PULLMAN CARS DRAFTED TO WAR - HOSPITAL WARD AND MORTUARY CARS

UPDATED 10 SEPTEMBER 2016.


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Pullman Plan 3959W 3 Compartment - 2 Drawing Room - lounge observation rebuilt to a hospital ward car,
by Russell Underwood, © 1997, used by permission.

The ugliest side of any war is the many people wounded and killed during battle, and for years the military has done their best to help their own to get where their healing can begin and continued, if that is possible for the service member.  Up to now this discussion has been pretty much about the movement of military personel to and from their Ports of Call but there is another side of transporting troops, a darker side, where the dead and wounded would be brought in from other lands, loaded in into hospital and mortuary trains and taken to their next destination, be it a major military hospital, local hospital or home.  These trains served those who had given of themselves and they provided a way to get them where they needed to be, for continuing their healing or to their final rest.

Like the troop sleepers, these cars served an important purpose and did their job, just as they had done for decades before on many finer trains.  For a glimpse at a Civil War hospital train check out the article at the Sons of the South website from Harper's Weekly magazine, which features a sketch of what the interior of a car might have looked like.  There are also two shots of a World War I wood open-platform hospital ward car at Bill's Pennsylvania RR Pictures site... exterior and interior of USA car 11-1 of train B-1.

The make-up of hospital trains would include, in addition to the hospital cars, a couple baggage cars for baggage and supplies, two dining cars (or baggage - express cars temporarily fitted with a Field Kitchen) for the feeding of the wounded and staff (prior to the delivery of troop kitchen cars), and Pullman sleepers, for accommodating the military staff and the wounded who were able to move about.  The train's military compliment, which would include 6 Doctors, 3 Administrative Officers, 5 nurses and 57 enlisted personel.  Given the staffing requirements for hospital trains two MT Plan 3585 10 Section - 1 Drawing Room - 2 Compartment sleepers and two Plan 3410 12 Section - 1 Drawing Room car would fit the bill in providing sleeping accommodations needed for the train's staff.

Pullman Plan 3416 parlor cars, Plan 3950 and 3959 sleeper - lounge observation cars were among the cars chosen to be rebuilt, with their floorplans and carbodies being altered with the observation cars being rebuilt with a second vestibule.  And, unlike the troop sleeper cars, these cars were rebuilt with Ice air conditioning to provide comfort to the wounded, with roof ducts being added to both sides of many cars, which will require the splicing of roof parts if this detail is to be included.  The heavyweight Pullman cars were rebuilt into two different configurations, one being a full hospital ward car with 32 berths and two bathrooms while the second was a hospital ward - dressing changing room (which could serve, if necessary, as a surgical ward) which had 30 berths.  A total of 80 full hospital ward cars and 40 ward - treatment room cars were rebuilt and placed into service, with two ward cars being used with each ward - treatment car.

One of the problems with finding information on rebuilt heavyweight hospital ward cars is that there are some erroneous floorplans that are posted to the web with floorplans that were never employeed on a hospital ward car, while a second is that while names are known for cars that were rebuilt what type they were and what number (or numbers) that they carried is far from being complete.  Even Pullman's own drawings for hospital ward type cars were more so purposals than actual floorplans so working from photos is a very important thing to do with the window patterns usually dictating what was actually done with various cars.  Unfortunately very few heavyweight hospital cars still exist.

Among the few survivors are three cars that were rebuilt from either Plan 3950 or Plan 3959 observation cars, with two retaining the both vestibules that they were rebuilt with while one other has been modified with an observation open-platform end.  One of these cars is one of only three cars rebuilt by Pullman to Plan 3950K and one of only two rebuilt again as a hospital ward car (the other became a troop sleeper), is in use on the Spirit of Jasper train operated by the Indiana Rwy. Museum out of Jasper, In., with two paired windows on the aisle side of the car towards the opposite end that has the litter doors being a great indicator of what the car previously was before being rebuilt.  Another is on display in Conway, S.C. (shown above), but I have never seen a shot of the other side of the car so it is hard to say for sure if it was a Plan 3950 or 3959 car.  The third car, which has been rebuilt with an open-platform observation end (with its pediment roof end still intact), is in service with the Louisiana Steam Train Association, but its rebuilding doesn't offer any clue as to which type of observation car was used to construct it.  And a hospital car rebuilt from a parlor car is also known to exist on the Black Hills Central.  Unlike the troop sleepers conversions the observation cars' sides were heavily reworked with windows being added or removed and litter doors being installed in the former observation lounge area.

For an overview of hospital cars, click here.  Do a search of the words "Hospital Trains" to find where the discussion on this subject begins.

WARNING:  These projects requires the use of sharp instruments which require all due care and diligence to avoid injury.  If undertaking any part of the project that requires cutting parts .  The cutting of various parts is not all that difficult to do but if you do not feel that you can safely make the cuts, please do not attempt too.  For my kitbashings I prefer a safety backed razor blade (like those used in window scrapers and hair trimmers).

Now that the liability part is out of the way...

Plan 3416W Hospital Ward cars.

When the first were conceived they were to be numbered in the 1 - 22 number series (#2, #3 and #4 being rebuilt in 1941 while #1 was rebuilt in November 1942).  These four cars were the only ones to receive their intended numbers because by July 1942 the decision was made to number these cars in the 8900-series with all subsequent rebuilds being numbered in that series.  Whether the first four were included in the 8900-series remains unclear.  This kitbashing is based partly on the car that is mentioned above that is now at Black Hills Central since a formal floorplan for this type of car can not be found, though if anyone might have it I would be grateful if they would share it.

This version of a hospital ward cars require some extensive work in a similar fashion to that of builting one the observation car conversions, with adding the litter doors and a paired window to the carbody.  The litter doors are 4' 10" wide but their placement depends on what type of car you are modeling.  Adding this will involve cutting out the baggage doors from an MT baggage car model, cutting out the stock doors and making new ones from styrene.

The drawing below shows the two floorplans used on the Plan 3416 cars.  Note that on the ward - treatment cars the litter doors had a staggered placement while the 32-berth ward cars had the litter doors directly across from each other.  To enlarge the drawing just click on it.


The interior of the hospital cars is a matter of scratchbuilding since there are no available details from which to take the interior parts from.  As with the troop sleepers the first order of business will be to create a new floor it is recommened that you use two layers of sheet styrene, the top layer being .010" while the bottom layer should be .020" or a similar thickness of sheet styrene.  Use the stock interior as a pattern for new floor and be sure to include the notches that are in the MT floor because if these are not cut out appropriately the floor will not fit properly (the notches don't have to be precise, just deep enough in to allow for floor to slide down into position).

Once the floor has been made and test fitted insert the new floor vertically and laying the interior bulkheads into place so that the window openings can be marked.  This needs to be done so that the position of the seating and walls can be marked.  Marks will be made on the top of the floor with a pencil first, and then, once the window positions are marked, the floor itself will notched slightly on the outside edges to clear pins inside the model.  Make sure that the top part of the interior floor is the side that you are marking for windows so that you will be able to keep it in the proper position.  Once this is done set the floor aside while work on the interior walls can begin.

For the walls it will be necessary to measure and cut .020" styrene the same height as the original interior's walls with the interior wall between the ward and the treatment room being cut to the width of the carbody inside of the window "glass".  Placement of the locker walls and bathroom walls is not critical and since the interior of the bathroom will not be visible it really is not necessary to include the detail inside unless you choose to do so.

The drawings below shows the steps needed to alter the sides so that a proper side configuration can be obtained.  The drawings below are actually taller than your screen so once you click on them you will need to do whatever your browser dictates to view them full sized.


Keep in mind that the window "glass" will also need to be cut apart so that styrene reinforments glued inside of the shell can be applied to support the additions to the carbody, so that it can be put into place once the carbody has been finished.  A piece of the "glass" will be needed for the doors once the model has been finished, glued into place behind the litter doors.  Waiting to glue the "glass" into the interior of the shell until after the shell has been finished will help to protect the glass from being damaged.

Plan 3950 and 3959 Hospital Ward cars.

When Pullman rebuilt these sleeper - lounge observation cars they were converted into two different configurations, ward cars having 32 beds which were numbered in the 8900-series while the ward - treatment cars had 30 beds and were numbered in the 89000-series.  It is worth noting that the differences between the Plan 3950 and 3959 cars was the placement of one window so both types can be covered with the MT observation, with modifications noted below.  A total of 12 Plan 3950 cars and 15 Plan 3959 cars reportedly were converted but only four of the Plan 3950 cars, Sunset Beach, Sunset Cape, Sunset Park and Silver Springs are known to have been numbered 8921, 8922, 8923 and 8927, while three of the Plan 3959 cars, National Hill, National View and Golden Springs (ex-Crystal Springs), are known to have been numbered 89011, 89020 and 89022, respectively.

The drawing below shows the two floorplans used on both the Plan 3950 and 3959 cars.  Note that on the ward - treatment cars the litter doors had a staggered placement while the 32-berth ward cars had the litter doors directly across from each other.  To enlarge the drawing just click on it.


This kitbash requires a new floor to be created using both .010" and .020" sheet styrene, which will be cut to the size of the original interior and notched as would be appropriate for clearing the interior pins so that the new floor can be slid into place.  The window "glass" and the observation end bulkhead will need to be replaced with parts from a scrap Pullman car shell since the observation end windows will not be needed on this conversion and the placement of the bulkhead will be different on the kitbashed model.  The interior will need to be fabricated in the same manner as described above.  Keep in mind that these cars will be receiving vestibules and new ends which will mean that the roof of the observation car will need to be cut off and a roof end from a sleeper will need to be applied so that the pediment end of the car will look appropriate.

The drawings below shows the changes that will need to be made to model these hospital ward car.  To the left is the drawing for Plan 3950W and 3959W cars, center is Plan 3950WT and 3959WT cars and the one on the right is for the former Coral Reef car, which had the paired windows added to the aisle side of the car.  These drawings are actually taller than your screen so you will need to do whatever your browser dictates to view them full sized.


As can be seen on the drawing a bathroom window needs to be added near the litter doors on the former aisle side of the car in ward cars ("W" suffix), but not ward - treatment cars ("WT" suffix).  The small window can be taken from any Pullman car being used for parts.  The windows that are to be plated over will be done as mentioned above, with the method being left up to the modeler.

Litter Door detail.


Unlike other parts of the hospital cars the litter doors will need to be fabricated from sheet styrene, possibly using .020" for the back parts while the front part could be made from .010", though either thickness could be used for both layers of the doors.  I regret that I can't tell you the height of the doors since I have no way of measuring such so it will be necessary to estimate how tall they should be made and likewise an estimation will have to be made as to where to place the windows, though it could be reasonable to use the measurement of the MT baggage car windows to determine a reasonable height and width for them, keeping in mind the look of these windows when you are constructing them.

The windows in the doors were placed quite closely together on each door and I would recommend that .010" wire being used, placed behind the fabricated door and the doors themselves were separated by a raised batten which covered the door edges at the center of the door opening which can be represented by scribing the doors down the center and gluing .020" wire to represent this batten.  While the door opening is to be 4' 10" wide it would be better if the door was made slightly larger so that the styrene will overlap all four sides of the door so as to reinforce it.  The illistration above shows the detail that is to be added to all litter doors made for the model.  When making the door it should be possible to actually make sub-assemblies of the door itself, one dealing with the vertical parts while the second, overlayed on the first, would focus on the horizontal parts, as shown in the drawing.nbsp; After painting it may be necessary to adjust the "window glass" if it interferes with the appearance of the glass as a whole, with the "window glass" being cut along the outer edges of the door and the pieces being glued to the back of the door after painting.

Hospital car berths.

    The fabrication of the hospital beds is purely a scratchbuilding project since there are no suitable parts available that can be used, but as it is shown in the drawing the construction of the berths is not that difficult to do, depending on how you might want to approach them.  To view some images of the prototype berths Click Here and Here.  Clicking the drawing to enlarge.

The simplest way to create the framework of the hospital beds cut the spring foundation from .020" sheet styrene to the size of the berth (6' 7" x 2' 6"), with two pieces being needed for each set.  Once the spring foundation parts have been cut then the handrailing will need to be pieces together and added to the edges of the foundation, two .010" wires being applied to the length of the bed approximately 6 feet in length and 2" above the foundation along the sides (front and back) while additional handrailing approximately four foot wide and 8" tall will need to be placed at the head and foot of the foundation.  The legs of the berths need to be made from .010" wire cut to a 5' length and with the wire run up through the corners of the spring foundation pieces, with the lower berth being 2 feet above the floor and the upper berth being 3' above the lower.

The more ambitious modeler may choose to fabricate the spring foundation by using styrene or brass structural shapes (such as angles) to frame the foundation with fine screen being glued to the underside of the framing to represent the springs.  One advantage to doing this is that the spring foundation can be modeled with the mattress unmade and folded over end-to-end which would expose the screening below.

Once assembled the completed framework can be painted in a number of possible colors since color photos of these berths do not exist on the internet, though I would recommend something like a medium gray or tarnished black.  When painting the top of the spring foundation try to avoid painting down the center of it since it will be necessary to glue the mattresses onto the foundations once they are cut and painted.
Once the framework of the berthing is finished work then would need to move to creating the mattresses themselves.

For the mattresses a sheet of .040" styrene would need to be cut up to create the mattresses that will be applied, 6' 4" x 2' 3" in size.  The mattresses can be added at any time once the foundation is finished with the mattress being painted light gray (imitation aluminum) if not made up or in olive drab green and white to represent a mattress with a blanket on it.  While a bit more difficult to do, unused berths often had their mattresses folded over head to foot but doing this is not quite that easy to do so having them made up with sheets and blankets would be a reasonable alternative and would negate the need to create some sort of spring detail on the exposed foundation itself.  Fifteen two-bunk racks are needed for each car.  Once the berths are finished they should be glued to the floor with enough clearance on the outside edges of the floor being left to allow for the car's window "glass" to be installed without any problems.

Hospital cars as Tourist sleepers and Mortuary cars.

As the new ACF hospital cars were delivered the Army took a number of the heavyweight hospital cars and reassigned them to where they could be of use on a short term basis as troop sleepers.  Some were renumbered in the 6400-, 6500- and 6600-series and were used without much change to their interiors, using the hospital beds to provide sleeping accommodations, painted in the typical Pullman green paint with gold lettering and included the numbers of the cars being centered on the lower side with the lettering "Troop Sleeper" being centered above it.  To see a shot of a Plan 3416WT in this service Click Here.

Other cars received further modification, converting them so that they could be used for the sad task of bringing the remains of the fallen to their appropriate distribution center for forwarding to their final resting place.  A glimpse of this service is covered at the Jay Street Connecting RR. website, to visit the site Click Here.  In the beginning of their travels the cars often starting out in a dedicated mortuary train heading to its destination with some cars being switched out when they were closer to their destinations where connections to revenue passenger trains were being made for the final movement home.  Some of the remains were also reloaded to these connecting trains if the number of remains were too small to justify the use of a full car.  These cars were lettered for the Army Transportation Corp. but kept their hospital car numbers.  All cars had their Ice AC removed when they were converted to this service but the air ducts remained.

The building of mortuary cars is very similar to building hospital ward cars with the rebuilt cars including Plan 3416W, 3959W and 3959WT cars.  Modeling these cars would involve nearly the same process as altering the sides of a model for a hospital ward cars but once the proper window pattern has been obtained all of the existing windows would then have to be taped across the back, with JB Weld (or any other personal preference for doing this) being used to fill all the windows, using care to not quite fill the cavities all the way even with the sides to create the appearance of plywood being used to cover the existing wndows.  The drawings below, of Plan 3416WT and 3950/3959WT mortuary cars shows the steps needed to model such a car.  The drawings below are actually taller than your screen so once you click on them you will need to do whatever your browser dictates to view them full sized.


ALL GRAPHICS ARE ORIGINAL ARTWORK, © 2015 J.M. LaBoda.