Like many American homes, our Christmas tree has a train around it. As with many shortlines, traffic can be sporadic and passengers virtually nonexistent.
Our passenger service is provided by a single Budd RDC-1, lettered for B&M 6106. It’s a thoroughly modern model of a 1950’s railcar with lights, sound, and full digital control.
And it looks lonely. A single railcar trundling in a large oval, weaving among the gifts.
I recently discovered that a local custom vendor makes decals for a full series of B&M Budd cars. A solution presented itself.
When I had toy trains as a kid myself, the Athearn kits were great. $5 would buy a simple boxcar kit which could be assembled in a matter of minutes with minimal tools. The princely sum of $11.99 would get you an unpowered Budd car model. The “blue box” kits are long gone now, but eBay is a wonderful thing.
With decals in hand, I set out in search of just the right railcar to go with 6106.
I fell down an internet rabbit hole. Along the way I learned that RDCs came in five varieties and that the Boston & Maine had owned four of them. I also learned that my hometown railroad had operated the single largest fleet of Budd RDCs in the world. 109 Budd cars prowled metro Boston, Maine, and New Hampshire at their zenith. Many survived to be sold to the MBTA and used in commuter service until the 1980’s.
The Athearn models came in two variants: the RDC-1 all-passenger car, and the RDC-3 passenger/baggage/RPO. I found an undecorated RDC-3 kit new in the box for a reasonable price.
After a short weekend’s worth of work and minimal cursing, I give you B&M RDC-3 #6302:
The job proved so easy that I have another RDC-1 on the way. Three coaches should make a reasonable commuter train for our tree.