Kato "Super Chief" grief . . .!!

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by coaster, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. coaster

    coaster Member

    Ahhh, well . . . but I do wish that Kato could do a little better job of research from time to time. Preferably soon.

    Case in point: Their much-heralded, long-awaited and (in spite of the nit-picking I'm about to put them through) much more than well worth it model of Santa Fe's Super Chief. The cars are nicely realized, more than accurate enough for mass produced models, they track nicely and carry correct numbers and car names for the prototype.

    Kato advertises the three 4-car consists combine into a "typical" Super Chief consist for summer 1953. Well, er, ah . . . almost, but not quite. To quote the late Don Adams' 'Maxwell Smart,' "Missed it by that much." Literally, that much. One car. The 12-car consist is actually spot-on for a "typical" trainset from the 1956-62 time period.

    In 1953, however, ATSF featured a baggage-lounge-barber car, which followed directly behind the RPO car (which, in turn, was directly behind the full baggage car), making the "typical" 1953 consist a 13-car trainset. Oops #1.:oops: And actually, this is the only egregious oops of the trainset itself.

    The Kato F7s, once they arrive, will apparently supply Oops #2. They'll be beautiful without a doubt, and equally doubtless will run like little gems. Unfortunately -- and here's where Kato's R&D really fell down -- the engine numbers Kato decided to furnish (#303 stock, with numberboards for several others in the 300-series) reflect Santa Fe's re-numberings which occurred in the early 1960s . . . which makes for a really oddball Super Chief if you're looking to model either 1953 or the later fifties.


    Why am I surprised that Kato did this, though? They're the ones who came out with passenger car sets for SP's Lark . . . complete with vistadome car. (Yeah, that Coast Route was really a scenic delight between the hours of sunset and sunrise -- which is precisely when the Lark made its nightly run.)

    And so, all this having been said . . . I can hardly wait for those F7 A's and B's to arrive. That train is absolutely beautiful . . . but it's getting a wee bit tired of its prolonged station stop at the (more-or-less fictional) city of Monte Vista. But then, come to think of it, the good people of the (more-or-less fictional) city of Monte Vista are getting more than a wee bit tired of waiting for me to put a station there!


    -- Paul
  2. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    According to this link:

    at the ATSF Historical society. the 300 class was delivered at the same time as the 37 class, with the 300s being ABB and the 37 as ABBA. This is what I remember in the MRR article from a few years back (it is at home, so I don't rememeber when). That article had drawings for the Super Chief from '51 or '53 (I can't remember right now), and did not have the baggage-lounge-barber car listed. From the pics and info there, I bet Kato used that article as the jumping off point, which might explain the discrepancy.

    At the ATSF historical Society I found a January 1950 loco roster, the 300's are there:
    Here's a bit more from the same site:
    Super Chief summer of '53 does not show the baggage-lounge-barber car. So it seems that even if they researched they might have missed it, it looks like it stopped somewhere between '49 and '53.

    Another link without the baggage-lounge-barber car:

    sorry, I just can't stop once I start! Here is another:

  3. coaster

    coaster Member

    Jeff --

    Don't stop! Good stuff! Somewhere in the midst of all the conflicting information, I suddenly remembered exactly why it is that I prefer to take a more free-lanced approach in my modeling. And of how easy it is to step on one's own toes (mine), information-wise. You're quite right about the 300-class being delivered at the same time as the 37's. My point, though, I think, is still valid (even though I misstated it originally): The two classes were kept separate and intact during the period in question, 1953, with the 300's being run A-B-B and the 37's (which, after all, is what Kato really wants to push, since they sell four engines that way) as A-B-B-A.

    As to those pesky baggage-lounge-barbershop cars (ATSF #s 1380-1385, primarily), I'm amazed at how easy it is to forget that there seems to be no shortage of the "typical" anything . . . and especially all the more so when it comes to railroad lore. I've been relying on Karl Zimmerman's Santa Fe Streamliners: The Chiefs and Their Tribesmen (1987 Quadrant Press) and Stan Repp's Super Chief: Train of the Stars (1980 Golden West) as my primary sources; and while these two gentlemen take a back seat to nobody, your cites (and sites) are equally reliable. Go figure.

    And while we're posting links, here's a pretty good overall rundown on the Super Chief, as well: http://www.answers.com/topic/super-chief

    One of these days, I'll quit opening these cans of worms . . . maybe.
  4. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    My son is spending a bunch of his summer earnings, birthday, and Christmas money on a Super Chief set, "all" 12 cars, and ABB (so accurate and cheaper) engines. We've got the cars, and I must say they are nice. We've just started building, so we've been running the Super Chief up and down our helix (since that's all there is) behind another son's BNSF AC4400CW. At least there is an SF in its name! The good thing is that is is a pretty good test of the helix (the six wheel trucks on the loco hate questionable trackwork), and the engine (it pulls the 12 cars up the helix of about 2.5% without any problem at all).

    The Kato website does say that ABB is a full consist (although it also mentions ABBA, so they are not all the way off the hook there). As far as the pesky cars go it looks like they went out sometime in the early 50's. One of the sites made it sound like '51 was a discrete transition point, but I wonder if anything is ever so simple. Nonetheless, it seems that an ABB set followed by the 12 Kato cars is quite possibly totally accurate, though there are quite possibly other equally accurate configurations.

    Now I have to get to work. My son has the Super Chief, we're going to justify running it through Southern Arizona by some track outage up north. I am trying to make a representation of a Southern Pacific Golden State by stripping a bunch of Con Cor passenger cars we aquired over the years in roads that we have no need for, and a Lifelike E-7 A/B in Florida East Coast colors and trying my first paint and decal job. He can't have the only cool train on the layout!

    I like that answers.com/wikipedia link. I really like the loco through the wall. I hope to not duplicate that on the layout!

  5. coaster

    coaster Member

    Jeff --

    A Golden State lineup? Now that will be really cool! Nice thing about it is that, Southern Pacific being nowhere near so particular as the Santa Fe when it came to image (as well as in other categories), one was just as likely to see it being powered across Espee by engines in the Daylight livery as anything else.

    You know, you've made some pretty good points about Kato and the likely source(s) of their research, but I'm still not willing to let them completely off the hook. Maybe, when all is said and done, I'm still holding that vistadome in their Lark-series against them. (And there's absolutely no way they researched that one!)

    And maybe, one of these days, someone will finally determine just what constitutes the truly "typical" typical Super Chief consist for any given era. Maybe even in my lifetime. Stranger things have happened . . .

    -- Paul
    P.S. Hopefully, Kato won't come out with its Golden State the day after you've finished your version. Or, better yet, maybe it won't make a bit of difference if they do.
  6. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    My Golden State isn't going to be modelled accurately at all. I've got some cars, and I'm going to paint them. I'll probably do the locos in the Red and Silver that they were for about 20 minutes, if the research I've done is correct, and the cars to match. But the consist will be a mish-mash. I was thinking of Sunset Limited, but I though that the Golden State might be a little more uniquely identifiable. It should be fun, anyway.

    I think the Model Railroader article was by Andy Sperandeo. I think there were pictures that (as best as I could count) from 1953 with 12 cars. I'm pretty sure the train he described matches the Kato to a T. I guess the dome on the Lark would have been pretty cool on a full moon night, even if not prototypical.

  7. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    I have been hunting for some times for the right cars for my Golden State train. Unfortunatelly everything seemed to be different than what is available in N-scale.
    Now I just will use whatever I can find (mostly ConCor and Kato) and will replace the cars if they become available.

  8. coaster

    coaster Member

    It's a shame that the Golden State gets a comparatively short write-up, but here's its companion piece to the Super Chief article cited earlier:
    Incidentally, as regards relatively accurate equipment for the Golden State, you might keep an eye out for an old Atlas item (manufactured back in the late 70s/early 80s by either Roco or Rivarossi, I believe), which is a fairly close representation of the blunt-end tailcar SP/Rock Island used on the train for at least part of its lifespan. (And no, I'm not proposing we get into a discussion of when and for how long. I've seen that discussion get even more esoteric than the previous Super Chief one. [​IMG] )

    I saw such a car most recently this past weekend on a vendor's table out here (San Francisco) at the Cow Palace. It'd take a repaint and decal job (everytime I see that car -- and I think it's the same one -- it's in UP livery), but that wouldn't be beyond what I've noticed of your capabilities, Roland.


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