MODELING: Bluebirds

Take one exquiste Key Alco PA-1 set and hand it to Lee Turner and you end up with a true masterpiece of American Railroad history.   The railroad acquired 10 of these brutish passenger locomotives from American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in 1947.   They were numbered in the 180-189 series and classified AP-20a.   They acquired the name of bluebird somewhere along the way. Not sure if it was railfans or railroaders who coined the nickname but it it descriptive.   These 2000 hp units took over from the roads Hudson and Pacific passenger locomotives on all principal passenger trains for well over a decade.   Professor George Hilton afforded the honor as “honorary steam locomotive”.  If you have seen one you can understand how one might bestow the title on a “diesel”.  I have watched Santa Fe and Southern Pacific PAs depart and leave a black cloud of smoke in their wake. Lots of noise and smoke marked their operation.

I have seen NKP PAs in Buffalo when I was a kid.  They were dirty.  The gray sides showed dirt readily.   Lee has captured the patina found the real machines.  Key captured the look and feel of these locomotives.  It is hard to tell that they aren’t real photos.

Lee added a touch of character to PA 189 with the tape added under the steam generator hatch.  It appears that they were recently serviced.  The hatch even has a chalk mark with the unit number added.   Lee is an Alco man as was his dad.  It is good that he treats them with great respect.

All I can say is WOW!  This is wonderful stuff.   Thank you so much Lee.


10 thoughts on “MODELING: Bluebirds

  1. Lovely job for sure on those wonderful Blue Birds by Lee. Where did he find that tite-lock coupler on the nose of the 189?

  2. Lee is the best of the best. I’ve seen many other weathering guru’s and no one comes close to Lee’s ability. Look at his diorama he uses for photo shoots. Looks absolutely as real as the loco. I’m hoping Lee will be able to build some of the dioramas he wants.

    • I should let Lee answer to his “dioramas” remark, he takes them outside to various places with appropriate backgrounds for the models, Industrial settings,etc.

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