Building the HO Scale American Freedom Train

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by MadCoW1, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

    I'm building an HO scale American Freedom Train. The one I'm doing is based on the 1975-1976 version that toured the lower 48 United States. The train visited my hometown back in August of 1975. It was pulled by the SP4449 for its Madison, Wisconsin visit arriving on the Milwaukee Road near Truax airfield.

    For the showcase and display cars, I'm using the cars Lionel produced in the early 70's. These are now collector items, so if you don't want to see them being stripped, sawed, painted and otherwise modified----GO NO FURTHER.

    I won't take a lot of time to discuss what I'm doing to each car. Just wanted to show the pics and see if anyone else is doing the train....

    When I first got some of the Lionel cars, I redid the interiors to reflect a more realistic approach to the items on display. This is one of 2 showcase cars, the No. 41 and from the left are; A lunar rover, A large map of the Trains' route, A copy of the Liberty bell.


    After reviewing the un-prototype windows that Lionel gave the car I redid them to closer match the prottype. Here is what the real windows look like.


    And here is my pre-paint version of the new windos for the car.


    This train had a number of different cars in its consist for a total of 25. Most were converted from ex-pennsy baggage cars. But some like the 'pie-car', were made from other car types. The pie car, or employee diner, was a combine that was outfitted with a kitchen and a counter with stools for the crew. The car was No. 202.

    My starting point was a Bethlehem Car Works combine.


    And the car now.....


    The train was self contained in that it carried its own power supply. As a matter of fact it had two(2) generator cars. The AFT No. 200 supplied the power for the coaches and the concession equipment. This car had no exterior doors and could only be accessed thru the car ends. This was a coverted baggae car.

    Here is my model, pre-paint;


    And after painting the stripes today. The stripes are airbrushed. And there are no decals available for this train.


    The other generator car served a dual purpose. It was also the exit car for the public after viewing the 10 display cars which they travelled through. It was AFT No. 111 and was identical to the 200 as far as the generator doors went. The big difference came in the public exit doors, and the smaller generator access doors.

    AFT 111 pre-paint;


    After having the red stripes applied today;


    Here's the two cars together as of today;


    The SP4449, had it's own tool car for the train. This car was the pldest in the consist and belonged to Ross Rowland. It was numbered PNWC(Pacific NorthWest Chapter) 76. And was a converted heavyweight combine. It was also the ONLY car that the stripes wrapped around the car ends, all the others had black ends on them.

    Here is the starting point, an IHC combine with the smaller doors plugged, and the small window bars cut out. Ready for primer and paint.


    First the blue stripe.........


    Then the red.....


    There were ten(10) display cars in which the public went through to view the historical artifacts the train carried. They were equipped with a conveyor belt that kept the crowds moving so as to accomodate everyone. Each of these cars had chronological window treatments in them starting with 1776 and running through 1976. One one side these were illuminated 'panels' to give room for the conveyor inside. While the other side had 'shadowboxes' that contained three-demensional objects. Lionel did not offer more than 6 different window panels. My model will have all 40 different window dressings taken from actual photos of the real windows.

    Here is car No. 101 on the 'panel' side;


    And the same car from the 'shadowbox' side(note the difference in window depth);


    And while I'm awaiting the PC SP4449 to be releaed, I thought it might be fun to throw a little life into the junk-pile condition Lionel 4449 that I got while gathering sets for the cars.

    She wasn't much to look at when I took her out of the box........



    But with some touch-up paint, requartering the drivers and fixing some broken parts, She makes a fine stand in........




    Well, that's it for now. I'll post more when I progress. The train also has 3 eighty-five foot flats with wagons and vehicles, so I think I'll get some of that started.

    More to come,

  2. joesho

    joesho Member

    i also have that lionel train, exept painted in southern pacific "daylight colors",you can see it in the photography section in a thread called some new stuff. :D opps double post srry mods plz delete the one above this
  3. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    very cool madcow,il ove too see it was a very cool sight to see when i saw it for the first time in person.i wonder if theyll do it again in 2076?that engine would be a relic by then!lol--josh
  4. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    WOW, that is so cool Johnny!!! :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

    There is something about that pic with that steamer going over the wooden trestle that just makes me stare at it in AWE!!!

    Thanks for the great pics
  5. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Now this is the PARAGON of excellent kitbashing when it comes to a single train! I cannot believe how well done this is!!! Great job, John, I look forward to more excellent progress. :wave:
  6. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    Fantastic work MadCow1! I wish I had THAT train!:D Say, why do you want the new loco for the train? Does the Lionel not work right or something? I'd not switch the old on out after you pulled a miracle for that poor engine:thumb:
  7. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Fantastic models!!!! I had the chance to see the real thing go by in Upstate NY. Thanks for the memories!
  8. jr switch

    jr switch Member

    Johnny-------Your work is outstanding! I admire your dedication to a specific subject and your ability to duplicate the individual cars. Very nice job---John R
  9. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Wow! That is really well done! Good for you kitbashing and repainting some common into something spectacular.
  10. chessie4155

    chessie4155 Active Member

    Fantastic work Johnny. Can't wait to see the whole train when your finished.
  11. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    You're doing a great historical project. Something that is sure to bring "what kind of train is that?" comments from the younger folks, when they see it in operation.
  12. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    First off I'd like to say what a nice job you are doing on that train. Second it's hard to believe its been 30 years plus since I've seen it. And that makes me feel old. I remember seeing it and drooling over the HO set Lionel sold.

  13. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

    Thanks so much everyone for the great comments. It is a fun and educational project to say the least. The thread has also done something that I hoped it would, and that is spark memories of the train if you were lucky enough to see it.

    BigSteel-- Sadly, there are almost no cars left from this train. The display cars were on a siding near LasVegas when a runaway Union Pacific train was diverted into them. They were scrapped on spot around 1994/95.

    MilesWestern-- Thanks Miles, this is the first time I have kitbashed anything. I am pleased so far. There is going to be another showcase car that had an early B & O 'Arabian' locomotive, and a horse-drawn fire pumper that will need to scratched, those should prove to be the biggest challenge!

    CNWman-- Well to tell you the truth, the Lionel engine was completely fried. Dead, stick a fork in it, done. And the frame is cast in a way that would prevent re-powering it with a decent motor(without loss of tractive effort). Besides, there are MANY details that this model has miss-placed and I could easily spend another 20 hours getting them right. But when I re-quartered the drivers, I made her free rolling so she does look good with my Kato CNW GP-35's tucked in for 'helpers'.

    Ralph-- So you got to see the train pulled by the Reading T-1 , what a great memorie that would be!!

    John R-- Thanks John, The more I do on it the more I learn. The layout building is suffering and the train, when complete, will be way too large for it. But I wouldn't change a thing.

    HercDriver-- Thanks but I have taken some grief from collectors who treat what I'm doing as Blasphamous! Oh well, guess you can't please everone............

    Chessie4155-- Glad you are enjoying it. I'm planning on having it done for the July 4th Holiday, it will then travel to shows around the mid-west(and maybe further??).

    Jim Krause-- Thanks Jim, that is the intent. Something as significant as this train was to many people, should be preserved in some way. The real cars are long gone, and to think not one was preserved in it's colors in a museum, well it kind of makes me wonder..........

    Greg Elems-- Thanks for the kind words. 30 years, seems like yesterday......... Greg, YOU rekindled a memory for me with your comment. I remember well, standing in the toy section of Copp's department store in Madison, dreaming of having one of these beautiful sets! I asked and the $29.95 price for the diesel set was too much and I already had trains at home. The Steam set was WAAAAAAAY out of reach at $39.95!! Now you can't buy one car in decent shape for that price. And the steam sets go on the internet for as high as $350.00.
    And to think.....I'm cutting them up!!

    Thanks to all who are enjoying the thread. I will use it to post progress from time to time. I'm spending a lot of time doing it so most of the pics will be progress shots, not actual 'how' I do something. But if you have questions I will try and explain my techniques.

    More to come,

  14. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Bowser makes a replacement chassis and repower kit for both the Lionel and early Bachmann versions of this engine. A real possibility to have your beautiful Freedom Train running smoothly under its own power.

    just a thought
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Looking good! If the train is too big for your layout, it might not be necessary to make it operational, unless you are in a modular groupe where it could run at shows. It would make an awesome display placed in a diorama, kind of 3 demensional art.
  16. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

    Actually the Lionel engine I have is one of the first runs and the motor is nothing more than quarter sized and fits in a pocket equally as small. I still believe the better option is to go with the Precision Craft Engine. After all, what else will Santa bring me this year?

  17. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

    Hi Russ,

    That is actually the plan. In years past, I have built many specialty trains(circus, carnival, ice capades, etc...,) and have created dioramas to display them on. The plan for the Freedom Train is three(3) 30" deep X 5 ' long that will assemble to a 15' long display area. It will depict what the train looked like when in a town and set for public viewing. As far as train size, I'm prone to building specialty trains much too large for any layout I have had. BUT I've had my 74 car Ringling Bros. Train (3 sections) on some great club layouts!!

    I like the idea of three-dementional art. And thank you for the comparison.

  18. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    Well, at least the Lionel would make a great static display as seeing as how it was one of the first ones made:thumb: Plus, GO CNW!!!:D
  19. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

    Whaddya mean?..................LIKE THIS???....:D


  20. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi Johnny,

    That's some train you've put together...Great work...!!! :thumb:

    What we need to see some more of, is that great-looking layout of yours. We've only seen bits of it...How about putting on a grand tour of it for us fans of the MadCoW..?? :D

    Again, congratulations on some outstanding work...!!!

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