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Window Tinting


A few weeks ago I saw a thread on the Model Railroader Forum about tinting the windows on passenger cars. The Idea got me to thinking about the sterility of my Santa Fe streamlined consist. I had planned to put a false deck and a few people in the dome cars to give the train some life, but tinting the windows appeared would inject some some realism as well. The result is what follows:

To begin the project I ordered two #9607 Car Interior Kits fro Palace Car Co. These are a universal interior kit for 72'-passenger cars. Palace recommended on the site for 72' ConCor dome cars. Since my entire Santa Fe consist is comprised of Athearn BB kit-cars the Palace kit seemed to be the best fit. Next I had to find a suitable paint to tint the plastic window inserts on the cars. The author of the thread on MR used AlClad? paint which turned out to be nearly impossible to find locally. I settled on Testor's Transparent Candy Emerald Green.

The Beginning

The Palace Car Co. kits are shown above. Each kit contains a strip of 3/4-inch wide styrene for walls and partitions. A piece 1-1/8-inch wide styrene for the passenger deck, a metal weight, a couple of pre-shaped partitions and 16 HO-scale passenger seats. I disassembled the car and removed the 'window' glazing. I also removed the interior light, and the original weights. Both of the Palace Car Co. weights are out of their packages in the photo as I had just finished drilling access holes for the truck mounting screws when I remembered to take some pictures.

Dome Platform

After taking some basic measurements and looking over the kit instructions, I constructed the dome deck/platform supported by a few partitions as shown above. Since I didn't intend to finish any portion of the car beyond the dome my partitions were located for support.

Fitting the Platform

After securing the weight in the car chassis with double sided tape and painting it with Floquil SP Lark Light Gray. I placed the dome platform using the chassis and the car body as guides. I marked the location on the weight with a pencil.

Painting Seats

I painted the platform deck with the Floquil Light Gray and the partitions with SP Lettering Gray. Then I painted the seats with ATSF Blue and Lettering Gray. I also painted the two partitions supplied with the Palace Kit with Lettering Grey just in case I decided to use them.

Tinted Glass

While the paint was drying on the seats and platform I gathered the 'glass' inserts and sprayed them with three very light coats of Testor's Transparent Candy Emerald Green. They are shown here gathered together for drying.


The Palace Car Co. kit came with a staircase for access to the dome deck. I did not originally intend to use it as it would have been out of sight from outside of the car. But after jockying 10 seats around on my platform, I found that the platform would have to be longer to accomodate a reasonable number of seats and to block the sight line to the 'undecorated' parts of the car. The answer was to extend the dome platform and since i had the room, I installed the staircse. The photo shows the extended deck with the staircase in place.

Placing the Platform

I located the exteded platform with the passenger seats and the access staircase in the chassis. It took several tries, placing the car body on the chassis to get the location right. Once I had it located to my satisfaction I glued the platform in place with Aleene's Tacky Glue.

Glass In

I returned the 'tinted glass' to its original locations in the car body. Some were quite a struggle because of the residuals from the original cement that held them in place. Eventually everything was in its place as shown above with an inside view of the car body.

The People In Place

I placed the seated people in the seats so they would be visible from outside of the car. I used 6-people from Woodland Scenics. They are all held in place with a little dab of Aleene's Tacky Glue. The real advantage of this glue is that it dries clear, is somewhat flexible is quite strong and can be easily removed if necessary. I placed a grain of wheat bulb at each end of the car in a simple holder to light the interior of my dome car. They are powered from the trucks which are equipped with bass wipers.

The Dome

This is a close-up photo of the finished dome car. The addition of the people and glass tinting has given this car and its twin a little more life and interest, I think.

On the Rails

Here is a longer view of the modified car as it looks on the railroad. There are still a few minor details to take care of but I am quite pleased with the results of this project. The tinting of the glass in SF 3412 and its brother have necessitated a new project to tint the 'glass' in my entire Santa Fe streamlined consist.

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