American Freedom Train.......

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
In the years spanning 1975-1976, scores of people were treated to the American Freedom Train. A train that was 25 cars in size and made up of mostly converted baggage cars that were fitted with conveyor 'people mover' belts that moved folks from one end of the car to the other. The display cars were filled with american history artifacts. There were three 89' flatcars on this train as well and they carried ticket wagons and concession trailers with support vehicles that were loaded and unloaded ' circus style '. The train was pulled by several steam locomotives, most famous being the SP 4449 Daylight engine that was restored in anticipation of this very train.

I'm going to model the full train as close as I can. I have been acquiring Lionels' HO scale models of the display cars as they are actually pretty close to the real thing. The other cars will be scratched and bashed. That being said, A lot of work still needs to be done.

Here is a progress shot of the first car I am doing. It is Window Display Car No. 41. The train had two of these. This car had A twice-sized replica of the Liberty Bell, A Route map of the trains' U.S. journey, and a Lunar Rover(believed to be a training vehicle as these never came back). Extensive re-working of the car and the displays were done to get to this point. The map is NOT part of the Lionel sets and the Rover and Bell are now redone and in their correct positions. The Map is mounted on a mirrored surface(as was the real one) that doesn't show well in the photos.

Car41_during_3.png


Car41_during_4.png


I'll post more as I go.

Johnny
 

NZRMac

In Training Down Under.
Very nice Johnny looking forward to seeing the whole train rolling. I so wish I could scratch and kit bash Oh.......one day.

Ken.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Johnny, that is a wonderful project. You certainly have the skills for such a huge undertaking. I will look forward to more updates.
 

modelbob

Administrator
Excellent project, I wish you the best of luck!

I had the good fortune to be part of the crew for the summer of 1976. It was a fantastic adventure.

I've considered the project myself a few times, but the cost involved, and the fact the real train would be about 30 feet long make it impractical for me.

Apparently at least one other person has done this, a fellow was offering one for sale on the net a while back. I didn't hear what he got for it.

Are you familiar with this group?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AmericanFreedomTrain/

Many AFT fans as well as some of the crew members are there. Lots of great info.
 

modelbob

Administrator
PS - I think the lunar rover was one of the backup units. Obviously, as you mentioned, it had never actually been to the moon as they didn't come back, but I seem to recall it was the real thing.

In fact the whole train was an amazing collection of artifacts. I have no idea how far you'd have to travel to see all the stuff we had one board. It was like having the Smithsonian Institute pull into your town.

I went through the train several times, and always saw something new. Later, when I got the book showing the display car contents, I found still more items I hadn't seen and/or hadn't realized the significance of.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Nice work Johnny! I was in the Navy, deployed overseas in 1976, so I didn't get to see very much biCentennial stuff...
 

Trucula

Drum Driver
Very nice job!. I was watching "Trains and Locomotives" on RFD TV other week and saw the "Circus Museum" train, Thinking it be a nice project...woulda been even nicer to see it in person just as this project you have going. I too will watch for more pics from your build..Great Job!!
 

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
Very nice Johnny looking forward to seeing the whole train rolling. I so wish I could scratch and kit bash Oh.......one day.

Ken.

Thanks Ken, It's going to be a while. I do one car at a time and the process is involved, so I'm kinda learning as I go. Not much info out there on it.

Johnny
 

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
Johnny, that is a wonderful project. You certainly have the skills for such a huge undertaking. I will look forward to more updates.

Hi Rex,

It is a very rewarding project. Not one you see very often. I will post more as I go. Not really a how to as I'm not wanting to take photos of the steps.

Johnny
 

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
Excellent project, I wish you the best of luck!

I had the good fortune to be part of the crew for the summer of 1976. It was a fantastic adventure.

I've considered the project myself a few times, but the cost involved, and the fact the real train would be about 30 feet long make it impractical for me.

Apparently at least one other person has done this, a fellow was offering one for sale on the net a while back. I didn't hear what he got for it.

Are you familiar with this group?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AmericanFreedomTrain/

Many AFT fans as well as some of the crew members are there. Lots of great info.
Hello Bob,

Wow, that would have been so cool. I was only 16 at he time(not rubbing it in) but would have gladly runaway with it when it left my hometown of Madison. I went through it twice when it was in Madison in 1975. Watched it come into town at 1:00am pulled by the 4449, what a sight! I am sure it is a treasured memory for you.

I've been pretty lucky accumulating the sets to get the number of display cars I needed, along the way, I've also aquired more than I care of the diesels and Lionel Steam locos that came with hese sets. E-Bay has been my best bet for them but people are under the impression that these are rare when in fact there are tons of them out there. They wer produced in huge quantities, you just have to be patient. I've gotten so many observation cars, I'll probably bash them into the four other coaches that were on the train. It will make for a nice long train to take to club layouts.

I am familiar with the group on Yahoo, thanks. I am also in contact with a guy who runs the AFT museum website, he is going to feature my work.

As for the rover, I believe you to be correct. And as I remember, the conveyor through the cars went way too quickly for my young sponge to absorb all the fascinating things this train had on board.

Great reply Bob!!

Johnny
 

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
Very nice job!. I was watching "Trains and Locomotives" on RFD TV other week and saw the "Circus Museum" train, Thinking it be a nice project...woulda been even nicer to see it in person just as this project you have going. I too will watch for more pics from your build..Great Job!!

Hey Trucula,

E-Bay just got over an auction which featured the WHOLE Walthers set(12 differerent releases) for about $155.00usd. That is a steal!! This set reflects the train from about the 1967 version. The coaches are all repainted in different colors now. As an engineer, I actually ran the train one year, and I appeared as both conductor and engineer in the Pentrax video covering Circus Trains. Not bad for a kid who grew up and saw the very first one pulled through my backyard in 1965! That train is absolutely beautiful to see in person but unfortunately the train no longer runs as the circus parade has been cancelled the last few years. They tried to hold it in Baraboo, but couldn't make it go there either.

The train is stored in the Original Ringling Brothers Car Shops in Baraboo. The shops have been off limits to the public, BUT there is hope. The state just received a grant for over 1 million dollars to refurbish the shops and replace the original dirt floor with concrete, sounds to me like they're planning on opening it up to the public!!?? That would be cool. If you're ever headed to Baraboo give me a shout, I'll steer you to some pretty neat things to see there.

Johnny
 

rhoward

S.L.O.&W. Trainman
Absolutely "cool" project. My family (my wife, my young sons, and I) got to see the "Freedom Train" roar through Waverly, NY back in '76. It was supposd to make a stop there but was behind schedule so it just roared through with the engineer leaning on the whistle and the fireman feeding the fire (think black smoke) the whole time. What a sight. I had pretty much forgotten all about it when my oldest (now 40) gave me a print of a professional photo taken that day for Christmas a year ago. They happened to be at a flea market and found it. My son said, "hey I was there!" It was being pulled by the B&O 4-8-2 at that time. Oops! Wrong! It was pulled by the former Reading Railroad T1 # 2101. (that's what happens when you get old.....:rolleyes:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
Hello again,

Keep in mind that I profess NO authority on the actual train, and am only modeling from what scant info I have found and the few pics available to me.

That being said, here are what the stock Lionel parts for this car looked like before and after my mits got ahold of 'em.

The Liberty Bell(Not actual, on the train this was a twice-sized replica)

Before:
LibertyBellB4_1.png


After:
LibertyBellAfter_1.png


Comparison:
LibertyBellComparison_1.png


The Lunar Rover

Before:
LunarRoverB4_1.png


After:
LunarRoverDuring_2.png


Comparison:
LunarRoverComparison_1.png


While they do look better, I am not striving for complete detail just a good looking model of the train. If I detailed every little bit including the shadowbox windows and such, well, let's just say someone else would be finishing the project long after I'm gone. Just showing what slopping a lttle paint on a decent starting point can do.

More to follow...............

Johnny
 

Trucula

Drum Driver
Hey Trucula,

E-Bay just got over an auction which featured the WHOLE Walthers set(12 differerent releases) for about $155.00usd. That is a steal!! This set reflects the train from about the 1967 version. The coaches are all repainted in different colors now. As an engineer, I actually ran the train one year, and I appeared as both conductor and engineer in the Pentrax video covering Circus Trains. Not bad for a kid who grew up and saw the very first one pulled through my backyard in 1965! That train is absolutely beautiful to see in person but unfortunately the train no longer runs as the circus parade has been cancelled the last few years. They tried to hold it in Baraboo, but couldn't make it go there either.

The train is stored in the Original Ringling Brothers Car Shops in Baraboo. The shops have been off limits to the public, BUT there is hope. The state just received a grant for over 1 million dollars to refurbish the shops and replace the original dirt floor with concrete, sounds to me like they're planning on opening it up to the public!!?? That would be cool. If you're ever headed to Baraboo give me a shout, I'll steer you to some pretty neat things to see there.

Johnny
Thanks for the Info...Thats a great story!...Thats so cool you got to operate it!...I have seen the kits at shows here and there..I have a couple of the coaches and I collected most of the Life-Like line flat cars with cages and such that I could find when I was traveling with my job. Thanks for the tip on Baraboo! Good Luck with the project too!
 

modelbob

Administrator
> Wow, that would have been so cool. I was only 16 at he time

I wasn't much older. I had helped out on the crew of the 2102, doing some restoration work, and was willing to do the grunt work so they took me on. I was on the engine crew, doing stuff like washing the loco and tending the fire on spot. Of course I dreamed of running the loco, but that was left to Ross Rowland and a few others. Little did I realize that 30 years later I'd actually get to run a Reading T1. I've run lots of steam, but that was my first time at the throttle of a T1...

> I am familiar with the group on Yahoo, thanks.

Great, it's a good resource. Do you have the AFT book? They're hard to find, but it's worth the hassle to get one.

> As for the rover, I believe you to be correct.

I do know one thing. The photos on the net of the trainer ones show them with rubber tires. The AFT one had those airless mesh ones, You could see right through them, kind of like a chain link fence. They were shaped like a tire, but the metal itself was the cushion usually provided by air. I recall looking at them a few times. They were often parked close to the engine during our display.


> And as I remember, the conveyor through the cars went
> way too quickly for my young sponge to absorb all the
> fascinating things this train had on board.

It did go pretty quickly but still many was the night we were open way past the official closing time trying to get he huge crowd of people in line through the train. It was incredibly popular.l
 

OldGettysk

Running the MC & Buffalo
Cool, remember the year of 76 very well, The freedom train and all the celebrations. Still have a few collectibles left from the event. looking forward to seeing your progress !!!!
 

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
Cool, remember the year of 76 very well, The freedom train and all the celebrations. Still have a few collectibles left from the event. looking forward to seeing your progress !!!!
Thanks Paul,

I was but a wee lad of 16 then, But I remember it well. The train hit Madison at night and it was quite a sight to watch 4449 shuffle the train around to get everything in position for display. Only thing I have are memories and my ticket stub!! And that's good for me.

Johnny
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top