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Building a Standard Gauge Diner

Updated: Aug 1

Follow along with the following pictorial progression of a Standard Gauge diner I made in honor of my younger brother who passed in 2018.


This is a brush painted, rusty and wheel-less passenger car

from my junk box after I disassembled it:


Same car after stripping off layers of paint. I safely do this by soaking the parts in

powdered (the liquid version does not work) TIDE laundry detergent and hot water overnight. Some brushing with an old toothbrush will usually be needed to remove some paint that has not floated off. Make sure you rinse and dry thoroughly. I use an old hair dryer to make sure no moisture remains after first drying with paper towels.


Step 3:, primed and dents repaired with auto body filler.


Here it is painted and ready for re-assembly. Note that I printed my own water slide decals.


If this were an "O" gauge custom Lionel car, I would have finished it, before re-assembly, with a coat of Dullcoat from Tester's, This provides the same matt finish that Post-War Lionel's had and does a good job of blending in decals.

Finished product

I also added a base made from a tin baking pan and a pre-war type tree made from a luffa - just like Lionel did:

Here is a picture of it on my 2019 Christmas layout before I added the base:

I know that my brother would have liked it!


As an aside, using the same methods used in making the diner, I've also restored the passenger set shown in these pictures. I was able to make five nice passenger cars from seven $10-$15 junkers.



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