The 4400 class of 100 multiple unit cars were built by Pullman Standard at their Worcester Massachusetts plant delivering them to the New Haven Railroad during 1954, nicknamed "washboards" for their fluted stainless steel sheathing applied to the car sides.
All 100 cars were driven by four 100 horsepower DC traction motors receiving power from the 11,000 volt AC overhead catenary thru a single pantograph, this power then rectified to DC before powering the traction motors. Each truck also had 2 retractable third rail pickup shoes one on each side of the truck for use when operating on the New York Central Railroad 650 volt DC trackage between Woodlawn junction and New York's Grand Central Terminal.
Cars with the 120 seat coach floor plan were the most numerous at 89 cars, combination cars with a baggage section and private cars filled out the roster.
Coach 4464 at Danbury Connecticut
The photo below of coach 4464 at Danbury station was taken by W. T. Clynes during 1957, era correct for the layout.
This photo is a good reason/excuse to have a washboard for the layout, same for a RDC seen in the background.
The RDC car has been offered in HO scale by many manufactures over the years and easily obtained but not so with the washboard.
The 4400 washboards have been offered in a brass 3 car set by NJ Custom Brass many years ago, these can be expensive and hard to come by.
Island Modelworks offers the coach kit pictured below that features a one piece body shell, a chassis with the underbody detail cast in place and comes with a pair trucks. (note that the trucks are on backwards in the photo).
This kit is designed to accept the mechanism from the Life Like Proto 1000 RDC cars which are easy to obtain.
This kit is available and affordable, needing only one on the layout for the Danbury CT - South Norwalk CT shuttle, one was purchased. Several modifications to the kit were made during the build to make it operate as well as possible and raise the detail level , these modifications were to suite my personal likes only and are not meant to be a critique of the kit itself.
Building the Kit, Part 1 The Chassis/Trucks
Needing only one washboard for the layout this car has to be a powered unit, unpowered trailers could be used in a string of several cars with only one being powered on a layout with different needs.
Wanting the finished car run as reliable and smoothly as possible for the long term the decision was made to use the entire Life Like RDC chassis and not just adapt the RDC drive mechanism to the resin cast chassis and trucks that come with the kit.
The first step was to remove the washboard underbody details that are cast as part of the kit chassis for transfer to the LL RDC chassis. Unfortunately no photo of the kit chassis was taken before modification, the below photo shows the part of the kit chassis with the cast on washboard details that was saved for transfer.
The thickness of the kit chassis is about the same as the LL RDC chassis. The thickness of the flat chassis portion of the kit that the details are molded to was thinned downed to about 1/32", enabling these details as a whole unit to be transferred and attached to the bottom of the RDC chassis. Thinning was done by placing a piece of aggressive sand paper grit side up on a piece of glass and rubbing the part back and forth till it was the needed thickness.
The 1/32" thickness is shown in the photo below.
This is the sanded side that will be attached to the bottom of the RDC chassis.
To make room to transfer the kit's chassis underbody details to the chassis of the RDC, the cast on underbody details on the RDC chassis must be removed first. The chassis was striped of all components and mounted in a vise, a reciprocating saw with a fine blade was used to cut off the unwanted RDC underbody details, a hacksaw with the blade turned 90 degrees could also be used. A flat file was used smooth the saw cuts and flatten the surface preparing it for mounting the washboard underbody details.
To secure the washboard body shell to the chassis, a sturdy strip of styrene was glued crosswise in the center of the shell then drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws. Corresponding clearance holes for the screws were drilled in the metal chassis and underbody detail piece as below.
This next photo shows the relative positioning of the underbody detail piece to the RDC chassis, it will be painted black and permanently glued in place later in the assembly process.
Note the two styrene strips glued to the outside edges of the chassis, these take up the void between the chassis and body shell making the shell fit snugly to the chassis and preventing any inward warping of the shell when mounted to the chassis at a later date.
The prototype washboard trucks pictured below are unique and far different from the RDC trucks in appearance.
The RDC trucks and sideframes are to be used on this model for their good operational qualities and long term reliability. The resin cast washboard truck sideframes provided with the kit have the necessary details, so these unique details were removed from the kit sideframes and transferred to the RDC sideframes the combination making the faux washboard truck sideframe shown below.
The metal castings of the mounting bar for the third rail shoes and the fuse box cover are from Branford Hobbies, these parts are from a kit they offered and may not be available separately but could have been easily made from styrene. The fuse box cover is incorrect for this truck, it should be just a plain flat cover, I did not realize this before gluing it in place but would be difficult to remove so it stays.
Also if the third rail bar was scratchbuilt from styrene the third rail shoe could be moved to the correct location under the shock absorber. In retrospect I should have scratchbuilt these parts and would do so if another car was to be built, but I will be satisfied with what I have and move on!
The Corner Steps
The corner steps of the RDC are a separate piece from the body shell and easily removed. These were chosen for reuse over the resin kit steps because they are less likely to be subject to breakage and are nicely injection molded and require no flash cleanup. These steps are permanently glued directly to the power chassis with the aid of styrene blocks to reinforce the glue joints and properly locate the steps on the chassis as seen below. Thin styrene caps were also added to the top of the steps.
The molded on block at both ends of the top side of the chassis were removed at the lines shown below, this was done so this portion of the chassis will not show thru the windows. There is still plenty of weight left on this chassis for it to track and operate well.
The couplers boxes will still securely attach to the chassis as they did with the RDC, another plus.
This photo shows a comparison of a Proto 1000 RDC on the left and the washboard body shell with truck and steps in place on the right
Part two will look at the detail additions made to the washboard body shell.