B&O “Wawasee”

Rebuilding a Bregler-Wolfer B&O Class S-20 5 bedroom / buffet / lounge/ observation of 1991 as “Wawasee”


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By now quite old fashioned and outdated, the observation/ lounge car gave a top passenger train its definition and tail end flourish. Above, a spotless B&O S-20 class 5 bedroom/buffet/ lounge /observation eases out of Washington DC on the Capitol Limited, for an over-night run to Chicago. The name of this car is not known, it could be either the “Nappanee” or “Wawasee.”

Four such cars were built by Pullman for the C&O by Pullman-Standard in 1950. They were repainted by Pullman and sold to the B&O in 1951. Two of these cars were refitted with diaphragms at the rear door for mid-train use. This was helpful when B&O combined the Ambassador with Capitol Limited, as the Ambassador section would be cut off at Willard OH for its run to Detroit and be reattached on a Capitol’s east bound trip. The two cars so equipped were “Dana” and “Metcalf.” One of them would become the tail car between Willard and Chicago after the Detroit section was cut off. The two cars not having rear door diaphragms were “Nappanee” and ”Wawasee,” named for Indiana locations along the B&O route to Chicago.

wawasee 02 An O scale model of this car in brass and wood was sent to me for rebuilding with full interior detail, passengers and lighting. It was built with custom punched brass sides and ends by Dick Bregler in January 23, 1991 as car 73, according to etched information on the model’s brass, rear floor plate. The model was finished by Bill Wolfer, who used chrome stick-on table edging fluting on the lower sides.

wawasee 03 The model lacked interior details but had a full width diaphragm which B&O did not use by the 1950s. The chrome table edging had a fluted design and was highly reflective with lots of “bling.”

wawasee 04 As with the Bregler/Wolfer twin-unit diner covered in two previous articles, this car underwent a complete rebuilding as well. Also the tail end will need some revision to match the photo of the prototype above.

wawasee 05 The chrome fluting on this car had not bonded well, and peeled off easily.

wawasee 06 The paint has been removed. New tail end details were attached and replacement fluted siding made from 12”x24” sheets of Evergreen corrugated styrene in two sizes (1/32” fluting and 1/16” fluting) make up the panels. The material is.040” thick. A bit heavy for this application but it’s not available in thinner sheets. The smaller fluting is along the side sill and on the rear skirts.

wawasee 07 Vestibule end details include a brake gear box, corner stirrups and foot light bezels beside the drop steps. A new brass strip stirrup was made for the service door at the middle of the car.

wawasee 08 OK, we got this far. But something just does not look right! Compare the prototype photo with the model’s car end. See it now?

wawasee 09 Well, maybe this photo will show what needed to be changed:

wawasee 10 With that mystery solved, new marker light housings and the light box for the tail sign have been put on.

wawasee 11 Then, on to the interior. However the roof had been worked over earlier, with a few new ventilators, grab irons and ladder rests. The interior is a mix of commercial, Golden Gate Depot and scratch made parts.

wawasee 12 The prototype lounge interior.

wawasee 13The mural was reprinted for the model’s wall.

wawasee 14 And all the sleepers worked on in this string of articles had this important sign on their walls as well. Scale sized, of course!

wawasee 15 Above, test fitting the bedroom accommodations and buffet/ lounge area furniture.

wawasee 16 New paint at last. The body is now ready for B and O Gray. It looks rather dark in the bottle, doesn’t it? Three days later, masking for and applying Scale Coat B&O Royal Blue. wawasee 17

wawasee 18 Then another three or four day wait to mask and air brush aluminum, for the fluting and lower car body area.

wawasee 19 Little known to modelers, Pullman wrapped the gray window band and Dulux imitation gold striping around the vestibule end of these cars for B&O, in case this end ever had to be on the rear of a train.

wawasee 20 The interior, with passengers and a buffet/lounge attendant is all in place. Golden Gate Depot LED lighting strips were installed, along with bulbs for the rear maker lights and Mars light in the roof. The wiring includes the light over the “Capitol Limited” tail sign on the rear door. Like the prototype, it’s a sign hung under a light, and not a lit up ‘drumhead.’ Micro Scale decals were used for lettering and striping. The model rides on modified Golden Gate Depot streamline trucks provided by the owner.

The finished car.

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Rebuilt January-February 2013. This article by Edward F.Bommer, July 2016.