Trains, Ships and Other Stuff
What I do occasionally when I'm not designing and building castles...

This is NOT an official Lego site

While the title isn't as catchy as "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", here are a few other Lego
projects that I'm proud of and want to show off!

1. The 1953 Santa Fe Super Chief One of the most famous trains ever, the Super Chief was the culmination of "the railroad that built an empire". From October 30, 1868, when Col. Cyrus K. Holliday turned the first shovel of dirt in Topeka, Kansas, until 1887 when the track layers finally completed the route into Los Angeles, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad prepared to rule the southwestern United States. The first passenger train, the California Limited, began service in 1892 and took 72 hours to reach Los Angeles from Chicago - and 86 hours for the return trip. It was followed in 1911 by the superb De Luxe, which made the trip in 63 hours - and ended with World War I. The Roaring Twenties saw the advent of the luxurious Chief to augment the hard-pressed California Limited. The Chief was the favorite of celebrities and dignitaries, who happily announced they had "Chiefed" to or from "L.A." The trip took 63 hours for the 2,227 mile run as well.

In May 1936 the AT&SF inaugurated an interim Super Chief with a pair on flat-nosed diesel locomotives nicknamed Mutt and Jeff (see below). They greatly decreased the need for water - always a problem with the steam locomotives in the arid deserts of New Mexico and Arizona - and cut 15 hours off the trip time, which now just took 47 hours! The 3600 hp pair filled the gap for a year until Electro-Motive delivered the first 9 sets of E1 units (with the single headlight) that made the Super Chief famous. From 1937 until 1948, the Super Chief converted from the refurbished pre-WW II heavyweight cars to lightweight passenger cars built by Budd, with interiors designed by Sterling McDonald at the Merchandise Mart in Chiago and Roger Birdseye, Santa Fe's advertising manager and an expert on Indian cultures of the Southwest. The American train riding public was delighted. Service increased from weekly to every other day.

Beginning in February 1948, with the wave of post-war streamlining beginning to ease, the AT&SF was able to accumulate enough new carriages to make the Super Chief a daily luxury train from both Los Angeles and Chicago. 5 Indian tribes provided songs and dances at the kickoff luncheons, with Bob Hope the master-of-ceremonies in Los Angeles. The luxurious sleepers cars were augmented by famous cuisine in the dining car and the handsome sleeper-lounge-observation car that brought the train to its conclusion -- but the addition of the six "Pleasure Dome"s from Pullman-Standard in 1951 brought the Super CHIEF to the point where my story begins - 50 years ago this summer of 2003.

If you are interested in more history, you should check out Classic American Streamliners by Mike Schafer and Joe Welch, and Some Classic Trains by Arthur D. Dubin from your local library. The wonderful drawings of the Super Chief were originally found in the August 1993 issue of Model Railroader magazine.

Naturally (for you Lego lovers) the inspiration for my train was Lego's own Santa Fe Super Chief, which first became available in the Fall 2002 Shop at Home catalog,
although the F7A locomotive appeared by itself in the Summer catalog. When I bought my locomotive and first cars with Christmas gift certificates in January 2003. I
was surprised how large, and skinny, James Mathis' Lego designs actually were. Naturally I wondered what the real Super Chief looked off to Google I went!
The answer came on Gary Tiritilli's web site
(URL above). The Santa Fe decided to upgrade
to the Electro-Motive F units, which they
purchased in three classes (see just below).
The engine itself was followed by a boiler
car, designated F7B. The B unit had steam
generators to provide air conditioning and
heat for the passenger cars.
Thus an F7A and F7B would look like this...but the AT&SF went further and more powerful!
The 16-Class Units, numbered 16-36 and delivered from 1946 - 1949, and the 37-Class Units, numbered 37-47 and delivered from 1949 - 1952, were
strung together A-B-B-A, as shown above. Two of the 32 numbered engines were used on each active train. The pair of A units delivered 6000 hp.
From 1949 to 1951 the railroad also purchased 17 sets called the 300-Class. They were configured A-B-B with the engine
delivering 4500 horsepower. The A units had water tanks in the rear to help supply the boiler cars.

While the original Chief (1926-36) and early Super Chief (1936-48) utilized refurbished pre-
World War II heavy steel sleepers and other cars, these began to be replaced with lightweight
stainless-steel cars. By 1948 the Santa Fe had enough new equipment to run all lightweight
luxury trains on the Chicago- Los Angeles run. In the summer of 1953, the Super Chief consisted
of a dozen cars pulled by A-B-B or A-B-B-A locomotive set, as follows:
Baggage Car (including mail storage)
Railway Post Office (RPO) Car
2 10-6 Sleepers
4-4-2 Sleeper
Vista Dome Car
36-seat Dining Car
Dormitory-Lounge Car
2 4-4-2 Sleepers
10-6 Sleeper
4-1 Sleeper-Lounge-Observation Car
It is this train I decided to model on it's 50th anniversary!

Here's Lego's F7A, numbered 301.
It will enlarge a bit if you 'click' on it.
Here is Gary's excellent little JPEG -
he doesn't say where they came from.
And here is a picture of my Super Chief
locomotive - 15 inches long!
Lego has not marketed a B unit. I suppose
that's not terribly surprising. After all,
what child would ask for a boiler car for
Christmas? Mine is 14 inches long.
Here is my locomotive and boiler on their way west
to Los Angeles. I am building only one of every car -
for several reasons. The most important is space.
The finished 1953 train would be
25 feet 4 inches long!
Now on the the rest of the train! The cars that follow the power units are
known as Head End cars. Immediately following the 300-series A-B-B set
came the baggage car. Much of the space was used to store unsorted mail.
There were no windows except for those in the doors on both sides.
And here is Lego's baggage car.
One can begin to appreciate why
I undertook to build a more
accurate model of the train.
Here is my model of the 3453-class baggage car. I
numbered my car 3466, the 14th in the series, in
general use on all the AT&SF passenger trains. My
model is 19" long and looks pretty real (I think).
Since the baggage car is basically
identical on boths sides, there's no
reason to show both. That opens an
opportunity for another train picture!
The RPO (Railway Post Office) car naturally came next! Bags of
mail were snagged by catcher arms as the train passed, pieces
of mail were cancelled and re-sorted, and the finished sacks
unceremoniously tossed out of the door at the next station!
James Mathis' Lego model of
the RPO car is really a cute and
pretty accurate pug-nosed
version of the real thing.
The 82-class 60-foot Railway Post Office car
was the shortest non-F unit on the Super Chief.
My model of the car is "just" 16 inches long
and is number 99.
Note that the equipment on the underside
of Lego's baggage and RPO cars is the same
and doesn't resemble the actual cars. Both
cars are built from the same set.
Following the Head End cars came the passenger portion of the train. During the
summer of 1953 the Super Chief was configured with 6 sleeper cars, the "pleasure
dome", the dining car, the lounge/dormitory car and the observation car at the end.
The first pair of passenger cars following the RPO car were 10-6 sleepers,
a popular layout of many railroads. As you can see above, there were 10
small single-person roomettes and 6 bedrooms with lower and upper bunk
and with a private toilet. Maximum capacity = 22.
Here is Lego's sleeper. Note that
the wheels are right next to each
other on all the Lego models,
except for the engine.
On the Santa Fe Super Chief, the sleeper
cars were not numbered. They were instead
named individually. The "10 and 6" sleepers
were called the "Palm" and "Pine" series.
The 13 cars of the "Palm" series were built by,
American Car & Foundry in 1951; and the 27 of the
"Pine" series were built by Budd in 1950. I chose the
name "Pine Arroyo" for my car [Spanish for 'watercourse'].
Following the 10-6 sleepers was a 4-4-2 sleeper. The 4-4-2 car was first developed
in 1938 to provide deluxe accomodations on luxury streamliners.
The 4-4-2 configuration also had double bedrooms like the 10-6, though there
were only four. The 4 compartments were similar to the bedrooms except for
being slightly larger and the Drawing Rooms were downright spacious and
could sleep three if desired! Maximum capacity = 22.
Since Lego only has one generic sleeper
car (see above), this seems like a good
spot for a photograph. Please note the
A-B-B-B configuration in this 1966 photo.
The 4-4-2 sleepers were also named rather
than numbered. 17 cars were built by Pullman
in 1948 and an additional 15 by American Car
& Foundry in 1950.
The 4-4-2's built by both companies were
named "Regal ___". I chose "Regal House"
for my car from the Pullman list -- a vaguely
castle sound, I suppose...
The famous Vista Dome followed the first three sleeper cars. The "Pleasure Dome"
placed you at the "top of the Super, next to the stars". The "Turquoise Room" with its
Indian decor and art seated 12 for private dining. The lounge under the dome
was doubtless popular with the passengers in the claustrophobic roomettes!
Lego doesn't have a dome car either,
so here is a photograph of Mutt & Jeff,
the flat-faced diesels from 1936-7.
The six Vista Domes from Pullman-Standard were numbered
500-505. Lego was kind enough to include "503" on their
Super Chief sticker sheet. I guess they did their homework.
Other side of Vista dome had a different window
configuration. In fact there were many variations
of the Vista Dome over the years.
Immediately following the Vista Dome came the 36-seat Dining Car. The Santa Fe
was famous for its association with Fred Harvey, beginning in 1892 when the train
actually stopped at Harvey House restaurants along the way.
Here's the layout for a typical 36-seat dining car, with 12 tables seating 2 or
4 people, and with the kitchen and pantry in the portion with smaller windows.
Walking through the car at mealtime must have been potentially dangerous.
The Lego dining car is made from
the same kit as the sleeper, with
the same generic undercarriage.
Here is my model of the 600-class dining car, built by
Pullman-Standard. The Kitchen and Pantry are on the
left. My car is number 606.

My dining car seats just 24, due to size constraints. I calculate
the train with a maximum of 142 passengers. Adding the 12
seats in the Dome's Turquoise Room, that mean 3 seatings for
each meal. A bit of a logistical nightmare, perhaps.

dormitory / lounge
Another picture
My dormitory side 1
The Dormitiory-Lounge car was followed by three
more sleepers, this time a pair of 4-4-2 cars then
a single 10-6.
Here is a view of Pullman-Standard's Vista series 4-1 sleeping/ lounge/observation (or
S-L-O) car - a wonderful ending to a wonderful train. All the Vista's sported 4 drawing
rooms, a double bedroom and the observation-lounge with bar, which seated 16 people.
Lego's observation car is cute -
but ohh, so stubby!
I have been unable to find a list of the names of the cars
in the Vista series or even how many Pullman-Standard
built for the AT&SF. If you have that information, please
let me know!
You can see the chairs in the 16-seat Lounge at the
rear of the S-L-O car. The only better seats in the
house had to the those of the streamliner's engineers.
End of observation car
That's all folks!


2. To see my Ships and others projects, click the link.

Return to the main castle page.

Page designed & maintained by
Robert Carney