ATSF 'Super Chief' - reasonable car additions?

This post/inquiry was buried in a different thread - so I chose to re-submit it as its own entity.

I wanted to know what I could do with the 'Super Chief' passenger train to increase its size/length. As a set, Walthers is offering eight cars total, and they are recommending an ABBA engine consist to haul it. That ratio, in of itself, seems disproportional. I think. I would think that an ABBA would be more evenly matched to a 14 car [+/-] 'Super Chief'. Yes? No?

If yes, what are my options to increase the car total [in time] from 8 to 14 or so cars?

a) double and triple up on specific cars within the 8 car offering? b) do a partial [letter (a) solution] and add something else as well? c) if (b) were possible, would the REA be an option? If so, would REA 'refrigerated' also be acceptable?

My preference is to slip in other unique looking cars [car colors other than silver, especially], but I would only do so if it was reasonable and acceptable by historical standards. A previous 'Super Chief' thread seemed to focus entirely on the silver [cars/appearance] which could very well be the only solution for this train whereas other ATSF passenger trains appear to be more accepting of variation.

I just do not have local access to the books others have referenced w/o buying them over the internet. Their cost, at this juncture, is too high [often > $50.00] to purchase given that additional cars are in need which cost less than the books themselves. In time, I plan to get some of these terrific books, but it just isn't as pressing only because certain, desired, train cars seem to sell out [disappear] long before books tend to sell out. I would happily spend a day flipping through a book if I had access to one. They certainly offer the information and visual images that I will need in the long haul. Their intrinsic value is not in question. For now, however, I must ask for help from those of you who are lucky enough to own a book and/or have access to one.


Reply to
Matt & Kathleen Brennan
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The AT&SF 'Super Chief' was the premier train on the railroad, and they tried to keep it's consist 'pure' if at all possible. The train was a 1st Class 'sleeper only' train, so no coaches should be added. As other posts have indicated, the consist of the mid 50's train could vary

4-5 cars depending in seasonal increases in traffic. No matter what length the train is, AT&SF seemes to put 4-5 passenger F's on the point. The route the train followed on the old 'Raton' line had a lot of grades/curves, Cajon Pass in California had a very steep grade climbing out of the Los Angeles area. Everywhere else they were running in the 70-90 mph range -They needed that amount of power on the point to keep the schedule. 6,000+ HP on the point seems to be a standard for western trans-con train in the US. ATSF used 3600 HP E1 sets on the original 7-8 car Super Chief, and there are a lot of pictures of steam helpers on the point. Later on they used 5,400 HP FT's, 6,000 HP PA's, and then 6,000 HP F's on those trans-con trains. The GN tried 4,000 HP E7's on the original 1947 'Empire Builder', then went to 4,500 HP F's, and finally standardized with 6,000 HP F unit sets. The D&RGW tried 6,000 HP PA's in the mountains, but went to 4-5 unit sets of F's(7,000 - 8,750 HP using F9's) in thier assault on the Rocky Mountains. I would think that even an'off season' 'Super Chief' with only 8 cars might need at least 3 units on the point.

Jim Bernier

Matt & Kathleen Brennan wrote:

Reply to
Jim Bernier

I don't think the super chief was much longer normally. Search under the ATSF historical society. Their site has some good reference material. You can add a sleeper or two which is what the RR would have done if it got busy.

But keep in mind, 8 cars and an ABBA set is a LONG train already in a model. Have fun.

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Your last sentence is correct. If you are truly doing the "Super Chief" a and b are your prototypical options (get other cars of the same type and re-number/letter them to ones in the SC fleet. I've never seen or heard of REA or other express freight being put on the Super Chief or El Capitan.

If you want other unique cars the "Super Chief" is not a good choice to model. One of the other Chiefs (The Chief, San Francisco Chief, Texas Chief etc.), California Limited, Express Mail & Limited, or one of the numbered trains would be more interesting. But if you are doing a section of the Santa Fe main line that had the Super Chief running on it, all most all the other transcontinentals would have to run over the same section (up to 23 per day). Model multiple trains to meet both your interests. Oh yes, and remember to use HO scale code 100 track. This would be one of the places it is prototypical.

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If you are modeling the 1957 era you could sneak in some variety. According to Fred Frailey in "A quarter Century of Santa Fe Consists" the coast-to-coast sleeping cars were usually protected by Santa Fe's stainless steel cars (Regal and Pine) but on rare occasions - a couple times a month - a car from an eastern connecting line would be seen. These would be from the Capitol Limited (B&O), Twentieth Century Limited (NYC), and Broadway Limited (Pennsy). J. Bright

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And there is always more and more and more. Anyway, I did have another thought concerning all your questions over the past few months. If you research long enough and hard enough you can probably find a prototypical situation for anything you would want to do.

For example after years of research I finally found a photograph of the El Capitan high level cars being pulled by a set of PAs. I thought whoo hooo! This is just what I wanted to model. So I did it and it just looked too obtuse. Another is that I have found a picture of the Great Northern Empire Builder behind an ancient O3 Mikado. This probably happened once in the entire history of the train. Modeling too many (more than one?) of these one time occurrences makes the layout a freak rather than a representation of reality. Be careful if you are trying to capture a prototypical feeling. This can be lost if one ends up modeling the exceptions rather than the "rules".

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