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Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad

Large Scale Models of Sourh Park Rolling Stock

Commercially available large scale models of the DSP&P are not easy to find. None are currenrly in production (2022), so the after-market is the only source.  Ccomercial models are only moderately correct for the DSP&P in the 1880's.

This page shows some of the better models that show up from time to time on eBay, with comments on their accuracy in representing the real South Park in the 1880s. This is followed by a section on dressing up some details and how I fixed the "Wood Roof Prohlem" on freight cars, and the "Silver Roof Problem" on passenger cars.

If you just like to see trains run, don't fret - the vast majority of people don't care about the details described here. But do scroll on down to take a peak at how neat the simulated wood roof looks!

Accucraft's DSP&P Freight Cars
Accucraft's 1:20.3 scale waycar is pretty good. Made of heavy brass with steel wheels, it comes painted in straw yellow as a DSP&P un-numbered waycar or as a brown, unlettered, generic transfer caboose. No dry transfer numbers are provided by Accucraft to give the waycar a number – that would have been a nice touch. I labeled mine as DSP&P #60 to match my 1:1 scale replica waycar / train storage shed.


The Accucraft model generally follows the dimensions of Charles Brommer’s plans for DSP&P #73 in the Jan/Feb 1992 "Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette". However, the window treatment on the model is weak – in the famous photo of Waycar #72 (with Mason Bogie #42), the lower sash clearly slides up inside the upper sash. The model does not replicate this feature as obviously as it could have. The end railings include a solid panel between each pair of inboard uprights, as on Brommer’s plan. This ODD feature does not appear on other plans in my collection. Brake rigging and pedestal details are good but nothing moves. Doors are  spring loaded but there is no interior detail. Coupler pockets are designed for link and pin fittings (not supplied).

Hartford Products DSP&P Freight Cars
Accurate DSP&P freight car models were produced by Hartford Products in 1:20.3 scale. These were craftsman kits produced in the 1990's. Production may have resumed after a long break in availablity -- see Ozark Miniaturses website for availablily. Here are the Hartford photos of their completed kits. My only complaint about these models is their extreme scarcity.

Above 5 photos: Hartford Products 1:20.3 scale DSP&P freight cars. These are beautifully
designed and accurate craftsman kits.

Delton DSP&P Freight Cars

DSP&P Tiffany Reefers: Delton 1:24 scale "Plain" (available in 2 road numbers 1055 and 1056), and Delton "Fancy Script" version (based on the Tiffany advertisement in the 1878 Car Builder's Cyclopedia). Neither has correct roof or ventilation holes in the end walls. The fancy script version never ran on the DSP&P. About 1000 of each were produced in the late 1980's.

Bachmann DSP&P Freight Cars

The Bachmann 1:24 scale UP reefer has the correct road number for the post-1885 era, but wrong roof.

Aristocraft "Delton Classics" DSP&P Freight Cars


Delton Classics from Aristocraft 1:24 scale. The Tiffany reefer has incorrect roof and no ventilation holes, the box, flat, and gondola have the wrong road numbers, the hopper is a Quincy and Torch Lake model and never ran on the DSP&P, and the DSP&P never had a long caboose. And DSP&P cars never had logos on their sudes. Oh well, they are pretty!

USA Trains DSP&P Freight Cars

The USA Trains 1:24 scale reefer 903 has a logo and black paint on the doors that shouldn't be there and of course the road number and roof are wrong. They also produced a generic Tiffany car that had the ornate lettering resembling the standard gauge car (not the DSP&P car). They also produced a fictitious DSP&P long caboose.

LGB DSP&P Freight Cars

LGB's sole 1:22 scale DSP&P entry had wrong road number, wrong roof, and no ventilator holes. Otherwise a credible Tiffany reefer. Tens of thousands of LGB's Cooke 2-6-0 DSP&P Moguls were produced -- why not a full train of freight cars? Marketing people amaze me sometimes.


Model Die Casting DSP&P Freight Cars

MDC turned out a 1:22+/- scale DSP&P  waycar, but no other DSP&P cars. It has a correct road number but the window arrangement is wrong and it comes with two 4-wheel trucks instead of a 4-wheel bobber undercarriage.

Customized DSP&P Freight Cars


Some custom lettered cars purchased from eBay vendors

Dressing Up Commercial Large Scale Rolling Stock
Commercial large scale rolling stock leaves a lot to be desired if you want to be faithful to the idea of the DSP&P. A few locomotives were manufactued that are  reasonable representations, but most other rolling stock is generic.
This page illustrates a few of the things that can be  done to commercial products to make them more like the original and to make them unique to my railroad. To see what DSP&P rolling stock should look like, see my DSP&P Rolling Stock page, where accurate models in various scales are portrayed.

The Rocky Mountain House, Leaverite and Northern Railway has many interesting and unusual items on its roster. As the long forgotton Canadian subsiduary of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad, most of the equipmennt is borrowed or leased from the DSP&P.

Accurate large scale models of DSP&P locomotives and rolling stock are rare and mine are no exception. Using commercial large scale models, I have accepted some "as is", kitbashed others, and relettered others to obtain variety and colour,  giving an impression of what it might have been like in the 1879 to 1889 era. Some were modified by other modelers and purchased from eBay, then further adapted by me. Weathering varies from slight to really grubby, depending on age and class of service. The MOW cars are the most interesting, but the open loads and reefers are pretty nice too.


Touch Up The Details
Minor upgrades by painting cast-in detail or modifying ladders also adds variety and realism. Lengthening the brake staff is the most important modification to make the cars look like they really belong on narrow gauge track. My wife, Sonja, does the fine detail paint jobs, sometimes with a single-hair brush. I do the rough weathering and mechanical work.

Cast in door hooks on LGB reefer touched with black paint (lower right on left-hand image). In the right-hand image, all hardware, brake staff, and truss rods were painted black, with ice hatches removed, air vent and ladders added, and a new road number inscribed, making the LGB reefer closer to the 1880 prototype. Steel wheels painted rusty brown look well used compared to the black plastic originals. Knuckle couples (USA Trains are the right size) painted grubby brown fix up the end view. I know body mount link and pin would be more authentic and look better but my curves won't permit this.

Just correcting the road number on a car can be satisfying. A little research and some press-on dry transfers lead to more accurate models.

Back-date A Commercial Car To Your Era
In my case, I wanted an 1880's double-board roof on my house cars to replace the 1920's metal roof on the original product..

The Murphy patented "outside" metal roof didn't arrrive until 1905 so no DSP&P car could have carried one until well along in C&S service. Converting the poorly rendered Murphy metal roof on the LGB, Delton, and USA Trains reefers and boxcars to a simulated wood roof makes a huge difference. The cure is to purchase some well used Bachman 933xx series boxcars at auction and snap off the roof - it is simulated wood, and the only one available in large scale. It needs to be shortened a bit in a miter saw to replace the Delton and USA Trains roof, and shortened even more for the LGB cars, then it just snaps into place. Doesn't it look nice!.

Add Parts and Details for Unique Models
Many commercial models are incomplete or have features that are not quite right for the model's era or purpose. The examples below show some typical situations.

The original USA Trains rotary was freelanced into DSP&P  Rotary O2.. To improve visibility in blowing snow, a cupola has been added. A roof and backhead were added at the rear using Hartland parts, as were a bell and whistle on the roof. The tender is from an LGB Mogul with sound added.

Wedge plow O3 sitting in the yard during a summer respite. This is also my track cleaning car, with emery cloth under the plow blade and a scrubbing pad under the body. It was kitbashed from an Aristocraft plow, shortened by 3 inches, with a Hartland headlamp added to backdate the original modern headlight.

Headshot of DSP&P wedge plow O3 showing rusting plow blade before it gets scoured clean and shiny by the icy snow next winter.

An old-timer with modern headlights just won't do. I added Hartland headlights to help the
 locomotive fit in better.

More Elaborate Kit-Bashes
Making completely unique equipmentr or performing significant modifications to existing commercial products is called kit-bashing. Lots of fun can be had while doing the work, and observers will notice the special effort.

Steam Shovel O4 can be brought forward to clear the line of avalances and rock falls, or to widen a cut or clean up a ditch. The enclosed cab is a real comfort to the crew in the minus 40 temperatures of the Northern winters. This is kitbashed from an LGB flatcar and a JS Woodcrafts steam shovel with the track assembly removed.

Add a diesel powered shovel for a more modern ditcher.

Starting with steam shovel parts and some Ozark Miniatures pulley blocks,
a wrecking crane appears, loosely following a DSP&P folio drawing.

The wrecking crane tender/boom car includes lots of tools, parts,
rope, chains, junk, and a guard goat.

The pile driver uses the same stwan hoist with a free lanced mast holding
the pile driver's hammer.

Swap the boiler for a locomotive with a different paint job, add a
 snow plow and you have a unique engine on your roster.

Open Loads Provide Eye-Opening Interest
Whether on a flat car or in a gondola or coal car, a load is a must. Few cars run empty for very long.

Machinery appropriate for the era makes a dull flatcar into a detailed model.
All you need is some scale chain and a bit of glue.



Four more of the open loads on my large scale outdoor railway.


Painting and Lettering for Variety
Making it uniquely yours.

The right paint, people in the seats, and the car name plaque give a realistic,
even if somewhat inaccurate, model.

If you can see inside, there should be something inside to see.

See: Photo Galleries for Snow Fighting Traind and Work Trains for more elaborate kit-bashing projects.


Large Scale Models of DSP&P Passenger Cars

This section describes DSP&P passenger cars available, with some comments on the deficiencies. I have also shown som customized cars that I managed to capture on eBay.



THE LGB DSP&P Passenger Cars
LGB made the only ready-to-run Large Scale passenger cars labelled for the DSP&P. They are patterened after the D&RG / D&RGW Jackson and Sharp cars -- DSP&P never had any cars of this type.The DSP&P models have a silver roof (should be black) and need to be renumbered. The cars are a little short and shy of a few windows because of it.

In the early years the DSP&P passenger cars were chocolate brown or Tuscan red (mineral brown). The LGB cars are more like caboose red, but are not too bad when not in direct sunlight.

At the right are Bill Goulds renderings of the D&RG cars. Compare the window arrangement to the LGB photos below. A few DSP&P cars are a reasonable match to these models, notably the Bowers and Dure coachs purchased second hand from the AT&SF.




LGB's 1:22 scale DSP&P passenger cars need a little help - they are all too short with incorrect window shapes and arrangements, but black roofs and new car numbers will assist. There was no combine-caboose or Mack Railbus (a Delton product) on DSP&P, but "it could have been"! The correct colour should be more brown, but in more natural light, the colour is about right (see below).

Here's what the LGB cars look like on my outdoor railway, after painting the roofs black. The Delton Mason Bogie on the lower level track looks more natural in daylight, too. It's the glare from the sun on the black car roofs that makes them look silver, on models as well as the originals in the old black and white photos, so don't paint the roof silver - nature will do it for you.

The LGB model of the single door baggage car is a close match to DSP&P #42. Note the new roof colour and the new road number.

 My LGB coaches have been renumbered to represent DSP&P # 16, 17, and 24, built originally by Bowers Dure for the AT&SD in 1879. The prototype had 13 narrow windows instead of the 10 wide spaces on the model.

 My LGB coombines have been renumbered to represent DSP&P # 23 and 25, built originally by Bowers Dure for the AT&SD in 1879.  These models are also a little short and need more and narrower windows.

Custom DSP&P Passenger Cars
Delton dressed a set of passenger cars in DSP&P livery for advertising purposes but the set was never produced for sale.

Depot G Hobbies offered a Delton four car DSP&P passemger train set with a 2-8-0 locomotive (DSP&P #65) in 1989-90. Unfortunately, none were produced for sale and this colour sample was probably the only one to see the light of day. The garish red loco and refrigerator car (#1070) may have played a role in low interest, although the passenger cars looked like real winners. This photo is from the Depot G advertisement in Garden Railways magazine.

The photos of the paint samples from Lenny Sloboda's book on DLW history show a little better detail. Note the car numbers in the round "blot" on the coach (#9) and combine (#6) -- both valid pre-1885 numbers. The baggage-mail car is numbered 1301, a post-1885 number for car #43.

The Delton passenger cars are now made by Hartland Locomotive Works. The long RPO, combine, and coach in maroon can be relettered for DSP&P -- these may be in short supply.  Good decals were offered on eBay but not seen recently. These cars are longer than the LGB passenger cars so they look a little better.

The Bachmann Jackson and Sharp cars are also decent models, and their maroon colour matches the Hartland colour very well. Window arrangements are still wrong for most DSP&P cars but they are a little longer than the LGB versions, so they look pretty nice.

I purchased the above 3 cars from an eBay vendor. They are Bachmann kits painted and lettered for DSP&P. The three photos represent 1878 Barney and Smith combine #4 "Hall's Valley", coach #5 "Leadville", and Pullman-built parlour car "South Park". As for the LGB cars, they are a bit short and shy a few windows.

Some people have managed to improve the stock available. Bob Baxter did a beautiful job of adding arch windows and reasonable lettering to a Bachmann passenger car. Some very early photos suggest that the roofs of passenger caes might have been painted with white lead, so the white roof on this model is probably correct. Later photos suggest sunshine on a black roof, which looks like light grey, not white and definitely not silver or alumunum colour.

Researching the Wood Roof of the 1880 Era
This section covers my research on the wood roof used on freight cars during the last part of the 1800s. All the large scale models sold as 1880s era cars have simulated metal roofs because that's what they have now at the Colorado Railway Museum. They had wood roofs in the 1880s so I wanted to backdate the roof to represent wood. A little work found out how the wood roof was built and a quick scan of Garden Railway magazine found the solution to the "Wood Roof Problem", as described earlier on this page. Here's the gen on freight car roofs.

The Double-Board Roof

John Maxwell's plans for some DSP&P house cars have the notation "double-board roof" so it appeaars likely that most were built with this kind of roof. Early cars may have had a single-board roof at first.  All of Ron Rudnick's drawings of DSP&P house cars show "wood-board" roofs. The first Murohy metal  roofs didn't appear until 1906 and photos of C&S era cars show no evidence that these or similar roofs were ever applied.

Below is the reasearch that I could find on the Internet on the subject of wooden roofs, followed by my solution to retrofit wood roofs to large scale models.

Some Board-Roof Definitions
Four general styles of roof construction were used in the 1880's on boxcars and refrigerator cars:
             1: the double-board roof
             2: the single board roof covered with tin or other sheet metal
             3: the sheet metal roof protected by a single layer of roughly matched boards
             4: a double roof consisting of an inside roof covered with felt, tar paper or asphalted canvas and
                 an outside roof built over it to protect the roofing material from injury.

 Ridge pole -- runs the length of the car along the centerline, under the roof, forming support for the
           peak of the roof.
Purlins or purlines -- beams that run the length of the car, spaced between the ridge pole and the
  exterior wall of the car to support roof boards.

Carlines or carlings -- beams that run from the car side wall to the ridge beam, acting like rafters, to
  support the purlins, which in turn support the roof boards.

Double board roof -- two layers of dressed 1x6 lumber, with grooves to shed water, running from the
  ridge pole to the car sides, painted before installation and overlapped so that joints are offset from one
  layer to the neaxt.

Single board roof -- a single layer of boards as above but covered externally by tarred canvas or
  sheet metal, or with sheet metal underneath with or without tar paper or tarred felt between.


NOTE: on a self-supporting metal roof, such as the Murphy patent roof, the carlines are outside the roof, not underneath, and act as both support for the roof and as a water-tight seal at each panel joint. There are no interior caelines or purlins, thus giving an unobstructed interior to the car. Panels and carlines were galvanized to resist corrosion. The panel joimts and carlines were riveted, and later welded, to form a "uni-body" roof.

Research Results - Double Board Roof
The double-board roof was  the most common, well into the 1900's, but had disappeared on new construction in favour of all metal roofs by the early to mid 1920's.

As quoted on the Pacific NG website "In the construction of this roof only the best seasoned white pine boards should be used. A common practice is to use boards dressed on both sides and edges to a uniform size of about 7/8 x 5 1/8 inches and have two semi-circular grooves of 5/8 inch diameter on one side, near each edge. (running the length of the board). The purpose of these grooves in the top course of boards is to catch and carry off as much of the water as possible, keeping it out of the joints; these same grooves in the under course catch and carry off such of the water as penetrates the joints of the top course. As the grooves in the under course are apt to become clogged with dirt sometimes the two courses are placed in contact so as to increase the size of the channel for carrying off the water. The boards of both courses are nailed to the plates, purlines, and ridge pole.  The edges and faces of the boards are always heavily coated with paint before they are laid. The pitch of the roof varies from 1 ¼ to 2 inches rise per foot. The steeper the pitch the better the protective qualities of the roof but the more dangerous to trainmen who have to pass over it."


Cross-section of the two styles of double-board roof. It is not known which was used on DSP&P cars. Only the version shown at the top of the image is given in the Car Builder's Dictionary of 1879 and 1888. Note that the grooves are not at the edge of the boards, as they are on V-groove tongue-and-groove siding.  I used Bachmann simulated wood roofs to replace the Murphy style metal roofs on my large scale DSP&P house cars, as shown later on this page.

Another drawing of the double board roof, an out-take from Robert Stears drawing of D&RG reefer #119.

Research Results - Single Board Roof
The single-board roof became more common in the late 1880's and early 1900's. It typically used wooden roof strips over each joint in the boards and had metal inner roof to keep out the water. There were many variations on the theme as car builders progressed toward the self supporting metal roof.

The single-board roof was made of T&G 1" x 6" boards without V-groove edges. Some had metal above the boards, some had metal below, some had roof-strips covering each joint. Cross-section above from the 1887 Car Builder's Dictionary shows 1. roof strip, 2 metal sheet underneath boards, 3. roof ridge pole, 4. purlin parallel to roof ridge, 5. car side-wall sill, 6. roof boards. I have never seen anyone model roof strips and most models show V-groove boards.


Example of the Double Board Roof

This is UPD&G boxcar 25192 on the ground near DSP&P tracks at St Elmo near Aloine Tunnel in 1948 after more than 50 yeasr of weathering and modification as a shed. The sawed-out roof area shows construction details including the near-side purlin rumming legthwise halfway between the car wall and ridge pole. Photo from "Narrie Gauge Pictorial" Vol VIII.

Closeup of the roof hints at the double board construction along the lengthwise saw cut near the roof ridge. A carline is also visible under the purlin, and the interior roofing below that.







A Double Board Roof Solution for Large Scale Models

The Murphy patented "outside" metal roof didn't arrrive until 1905 so no DSP&P car could have carried one until well along in C&S service. Converting the poorly rendered Murphy roof on the LGB, Delton, and USA Trains reefers and boxcars to a simulated wood roof makes a huge difference. The cure is to purchase some well used Bachman 933xx series boxcars at auction and snap off the roof - it is simulated wood, and the only one available in large scale. It needs to be shortened a bit in a miter saw to replace the Delton and USA Trains roof, and shortened even more for the LGB cars, then it just snaps into place. A little glue makes it semi-permanent. LGB boxcars have the top door track molded into the roof, so you will need to steal door tracks as well as the roof, and glue them in place before installing the roof.

After you steal the roofs from the Bachmann boxcars, what do you do with the leftovers? Remove the trucks, underframes, steps, grab irons (both sides and ends), and the doors and door tracks (one side only). Glue two cars side-to-side, add a platform, stairs, freight, barrels, people, signage, and (of course) a new roof. Here I used three of the LGB roofs to make the two needed replacements. You could use simulated corrugated iron or shakes, depending on your taste. The trucks, or at least the wheels, from the Bachmann cars are probably better than some on your older rolling stock, so use these spare parts to upgrade, or for another kitbashing project.

 Copyright © 2019  E. R. (Ross) Crain, P.Eng.  email