by Mike Skibbe

Back before Kato began their “name” train releases, they released two series of passenger cars that did not form any particular train.  Rather, the smoothside and corrugated releases followed the standard mix of matching baggage, RPO, coach, diner, sleeper, dome, and observation cars.  While the smoothside cars followed UP prototypes (observation excluded) the Budd corrugated series followed CB&Q prototypes. 

The mix of cars chosen by Kato’s Charlie Vlk didn’t add up to any Burlington train in particular.  But, there were a couple trains that could be modeled with the chosen prototypes!

General Pershing Zephyr

While the previous eight Zephyrs of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy were articulated train sets, the General Pershing Zephyr broke from tradition in 1939.  The General Pershing Zephyr, named for World War I hero General John G. Pershing, was built as traditional, individual cars.  The as-built consist included shovel nose power unit with baggage compartment Silver Charger, a 70-seat coach Silver Leaf, a 52-seat coach Silver Eagle (Kato’s car) and a Diner-Parlor-Obs Silver Star.  While the Silver Charger would be quite an effort to build, ConCor’s Budd coach could fill in for the longer 70-seat coach while the Kato corrugated Budd coach is the proper car to cover the 52-seat coach.  Kato also did the diner-parlor-obs in the corrugated series.

Silver Streak Zephyr

Following shortly after the General Pershing Zephyr, the Silver Streak Zephyr was the second non-articulated Zephyr to be constructed.  Following the EMD E5 locomotive, a Burlington only unit with corrugated side panels and truck skirts, came a baggage, RPO, two 52-seat coaches, and a diner-parlor-obs.  All five cars match the Kato corrugated releases.  But the E5 is a sticking point as it has not been released in N scale as a ready-to-run model yet.  However, a couple resin shells have been produced over the years.

Twin Cities Zephyr

While one generally thinks of the vista-dome Morning and Afternoon Zephyrs in their complete form as baggage-lounge, four dome coaches, diner, and dome-obs, there was an interim period after Burlington placed the order for two train sets to re-equip the Twin Cities Zephyrs that the train ran with cars included by Kato in the corrugated passenger car series.  The cars were ordered in 1945, and the dome coaches, as offered by Kato in the corrugated car series, were delivered first between July and October 1947.  In this period the Burlington substituted a pre-war diner and diner-parlor-obs in the train while waiting for delivery of the rest of the new cars.  Thus, trailing a pair of E7’s we see two dome coaches, a pre-war diner, two more dome coaches, and a diner-parlor-obs.  All the passenger cars match the Kato corrugated series cars.

Burlington’s First “Pattern” Domes

One potential kitbash opportunity is available as well.  Burlington’s first experiment with the dome car concept caused contruction of two “pattern” domes.  Burlington started with two of the pre-war 52-seat coaches, as modeled by Kato, and added a dome section with flat window glass.  While the dome roofs that Kato did are curved, an old Rowa dome coach might be used as the Pullman-Standard dome’s were constructed from flat panes of glass.  Do a few modifications to the dome section and voila, a unique dome to add to your Morning or Afternoon Zephyr. 

Update 2/13/12: Bill Denton sends along this photo of his Silver Streak Zephyr!  Could this be the next train from Kato?  All they need is an E5…