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February 1978 - Page 21


P ROTOTYPE M O D E L E R - February 1 978

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n ot drawn to scale

B LACK TR UCKS A N D U N D E R F RAME

The Great Northern 's "Empire Builder" was named after the builder of the G.N. and architect of the Pacific Northwest Empire: Jim Hill. The role of flagship on Hill's Great Northern, the "Oriental Limited", was succeeded by the "Empire Builder" on June 10, 1929 . Seven lUxury heavy weight consists made the trip between Chicago and Seattle in just over 60 hours to provide the "ne plus ultra" in passenger service between the midwest and the Pacific Northwest. On February 23, 1947 the Great North ern formally inaugurated a new stream lined "Empire Builder", replacing the old heavyweight consist. The new trains were breathtakingly beautiful; G.N. owned four of the green and orange consists; the C. B. & Q . owned the fifth. The twelve car "Empire Builder" operated on a far swifter schedule (45 hours) than their heavy weight predecessors. The beauty, speed and luxury of these magnificent trains attracted an enthusi astic patronage; thus it was that only four years after the inauguration of the first streamlined version, the G.N. introduced

a completely new 5 train streamlined fleet for the "Mid-Century Empire Build er"; the 1947 equipment was joined by a new sixth consist of identical cars to equip the new "Western Star" which replaced the venerable "Oriental Limited". The "Empire Builder" was further up graded in 1955 with the addition of four dome cars to each consist: 3 dome coach es replaced the 3 48-seat long-distance coaches built in 1 9 5 1 ; and a full length "Great Dome" lounge car was added to the train's complement. It was my good fortune to ride the "Empire Builder" several times in the pre-Amtrak and pre-merger days; it has al ways evoked a special "magic" in my rec ollection - a nostalgia shared by anyone who appreciates a fine train which is beautifully appointed and meticulously run. It was the flagship of the Great Northern in the days of President John Budd, whose philosophy was to run them right, or not at all. It was never otherwise on the G.N. - at least in my experience. To recreate the magnificent "Empire Builder" at its apogee is a labor of love and some expense. Although my model

is not completed, I am close enough to the final consist that I might be able to offer the benefit of my experience in collecting prototype models, kitbashing and - perhaps - some scratch building to assist other modelers in assembling a com plete "Empire Builder": 4 EMD F-7s; (1) Baggage-RPO; (2) Baggage-Dorm; (3) 60 Seat Coach; (4) (5) & ( 6) Dome Coaches; (7) Coffeeshop Lounge ("The Ranch"); (8) Diner; (9) Full length "Great Dome"; (10), ( 1 1 ) & ( 12) "Pass" series sleepers (6-5-2); (13), (14) & ( 15) "River" series sleepers; ( 1 6) Observation Lounge. [Arthur Dubin's Some Classic Trains l ists a heavy summer consist for July 4 , 1963 on page 309.] If you want to run a shorter consist, you can drop a few sleepers and a coach or two on the pretext that these cars were cut out for seasonal traffic adjustments - or to make (See chart by the Portland Section. Miller.) Within the past decade five manufac turers have offered models of the various "Empire Builder" cars; however, because no manufacturer has offered a complete consist, the modeler must assemble a

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