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Hello and happy holidays to everyone on Eurobricks! This is my first post, as the release of Bricklink's Stud.io has reignited my passion for digitally building with LEGOs. 10 years ago, LDD was the name of the game (and there are some my old models still out there...): Stud.io is a truly great piece of software, if anyone isn't on the boat yet! I'm hoping to use the nifty "wanted list" feature to grab all the parts I need from Bricklink. Anyhow, here are photos of a dome coach built for the Great Northern's Empire Builder and painted in the 1967 "Big Sky Blue" livery. Full interior, with minifig versions of my partner and myself by the wayside. Interior additionally features a tourist, rancher, and 1920s baroness. For more details, check out the post on my blog: [link]. Exterior: Interior:
full gallery I am pleased to present my rendition of the preserved GN S2 class 4-8-4 northern, #2584. This locomotive has been on my to do list for quite some time. I was waiting for the cheese slopes to come out in sand green and then it was only a matter of time. I first saw this engine many years ago while taking Amtrak through Havre, Montana where she is on static display. How bold to paint a steam engine such a bright green. Sure, she was an oil burner, but still, imagine the work to keep that boiler looking clean. The US railroads loved to do this sort of thing and fought to keep their equipment clean (remember, these trains were the equivalent of today's business class on transcontinental flights, heck, the NYC's 20th Century limited is where the phrase "roll out the red carpet" originated, but I digress). Delivered in 1930, the engine arrived in the Glacier Park paint scheme and the fleet of S1 and S2's were used to pull the finest passenger trains on the Great Northern. By early 1950's they were reassigned to freight and repainted black. The 2584 was retired Dec 1957 and stored. GN decided to preserve this locomotive and after restoring it, put it on display in 1964 (more details can be found here). When I saw it, it still had "no trepassing, BN Ry" signs on the fence. So presumably it has been under railroad ownership throughout. When I started building the custom valve gear parts, I knew it was time to build this engine. It took a few months, but here's my model. I must say, building in rare color like sand green is extra fun. Let's take a tour from the front to the back. On the nose I had to have the air compressors, and here was the first collision with the limited parts availability in sand green. I almost gave an arm and a leg to solve it but in the end I managed to keep the arm. Getting all of the snot for the smoke box working was an exercise in multi-dimensional optimization. On the side the stairs up to the running boards turned out well (I'm not sure if I came up with that solution on my own or if I first saw it on another model). Also note the hand rails, a refined design from my earlier northern's. Within the boiler, the framework is largely unchanged from my J, and later used on two other northern's. The design is solid for operating at shows with uneven tracks- the drivers are pulled from the pilot truck and the boiler itself rides on just two trucks. This has the added feature of keeping the swing within reason on curves. Allowing me to put the tender foot plate at the cab foot plate (with the aid of a few wedge plates). I must say, when building a locomotive for tight curves, you come to understand why the rear corners of the cab roofs and top corners of the tenders were cut off. The frame is also strong enough that you can put two or three of the northerns on the point of a heavy train and pull through the front couplers. While viewing the second image above, note the sloped front to the cab borrowed from my NP northern, the mud ring on the bottom of the firebox borrowed from my Milw northern, the cab roof details borrowed from my SP pacific. I think the vent hatches look particularly good in dark red. You will also see one of the design elements that I'm quite pleased with, the sand green ladder above the running board. I'm getting ahead of myself on this tour. Jumping back to the drivers for a moment, I used my custom rods and valve gear bars for the drivers, including modeling the Walschaerts valve gear. Meanwhile, up top, I managed to sneak in a 1/2 plate offset for the green boiler jacket (visible in the very first photo in this post, where the gray smokebox transitions to the green boiler). Now moving to the rear, this oil burner had a Vanderbilt tender. I knew that wouldn't be much of a problem since I had already built one packed with PF equipment for my SP pacific. I had to build the complete engine first, so that I could figure out the clearance for the tender. This time it wound up being almost entirely snotted. Since I did not have to worry about putting anything in the tender, I could get the proportions better than the SP tender. I even included a rounded bottom (though no good photos yet exist). I've got to say that Vanderbilt tenders are hard to photograph and I'm not completely satisfied with the quality of the photos of the tender, but this one should give you an idea, If you look closely, you will also see my Indiana Jones moment. I was faced with figuring out how to get the ladder on the front of the tender. On curves, the couplers swing out to 6 wide. So there wasn't enough room to get any design I liked in there. Seeing the man waving a pair of machetes at me, I dropped my whip and picked up my six shooter. Voila, as I slip another rung down the lego purity slope, the custom ladder was born. They looked so good, I decided to hang another pair off the back of the tender (I'll post more about the ladders soon). Now returning to the prototype for a moment. The Havre locomotive looks striking in its green paint, but while I was digging up reference material for this model, I quickly learned that it was the wrong color. From everything I've read, the Glacier Park paint scheme was commonly used on passenger locomotives, but it was never an official scheme. For the curious, click the small image below for the best color example of the scheme that I'm aware of. Also note the herald on the engineer's side, the goat is facing to the right. The closest lego color to the original green would probably be dark green. Still, I like sand green as the prototype is currently and I didn't want this to look like a Emerald Night MOD. Still, it has gotten me wondering why the prototype is the wrong color. GN preserved this engine and then BN, so it is not like some misguided town repainted it in the faded color after years of neglect. full gallery