Please note that due to the many Budd cars owned by the CB&Q for it's various other Zephyr name trains, some were occasionally intermixed into the California Zephyr consists in later years. Only cars built specifically for California Zephyr use are covered below.

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Equipment Specifications and Technical Details

The stainless steel cars which made up the California Zephyr were manufactured by The Budd Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in their Red Lyon plant. Built of  18-8 stainless steel and assembled by Budd's "shot weld" construction method, the cars were built with comfort and durability in the forefront of design criteria.  The baggage cars measured 72 feet in length while all other cars measured 85 feet long.

Nine major color schemes were employed throughout the train. Three of these were utilized in the Dome Chair Coaches with each of the other car types having their own.  Certain features of the decorations where employed to unitize the overall effect throughout the train.  These unifying features included the original murals of western subjects used throughout the train. The murals applied in the coaches and buffets were in oil paints, while those in the diner and bar areas of the buffet-lounge and dome observation were done in multiple mediums such as carved and painted linoleum and etched glass.

Originally the entire train was provided with radio and public-address systems. Due to difficulties maintaining their proper operation, these were later disabled to a certain extent. As originally equipped, two two-wire spool recorders were installed to allow up to twelve hours of continuous musical entertainment. A Western Electric radio system consisting of two separate sets was also installed. These sets were each equipped with seventeen pre tuned crystal receivers, allowing for a total availability of thirty-four broadcasting radio stations. The equipment was controlled from a master control adjacent to the steward's desk. The public-address system is also operated from this control panel. Utilizing a handset, a pushbutton caused radio or wire recorded programs to be cut out, allowing for public announcements to be made. (Views of the controls my be seen on the Zephyrette History page).

With the exception of the diner, all cars are equipped with 25kw Safety genemotors and Spicer drives. They are also equipped with Exide storage batteries with a 1294 amp. hour capacity. The diner was equipped with a 30kw genemotor and 2588 amp.  hour batteries. Motor alternators of 2kw capacity converted 32 volts D.C. power to 110 volt A.C. power. Cars having heavy A.C. electrical loads were fitted with two motor alternators. Operation of them in split loads allowed one to shutdown at night when loads were light. These alternators supplied power for fluorescent lighting, razor outlets, vacuum cleaner outlets, electrostatic air filters, radios and the public-address system. Air conditioning systems, incandescent lighting and water coolers were powered from the unconverted D.C. system.

Fluorescent lighting was used in all common passenger spaces. Incandescent reading lights were installed in each  roomette and under the overhead baggage racks in each coach. One coach reading light was installed per seat and are individually adjustable. Incandescent lamps were also used to light toilets, vestibules, passageways, kitchen, crew's quarters and porters' areas.

Lighting for the domes was laid out so that illumination progresses from a high intensity to a very low level as you ascended the stairs at night. This was to eliminate interior glare on the dome glass and allow night viewing by passengers.

The cars were cooled by use of Frigidaire electro-mechanical air-conditioning units. Ten ton units were utilized in all cars with the exception of the sleepers; seven ton units were employed on these cars. The dome cars contained two evaporator units, a six ton unit for cooling the front and rear main passenger areas, and a four ton unit for cooling the dome and under dome areas. Cooling of the main diner required six tons, while the equivalent of four tons was utilized for cooling the kitchen area. Frigidaire electro-mechanical refrigeration units were installed in the kitchen as well as the buffet areas of the buffet-lounge and observation car for food storage. These units also provided for manufacture of ice.

Heating of the train was accomplished through the use of a Vapor Zone Control system. Vapor water heaters with a Westinghouse water raising system were utilized in the lavatories. National Aluminate water softeners were installed on all cars for system water, but not drinking water. Drinking water was supplied through a Lundy circulating water cooling system. Each car contained a 500 gallon underbody water tank. The diner had an additional 100 gallon capacity in the kitchen which was connected to the water heater.

All cars rode on General Steel Casting equalizer type trucks made of alloy steel. They were equipped with machine balanced 36 inch rolled steel wheels installed on 6 inch by 11inch axles, riding on Timken rolling bearings. Coil bolster springs and Houde shocks were used on each truck. Rubber pads were placed under the center plates, under the equalizers over each journal box and at the ends of the bolsters.

Budd disk brakes were installed on the inboard sides of each wheel. The air brake system employed was a Westinghouse HSC type with an American Brake Shoe anti-wheel-slide  device. A National type hand brake operated through the disk brakes on one pair of wheels only. Couplers were National tight-lock with Waughmat draft gear.


All brake, steam and water piping on the cars was copper line with Walseal fittings. Air brake piping on the trucks was made of extra heavy wrought iron. All propane piping and fittings used on the diner were made of brass.

Scale Car Weights in Pounds
Light Weight Operating Weight Maximum Load
Baggage 103,900 120,500 167,350
Coaches 148,700 154,300 165,700
Buffet-Lounge 155,620 163,520 171,620
Diner 148,150 160,300 169,400
16 sec. Sleeper 136,410 143,000 148,300
10/6 Sleeper 142,350 149,150 152,850
Observation 151,030 159,250 168,550
Note: Average weight of trucks is 40,500 lbs per pair


Car Roster
   Baggage Car (Budd Plan Number?) 
Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Beaver 801
WP Silver Stag 802
CB&Q Silver Bear 903
CB&Q Silver Buffalo 904
CB&Q Silver Coyote 905
D&RGW Silver Antelope 1100
Dome Chair Car (Budd Plan Number?) 
Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Dollar 8111
WP Silver Feather 8121
WP Silver Palace 8132
WP Silver Sage2 814
WP Silver Schooner 815
WP Silver Scout 816
WP Silver Thistle 817
CB&Q Silver Bridle 47161
CB&Q Silver Lodge 47171
CB&Q Silver Lariat 47181
CB&Q Silver Ranch 47192
CB&Q Silver Rifle 47202
CB&Q Silver Saddle 4721
CB&Q Silver Stirrup 4722
D&RGW Silver Bronco 11051
D&RGW Silver Colt 11062
D&RGW Silver Mustang 11072
D&RGW Silver Pony 1108
1 Note -- These cars were originally fitted with a forward section reserved for women and children only. They were set off by a swinging door in the corridor under the dome, behind the entrance to the women's restroom door. This practice was later discontinued and the door was removed.
2 Note -- These cars were configured with a conductors office in the rear right side, all others contained luggage racks in this location.
Dome Dormitory-Buffet-Lounge (Budd Plan Number?)
Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Chalet 831/CB&Q 252
WP Silver Hostel 832
CB&Q Silver Club 250
CB&Q Silver Lounge 251
CB&Q Silver Roundup 2521
D&RGW Silver Shop 1140
1 Note -- Silver Chalet ownership was transferred to CB&Q from WP after Silver Roundup was damaged on WP rails. Silver Chalet was then renumbered to CB&Q 252 but retained Silver Chalet name.
Dining Car (Budd Plan Number ?)
Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Plate 841
WP Silver Platter 842
CB&Q Silver Cafe 193
CB&Q Silver Diner 194
CB&Q Silver Restaurant 195
D&RGW Silver Banquet 1115
16 Section Sleeper / 48 Seat Chair Car (Budd Plan Number 9507)

Note: These cars were rebuilt to 48 seat chair cars in 1963-64

Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Palm 871
WP Silver Poplar 872
CB&Q Silver Maple 400 / 47422
CB&Q Silver Larch 401 / 47432
CB&Q Silver Cedar 403 / 47442, 3
D&RGW Silver Aspen 1120
D&RGW Silver Pine 1121
2Note -- Cars were renumbered after conversion to chair cars 

3Note -- This car was added in 1952, built to Budd Plan Number 9532

6 Double Bedroom / 5 Compartment Sleeper (Budd Plan Number 9534)
Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Crane 851
WP Silver Swallow 852
CB&Q Silver Dove 450
CB&Q Silver Quail 451
CB&Q Silver Thrush 452
D&RGW Silver Gull 1135
10 Roomette / 6 Double Bedroom Sleeper (Budd Plan Number 9509)
Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Arroyo 861
WP Silver Canyon 862
WP Silver Mountain 863
WP Silver Palisade 864
WP Silver Range 865
WP Silver Bay 866
WP Silver Surf 867
CB&Q Silver Point 423
CB&Q Silver Shore 424
CB&Q Silver Butte 425
CB&Q Silver Cliff 426
CB&Q Silver Falls 427
CB&Q Silver Valley 428
CB&Q Silver Crag 4294
CB&Q Silver Chasm 4304
D&RGW Silver Pass 1130
D&RGW Silver Summit 1131
D&RGW Silver Gorge 1132
D&RGW Silver Creek 1133
D&RGW Silver Glacier 1134
PRR Silver Rapids 84495
4Note -- These cars were added in 1952, built to Budd Plan Number 9531 

5Note -- This was PRR's contribution for through-car service to New York City, built to Budd Plan Number 9520

Dome Buffet-Lounge-Observation (Budd Plan Number 9511)
Railroad Car Name Car Number
WP Silver Crescent 881
WP Silver Planet 882
CB&Q Silver Horizon 375
CB&Q Silver Penthouse 376
CB&Q Silver Solarium 377
CB&Q Silver Lookout 3786
D&RGW Silver Sky 1145
6Note -- This car was added in 1952, built to Budd Plan Number 9533


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