The History of The Blue Comet

We all have and had our heroes. For me, it was my grandfather. A world war two veteran who saw action in France, Holland and Germany. When he came back, he brought back a little German trainset. My father played with it and both he and my grandfather had their own mancave with a real small world with little human beings and little trains. When I first laid my eyes on my grandfathers and fathers trainset I immediately wondered why on earth they painted that little trainset blue?

“Listen kid” my grandfather said like he used to say with a deep voice. Between 1929, before there was even a second war coming to the world people could travel fast from Jersey City to Atlantic city within three hours all thanks to a comet, a blue comet.

Why was it blue I asked, actually it was not blue blue. It was ultramarine and Packard blue kid. It resembled the sea. The cream colors represented the sand of the shore. The tickets, the dining car chairs, the other carriages all was blue. Even the porters were dressed in blue. To even add more to the mistery of the train, each cart was named after a comet.

In 1929 thousands of spectators, rail fans and even local residents stood along the line to see this new blue wonder. The word was spread through a clever ad campaign via radio and newspaper which off course spurred major public interest. Besides transportation, the blue comet had another goal. It was to provide coach passengers with deluxe equipment, accommodations and service at a regular coach fare. It was billed as the Seashore’s Finest Train and dubbed as the Symphony in Blue.

The Blue Comet was initially a true success but like all other economic ventures in the 30’s, it fell victim to the Great Depression. Also another major player in the transport sector those days had two-thirds of the trackage in their portfolio and produced heavy competition towards the Blue Comet.

The Train Itself

Three brand-new G3 Pacific locomotives were assigned to the train. They also refurbished 16 cars for service, inside and out. I have presented that stats so nicely put on the Blue Comet wikipedia page.

Locomotive

  • Builder: Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • Year: 1928
  • Tractive Force: 46,841 lbs.
  • Weight on Drivers: 197,660 lbs.
  • Total Weight: 326,470 lbs.
  • Factor of Adhesion: 4.21
  • Pilot Truck:
  • Commonwealth cast steel w/ pedestals cast integral with frame
  • Weight on Front Truck: 65,850 lbs.
  • Front Elevation Erection Drawing of Baldwin G-3s Heavy Pacific 4-6-2 locomotive
  • Front Truck: 36″
  • Frames: Vanadium Cast Steel
  • Driving Wheel Base: 13′-10′
  • Driver Diameter: 79″
  • Trailing Truck:
  • Commonwealth Delta type
  • Weight on Trailing Truck: 62,960 lbs.
  • Wheel Diameter: 55″

Drive train

  • Cylinders: 26″x 28″
  • Valve Gear: Walschaerts
  • Piston Valves: 13″
  • Pistons: 5″ diameter. Heat treated Steel Casting.
  • Reverse: Alco Power Reversing Gear
  • Crossheads: Underhung type with forged steel box guides.
  • Side Rods: Floating Bushings, grease cups forged solid & integral
  • Counterbalancing: 55% of the reciprocating weight

Suspension

  • Chrome Silicon Manganese driving & truck springs.

Firebox

  • Firebox Dimensions: 126-1/8″x 97-1/4″
  • Stoker: Type B

Boiler

  • Steam Pressure: 230 lbs.
  • Boiler Diameter 1st Ring: 78″
  • Number of 2″ Flues: 251
  • Number of 5-3/8″ Flues: 36
  • Length of Flues/Tubes: 228″
  • Grate Area: 84.3 SF
  • Superheater: Type “A” w/36 heating elements
  • Total heating surfaces: 4,647 SF
  • Elesco Feedwater Heater mounted on front of smoke box above the headlamp.

Lubrication system

  • Nathan Eight Feed mechanical lubricator w/ 20 pint capacity.

Throttle

  • Chambers backhead throttle valve

Drifting valves

  • Automatic

Automatic train control

  • Union Switch & Signal coded continuous
  • (2) Westinghouse Simplex Air Compressors mounted on right side of boiler.

Tender

  • Commonwealth one-piece cast steel water bottom underframe.
  • Tender Water Capacity: 10,000 Gallons
  • Tender Fuel Capacity: 15 Tons bituminous coal
  • Weight of Tender: 217,000 lbs.
  • Total Engine & Tender: 543,470 lbs.
  • Wheel Base Engine & Tender: 72′-2″
  • Overall Height to top of Cab: 15′-0-7/8″

Rolling stock

  • Diner: Giacobini 81
  • Combines: Halley 300, Encke 302
  • Baggage cars: Olbers 391, Barnard 392
  • Coaches: Tuttle 1170, Holmes 1171, Westphal 1172, D’Arrest 1173, Faye 1174, Spitaler 1175, Winnecke 1176, Brorsen 1177
  • Observation cars: DeVico 1178, Biela 1179, Tempel 1169

Model versions

  • The Lionel Corporation produced a model in the 1930s. It is a desirable collectable however the set doesn’t bear any resemblance to the actual train.
  • Rivarossi produced a special HO-scale edition in 1979. The set was not prototypical of the actual train.
  • International Hobby Corporation reproduced the Rivarossi HO sets.
  • Overland Brass made an HO-scale.
  • Bethlehem Car Works makes an HO version.
  • MTH produced several versions of the train in O gauge.
  • Aristo Craft produced a G-scale set.
  • Lionel produced a second version in 1998 with a 4-6-4.
  • In 2001, Lionel produced another model with only a 1000 made.
  • 2012 brings another Lionel model
  • PIKO Model trains produced a G scale version in 2014

Train Scales Explained

For those who are looking for a calm, relaxing hobby, model trains can be just the solution they’re looking for. However, when you first get started, the various scales can feel overwhelming. This guide will help you understand all of this information so you can make the best decision for your new hobby.

Scales vs. Gauges

The first question many people have is what the difference between a scale and a gauge is when it comes to model railroads. In most situations, you will deal with the term “scale.” This term refers to the size difference between the model train and real world trains. However, the term “gauge” references the space between the rails on the track. This second term is used in both model railroading and the world of full-size trains.

What Are the Different Scales?

One of the biggest challenges individuals have when they get started in model railroading is the variety of scales available on the market. While the size difference is evident when you look at the items in person, if you will be making a majority of your purchases online, it’s important to be knowledgeable in the differences.

G Scale: This is the largest of the scales and is often referred to as the Garden Scale because many people use this size for their outdoor layouts. These models are scaled between 1:22.5 and 1:29. This is often a good size for running around the Christmas tree. It is easy to operate, even for younger children, but takes up a lot more space than many of the other scales, which can pose a problem if you are limited on space.

O Scale: O Scale offers a scale of 1:48, making it smaller than the G Scale, but still larger than many of the others. This scale is ideal for operation by younger children, as well as older adults who may have difficulty manipulating smaller pieces. Trains of this scale are often pricier than the smaller trains and have a tendency to appear more toy-like in their operations and accessories.

O Scale, Narrow Gauge: This scale and gauge combination gives you the advantages of both O Scale and HO Scale trains. This is because you will still run the larger O Scale equipment, but on HO Scale track, allowing you to operate your train layout in a smaller space. This is ideal for those who love the look of the O Scale trains, but are more limited on space. It can be more difficult to find accessories that fit this size layout, however.

HO Scale: Perhaps one of the most popular modeling scale, HO gives you a variety of realistic options. This scale equates to 1:87.1, which makes it a great size for displaying and creating layouts of varying sizes, from the small to the large. With the vast array of accessories, track and rolling stock available, it’s easy to create a realistic layout with the right amount of time and effort. This size is perfect for teenagers and adults who are looking to invest significant time in their model railroading experience.

N Scale: If you are more limited on space, N Scale could be the ideal alternative, especially if you are still looking for that realistic look and feel to your railroad. However, the small size requires a stable hand and attention to detail. While options may be limited, this scale is growing in popularity, which means manufacturers will be creating more in the near future.

There are a few additional scales, many of which are smaller yet, such as the S Scale and Z Scale. However, the options for these sizes are extremely limited due to a lack of popularity.

Why Are There So Many Scales?

As noted above, there are a variety of scales to help individuals find the option that best suits their needs. The larger scales are perfect for unique applications like for use outdoors around the yard or for placing around the Christmas tree for that holiday feel. They are also better for use with younger children. However, if you are looking for a more realistic look with greater attention to detail, the smaller scales are the perfect solution.

What Is the Best Model Train Scale?

This is a personal question depending on a variety of factors. First and foremost, you need to consider the age of the individuals who will be using the trains. Larger scales are best for young children and older individuals who have dexterity or vision issues, for instance. You will also need to consider the amount of space you have available. You can do far more with smaller scales in a small space than with larger scales. Setting a budget is also important. Certain scales can cost more than others. For instance, O Scale is significantly more expensive than HO Scale. However, it also depends on the amount of work you will put into your layout. Once you buy a lot of accessories, you will find the costs often even out. Finally, you need to think about what you want to accomplish. If you’re just looking to play with the trains, a larger scale can be perfect. However, if you want a more detailed, permanent layout, the smaller scales will offer a greater selection of products and improved customization, giving you more freedom of design.

Can You Mix Scales?

In general terms, it isn’t advised to mix scales. For the most part, you won’t be able to buy track in one scale and use another scale train on those tracks. In these terms, you will need to stick to the same scale. However, there are situations in which mixing scales in your layout can produce the effects you’re looking for. If you have the attention to detail required, you will be able to implement some smaller scale pieces to add some depth and perspective to your layout. Adding these pieces will require a careful eye to avoid making things look awkward and out of place in your layout. However, if you are looking to keep things simple, it’s best to work with the same scale.

While it can be overwhelming to shop for pieces to your train layout at first, learning as much as you can about what the different scales mean can help you make the best decisions for your situation.

How to Keep Wooden Train Tracks Together

We all know the feeling. The children constantly knocking over their wooden train tracks, not being able to fix it themselves. You, the parent, end up being needed every 30 seconds to help put the train tracks back together, as your little ones don’t know how yet.

Thankfully, there are some alternatives. Some are great. Some are not so good. To help you find the best solutions and avoid the worst, we will be covering some of these alternatives.

Why you should never use glue

Gluing wooden train tracks to your child’s play surface is one of the best and worst solutions. Parents often regret using this method because they decide they want to remove the tracks from the surface in the future. Sadly, this is impossible to do without leaving a permanent mess. Many children don’t like this method either. It doesn’t let them customize the track. For these reasons, we recommend you go with a different track securing method.

Why you should always use tape

Using tape is one of the best alternatives to gluing train tracks, It is semi-permanent, and you probably have some lying around your home. Some tape types are better than others though, so here is a quick rundown of the different types.

Duct tape

Duct tape is a very good choice because it offers a very powerful grip and a long lasting stickiness. However, duct tape is notorious for leaving sticky residue behind after being removed.

Luckily, there is a residue-free duct tape available online and in some stores. This means that you will have to go shopping again to buy a new roll of duct tape, which you may want to avoid.

Masking tape

Masking tape is another solid option, but it is nowhere near as sticky as duct tape is. Masking tape is a good alternative to traditional duct tape because it leaves no residue. The best part is that you probably have some masking tape in your home.

How you can use felt to secure wooden train tracks

It is easy to place a piece of felt over your train table and either secure it permanently or just let it sit there. While this won’t secure your wooden train tracks perfectly, it will stop them from sliding around.

Some parents like to place a piece of Velcro on their train tracks to attach the track to the felt more securely. This is a fine option, but it will ruin the felt over time.

No other option? Then glue.

If you decide that your only option is to glue the train tracks, then you should consider gluing only a single track. This may offer the stability you are looking for while still allowing you to change up the surrounding track every once in awhile.

If your child is still a toddler it may be best to pick up a single train set and permanently glue it to the table, as you can start collecting more pieces as your child gets old enough to take care of them.