely in all dimensions to published scale drawings by Harold Russell. The cars come with working diaphragms installed. The underbody details include the dual AB brake system components of the prototype, but do not include any of the air, steam or signal piping. The car is provided with very nice free-rolling plastic Allied Full-Cushion trucks with blackened metal wheels on plastic axles. The RP-25 wheel flange and gauge conform to the NMRA standard gauge, but the wheel treads are slightly wider than the NMRA standard. The car comes equipped with Proto MAX Kadee compatible couplers installed, and with substitute horn-hook couplers in the parts package.

Walthers Chesapeake & Ohio Converted Troop Sleeper

The cars come with separate handrails that the purchaser can install if desired. Walthers provides locating dimples for drilling these holes with a #80 drill. The handrails are provided in a bright finish simulating stainless steel, but photos show that the handrails on these cars were painted in the same color as the rest of the car sides. Walthers does not identify recommended matching paints.

The Walthers C&O troop sleeper conversions in Pullman Green would be appropriate for use after 1948, or 1951 for the tri-color scheme, until the late 1950s with the Allied trucks. For use in the 1960s until the modified troop sleepers were removed from service in 1965, modelers should substitute short wheelbase passenger car trucks.


Wm. K Walthers
5601 West Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218

Walthers Chesapeake & Ohio Converted Troop Sleeper
Walthers Part #932-4166

HO scale, MSRP $26.98

The C&O version of the troop sleeper with a recessed 6’ baggage door is also available in the C&O tri-color scheme, in 2 different B&O schemes and in B&M. Walthers is also offering the Pullman troop sleeper in its as-built configuration, and as rebuilt by the New York Central with a Youngstown 6’ box car door. This version will be available painted in 3 different NYC schemes, and in Erie; Delaware, Lackawanna & Western; Erie Lackawanna; Rock Island; and Alaska Railroad paint and lettering. Walthers is also producing the similar troop kitchen car in its as-built configuration, and as modified for use on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Monon. All versions are also available undecorated.

These are excellent models of a widely used car. The Walthers modified troop sleepers have a list price of $26.98 for the C&O versions, and $24.98 for the as-built cars, NYC-style sleeper conversions, and for the troop kitchen conversions.


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