CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Why 1984? (part 3 - Diverse & Colorful Equipment)

While my first three reasons focused on the ability to model the prototype in 1984, and my next three reasons were why it connected with me on a personal level, the last six reasons are why I think building and operating models appropriate for 1984 will be enjoyable…

Reason #7: Diverse D&H Motive Power:
The D&H owned a tremendous variety of engines in the 1970s from Alco, EMD, GE, and Baldwin. By the early 1980s, however, the selection was much smaller. The D&H moved nearly all of its Alcos up to Colonie Shops to consolidate maintenance of them, and that included seven types of Alcos (RS3, RS3m, RS11 high nose, RS11 low nose, RS36, C420, and C424), one type of GEs (C33C), and two types of EMDs (GP38-2 and GP39-2). Aside from the EMDs, the roster is small enough and the paint schemes are varied enough (Lightning Stripe with small numbers, Lightning Stripe with large numbers, blue dip, blue with yellow nose, blue with yellow chevrons) that it is reasonably possible to build accurate models of nearly every class of engine. And, the engines are recognizable and lend credibility to the layout. And because of the Colonie shops, I have an excuse to run whatever motive power existed on the D&H at the time.

Reason #8: Colorful Freight Cars:
The late 1970s "per diem" boxcar incentive was over by the 1980s but all of the boxcars built a decade before remained, complete with bright color schemes. The D&H alone had red, orange, yellow, green ("Reading repaints and other), maroon, brown, and blue/white boxcars, along with red covered hoppers and tank cars, silver covered hoppers, blue glass hoppers and gondolas, etc. And that doesn't even count the interchange cars that went through the D&H. And, very important to me, this was before the era of graffiti on cars so they don't have to be marked or decaled to represent vandalism. In preparation for my layout I already have dozens of boxcars assembled and weathered. I am, admittedly, a 50' boxcar junkie.

Reason #9: "I ♥ NY" boxcars
I really like the classy paint scheme of the NYSDOT/D&H collaborative "I ♥ NY" blue and white boxcars. Though they were introduced in 1982, many were still in great shape in 1984. There were at least three variations as well, with some featuring green "Operation Lifesaver" emblems, some featuring NYS DOT emblems, and others having neither. Several manufacturers have offered models of these and I plan to get a few. Sadly, several brands (Bachmann and Athearn/BevBel) have released them in the wrong color blue.

Reason #10: Cabooses still used
The D&H still used cabooses on their trains in 1984. There were many different styles including wide-vision cabooses, bay window cabooses, center cupola cabooses, and a few odd ball wooden and homemade cabooses. And they came in two different paint schemes- red or yellow- with a variety of heralds. Nothing boring here! While the cabooses wouldn't last forever on the D&H, I can justify using them in 1984. And no train looks complete without a caboose.

Reason #11: Foreign Road Power
Because Guilford and Conrail interchanged with the D&H in the Albany area, I can model B&M geeps (though the "McGinnis Bluebirds" were gone by this time), some MEC engines, Conrail units, and some of the early gray Guilford engines. I am especially looking forward to getting MEC #2311, which was the D&H's gray ghost. This engine alone almost made me move my layout back to 1983 (the D&H purged themselves of U23Bs in June of 1983) but because the MEC kept it gray and put their pine tree emblem over the D&H shield, that is fun too. Thus, we shall stick with 1984.

Reason 12: Amtrak Phase III paint scheme
You don't have to say it... I know what you are thinking! Amtrak didn't run trains over the Colonie Main line in 1984. They did, however, roll them over the bridge in downtown Albany and cross the Hudson River on the Livingston Avenue Bridge. So, I might be able to partially model that. And perhaps Amtrak had to detour off of the NYC/PC/Conrail tracks at one point. I don't really know about that.

What I do know is that I really like the Amtrak Phase III paint scheme with the equal red-white-blue stripes, which was introduced in 1980. I also like the F40PH engines because I saw more of them than any other train engine as a child. My grandfather always took me to the Amtrak station to watch the trains and because of that, I have a fondness for Amtrak. And compared to Conrail trains, they were much cleaner and classier. Though some railfans I know say "if all I saw was an Amtrak train I didn't see anything" I don't agree. Besides, I can do what I want on my model railroad!

An interesting D&H/Amtrak fiasco occurred when the D&H repainted Amtrak's dome car into blue and yellow stripes without asking Amtrak! (Note the yellow instead of red in the picture). It was part of the Adirondack passenger train consist and waiting at a station stop when some Amtrak officials spotted it and demanded it be painted back. The dome lasted less than a week before being restored to red/white/blue. Though that occurred in the 1970s, I seriously considered backdating my layout that I could include this interesting piece of D&H history.

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