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The Joy of Removing the Roof on a Walthers Mainline Passenger Car

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The Joy of Removing the Roof on a Walthers Mainline Passenger Car
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, July 31, 2023 4:38 PM

I recently bought 7 undecorated Walthers Mainline Passenger cars, and I plan to purchase 5 more, all of which will be spray painted to reflect the two color schemes used by Monon, red and gray and black and gold.

That means that I have to remove the roofs which included molded on "glass" windows, to paint the body sides. Reading about how to remove the roofs is nightmarish.

Two relatively recent forum threads tackle the issue and can be found here:

My First Walthers Mainline Passenger Car https://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/p/249188/3024261.aspx#3024261

How to Open Walthers Mainline Passenger Cars

https://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/p/261241/2938744.aspx


There are also two relevant YouTube videos:

The Walthers Demo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWaJ6QpKDE8

 

Keith Turley "Twist"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cr2A-QrqiPc

 

In theory, you hold both ends of the passenger car and twist the ends in opposite directions until the roof pops off. Laugh

Lots of luck. After an hour of trying, I initially gave up.

It does appear that somewhere along the way, Walthers changed over from "tabs" that hold the roof against the body sides and break easily to "biscuits" that protrude off the roof assembly and fit into grooves on the body sides, and these biscuits do not break. So, much more force can be used to twist the opposite ends of the car body without fear of damage.

Once I got the first roof off after about 90 minutes of struggle, I was able to closely examine the structure of the roof and body sides. It was then that I realized that simply twisting the two ends of the body back and forth in opposite directions was counter productive. For every twist one way, the next twist the other way simply applied force in the opposite direction, tightening what was just loosened.

The correct way to remove the roof is to cradle the body into your two hands after first removing the trucks and wheelsets.The bottom of the body should rest in the palms of your two hands. As you twist the body with your lower hand, the thumb of your upper hand should face away from the roof, not towards it. This will pull the roof away from the body by using plenty of force (and I mean plenty).

Now turn the car body so that the loosened roof is cradled in the bottom of your hands. As you twist the body with your lower hand, the thumb of your upper hand should face away from the roof, not towards it. This will pull the roof away from the body by using plenty of force (and again I mean plenty).  

The end of the roof should now be free, and the entire roof and window assembly can be removed from the body. From start to finish, it took me 3 hours to complete the removal of 7 roofs, damage free, the last one taking about 3 minutes.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 12:22 AM

Are these the Budd corrugated cars you are having problems with?

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 6:30 AM

SeeYou190

Are these the Budd corrugated cars you are having problems with?

-Kevin 

Yes. It is part of the Walthers Mainline series and, in my case, it is specficially the 85' Budd Small-Window Coach Painted and Unlettered, #WML 30200. But this thread does apply to the entire Walthers Mainline Budd series.

Rich

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 7:00 AM

Is there any way to gently slide a razor blade(s) in the seems and pop them free that way?

- Douglas

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 8:22 AM

Doughless

Is there any way to gently slide a razor blade(s) in the seems and pop them free that way? 

I wouldn't do that and, quite frankly, there is no reason to do that. Any sharp object risks scratches, or worse, in the soft plastic. Also, the "windows" are part of the roof assembly, so a sharp object will immediately strike the roof assembly through the seam. 

There is a tool that can be used to encourage the roof assembly to separate from the body sides. It is a wood device, sort of like a skewer, with a flat end called a "spudger", but I did not really find it necessary.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 11:41 AM

richhotrain
Yes. It is part of the Walthers Mainline series and, in my case, it is specficially the 85' Budd Small-Window Coach Painted and Unlettered.

Well, drat. This is bad news.

I bought an six unit set of undecorated these from Model Train Stuff when they put them on sale for $28.00 each.

My set consisits of a baggage/lounge, sleeper, diner, two large window coaches, and an observation car.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 1:03 PM

SeeYou190
 
richhotrain
Yes. It is part of the Walthers Mainline series and, in my case, it is specficially the 85' Budd Small-Window Coach Painted and Unlettered.

I bought an six unit set of undecorated these from Model Train Stuff when they put them on sale for $28.00 each.

My set consisits of a baggage/lounge, sleeper, diner, two large window coaches, and an observation car.

-Kevin

 

Are they Walthers Mainline?

Rich

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Posted by trainguy98 on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 3:14 PM

I've opened quite a few of these cars using the same method in the Walthers video, and I have not had the trouble that Rich had. Hold the car close to the ends and try not to squeeze as you twist. You don't want to grip the car so tightly that the roof/window molding can't move. The only problem cars I've found were cars where someone applied weathering while the car was assembled and got paint along the top.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Thursday, August 3, 2023 11:04 PM

I remember this quote from a grizzled (a requirement to be a chief instructor) Master Sergeant from the Armor Officers' Basic Course on the first day of demoltions training. "Gentlemen, humanity faces few problems that can not be solved by the judicious use of high explosives"

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  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, August 4, 2023 12:50 AM

richhotrain
Are they Walthers Mainline?

Yes they are.

Mine do not say "painted/unlettered", they are labeled as undecorated.

They look painted.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

  • Member since
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  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 4, 2023 5:30 AM

SeeYou190
 richhotrain
Are they Walthers Mainline?

Yes they are.

Mine do not say "painted/unlettered", they are labeled as undecorated.

They look painted.

-Kevin 

Hi Kevin. The passenger cars that are the subject of this thread are the Walthers Mainline passenger cars. The roof removal process discussed in this thread is applicable to all of the cars in this series, including undecorated, painted and unlettered, painted and lettered. My cars are "painted and unlettered". If your cars are "undecorated", they are painted, just like mine.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 24,014 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 4, 2023 5:39 AM

trainguy98

I've opened quite a few of these cars using the same method in the Walthers video, and I have not had the trouble that Rich had. Hold the car close to the ends and try not to squeeze as you twist. You don't want to grip the car so tightly that the roof/window molding can't move.  

I knew when I bought these cars that folks were having a difficult time removing the roofs of the cars, as evidenced by the forum threads that I linked to in my initial post. So, once I succeeded in finding a method to remove the roofs in timely fashion and without damage, I decided to post this thread as an aid to others that encounter similar problems.

There must be a method to your madness in twisting these cars to loosen the roofs. Simply twisting the body sides back and forth is not the answer. The objective is to free one end of the roof from the body sides and then the remainder of the roof can be freed.

Over time, Walthers has changed the design of the roof tabs so it is less likely to result in damage to newer cars than the design used on older cars. 

Rich

Alton Junction

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