Re: Rock Island Converted Troop Sleepers

Steve and Barb Hile

The Rock Island Technical Society published an extensive article on these cars in its Digest 11 back in 1993. Copies of this fine issue are still available for a reduced rate from the RITS company store at

The article quotes a former RI employee as recalling that the some of the cars were painted Aluminum Silver to match the streamlined Rocket trains while others were painted in Pullman Green to match heavyweight trains. It is not known how many of each were done. The lettering style, interestingly, was extended RR Roman, more appropriate for the Pullman Green cars. There are many long lived (right up to 1980) examples of Aluminum Silver cars with the RR Roman lettering.

In the fall of 1956, the paint and lettering diagram was changed to show the Rocket style lettering (the revision block calls it "Modern" lettering) so cars repainted in late 1956 and later would have the Rocket style lettering. I could have sworn that I have seen a green express boxcar with Rocket style lettering, but I can't put my hands on it, just now. (They did use gold Rocket lettering on other green cars.)

I do have a picture reference for 4228 in Aluminum Silver with Rocket style lettering, so it must have been repainted. The article shows that it was shopped in December 1956 to replace the trucks, so I could have been repainted at that time. I don't have photo reference for 4219, but it was shopped in 1959 according to the article.

Of the 14 cars that I have photo references for, 6 are Aluminum Silver with the RR Roman Lettering, 5 are Aluminum Silver with Rocket Lettering and 3 are Pullman Green with RR Roman lettering. The RI was notoriously slow in repainting equipment and it is reasonable to believe that some cars were not re-painted, at all, in the 30 plus years of life on the RI. I would welcome additions to the paint scheme sighting list, especially references to show gold Rocket lettering on green cars.

Here is my current listing

Silver Roman Silver Rocket Green Roman Green Rocket
4208 4200 4205
4210 4212 4217
4224 4228 4227
4235 4231
4236 4241

All of the cars had their Allied Full Cushion Trucks replaced with Chrysler FR-5E trucks between 1956 and 1959. Ross Dando (Twin Star Cars) sells a resin conversion kit to replace the spring package in Kato ASF trucks with a casting that includes the snubbing shock absorber device. You can see his website at

He has not updated the site to include these trucks, but they are $9.50 per pair, including the Kato trucks.

The current Walthers offering looks like they got the lettering correctly sized, but their original Aluminum Silver cars had woefully undersized lettering. I do sell both black and gold lettering sets in proper sizes, contact me off list for my decal listing.

Steve Hile

----- Original Message -----
From: Tim O'Connor
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2008 7:27 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Rock Island Converted Troop Sleepers

MS Rock Island in Color Vol. 1 has a picture showing both
schemes in 1964. I think all of them were initially Pullman
Green and then gradually repainted. Steve Hile will know when
the repainting began... silver cars existed in 1957, that
much I do know.

Tim O'Connor

At 1/12/2008 08:11 PM Saturday, you wrote:
>Just saw Walthers new R.I. converted troop sleepers with steel door.
>The models are painted Pullman green and the two-pack cars are numbered
>4219 & 4248. Is this paint scheme accurate and what date did they start
>to paint these cars silver? Thanks. Mark

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