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Athearn John Deere N scale Train Set 2004 Collector’s Edition

In December 2021 a rare opportunity presented itself and I happen to be at the right place at the right time to seize it. Some could say the stars aligned just right that afternoon. Others may call it something else. But on the 18th of December in the 2021st year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I acquired the 2004 Limited Collector’s Edition of the Athearn John Deere N scale Train Set from a fellow Metrolina Model Railroaders club (MMRR) member. I am very grateful to him for selling me this very beautiful set to add to my model train collection. I had no idea that it existed. Below are some of the features of the train set along with lots of pictures and videos of the trains running on one of my N scale model railroad layouts known as the HJR Lonsway Pike.

Athearn released the John Deere N Scale (1/160TH) train set some time in 2004. It was NEW and SEALED in its original box with plastic wrap around it when it was first introduced to me. My fellow MMRR member mostly models HO scale items. He had just purchased a nice size lot of items in an online auction and among them was this handsome train set. He intended to sell it from the start. I just happen to be there when he opened up his big box of goodies and pulled this out. I asked him if he would be willing to part with it. He said yes. We struck a deal and now it has been added to my personal collection.

The box indicates the following preassembled contents as follows:

1 – John Deere F59 PHI DC Diesel Locomotive
2 – John Deere 85′ Bombardier Coach Cars
1 – John Deere 85′ Bombardier Control Car
1 – John Deere 53′ Flat Car With 2 7820 Tractors
1 – UL Listed Trainpak Power Supply
14-Piece Oval of Easy to Assemble Roadbed Track

After the MMRR member and I struck a deal we decided to open the train set at that time. I tore off the plastic wrap and in doing so accidentally ripped the golden 2004 collector’s medallion sticker that was affixed on top of it. I found one of the stickers still affixed in a photo of an eBay listing. I copied it and affixed it to my photo of the box in my pictures below. However, I had to find another listing on WorthPoint to be able to ascertain exactly what the sticker said. It says “1ST IN THE N GAUGE SERIES”. I would have kept the sticker that was on the one that I have if I had not ripped it into pieces when I removed the plastic. The sticker was affixed to the outside of the plastic. Both me and the seller thoroughly examined the train cars in the Athearn John Deere train set. There are a lot of minute details on each one of the train cars. The painting is very elaborate too.

I doubt that John Deere operated their own Passenger Train service. According to this Wikipedia article, the F59PHI locomotive in this train set was built for commuter service mostly in California sometime between the years 1994 and 2001 by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD). Bombardier has made passenger cars and other trains in this country for quite some time and it is their line of commuter Passenger Cars represented in this model train set. In 1966 the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CBQ) railroad did pull a three-quarter (3/4) mile long train of John Deere tractors and equipment as part of a Deere company marketing campaign. However, I doubt that the John Deere company paid CBQ, Bombardier, or any other railway company to have their locomotive and passenger cars painted the way these model trains are painted. I believe this train set to be yet another John Deere marketing campaign . The campaign is all about the promotion of the John Deere 7820 tractor, a 185-HP (net), 20-speed, row-crop tractor manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa between 2003 and 2006. You can see it highlighted on the model 7820 Bombardier BiLevel Coach Control passenger car as well as see two N (1/160th) scale miniatures strapped to the 53′ N scale Flat car. I believe I have other N scale 7820 tractor models in my collection [need to find and confirm] and I know I have a fleet of 8 John Deere HO scale tractors as well, 7 of which are 6420 models.

Side Note: While writing this page, I searched the Internet and found some very interesting articles about the John Deer company which appears to be called Deere & Company now or just plain Deere (click links to visit I also ran across the Bombardier company and really enjoyed reading about the trains, plains, and other items the Bombardier company manufacturers or manufactured in the past (Alstrom acquired Bombardier’s transportation services a year prior to me writing this article.). [My links go to different places.] As fate would have it, later that same day, I booked a flight to Massachusetts via American Airlines to attend the annual Amherst Train Show and for the first time I noticed that I will be traveling on a Bombardier manufactured commercial passenger jet airplane soon. Had I not paid attention to the type of passenger cars included in this Athearn model train set, I am absolutely certain that I wouldn’t have paid any attention whatsoever to the manufacturer of the airplane I will be flying on very soon. I’m also sure that if I happen to get on one of Bombardier’s (or Alstrom’s) manufactured trains in the future, I will be more aware of it because of this John Deere model train set.

The HJR Lonsway Pike employs the use of some very steep grades. I modified the layout to include those grades in order to enhance the fun and appeal of that layout. My modifications were designed for trains to mostly run on the layout in a clockwise direction. This John Deere train set must be run in the counterclockwise direction on my layout in order for the John Deere F59 PHI locomotive to successfully pull the entire load successfully around my train layout and make it up the grades. You will see this in both videos. In the first video, you will see the locomotive struggle to make it up the steepest grade to go through the top of the mountain. In the second video you will watch it successfully go through the mountain and come out the other side while traveling in the counterclockwise direction. I don’t think I will even attempt to put this train set on my DeskTrain layout because I am pretty sure it will not make the grades on that layout in either direction.

Many thanks to D.O. for selling me the Athearn N scale John Deere train set.