If You Build It, They Will Come
The phrase "If you build it, they will come" is from the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams. Well, "they" have not! On this Layout of Dreams, "they" refers to affordable mass produced models of electric locomotives or motors.
During the planning phase of this layout, one of the key decisions to include the electrified catenary on the Danbury Connecticut diorama was that at the time a manufacturer was actively planning to offer mass produced New Haven motors in HO scale. The catenary was installed, but the affordable motors were never produced.
The alternative was limited production brass imports. The New Haven EP-3 has been offered in HO scale by a few importers in the past, the latest version by Overland Models Inc. The Overland version is a beautiful well detailed model, but is out of production and when or if they become available on the used market they are very expensive.
One brass motor is on the layout, a New Haven EP-2, the prototype predecessor to the EP-3. This too is a beautifully detailed model, imported by Railworks. This model was expensive, took many hours to eliminate the electrical shorts it caused going over switches on the layout and most detrimental, it is not a good puller.
Two EP-3's are required for the layout. Sharing financial similarities with the prototype during the modeled era, purchasing two more expensive brass models and ones that may not pull well were not desired or in the layout budget.
An inexpensive reliable running model that is a good puller somehow needed to be built.
A Solution and A Donor
The modeling solution actually came from the prototype in a round about way.
The Pennsylvania Railroad tested several New Haven EP-3's on their New York-Washington electrified mainline in Delaware during 1934. Pleased with the performance of the EP-3, the PRR built an experimental test prototype with near identical specifications and dimensions to the EP-3. This test motor eventually became the PRR # 4800, the first of 139 GG1's with the distinctive Donald Dohner-Raymond Loewy designed car body. With the dimensional similarities between the EP-3 and the GG1 near identical, the thought removing the car body from a model GG1 power chassis and reverse engineer it back to the box cab design of the EP-3 seemed plausible.
Scale models of the GG1 have been produced by many manufacturers in various scales for a long time much like the EMD F7, so there are many choices. The donor power chassis of choice became the readily available Bachmann GG1. These were advertised on sale at a very reasonable price, a DC version was purchased, an on hand basic make it run decoder was installed and thoroughly tested on the layout by pulling trains of the length desired.
The Bachmann GG1 below turned out to be a smooth runner and the good puller desired, a second one was purchased to start the conversion.
Next, part 2 will summarize the models conversion from a Pennsylvania GG1 to a New Haven EP-3
One final note, Rapido Trains Inc. has announced plans to offer a affordable mass produced New Haven EP-5 Jet in HO scale, if they do a few will join the layout roster.