My first major project was to convert a Gilbert Silver Bullet into a close representation of the Baltimore & Ohio Royal Blue steam locomotive of 1937. The Gilbert locomotive casting was quite close to the actual design. I had to modify the running boards so they curved smoothly into the streamlined pilot. The original was squared off. The cast-on handrails also had to be removed and metal handrails applied. I also did away with the stylized drive rods and eccentric rods. Using the drive rods and crosshead guides from an early Gilbert Atlantic and eccentric rods from a K-5 I achieved a good working setup of the valve motion. Adding the heavy delta-type trailing truck finished the general appearance. Painting, lettering and lining the model makes it stand out quite nicely.
A close up of the front of the locomotive where you can see the applied handrails, drive rod crosshead guides and eccentric rods. The rounded off running board above the square cylinder casing allows the striping to flow from the side of the running boards onto the streamlined pilot. I also removed the cast-on whistle and installed a metal Gilbert whistle. The striping shows up well in this photograph. I created the graphics for this locomotive using Microsoft Publisher and inkjet decal paper.
After completing the locomotive I wanted some B&O passenger cars for it to pull. At first I was going to use standard heavyweight cars but after examining pictures of the real Royal Blue in operation I saw that the B&O used streamlined heavyweights that were modified in their Mt. Clare shops. The streamlined appearance made the cars look more like the Gilbert New Haven cars than the standard heavyweights. I figured out that by cutting and mixing up the pieces I could make two near scale length streamlined passenger cars out of three New Haven cars. The finished cars are about 14 inches long, which works out to be about 75 scale feet. The real cars were about 79 feet long. The lettering, numbers and window arrangements are authentic to the second Royal Blue train of 1937. This train also operated with the 5304 Pacific. (The first set of cars was transferred to the Columbian after the second set of cars was ready.)
This picture shows the 1076 26-Seat Diner-Lunch Car.
The 1301 Combine and 3514 54-Seat Coach with Women's Lounge are pictured here. I used a computer graphics collection with Microsoft Publisher to create the silhouettes.
The 2111 is a 26-Seat Parlor car. I used American Models hi-rail six-wheel passenger car trucks on all cars. I set up the trucks so that the cars would be very closely coupled. These cars can negotiate the tight radius of Gilbert standard track.
The 3066 is a 42-Seat Coach with a Lunch Counter. The decals were a special order from Rail Graphics.
The 3513 54-Seat Coach with Women's Lounge is basically identical to the 3514.
The 3521 is a 68-Seat Coach.
The 3301 observation car was basically a car with a squared off end. It was listed as a Buffet - Observation car.
I created the drumhead using Microsoft Publisher and printed it out on inkjet decal paper.
The original Royal Blue train had only eight cars. I modeled all of them to make a rather nice rendition of the full Royal Blue train. So far it has run between 30 and 40 hours on my layout. It performs very nicely.
The Royal Blue train passes in front of the crowd at the Trains and Planes show.
The B&O Royal Blue train makes a special visit to Jeff's S Gauge layout.
This train is a fast runner (but has a good range of speeds, from very slow to FAST). At time 3:20 it did a special speed run around the layout. It was timed at doing a scale 132 mph. This is based on calculations provided by Ron LaFever in the July 2008 Railroad Model Craftsman. The train covered 12 feet in 3.96 seconds.
Here the Royal Blue train runs with the other trains at the Trains and Planes show. (56 sec.)
More views of the Royal Blue train running at other train shows. (2:39)