New Product Spotlight – Southern Pacific GS Steam Locomotives

10 12 2012

Often called the “most beautiful train in the world,” the Southern Pacific’s Daylight trains were a fitting complement to the California coast. The brilliant orange, red, black and silver trains and matching locomotives made an immediate and lasting impression on riders and anybody who loves trains and style.

The GS-2


6-11420 GS-2 No. 4415 in the Daylight Scheme

In 1936, Lima built 6 GS-2 steam locomotives for the Southern Pacific. The 4-8-4s were the first streamlined GS locomotives, and the first to wear the new Daylight colors for the trains’ 1937 debut.

The locomotives performed admirably in several roles over their careers. When the higher-drivered GS-3s arrived in 1938, the GS-2s were often bumped down to lesser passenger runs. During WWII, the locomotives shed their bright coats for black and went to work hauling troop trains.

The last of the GS-2s retired in 1956. None has been saved.

The GS-6

As the GS-2s were hauling troops, a new class of very similar locomotives arrived from Lima. The GS-6 looked nearly identical to the GS-2 from the running boards up, but these lacked the streamlined skirts above the drivers. The changes were the result of restrictions from the wartime production boards. In addition to cutting costs, eliminating these skirts also made maintenance much easier. Following the war, the skirts were removed from the GS-2s as well.


6-11421 GS-6 No. 4460 – the sole survivor.

Also unlike the GS-2, the GS-6 featured roller bearings and a fully enclosed cab. The Southern Pacific received nine on these locomotives, dressed in black, and used them as prefered power on the San Joaquin Daylight and San-Jose to San Francisco commuter trains. They also occasionally found their way into freight service.

Also searching for power during the war, the Western Pacific also received six locomotives from this order. These were diverted from the Espee’s request for 14 locomotives. The WP units, classed GS-64-77, differed in a few features including Franklin boosters. The locomotives were later given “elephant ears” – smoke deflectors – by the WP.


6-11422 Western Pacific’s GS-64 No. 482

The Western Pacific used the locomotives in both freight and passenger service during their brief 10-year career on the railroad. In 1953, three were sold to the Southern Pacific and used for parts. Tenders from the remaining two were used for rotary snow plows. One of these tenders survives today at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

The Southern Pacific’s locomotives remained in service until 1958. One, No. 4460, pulled the last Espee steam train and is now preserved at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.

Lionel’s Models

Lionel is happy to reintroduce our models of these great steam locomotives, now with LEGACY control and Railsounds. Both the GS-2 and GS-6 / GS-64 models feature numerous details unique to their class and appropriate for the paint schemes they wear.

All of the models feature:

  • LEGACY Control, able to be run with LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional control
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On/Off switch
  • LEGACY Railsounds including
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom announcements
    • Six official railroad speeds with CrewTalk dialog
    • Synchronised steam chuff
    • LEGACY quilling horn and whistle (they had both!)
    • Single or Continuous bell
    • Sequence Control for sound effects for an entire trip
    • Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
  • Maintenance-free motor


    6-11419 GS-2 No. 4412 in wartime black

  • Wireless Tether connection to tender
  • ElectroCoupler on tender
  • Directional Lighting including headlight and backup light on tender
  • Lighted “teardrop” class lights
  • Lighted cab interior
  • Flickering Firebox in cab
  • Traction Tires
  • Fan Driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Metal locomotive body, pilot and frame
  • Die-cast metal tender body and trucks
  • Detailed cab interior with crew
  • Many separately applied details including builders plates

The GS-2 is available in as-delivered Southern Pacific Lines Daylight and wartime black schemes. The GS-6 is available in black and in the Western Pacific GS-64 version.

All of the locomotives will operate on an O-54 curve and retail for $1,299.99. They are scheduled to ship in February. Place your orders with your dealer and get ready to add some classy power to your passenger or freight trains.


Freight Car Friday – Railroad Advertising

11 05 2012

Railroads have long used their freight cars as brands for their “product.” These catchy slogans have in many ways become part of a broader popular culture and connection with these companies. Different than the billboard cars of private owners, railroad branding was about the trains themselves – often passenger trains but premier service of any type has been fair game.

See how many of these famous freight cars you recognize. Of course, it’s not an exhaustive list so chime in and tell us your favorites. Model your own “freelanced” railroad?  What’s your company slogan?

Santa Fe mapSanta Fe

The Santa Fe’s route map and named-train boxcars and reefers have to be among the most famous and effective of these advertising tools. One side of the cars featured a line drawing of the Santa Fe’s principle routes and major cities served. This was aimed at passengers and freight agents alike in search of single-line direct service across the Southwest.

On the opposite side of the car, Santa Fe used the blank space on the boxcar to advertise one of its elite passenger trains. With more than half-a-dozen trains listed, there was variety even amidst a string of “identical” cars. The huge graphics stood out in any train to catch the eye of anybody waiting for the train to pass.


The Santa Fe wasn’t the only railroad to use its freight cars to advertise its passenger trains. The Seaboard’s Silver Meteor was the way to travel between the Northeast and Florida. And the hint at a fast and friendly trip to vacation land was just what the worker needed as he looked across the loading dock to the boxcar on the siding.


You didn’t have to be a huge railroad like the Santa Fe to be proud of the region you served. The Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville, better known as the Monon, was always eager to show its Indiana Hoosier pride. Not only were boxcars emblazoned with its “Hoosier Line” slogan, its diesels were later painted in the colors of some of the six colleges and universities served by the regional line. (Red and White for Wabash College and Indiana University, Black and Gold for Depauw and Purdue.)

Western Pacific

Sometimes there was a specific part of the railroad that lent itself to promotion. The Western Pacific’s scenic route through the Feather River Canyon was a major draw on trains like the California Zephyr but the railroad found even more uses for it. From the “Feather River Route” came this creative slogan for careful service that would ensure your load arrived on time and in one piece as it “Rides Like a Feather.”

State of MaineState of Maine

Bridging the line between railroad advertising and product advertising were the famous red, white and blue boxcars and reefers shared by both the Bangor and Aroostook and New Haven railroads. The cars proudly showed that they carried products from the great state of Maine. This scheme was rekindled in more recent years by the Montreal Maine and Atlantic.

The Old ReliableLouisville and Nashville

Nothing to bold or flashy for the L&N, just a simple slogan that says it all. “The Old Reliable” – the railroad you’ve known and come to trust for generations and that you can continue to count on for all your traveling and shipping needs.

We could go on with this list for days. “Southern Serves the South” “We Can Handle It” “Mainline of Mid-America” “The Road of Anthracite” What slogans stick out in your memory? Which ones grace the rails on your layout?