Question re Proto Erie-built/PA-PB/E-unit diesels

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Twindad, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Twindad

    Twindad New Member

    I would greatly appreciate any insights!

    Last year, for Christmas, one of my kids was given a P1k Erie-Built Santa Fe A-unit. He LOVES it! Which is great...and now the top thing on his list for Santa is a powered B-unit to go with it, which is quite a challenge to find. Ideally, I'd like to get the actual P1K unit so that there's a better chance of the powertrains being matched (we're running DCC), but time's running out, and I haven't been able to track one down yet. This leads me to my 2-part question:

    1) As there's no perfect match available on ebay right now, I've acquired an A/B pair with UP shells as a worst-case scenario backup. Unfortunately, Walthers' wants $65 for an ATSF b-unit shell, so I really can't justify going that route (with Mrs Claus). Right now, there are some P2K engines listed for sale with powered As and dummy Bs. Currently, some E6s are listed. Is it possible to swap the shells on the chassis (i.e. put the B shell over the powered chassis)? Important point--needs to be easily done--I don't have the time right now to attempt major mods. Additionally, does an E6 have approximately the same dimensions as the Erie-builts? I haven't been able to track down this data online--I know an Alco PB could work reasonably well, but I'm not sure about other engine models.

    2) Any other suggestions on how I might be able to accomplish this? Anyone know where I can get one or find a B-unit shell or do some sort of substitution like I mentiond above?

    Thanks so much for any insights and ideas--Christmas is less than 3 weeks away, and I'm starting to get worried (I hate to think that Santa won't be able to deliver)!

  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I haven't tried it, but I don't think an Erie built F-M shell would fit the E-6 chassis. You might be able to remove the mechanism from a powered E-6 b and put it into the dummy Erie built b, but that would involve total dis-assembly and reassembly of the unit. I'm not sure how the Erie built b units compare with E-6 b's. Would an a-b set of E-6's be an ok substitute for your son? Santa Fe had only one set of the Erie builts, but they had about 5 or 6 sets of the E units. Their E-6 units were rebuilt from the E-1 "spot" units that they first started running in 1938 or 1939 with the debut of the super Chief.
  3. Twindad

    Twindad New Member

    Thanks for the quick reply, Russ.

    I don 't think I articulated myself well--I was wondering if, in the event I buy the E6 powered A/dummyB set, the P2k E6 B shell would fit over the P2k E6 A chassis, thus making it a powered b-unit. And, subsequently, would this b-unit look ok coupled onto the FM erie built A unit?

    thanks again,
  4. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    The chassis between the "A" and "B" is more than likely different. The "A" chassis probably has a nose section that is angled, or shaped like the nose of the shell. The "B" is probably squared off. The "B" is shorter than the "A" as it has no cab, or "Bulldog" nose.
    Unless you want to modify the "A" chassis by removing metal, and possibly taking off some of all of the front coupler box, it is possible.
  5. gna

    gna New Member


    Have you called Trainworld? They have often had the Erie-Builts on sale, either the A units or the A-B sets. I believe their stock number is #31688.
  6. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    The E6-B dummy shell can be put on the powered E6-A chassis but the shell needs to be modified slightly. Inside it there are four supports that go all the way down to the frame where they are secured with screws from underneath. These need to be removed or cut back enough so they'll sit on the powered chassis. The front coupler swing arm must be removed from the A unit chassis and replaced with one from the B unit chassis. No eye-rolling out there thinking it can't be done. I'm telling you it can be done because I've done it. I built an E6-B by modifying the shell of an E6-B dummy to fit over the E6-A powered mechanism. The only problem I had with it was getting the shell to stay in place. That was a simple fix. I took some masking tape and wrapped it around one of my fingers, sticky side out and stuck it to the side of the chassis. I did this twice on both sides. I got the tape to sit as flat as possible then spread the sides of the B unit shell with my fingers and fitted it down over the chassis. When I was satisfied with it's placement I pressed in on the sides of the shell to push it hard against the tape. It's been a year and a half now and the shell is still on mine.
  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    That's subjective. I personally like the look of mismatched locomotives like that. And yes, railroads did that often (I love the Rio Grande's mixing of F-units with PA/PBs), though I'm not sure if Erie A/E6B ever happened.

    As for whether the shells of an Erie-Built and an E6 can be swapped: I'm not sure, but it won't look right. Erie-Builts and PA/PBs had significantly longer trucks than E-units.
  8. gna

    gna New Member

    The electrical equipment was similar between Erie-Builts and PAs/PBs, so they were mixed together on some railroads. You could try to get a PB and run them together.
  9. Twindad

    Twindad New Member

    Thank you all!

    Holy smokes! What a fantastic resource this community is--I thank each and every one of you. I learn so much when I get a chance to peruse posts, and this was no exception.

    Jeffrey--great to know that the shells on the E6 units can be worked--thanks for sharing your experience and instructions. Gary aI nd Triplex--thanks for the info on mixing units...helps to make it more "real" for my son if I'm unable to track down the Erie B unit.

    Personally, I actually like the look of the E6 more than the Erie--I dig the slant nose. I may end up getting the E6 set, and let my kid decide how he'd like to configure it with his Erie built A unit.

    thanks again everyone!

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