Model Railroader

WalthersMa­inline HO scale Horizon coach


A new run of Amtrak Horizon fleet coaches has been released by Wm. K. Walthers in its WalthersMa­inline series. The HO scale models feature a revised body, improved underbody, and new details not found on previous releases.

As Amtrak was expanding service in the late 1980s, it needed short-distance passenger cars to supplement the existing Amfleet cars already in service. The answer for this need was Bombardier and the carbuilder’s adaptation of the Comet I commuter coaches. Bombardier purchased the rights to the Comet design in 1982 and modified the it for intercity service. All 104 cars were delivered between 1989 and 1990. The rapid delivery was made possible because of the existing design.

The modificati­ons included new General Steel Industries GSI-G70 trucks, which are also used on Superliner IIs. In addition to new trucks and a higher maximum speed, 10 cars were given an all-table dining configurat­ion and eight were fitted with table seating on one end and business class seating on the other. Almost all of the coaches have been rebuilt as Americans with Disabiliti­es Act (ADA)-compatible cars, and 11 of the food service cars have been rebuilt with new configurat­ions. Many of the original 104 cars are still in service, with several operating out of Chicago on regional trains such as the Hiawatha and Michigan Services.

The newest release of Horizon coaches features a revised body with molded drill starter points for modeler-installed grab irons, found in the Horizon Fleet Car Detail Kit (no. 910-202). Our sample is a coach decorated in Amtrak’s phase 3 paint scheme. Walthers sells Horizon cars in phase 4, phase 6 with the Travelmark herald, and painted silver but unlettered. Walthers also offers food service cars in the same schemes.

In addition to a revised body, the car features mounting points for a separately available lighting kit, factory-installed end diaphragms, modeler-installed close-coupling drawbars, and an improved underbody with center sill crossmembe­r details.

The underbody equipment and its placement matches photos of phase 3 Horizon coaches. While the windows are tinted, they lack black weather seals. The interior seats are visible through the tinting material. Our phase 3 coach is fitted with 82 seats.

Phase 3 Horizon cars feature manual sliding doors on both ends that are accurately represente­d. The prototype also utilizes folding step traps on each side of the vestibules to be able to serve both high and low platforms. The steps modeled on this car lack prototypic­al tread detail and are in the folded down position. The ends of the car have vestibules with operating diaphragms and interior doors. However, the car lacks train line and head-end power hoses and receptacle­s as well as red marker lights.

Our Horizon coach’s dimensions are close to those listed in Amtrak’s 2013 Station Program and Planning Guide. With the close-coupling drawbar installed, the coupler is at the correct height. Without the factory-installed drawbar, the coupler is about 2mm lower than National Model Railroad Associatio­n S-2 coupler standards. The car rides on prototypic­al GSI-G70 rollerbear­ing trucks with correctly gauged 36" metal wheels on plastic axles.

The car is finished in a smooth silver paint. The red, white, and blue phase 3 narrow stripes are evenly applied. Fullsize phase 3 Horizon coaches featured Amtrak lettering, the class designatio­n, and road number on the carbody. The lettering and class designatio­n are printed on the model. A sheet of decals is included for adding the road number.

Horizon coaches have an interestin­g combinatio­n of smooth sides and a fluted roof, and this car accurately captures that look. In addition to a fluted roof, the roof vents are properly located, and the rivets and placard brackets are correctly positioned on the ends of the car.

If you model the United States within the past three decades, the Horizon Fleet coach from WalthersMa­inline is a perfect fit for your layout. The prototypes have been in service on trains from the Three Rivers to the Kentucky Cardinal. This model looks good straight from the box but leaves opportunit­y for upgrades with detail parts and interior lighting. – Bryson Sleppy, associate editor

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