'Til the mail train comes back,
And I'll be rollin' in my sweet baby's arms."
-- Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
I've been fascinated by mail trains for a long time, with their typically mixed bag of equipment and color schemes, and being so iconic for the classic era. The variety of colors came from being decorated in their roads' multiple passenger schemes, for use as head-end cars on name trains. As passenger consists and standard liveries changed, cars with those snazzier paint jobs began to drift down into the nameless mail runs.
One of the more interesting species in the mail phylum was the converted WW2-era troop sleeper. These were basically 50' boxcars outfitted for military passenger service, built in quantity and on the cheap during the war. But after de-mobilization they were surplussed - available for little above scrap value, despite having seen only a couple of years of use. Riding on high-speed trucks and carrying passenger accoutrements including steam and electric lines, end doors, and diaphragms, they were ideally suited for conversion to bargain express equipment that could run with the fast-mails.
Walthers made a good model of these cars 15-ish years ago. I grabbed several and painted them Pullman Green, such as #4212 above, since PG was the standard (only) SNR passenger scheme going at the time. Just like life. But once the fancier passenger schemes took shape on the SNR, I applied them to some of the mail equipment as well - also just like life - and in so doing, I developed a deep need to doll up a couple more of these troop sleeper conversions too. It just took a while to finally make the time.
Here's a look at each of the two, along with a brief history of the livery.
Tidewater scheme (1934)
Queen City scheme (1947)