TIPS & TECHNIQUES

The Blue Comet


     OK, all you "Joisey" folks, this one is for you.  I should talk, my Dad grew up in Jersey City and spend his summers "down the shore" at Point Pleasant.  I spent one year of my life in Maywood, which is Susquehanna territory, so I understand the language.  This is, of course, how they speak in North Jersey.  The Southern park of the state does not have this type of speech characteristic.  I have a good friend that lives in West Berlin, New Jersey, who keeps me up on the railroading in his part of the state, and who provided a lot of help with this article.  His name is Bob Whipple.  A lot of these modifications are his ideas.
    Anyway let's discuss the "Blue Comet".  This train was billed as the "Seashore's Finest Train" with its first run in 1928 and its last run in 1941.   It ran the route from Jersey City to Atlantic City in three hours and belonged to the Central Railroad of New Jersey.  The train had three G3 Pacifics  which were numbered 831, 832, and 833.  The train consisted of a baggage car, combine/smoker, coaches and an observation car.  On the early morning run to Atlantic City there was a diner, and on the evening run back to Jersey City the diner was also present.
    The train was gorgeous and has been produced in the past by both Lionel and Marx.  The colors for the train were Packard Blue which represented the sky, Jersey Cream which represented the sandy shore, and Royal Blue which represented the sea.  The three Pacific Locos used for this train were also painted in these colors.  The cream stripe on the passenger cars was supposed to represent a comet passing by.
    Aristo brought out this train in the 1980's and it did not sell as well as they expected.  Because of numerous customer requests, it is being re-introduced this year.   The new Pacific is being shipped at this time, with the passenger cars supposedly being shipped in June.
    The new Pacific is similar to the original, except it has the new improved motor and drive system, along with cast metal drivers.  Just like the original, I would recommend that you use blue Loc-Tite on the screws holding the driver wheels on, so that you do not wind up losing a screw and locking up the gear box.  Provision has been made in the tender to plug in a new sound card, DCC, and also to run the loco on battery power.  This is a smooth running loco, as all the new Pacifc's are, and it crawls down the track real well on low power.  The smoke unit is the new type which puts out a huge volume of smoke, and has a shut off for when smoke fluid gets low so that it doesn't burn up.   Paint and lettering is crisp and clear with the number on this unit being 832 (the older issue model is 831).
    Beside adding sound, this locomotive can be cosmetically enhanced to look more like the prototype.  The paint for the locomotive is Royal Blue.  A close match is "rattle can" Rustoleum Royal Blue #7727 according to Bob.  Dullcoat will have to be sprayed over this paint since this is a gloss.  All the handrails and coupler lift bars need to be painted blue.  The headlight also needs to be painted blue, and a small number board needs to be added below the headlight facing the front.  This can be done with scrap styrene and decals. The ring on the headlight lens should be silver. I have found out that the drivers need to be painted blue, which should be quite a challenge since I do not recommend removing them for painting.   The pilot wheels are also painted blue.  The bell, as always, sits too high on the boiler and needs to be cut down.  This is an easy fix, which involves removing it from its base and drilling a new hole in the boiler top.  The feedwater heater on the front of the boiler needs steam pipes to the boiler.  I fabricated them from the flexible part of a flex straw, and once glued in place they were painted blue. You can also add the water pipes for the feedwater heater using solder.  There are two pipes on the left side and one on the right side.  These pipes are also painted blue.  Cover the screw hole on the top of the feedwater heater with a scrap of thin styrene and paint it blue.
    This tender has plenty of room for a sound system, and the original speaker was retained since the tender shell makes an excellent sound box.  I unscrewed the coal load loose from the tender top so that the sound system could be accessed from the top without having to take the tender apart.  The coal load was covered with black aquarium gravel, which looks about right for scale coal.   A back up light can be added using brass tubing through the rear of the tender. A diode light system can be easily installed so that this light only works in reverse. The truck side frames on the tender are painted royal blue, and the wheels are painted with Floquil Roof Brown to simulate rust and road grime.  A Kadee #831 coupler can be easily installed on the rear of this tender.
    The last touch is a little light weathering and it is ready to make the dash to "the Shore" and back.  These locos were cleaned after each run, and the paint was kept fresh, so don't overdo your weathering.
    The heavyweight cars are the standard Aristo issue, and are painted in the Royal Blue, Jersey Cream, and Packard Blue colors.   The new issue will include a combine, but no baggage car was ever produced for this set.
I feel Aristo is missing it with no heavyweight baggage car.  The neat thing is that the Aristo heavyweight coach is modeled after a CNJ Blue Comet coach.  All of these can be close coupled using Kadee couplers in a #838 set.  This is a body mount with a "flex bracket" for tight curves..  Check their web site for this conversion coupler and draft gear.  The interiors on these cars are nicely done, but you will have to cut the legs off your passengers to make them fit the seats.  The interior walls are not quite positioned right and the toilet seat in the lavatory is on backwards. (The Chinese do not know what an American toilet looks like.) No big deal, because this cannot be seen from the outside.
    This is a beautiful and distinctive American steam train that will definitely turn heads on any layout.