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Modeling UP #5174
The Lynn Nystrom

By Harry M. Haythorn, UPHS #4043

Well, guys and gals, we are going to keep the Union Pacific (UP) steam support car theme going here in the UP-Hub.  In this edition, we take a look at a car with a long history in the UP steam fleet: #5714, a lightweight baggage car.  The car was built in 1957 by American Car and Foundry.  It is a common sight on many trips and excursions, and it is a favorite among the excursion trip riders; with its open half-doors and smooth ride, it makes for great sightseeing and a gives you a place to stretch your legs if you have been sitting in a coach seat for a few hours.  I have ridden in it many times over the years and absolutely love the experience of it.

Warm weather and long days take many of us away from our layouts and train projects, as it does for me with my summer ranch work, such as putting up hay and branding calves.  Alas, I still try to get a few modeling things done here and there, so follow me on this relatively easy and quick build of the UP #5714. 

The Prototype

Union Pacific #5714 has a length of 73'10"; it was built as a postal storage car in August 1957, in Lot #4896, as part of a 20-car order.  This car has had a few different names over the years but has always kept its number, 5714.  It continued in postal storage service for about 12 years before being transferred to the steam shop in the early 1970s, after the US Mail contracts ended with the railroads.  At that time, the car began to appear on many fan trips and excursions, including the UP Old Timers trips and the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days trips.  During those days, the car had a different door arrangement than it does now.  On a great many trips it had the baggage doors completely open and a screen supported by two big slats over the door so people could stand in the door and look out.  The half-doors that we know today weren’t used as much then as they are now. 

In 1990 the car was given the name Western Lodge and was used in ski train service to Sun Valley during the winter months; it retained this name until 1993 when it was given the name Pony Express in honor of the train of the same name on which it served many times during its regular service career.  In June 2004 the name of the car was changed to Golden State Limited in honor of a passenger train of the same name jointly run by Rock Island and Southern Pacific between Chicago and Los Angeles from 1902 to 1948.  It retained that name until August 2010 when it was renamed in honor of a great man and member of the Steam Team, Mr. Lynn Nystrom, who died in May of 2010.  It still carries that name today.

You may not have known Lynn, but if you had ever seen an excursion or special trip prior to his death, you more than likely saw him.  He would be sitting on a folding chair in the open door of #5714 on the right hand (the engineer’s) side of the car when he wasn’t in the locomotive cab.  He always had a smile and a wave for anyone who was lineside taking photos or just watching the steam locos go by.  When the train would stop at North Platte, he always would tell me how the trip went and describe any troubles or fun things that had happened during the day.  He was a great guy, to say the least.

The Model

To build the car in any name configuration, you must first start with a 73'10" baggage car.  Now, this car is among the easiest cars to find for conversion, as there are many of them out there.   The car has been produced by Rivarossi for over 40 years; their streamlined baggage car is a model of this prototype car.  Your first decision will be to choose which modeled version to start.  If you can get your hands on a 2003-2004 “Watherossi” car (a slang term for the Rivarossi cars produced by/for Walthers at that time, with the same car ends and high-quality trucks), that is your best choice.  The biggest problem with those is their availability and price, as they were only produced for 2 years in relatively small numbers, as compared to the older cars; they fetch a pretty steep price on the second-hand market, sometimes in excess of $100 for the Armour Yellow cars and up to $85 for the two-tone Gray cars.  So if you see one cheap, snag it for a rainy-day project!  If you can’t get one of the newer run cars, don’t worry:  the older cars are a dime a dozen (see Figure 2); I have paid as low as $3 and as high as $20 for them.

You should start with a little bit of thought about what era you are modeling and which car you plan on adding to your fleet, or whether you plan on having more than one of these types of cars.  The great thing about the base model is that they are cheap and plentiful, so your fleet could contain several.  (See Figure 3.)  The next thing to consider is which door configuration you will have for the time period you are modeling.  If you are not interested in cutting the doors open, buy a Yellow car, slap the decals on it and place it into service; but if you are like me and love seeing people in your model passenger trains, get out your X-Acto knife and follow along.

For this article, I am just going to build a single, open half-door on each side, as that is how the car is run most of the time.  This requires a good, sharp blade, some patience and skill, and bit of high-quality masking tape.  First things first: remove the combined roof/glass by squeezing the tabs under the floor and pulling the roof off the car at the same time.  At this time, I also remove the Rivarossi trucks and “whale harpoons” that are used as couplers so that I can replace them with Walthers trucks and body-mounted Kadee couplers. 

The opening for a half-door is cut just below the window frame on the baggage door.  (See Figure 4.)  To do this, I tape across the door right below the window, giving me a straight line to mark my cut with.  I use many repeated strokes of the knife – not bearing down too hard – to cut through the plastic at this area, and then I repeat the cut on the top of the door and along the sides to open it up.  After the top half of the door is removed, file the rough edges smooth with a high-quality file.  (I have found that the cheap nail files from your local big box stores, such as Walmart, actually are nice for this type application; instead of going to the hobby shop and spending $8 to $10 on each file, you can go the big box store and get nail files for about $2.)  Repeat the process on the other side of the car.

Now that you have the half-doors opened up, you must cut the corresponding door glass from the roof; these also are multi-pass, scribe-type cuts.  Once the doors and windows are cut, it is time to add the armrests in the doors.  I use .040" styrene sheet to make them, cut them 4mm wide and 13mm long; then, I file the piece shorter to fit the door opening (this comes to about 12.5mm when finished).  I spray these gloss black and set them aside until the car is painted. 

As the original trucks and couplers on these cars are “train set quality,” they should be replaced.  For the trucks, I use Walthers GSC 41-NDO, outside-swing, 4-wheel passenger trucks (part #920-2101).  To mount them, I use Walthers truck mount adapters (part #920-2310) with a long screw, a washer, and a nut on the inside, much the same fashion that brass cars have their trucks mounted.  I also body-mount Kadee #5 boxes and couplers with 2-56 screws holding the boxes in place.  I use the old Roundhouse metal coupler box covers between the car floor and the coupler box so that the box is flush-mounted at the correct height. After the trucks and couplers are mounted, I add weight to the car to improve reliability; I do this with 1/4 oz., stick-on tire weights that you can get from most auto parts stores.  I add 10 weights (a total of 2.5 oz.) to bring the car up to a reasonable weight of 5.75 oz.  (See Figure 5.)

This is the point where good quality masking tape comes in handy.  If you started with a UP car, then you can skip this step; just glue in your armrests, add passengers inside the open doors and reattach the roof to the car.  But if you are like me, you had to strip off a different paint scheme and now need to repaint the car. The ends and bottom of your UP car will be Harbor Mist gray.  When I paint these cars – or any car, for that matter – I always paint the lighter color first; in this case, that means the yellow goes on before the gray, I use Scalecoat paint on all my builds, but you can use whatever paint you are comfortable with.  I airbrush the paint, but you can use a spray can, instead.  

After the paint is dry, it is time to add the armrests and people to the car; you want the armrests mounted flush with the surface of the car side.  After they are fixed in place, add your passengers and install the roof. (See Figure 6.)

Once the roof is in place, it is time to decal the car.  I use Microscale decals for the Union Pacific Lettering and red stripes.  Depending on which car name you are going to add to the side, use either the Microscale UP Business Car decal sheet or the UP Car Name sheet from Circus City Decals.  The final details include adding diaphragms to the car ends and a firecracker antenna on the roof. (See Figure 7.)  All that’s left now is to add this great car to your excursion fleet and enjoy those waving people in the half-doors, as UP locomotive #844, #3985, or #4014 slugs away up front.  Check out this video to see this and other custom cars rolling by in a UP consist.


I hope you have enjoyed this and my other builds in the UP-Hub!  I have a few more coming, and they will be done in due time.  Next time we will look at the UP power car #2066, which recently was highlighted by James Wright when he was a guest on the very well-known YouTube video podcast, What’s Neat This Week, hosted by Ken Patterson (episode #38).

About the Author


Harry is a rancher in Nebraska who works with his father and grandfather to help run their 22,000-acre, 1,500-head of mother cow, ranch.  Harry has been model railroading for over 20 years and models the Union Pacific Steam era from the 1930s to the 1960s, in central and western Nebraska.  Harry is a Sustaining Member of the Union Pacific Historical Society and a member of the UPHS Streamliner 100 club.  He is a National Model Railroad Association member currently working on his Master Model Railroader Certificate.  Harry regularly posts videos on his YouTube page. You can follow Harry as he works on his 7th layout at



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