Looking for some facts about the Southern Pacific Sunset Limited.

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by Calzephyr, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I've been resisting the urge to buy the SP Sunset items that IMRC has put out over the past few years because I don't know too much about it. Since I don't have any SP passenger equipment books and the info on the internet isn't great... I was hoping I could get some quick details about this train from the 'REAL' Espee pro's here.

    I'm pretty sure this was an evening train... as the name suggest... and would have been mostly sleepers and some other varnish... maybe even mail.
    I don't know what kind of motive power was used in the 1950's to pull it on its western leg... Was it Daylight E units? Cab-Forward was mentioned in Wikipedia as well as some consists. I'm sure there were many varieties of consists depending on the year and where the train was in its journey westward.

    This is perhaps one of the most complete sets that IMRC/CCS has put out for Southern Pacific... but... no baggage, RPO or Observation car yet.
  2. Jerry M. LaBoda

    Jerry M. LaBoda TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The Sunset Limited made heavy use of Budd-built cars, except for some early-40s 6 Section - 6 Roomette - 4 Double Bedroom cars that were painted with the red striped (framed in black) at the same height as the Budd cars. Observation cars were blunt-end Budd 10 - 6 cars. Most if not all are available as etched brass car sides but not any ready-to-run, a PC&F "Economy" baggage car or two would also be of use... if you could figure out how to model a couple.

    Don't have the patience for a full consist or simply don't have the space? Espee cut the Sunset down to a four car consist with no sleepers, lounge cars or diners for a short time in the late-60s, until the ICC busted their chops for doing so (formerly carrying a through N.Y.C. - L.A. sleeper) and made them restore the train's previous services. Here are a couple of links to what it looked like...

    http://www.trainpage.com/Rail_Archi...jpg&action=big&size=resize&fromthumbnail=true An Automat car rebuilt from a 6-6-4 sleeper.
  3. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The Sunset Limited was so named because it originated in New Orleans and went west into the "Sunset". Its name had nothing to do with travel during twilight hours because the journey took 3 days and 2 nights, as it does today with Amtrak's Sunset Limited.
  4. Babbo_Enzo

    Babbo_Enzo TrainBoard Member

    Hi "Zephyr", see here some good references online.

    The SP Solomon book online:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=PD...uthern pacific sunset limited consist&f=false

    Sunset consists and power:

    A good movie:

    A 1946 timetable:

    Hope helps?
  5. Jerry M. LaBoda

    Jerry M. LaBoda TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Its worth noting that some equipment from the Louisville & Nashville and the West Point Route (Atlanta & West Point and Western Railway of Alabama) also contributed to the pool of equipment that operated as run-through cars in the N.Y.C. - L.A. sleeper operation, even to the point of painting the letterboards red but with yellow lettering. This was done during the 1950s and was apparently rather short lived... the equipment itself were cars that were built for the Crescent operations, with the route south of Atlanta being via the West Point Route and L&N.
  6. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Actually the name preceded the connection to New Orleans. The name originated with the first railroad built in Texas, the Buffalo Bayou Brazos & Colorado Railroad. The road was built west into the "Sunset" from Harrisburg, Texas, just south of Houston starting in 1853 and was unofficially called the Sunset Route. It was not until after the Civil War when the railroad was bought by Thomas W. Peirce and his associates that the name was officially adopted as its slogan. The name of the railroad was also changed at that time to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway. After the Southern Pacific gained control of the railroad they themselves adopted the Sunset Logo as their own and used it for the entire railroad. Here is an early version of the Sunset Logo used on a meal token distributed to railroad construction workers building the railroad westward.

    A train with the name Sunset Limited also predated the takeover of the GH&SA by the Southern Pacific.

    Stain glass window from San Antonio depot circa 1902.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2013
  7. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    That's fascinating, Russell. Thanks for history lesson.

    It's interesting that the architect for the San Antonio depot chose MDCCCCII, rather than the more common MCMII, though both are technically correct. Possibly because the longer numeral better balanced SUNSET ROUTE from an artistic perspective.
  8. Traindork

    Traindork TrainBoard Member

    ...and if anyone ever offers an SP 3/4 dome, I'll get that company's logo tattooed across my chest!
  9. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I need to correct this statement. I thought I had read that somewhere but after reviewing all my books and literature on the subject I just can not find it. It may have been a reference to the "Sunset Trains" that I was remembering. From what I found, the name "Sunset Limited" was first used on a weekly train placed in service between San Francisco and New Orleans during the winter season from November 1, 1894 through April 11, 1895. Trains 1000 and 1001 were on a 75-hour schedule between those two cities. It used all new Pullman built varnish and was pulled my the most advanced 4-4-0 American type locomotives available at that time. A passage from New York or Washington via New Orleans to the west coast was about 10 hours faster than any trips connecting via the Overland Route. The Santa Fe Route had not been completed yet. It was so popular that it became biweekly during the next winter season.
  10. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

    I was not aware of the nineteenth century Sunset , thanks for the lesson. Was the passenger equipment still wood, or was it steel? Steel started to appear in the 1890s. You can get a close version of the eight wheeler in the MP. Some modifications will be in order, but as the MP is based on an SP 2-6-0 of that era, it ain't no bad starting point. I am curious about the rolling stock, though.
  11. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Do you think the Athearn Overland series might be close? They're about 60' long, wooden, open vestibule, and include coach, sleeper, and parlor cars.

    I'm not SP knowledgeable, so this could be way off base.
  12. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    Bachmann is the closest with their full dome...I know I've seen an article about how to kitbash a Bachmann dome into an SP 3/4 dome but can't seem to find the information right now. If I do find it, will you at least put Bachmann's logo on your chest in Magic Marker?
  13. Jerry M. LaBoda

    Jerry M. LaBoda TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    "Steel started to appear in the 1890s."

    Actually the use of all steel heavyweights date a little more recently, after 1900. Prior to that wood was the rule, though it did have its drawbacks, especially so in derailments and wrecks.

    The Overland cars predate the consist shown in the video and, despite some requests to Athearn to bring out the wood vestibule Palace cars there remains no good models available.
  14. SP&S #750

    SP&S #750 TrainBoard Member

    I repainted one into a BN full dome, I may have to get another and paint it in BN exec. colors so it'll fit right in with my CC BN exec. set.
  15. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The cars were mostly wood but with steel truss rods, bolsters and wheels among other things. Composite cars with steel underframes and wood bodies did not come into general use till the 1900s. "All steel" cars were becoming quite common during the WWI era. The first two consists for the Sunset were four cars each. What was called a Baggage-Library Composite (multiple services available not to be confused with wood/steel construction) was first. The first east bound train had the El Capitain and the first westbound had the Golden Gate at the front. These were built by Pullman to Plan 477. An example of this type of car is shown in this photo right behind the locomotive. It had six wheel trucks.
    Next came two 10 section-2 drawing room sleepers built by Pullman to plan 995A. San Ardo and Paso Robels east bound and San Lucas and San Vincente west bound.
    The last cars were the diner/lounge Castle Crags east bound and the diner Del Monte west bound. I could not find any information on these two cars.
  16. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Wow.... Great information!!!
    Thanks for all the links Jerry and Enzo...

    I guess the name... Sunset just seemed to fit a mainly night-time version of a Morning Daylight train. IMRC/CCS has put out scads of Sunset sleeper cars too. They've produced 4-4-2 sleepers, 6-6-4 sleepers, 10-6 sleepers and 13 Double Bed sleepers. Not too much in the way of coaches... so I figured the train must have been a rolling dormitory... LOL. Did they even have Domed cars on the Sunset? Was that 3/4 Dome something found on the Sunset Limited?

    So... was the motive power in the 1950's as stated... E & F units and an occasional cab-forward? Were the E or F units in Daylight color or Black-Widow?
  17. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the photographs. It would appear that the eight wheeler is older than I had thought. The MP is close to the E classes that first appeared in the mid to late 1890s, although more than a few them were built in the early 1900s. That eight wheeler has an 1880s-early 1890s look to it.
  18. Mike Madonna

    Mike Madonna TrainBoard Member

    I don't believe dome cars were on the Sunset. SP built domes were on the San Joaquin Daylight, at times behind steam, but mostly when it was dieselized. As for power, "Daylight" E units and occasional PA's.
  19. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    When the SP reequipped the heavyweight Sunset Limited with lightweight, fluted side Budd built cars in about 1950, the only sleeper configuration on the train was the "standard" Budd 10-6 layout. All the sleepers were identical except for the blunt end tail car. The Budd cars came in a new livery especially created for the Sunset Limited. All stainless steel except for the black outlined scarlet strip along the full length letter board. Eventually the SP gravitated to a similar paint scheme for most all of their passenger cars. The cars were painted silver with the scarlet letter board but without the black pin strips above and below. The scheme was called the "General Service" paint scheme. If the Intermountain cars are all smooth side then they should be painted in the General Service scheme without the black boarder stripes on the letter board. In later years these cars did show up on the Sunset. The power on the new Budd train from New Orleans as far as El Paso was always a pair of T&NO PAs painted in Daylight colors. They had three digit numbers and did not have dynamic brakes. From El Paso to Los Angeles could have been standard SP Es and PAs in Daylight colors. Steam would have been rare if at all on this premier train. Here are a few of the Budd cars that I have modeled.
    DSCN4376.JPG RPO Baggage
    IMG_28812.JPG Coach
    IMG_3857.JPG Lounge
    DSCN4381.JPG 10-6 Sleeper
    DSCN4378.JPG Blunt end 10-6 Sleeper
  20. nlaempire

    nlaempire TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    When I start work on the full domes (several months away) I'll add a 3/4. Can you message with some additional info on that car?

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