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More early Amtrak advice

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  • Member since
    March, 2019
  • From: Bethlehem, PA
  • 44 posts
More early Amtrak advice
Posted by HO Hobbyist on Monday, April 15, 2019 6:56 PM

Hi everyone,

I recently posted about running an Amtrak train powered by an SDP40F, and I got an informative reply, hence the reason I am reconsidering my Amtrak train.

Here's my layout:

  • 1971-6 in the Lehigh Valley Area, particularly Bethlehem PA
  • Lehigh Valley Railroad and some EL power. One Amtrak train is my passenger provider. (Despite locale inaccuracies)

I am currently looking for something to replace my Life-Like E8 and consist of IHC/Riviarossi cars. My requirements are DCC and Sound. The paint should be phase II or earlier. Ideally the locomotive is not for pre order but it is acceptable. I've been ruling out things with minimal detail (i.e. the F7 in the Roundhouse line).

Does anyone know of any locomotives that ran in one of these paint schemes during these years? I am not well versed in the subject. If the SDP40F is still applicable I'm open to that --- the Athearn is nice!

- HO Hobbyist

Modeler of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Bethlehem PA, 1971, and model railroad YouTuber. 

http://hohobbyist.weebly.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIYnPo26Y8nsXyKhtpvSWwA

http://instagram.com/lvrr_hoscale

http://twitter.com/lvrr_hoscale

"When railroading time comes you can railroad...but not before."

- Robert A. Heinlein

  • Member since
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  • 815 posts
Posted by emdmike on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 9:32 AM

One has to remember those first couple of years was a rainbow of colors as all the railroad equipment from the railroads own passenger rolling stock/locomotives were spread across the nation till Amtrak repainted or bought new equipment.  So E units, F units of the hosting line or those nearby might be the initial power that first year, then units from far away places might be seen as units fail and are sidelined and replaced.  A good google image search and paying close attention to the date the picture was taken is about your best source for modeling your area in the early years of Amtrak.  To get high detail level units for that early years, your choices are more limited if you want it in Amtrak colors.  Obviously there are many F and E units in previous railroad colors to choose from that have a good level of detail.  For 6 axle power, that SDP40 is one of the few choices unless you want to splurge on a nice brass model.  There are a couple on ebay from Overland that are factory painted that fit in those early years.  But as to whether they were used in your modeled area/time frame, you will need to research that. Was your modeled area suitable to 6 axle power, or was it more suited to 4 axle units?   The F40PH came on the scene in 1975 and would have replaced the remaining F and E units.  I think the 4 axle units were more common in the eastern USA and the big 6 axle units ran the routes west from Chicago with their larger fuel tanks.  I am sure there were expections. If you set you year in 75 or 76, then sparkling clean F40's and maybe a couple ratty F units for variety.  Once again, google image search your part of the USA for Amtrak pics in that time frame to see what was being used.     Good Luck!     Mike

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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Posted by Eric White on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 9:40 AM

If you wanted to run a passenger train past Bethlehem in the mid-'70s, another option would be an excursion train. The American Freedom Train, pulled by a red, white, and blue-painted ex-Reading T1 Northern came through Bethlehem. And that same Northern, in Reading paint, made at least one run on the LV (or ex-LV) at around the same time.

Eric

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 9:55 AM

I don't know why you'd want to replace the E-8, that engine would be pretty typical power for Amtrak trains outside of the mountain west. The SDP-40F came along in 1973-74 and was pretty much a failure due to the derailments. Amtrak had to scramble to find enough engines to haul their passenger trains, to the point of leasing the DM&IR's two steam-generator equipped SD-9s. Once the F40PH was created in 1975-76, Amtrak bought as many of them as quickly as they could. IIRC, Superliners started to arrive in 1979?

As I recall, it wasn't until the late seventies that you started to see solid consists of just Amtrak engines and cars, up until then it was Amtrak and a mish-mash of pre-Amtrak cars.

Stix
  • Member since
    April, 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 513 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 11:42 AM

As I briefly mentioned in the other tread, heritage cars would probably be your best bet. Amfleets came at the end of you era, stayed mostly on the north east corridor in early years, and use HEP. They would need a GE P30CH (not offered in plastic to my knowledge) or an EMD F40PH (very very end of you era). This leaves us with steam generator equipped heritage cars, pulled by E units or SDP40Fs.

So in summary you need an E unit or SDP40F pulling passenger cars. For the cars the difference between phase I and II is I had the pointleas arrow logo on the ends while II did not. I have seen very little images of SDP40Fs in phase II and even less with E units so you likely want a loco in phase I.

Now as previously mentioned your modeling an interesting era, and you can model cars painted in any railroad you want. They are also a rare chance for some heavy weathering on passenger equipment. The railroads you may want may be based on which railroads best maintained their passenger cars. Amtrak quickly got rid of the worst equipment, railroads like UP kept poor care of their stuff, while lines like NP or the ATSF maintained good service till the end. As a result cars from NP and others survived long after 1971, and will be more likely to be on you train.

Hope this was helpful so far, will see if I can find some examples of cars.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

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  • From: Pacific Northwest
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Posted by SPSOT fan on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 11:53 AM

Here is a link to a search I did on walthers.com for Amtrak HO stuff.

https://www.walthers.com/products/trains/passenger/streamlined/scale/ho-scale/road-name/amtrak/show/120

Of note are the walthers mainline cars, they aren’t as detailed or prototype spacifi as higher quality cars but with Amtrak having such a varied fleet in the 70s, there is likely a prototype for everything.

I also saw some Rapido phase I diners. They command a high price but Rapido is known for great detail and accuracy.

Beware of the 72’ cars. They are shorter than their prototypes and rarely correct.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 12:46 PM

The 72' cars are Athearn, and some Con Cor.  If you have a tight radius, say 20" or less, the shorter cars work great.

Mike.

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Pacific Northwest
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Posted by SPSOT fan on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 12:54 PM

mbinsewi

The 72' cars are Athearn, and some Con Cor.  If you have a tight radius, say 20" or less, the shorter cars work great.

Yes, Mike is correct in that the ”shorty” cars would be good if you have tight curves. Note they are often of lower quality and inaccurate, so may need work if your a “river counter”

Also a good source of often rare and elusive passenger cars is ebay. I would encourage anyone in need of specific cars to watch eBay, sometimes you can get good deals on even brass cars.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

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Posted by emdmike on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 12:57 PM

If you choose to have one of the new F40PH's, the HO one from Rapido is drop dead beautiful.  Only way to do any better is brass and I would almost say they are not better, as all the lights other than the middle red one on the front work as they should, headlight, strobes ect.  Most of the E's I have seen had their upper Mars/Gyraight removed, so blacking out the upper light and only having the nose door headlight on such engines lighted would also be prototypical.     Mike

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

  • Member since
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  • From: Bethlehem, PA
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Posted by HO Hobbyist on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:16 PM

All:

 

Thanks for the informative replies! This is why I joined this forum. 

 

I hit the jackpot with Broadway Limited! I haven't made any purchaes yet but they sell an E8 with the Phase I paint and an entire line of phase I painted cars. Anyone have either the loco or the Ex-California Zephyr cars from BLI?

By the way, I know Amtrak never ran in the Lehigh Valley. I just am modeling later than when the Valley ended its passenger service.

- HO Hobbyist

Modeler of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Bethlehem PA, 1971, and model railroad YouTuber. 

http://hohobbyist.weebly.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIYnPo26Y8nsXyKhtpvSWwA

http://instagram.com/lvrr_hoscale

http://twitter.com/lvrr_hoscale

"When railroading time comes you can railroad...but not before."

- Robert A. Heinlein

  • Member since
    March, 2019
  • From: Bethlehem, PA
  • 44 posts
Posted by HO Hobbyist on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 2:25 PM

emdmike

One has to remember those first couple of years was a rainbow of colors as all the railroad equipment from the railroads own passenger rolling stock/locomotives were spread across the nation till Amtrak repainted or bought new equipment.  So E units, F units of the hosting line or those nearby might be the initial power that first year, then units from far away places might be seen as units fail and are sidelined and replaced.  A good google image search and paying close attention to the date the picture was taken is about your best source for modeling your area in the early years of Amtrak.  To get high detail level units for that early years, your choices are more limited if you want it in Amtrak colors.  Obviously there are many F and E units in previous railroad colors to choose from that have a good level of detail.  For 6 axle power, that SDP40 is one of the few choices unless you want to splurge on a nice brass model.  There are a couple on ebay from Overland that are factory painted that fit in those early years.  But as to whether they were used in your modeled area/time frame, you will need to research that. Was your modeled area suitable to 6 axle power, or was it more suited to 4 axle units?   The F40PH came on the scene in 1975 and would have replaced the remaining F and E units.  I think the 4 axle units were more common in the eastern USA and the big 6 axle units ran the routes west from Chicago with their larger fuel tanks.  I am sure there were expections. If you set you year in 75 or 76, then sparkling clean F40's and maybe a couple ratty F units for variety.  Once again, google image search your part of the USA for Amtrak pics in that time frame to see what was being used.     Good Luck!     Mike

 

 

Thanks for the reply, Mike! I know the Rainbow Era would be easy to model, but I think it would annoy me if I had some random railroad's train with a different railroad's cars. 

As per the trackage in the LV, the LV had some C-628's and some PA units so I assume six axle locos were not a problem. 

I didn't know the F40 came out that early! Actually I am planning my layout to be a 4x12 (approximately) so I only will have one Amtrak train. The LVRR will have two trains, Erie-Lackawanna will have one (for variety) and then my own fictional Strasburg-type railroad on its own separate trackage. 

I just posted a reply to my original post saying what I found. 

- HO Hobbyist

Modeler of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Bethlehem PA, 1971, and model railroad YouTuber. 

http://hohobbyist.weebly.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIYnPo26Y8nsXyKhtpvSWwA

http://instagram.com/lvrr_hoscale

http://twitter.com/lvrr_hoscale

"When railroading time comes you can railroad...but not before."

- Robert A. Heinlein

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Chamberlain, ME
  • 4,831 posts
Posted by G Paine on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 3:12 PM

Fallen Flags site has a lot of Amtrak photos, as mentioned above check the date the photo was taken

http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/amtk/amtk.html

 

George In Midcoast Maine, 'bout halfway up the Rockland branch 

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  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 3:52 PM

emdmike
If you choose to have one of the new F40PH's, the HO one from Rapido is drop dead beautiful.

I agree with the assessment of the Rapido F40ph but, don't discount the Kato model which is a pretty good looking in it's own right. Both of these may be tough to find in today's market, though.

http://katousa.com/HO/F40PH/index.html

Flickr is another good source for Amtrak photos. Here are some of the "groups" of photos. You don't have to join, just click on the subject line to view the photos:

https://www.flickr.com/search/groups/?text=amtrak

Here's a "mixed consist" if ever there was one:

 Desert Winds Meet in February 1981 by Marty Bernard, on Flickr

Regards, Ed

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    February, 2003
  • 1,071 posts
Posted by MidlandPacific on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 7:44 PM

Best book on that is Fred Frailey’s “Zephyrs, Chiefs, and other orphans,” which has train-by-train consist information for the first five years of Amtrak.  Each train gets a particular entry, detailing how the consists changed over time.  The consist lists are complete enough that you can model a train from them, although livery details are going to vary highly, as that was Amtrak’s most turbulent period, from a mechanical point of view.  Well worth the purchase price, if you’re seriously interested in that era.

  • Member since
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  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 513 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 11:01 PM

HO Hobbyist

Anyone have either the loco or the Ex-California Zephyr cars from BLI?

I have some experience with BLI’s E7s (not 8s) and I know of one that continues to run like it did out of the box over ten years since it was purchase, so I think you have selected some very high quality reliable locos. I don’t have experience with BLI cars however...

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    February, 2003
  • 1,071 posts
Posted by MidlandPacific on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 1:50 PM

Glancing back at "Zephyrs, Chiefs and Other Orphans," I was surprised to see that Frailey actual consist data for some trains, right down to the car number assigned by Amtrak or (for the earlier operations) the original owning railroad.

As info, if you are really determined to get a prototypical consist, you might also want to consult Dave Warner's "Amtrak By the Numbers," which lists each piece of equipment by number (including original owner number and various Amtrak renumberings), and that (unlike the Frailey book) is still in print.  Both are helpful resources for modeling early 1970s-era Amtrak equipment.

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