Caltrain Gallery Cars

This isn’t a new model, but it is one that has never been featured on my blog before, even though it was first built almost a decade ago. It’s the Gallery Car used by Caltrain commuter rail service on the San Francisco peninsula, to go with my Caltrain F40PH locomotive.

BayLUG Maker Faire 2018 126

The traditional rolling stock for Caltrain is these two-level “gallery cars” made by Nippon Sharyu. At the north end of the train there is a control cab, so that northbound trains are running “backwards” as they head to San Francisco, with the locomotive at the rear. This push-pull operation dates back to the railroad’s predecessor, Southern Pacific, which had operated this commuter rail service between San Jose and San Francisco for over a hundred years before handing it over to the state. These cars, along with the newer Bombardier ones, are soon to be replaced by new electric-powered trains as part of the ongoing electrification project.

My model was built in 2010 and first displayed as part of BayLUG’s exhibit at the Great Train Expo in San Jose, in November of that year. The stickers on the locomotive and cars were made by my friend Charles Esseltine, a member of BayLUG. I built four cars for my train, even though the real thing usually runs with five or six. Besides the cab car, there is also a car with an extra-large handicap-accessible restroom (omitting two of the windows on the lower level on one side), and two ordinary cars.

My Caltrain has been featured at numerous Maker Faire, train shows, and other events ever since and has been a perennial crowd pleaser, especially at Maker Faire as the real trains whizz by the San Mateo Event Center several times an hour. While I never did a proper photo shoot of these cars, it crops up in Flickr galleries of these shows over the years, and I’ve combined a representative sample into a new Flickr Caltrain Gallery Cars album.

This year at Maker Faire 2019, one of BayLUG’s newer members, Eric Kuxhausen, brought his Caltrain models as well. He has built an excellent rendition of the newer Bombardier BiLevel Coaches and a MPI MP36PH-3C locomotive, and also a mini scale version of the gallery car. He told me that he got inspired by seeing my Caltrain years ago at Maker Faire which I found very flattering! His are a bit more LEGO-purist than mine, as he avoids custom stickers entirely. Here are some photos of his models – click them to see his album.
Lego Caltrain Gallery Car
Lego Caltrain Bombardier Trainset

Here’s the oldest photo I can find of my full Caltrain, from its public debut in 2010. If you look closely at the wheels, you can see the design is a bit different – I redesigned the trucks for the gallery cars sometime after 2013 to move more smoothly and to look a bit more like the real thing. This photo is a little blurry because the train was in motion, sorry.