Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Passenger operations begin

The Amtrak California Zephyr runs through the area I am modeling and up until around 1983 did make a stop at Carlin.

I have always planned to include the California Zephyr in my roster of trains to run on the layout and had been waiting for the right time acquire it.  That time ended up being now.

Amtrak runs the bi-level Superliner equipment on most of their longer routes including the Chicago to Bay Area California Zephyr.  For my era I choose the Superliner 1 in phase III paint scheme along with a pair of F40PH locomotives.  Kato offers a great selection of Amtrak Superliner car models in sets which can be combined to make up a consists closely matching any particular train.   They have done several releases of these with the most recent being about a year ago.   This is what I ended up buying from several different sellers on ebay.

These are all decorated in Phase III

176-6105 - F40PH locomotive # 330
176-6106 - F40PH locomotive # 374
106-7122 - 1 baggage, 1 coach-dorm
106-3517 - 2 coach, 1 sleeper, 1 lounge
106-3518 - 1 coach, 1 coach-baggage, 1 sleeper

I already have a good collection of Kato Japanese passenger trains and have been very happy with their quality and accuracy so I had high expectations for my Amtrak train.  I was not disappointed,  the cars all were very free rolling and the pair of F40PH locomotives can easily pull them up the helix.  I was already familiar with these type of locomotive mechanism and was able to quickly install the DCC decoders.  Several trips through the layout have been completed with no problems at all and the train even fits in the shortest siding of the staging yard.

As the earliest era would include the pre 1983 time frame I'll have to decide if I want to include some sort of station stop when I get to building the Carlin section of the layout.

For now I can enjoy running this train in the mix with the freight trains running on the layout.  I'll also look forward to running it on the Ntrak layout next time I can make it to a show.