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Model HO White Pass & Yukon Route Train Set

I have here the beginning of what will eventually become my model HO White Pass & Yukon Route train set. I am posting this as yet another HJR Train Project that is in its beginning phases.

The Impetus

I visited Skagway, Alaska in 2022 and will eventually have a Travel article up detailing that adventure. For now, just be aware that before that adventure, I didn’t know the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad was even a thing. Well, it is. And it has some significant implications and importance for and to Alaska, plus it makes for a great tourist attraction. Wait until you read about my experiences on the real passenger train. Believe me, it was awesome.

When I arrived and took my ride on the real railroad, the railroad had just received a new fleet of stunning looking Diesel locomotives (or so I thought), which I got to see from various distances. (View my onboard videos when they get posted to see exactly what I mean.) When I returned home, I was inspired by those locomotives because then and still up to now, a year later, no model manufacturer has made a replica of the new White Pass & Yukon Route Diesel locomotives. Although I contacted the manufacturer, NRE, of the real diesel locomotives many months ago, they failed to respond to me. I inquired with them to see if I could get a peek at the actual schematic diagrams of the locomotives that were delivered to Alaska because I wish to try to reproduce a 3-D printed shell of the design and try to make it fit on a similar and existing HO model diesel chassis, thereby giving me a Sound Equipped HO scale operating model of the real, newly received, WP&YR locomotives. Therefore, that is part of the goal of this project, which is to end up with an HO scale replica of the real train that I road on during my visit to Skagway, AK.

Step 1.

I will start with the 4-passenger car set that I purchased from the White Pass & Yukon Route Train Shoppe at the depot in Skagway. As soon as I stepped off the train and started a video recording, I made a bee line towards the train shoppe. I bought some post cards, which is one of my things to do on trips and vacations, and I bought the HO scale, Athearn Collector’s White Pass & Yukon Route Overton 4-piece Passenger car set, model #: RND99158. They had a steam locomotive for sale there too, but you may have heard me say in many of my videos that I have been trying to reduce my collection of Steam Era Locomotives. So, I didn’t wish to add another one. Upon buying the items, I had the train shoppe ship the items to me (find out why in the travel section when this adventure gets published).

The White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR) railroad in Skagway is not the only train that I encountered or road on in Alaska. It is also not the only train I bought in AK. I also road on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage, AK to Stewart, AK. In fact, I did that first just several hours after arriving in Alaska by airplane. As you might have guessed, I also have and am putting together some Alaska Railroad train sets (plural) to commemorate my ride on that train as well. (More on this in both the travel section and numerous posted videos of the Alaska train sets elsewhere on this site.)

My WP&YR train set will probably only have the 4 passenger cars in it, unless someone produces more cars with different road numbers, or unless I find a stealer deal on the same set again as time marches on. Maybe I will buy one more single car and number it the same number as the car I road in. Additionally, I hope to build at least one locomotive that matches the newly delivered fleet of locomotives that arrived in July of 2022 [this is corrected later in this post] at the WP&YR railroad. Right now, I’m thinking that a Kato HO scale P40 or P42 Diesel Engine would make a good base underneath the shell, but such a locomotive would have to have the sound added separately as Kato typically doesn’t produce sound-equipped models. I could use someone else’s P40 or P42 sound equipped model. I actually already own 1 of each type dressed in the Amtrak phase I or phase III paint scheme (3 thick red, white, & blue lines). However, these are much older Athearn Blue Box models that are as heavy as bricks and may not easily be converted to DCC Sound. Plus, they consume enormous amounts of power. So much so that it is almost impossible to get both locomotives to run in DC mode on my Libraryville layout. These 2 locomotives were acquired in April of 2018 from a vendor at the Hickory Train Show in NC. I have test run them, videoed them, and stored them. They have less than 30 minutes of runtime on them during their life, but I just don’t think they will make a good FIT for underneath the shell of my WPYR locomotive. First, I need to get a look at the blueprints or some similar diagram of the real locomotives with measurement details.

Step 2: Research

I took the liberty while creating this post to invest 2 more hours doing some more research. Apparently, I remembered a few things differently or incorrectly from my previous research and even though some of my notes state that I downloaded some copies of pictures and things during the previous research phase, I couldn’t find those today. Anyway, I made some more copies and some more notes. One thing I remembered differently was that the front of the 6 new NRE locomotives had a deeper slant similar to the P40’s I mentioned. It is not that steep and a lot shorter. Also, the NRE’s have C-C (3 axles per truck) arrangements instead of B-B (2 axles per truck), so the P40’s will not be a good fit for my model version. Additionally, I know I read that the newest locomotives were delivered in July of 2022. However, today’s research shows actual removal of the covering began as early as July of 2020 with the last 2, #3005 and #3006, being unloaded from a barge on October 12, 2020. Also, there are some discrepancies as to which PAINT SCHEME will be the official paint scheme used on the 6 new models. I show that at least 2, #3001 and #3002, are painted two-tone Yellow and Green with Black lettering, but the remaining 4 still appear to be Black with Red and White lines and White lettering, as they were delivered. I actually like the Black paint scheme better and I confirmed that the train I was on was at least pulled by a Black locomotive. However, I didn’t get to see the exact road number on it. I have deduced though, that the road number has to be #3004, because 3001 & 3002 were Yellow & Green, 3003 we passed on route to the summit, and 3005 & 3006, were on track sidings in my photos. I’m not sure if there was a locomotive on both ends of the train that I was on. I confirmed the number of passenger cars in my train by counting them (and apparently, I asked, or it was stated by the on-train tour narrator) in one of my videos to be a total of 14. That video shows that we parked in front of the depot, but a Yellow & Green locomotive was on the other side of a crossing that may have either previously been connected to the train I was on, or it is possible the railroad was about to connect it to the train and taxi the train closer to the onboarding area.

I correctly remembered that NRE, National Railway Equipment Company, doesn’t have a diagram, specification sheet, or any other information on their website for the EXACT model E3000CC-DC equipped with a 16-645-E3C engine. They do have diagrams for E3000C locomotives with 16-645-E3B engines. The CC-DC models are what all 6 of the new WP&YR locomotives have in them.

Also, for some reason, has dropped the “R” from the railroad’s name / reporting mark and refer to them as “WPY”. I am not sure why yet. Of course, the new locomotives simply have “White Pass” lettered on the side of them, including the quote marks.

The NRE diagrams for the E3000C show a boxy locomotive that is not a match for the slick, slanted, front cab locomotives delivered to WPYR. So, I am going to send them another email tonight again requesting a specification sheet, diagram, or possible blueprint, and maybe even some CAD files, especially if they do not intend to manufacture another of those locomotives, to see if they will allow me to try to reproduce one for my model railroad.

An Unexpected Issue

The other reason for posting this page today is that all week I have been gearing up to report my WP&YR passenger car #211 problems to Athearn. It hasn’t worked right since I opened the box in late June 2023. Car #211 keeps sporadically derailing, and the issue has to be the car as the other cars do not derail. See the Model North Carolina Piedmont Service video where I talk about the issues I have with it while pairing it with 2 Athearn RNCX locomotives.

Today, August 17th, 2023, I pulled out the Athearn WPYR Collectors set again this afternoon after lunch because I wanted to take snap shots of the trucks and wheels that are causing car #211 to malfunction. However, I couldn’t really determine which axle was the worst. So, I put the car on the tracks and hand-rolled it to see if it would come off the tracks. It did, but I couldn’t consistently make it happen or determine the real cause. So, I pulled all the cars out and Consisted them. I hand-rolled them all to see what the problem was. If was hard to tell. Sometimes #211 came off the tracks and sometimes it didn’t. So, I connected my Kato UP4301 SD40-2 Diesel Engine to them (because it was sitting on the tracks at the engine service facility and has knuckle couplers on it).

UP4301 pulled the passenger cars around the tracks with #211 right behind the locomotive. Occasionally, the car would derail. I moved the car to the end of the consist. It didn’t derail. I put it right before the end observation car. Again, it only derailed every so often but most of the time it had a good run on the top loop. I sent it downtown to the bottom loop and on the way down it derailed. It had trouble making it around the backend of the bottom loop. I tried that again and the same thing happened after car #211 derailed twice getting back around to the same spot. I took it off the tracks. I put it down on a table and noticed that it almost seems like the bottom frame is slightly warped or something is wrong with the stabilization of the trucks (maybe both trucks).

Car #211 doesn’t sit perfectly level on all 8 wheels. At least 1 and sometimes 2 wheels on 1 truck are off the flat surface when the car rest on its own. I tried forcing the car downward with pressure and rolling it on the table back and forth to see if that would flatten it out. It didn’t take when I lifted my hands off the car. It still had the same issue. I took some pictures of the entire set unopened but no pictures of the individual cars or car #211. I added these pictures to my collection of pictures of a set similar that I downloaded from the Internet whenever I originally cataloged the set into my train collection spreadsheet / workbook. The pictures I acquired from the net were taken by someone else and the packaging of that set is different / older than my set. My set is newer because pricewise, my set is $60 more than the older set (due to inflation no doubt). The older set has the Roundhouse name on it whereas my set has Athearn’s name on it. So I never did get around to taking pictures or making a video of car #211 derailing time and time again.

I estimated the time I spent examining car #211 and trying to figure out the issues again to be about 30 minutes because I forgot to track the exact start and end times. I had to stop and take a mid-day nap after that as I didn’t get much sleep last night. So, I left all but car #211 on the tracks. I will repackage them tonight and return them to their storage place. [I did put them away around 11:30 pm August 17th, 2023.]

As you can read, my project is off to a slow and jagged start. I really need Athearn to offer me some repair options so that I can get car #211 fixed. My goal for today is to submit my request via their online form before I go to bed tonight. So, if I can get the 2 communications done tonight and the set put back up, that is all I can do until I get answers back from Athearn and NRE. Meanwhile, I will have to keep looking around to see if there is a model HO scale sound-equipped 3 axles per truck diesel locomotive that is similar in shape to the real WPYR NRE E3000CC-DC locomotives. [Have to stop here. I must make dinner tonight and its 9 PM on the dot.]

Activity Log

Date / TimeActivity
11:50 PM
I made it back around 11:50 pm to review and posted this page without the pictures, videos, and links. I did not get to the 2 form submissions. Then I went to bed about 1 AM.
9:35 AM
I resumed editing and adding the pics and links. Once in place and other references tied in, I will submit forms to Athearn and NRE. All of this was completed successfully today by 7:53 PM.
7:22 PM & 7:52 PMReceived automatic response from Athearn. Then received another response from Athearn at 7:52 PM that suggested I either mail the entire set to them so they can review car #211 or contact the seller and ask them to replace it based on their normal return policies.

Also, around 7:50ish PM I submitted NRE contact form requesting E3005CC-DC specifications, CAD Files, Diagrams, or whatever assistance they could provide.
8:32 PMI forwarded Athearn’s 2nd response to the White Pass & Yukon Route Train Shoppe along with a message asking them if they still have any of the collector sets available and can they exchange my set.

Published: August 17, 2023: Last Updated: August 18, 2023.