Reply: I have many photos of FT units, but none of 252A/B. I do, however, have a photocopy of 256A/B which was configured the same as 252A/B (same series). That is, no dynamic brake housing and with large side number boards. Because GN's FT units were delivered with A-B drawbars (instead of couplers), the rear dropsteps on the A units and the front dropsteps on the B units were omitted. To build the 252A/B would require Step removal (described above), removal of A unit skirts and installing common piping detail (scratchbuilt) which can be seen on all modified FTA units. Additionally, grabs above the front cab windows, ladder grabs on either side of the nose, and large number boards (I use STEWART) should be added. The detailing information can be found, collectively, in other FT photos.
9/03-1 ST: I'm building a depot kit by AMERICAN MODEL BUILDERS (LASERKIT) and I model in the mid-50's era. What colors would be appropriate for my depot in the mid-50's?
Reply: GN started painting their wood depots white, with green trim in the early 50's. Prior to that time they were painted with a light gray and dark gray trim. I can recall seeing the Grand Rapids, MN depot in the gray scheme in the very late 40's. GN started painting their MOW equipment with mineral red in 1953, changing from the previous light gray. The year 1953 would be a good cut-off date for the depot color change also, although, as you point out, there was undoubtedly some overlap.
9/03-1 ID: I am modeling an A-B-B-A set of GN FT's (#400) and can't find any photos to help me with decal placement. The units have large lighted side number boards. Can you help me?
Reply: The FT's in the 400 A/B/C/D - 428 A/B/C/D (even nos. only) were delivered with Railroad Roman lettering with number boards on the A unit noses. Additionally Pullman green 2V2" numerals are located on the lower rear panel (orange) just above the sill on A and B units. These small numbers can be seen in the FT paint diagrams on pages 2 and 3 of GNRHS (FOEB) Reference Sheet No. 17. No lettering on the B units and A-B-C-D designations only in small (2V2") Pullman green letters and numbers. Since I don't know what reference materials you may hold, I'll list several photo sources. GNRHS REF SHT. NO. 271; RAILWAY HISTORY 143; LINES EAST, 2nd ED.; THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST RAILROADS of McGEE & NIXON; THE REVOLUTIONARY DIESEL EMC'S FTS by DIESEL ERA.
9/03-2G: With the availability of scale (HO) rail sizes one would like to use the right rail in the right place. My question is where was the heavier (most rail used was 90-110 Ib) rail used? I model the Western Cascades in 1947. I would like to know if the heavy rail had other applications than in curves and tunnels.
Reply: Page 241 of "GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY: A HISTORY", by Hidy, Hidy, Scott, and Hofsommer states, "Ties and rail got special attention. Beginning in 1946, all new ties for the mainline were creosote treated, and with few exceptions were 8 1/2 feet long. At the same time, Seyton (GN's Chief Engineer) oversaw installation of additional 112 and 115 pound rail on the mainline; the 90 and 100 pound steel that it replaced was cascaded to improve branches. Following earlier experiments in Montana, the GN also laid continuous welded rail in the Cascade Tunnel, both to provide a smoother ride and to cut upkeep". This same page contains a coded drawing, by rail weight, showing where the different rails were used. Unfortunately, the solid line includes 100, 110, 112, 130 and 131 lb rails as being the same. The chart on page 4 and 5 of GNRHS Reference Sheet No. 41 shows 90 lb rail from Wenatchee to the eastern approach of the Cascade Tunnel, 110 lb rail from the approach and through the tunnel, 130 lb rail from the tunnel to Skykomish, a mixture of 90, 110 and 130 lb from Skykomish to Monroe and Everett. This is a 1935 chart. After reading, in the above reference book, that the 90 and 110 lb was replaced by 112-115 lb rail starting in 1946, one could reasonably conclude that the sections containing the lighter rail in the 1935 chart were replaced by the heavier rail and that the 130 lb rail areas remained. While going through my "almost" pristine GN RY Standard and Plans book, Rails and Fastening section, I noted no mention of rails lighter than 112 and 115 lbs., in drawings dated 1947 and later. Conclusion: Although the use of 130+ lb rail was not restricted to tunnels and curves in mountains, as you state in your e-mail, it is safe to conclude that the heavier rail was used in tunnels and on lower radius curves because of the potential for less wear and maintenance. If it were my layout, I would use code 83 throughout to eliminate possible problems caused by transitioning back and forth from 83 to code 70.
9/03-12D: I recently acquired the STEWART GN VO-1000's #140 and #141. In your last M/P's you mentioned stack configuration and bell placement. Can you clarify these configurations?
Reply: GN VO-1000's #140 and #141 had four stacks. The photo on page 32 of Shine's GREAT NORTHERN COLOR PICTORIAL, VOLUME 1, shows #140 with four stacks of medium length with spark arresters and the hooded bell. The photo on page 254 of Dorin's, LINES EAST, 2nd ED. shows #141 with four short...