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Hello to everyone! So I was digging through the attic and found a HO Con-Cor Santa Fe passenger train set I bought a few years back from some garage sale. There are 6 cars total counting the engine. The cars are clearly marked Con-Cor, made in USA. But there are no markings on the engine or secondary dummy engine, only a number stamped on the bottom, 42005. There are no marks or numbers on the electric motor. My question is, if I were to hand you only the engine, and ask you what it is, how would you know it's a Con-Cor engine and not something else? My knowledge of trains is very limited. The only thing I'm sure of, it's not a Lionel. The engine has a weight covering the entire electric motor, the electric motor is squareish, not round, brass colored, has brushes that can be seen, brass weights on the shaft on both ends, wobble joints on the driveshafts going to the gears for the wheels, 8 wheel drive, no wires, has flat springy steel for connections. The electric motor is set in plastic mounts that have 4 prongs that stick into the chassis. So, is this a Con-Cor engine? Thanks for any info!


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Sounds like an Athearn drivetrain, because of the four prongs and springy connection. And since you said it has a weight covering the entire electric motor, I'd go out on a limb and say it's an Athearn F7. Athearn made the F7 in both an "A" and "B" variant, and offered both of those as powered and dummy. The version you describe with the weight is what Athearn called the "super powered" version.

This version of the F7 was introduced in the early 80s, although the actual bodyshell dates to the 50s or 60s. The brass weights you describe on the shaft are flywheels. Early flywheel equipped Athearn engines had pot metal (a light gray colored metal) flywheels and metal sideframes on the trucks. By the time the brass flywheels were introduced, the superior plastic sideframes had replaced the cast metal ones and the wheelsets were changed to inside bearings.

Over the years, Athearn has made slight changes to their motors, but there is no appreciable difference in appearance I can find. The newest motors draw less current and tend to run smoother, but the older motors of the vintage you describe were good performers for their day and will most likely hold their own today since these older motors are probably broken in by now.

Con-Cor's diesel line of the past several years has been comprised of the former Atlas GP38, GP40, SD24 and SD35, which were made for Atlas by Roco in Austria. These diesels are characterized by a slot centered in the side of the fuel tank casting with a pin at the top of the frame. These models pale in comparison to the current Atlas line of the same models, but the performance of the Roco line was very good for its time.
Thanks for the reply RCH! But like I said, my knowledge of trains is limited. So I will try to post a pic. The paint scheme is all the same. Why wouldn't Con-Cor stamp a name on the engine somewhere? Sorry, but you lost me with Athearn drivetrain. Had to look that one up in Wikipedia. I didn't know Irv made model trains? So did Irv and Con-Cor do business together if this is a Athearn? Thanks
After browsing ebay in the Athearn HO section, I found a Santa Fe shell. So I thought, how does he know it's an Athearn? Looks like mine. I picked up my shell, just like RCH said, it's stamped as plain as day! F7A! Those numbers look as if a kid scribbled them in the plastic with a hot iron. Pulled the cover from the secondary dummy engine, sure enough! F7B. Things are becoming clearer! So, what does all this mean? Did The previous owner ditch the Con-Cor engine for this Athearn engine? Or were they sold together?


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
I don't know if the complete train was sold together or not. It's possible, but since Athearn has offered their own line of passenger cars for many years, it would be more likely for them to be included in any set. So my conclusion is that the original owner purchased the locomotives separate from the passenger cars. To my knowledge, Athearn and Con-Cor never did business together.

Those passenger cars appear to be Rivarossi cars, which were imported by IHC. I seem to remember IHC and Con-Cor to be related at some point in time, which would make it possible for these cars to be packaged in Con-Cor boxes.

The locomotives in that photo are definitely Athearn F7A and F7B models. What does the name of the engine mean? I could break it down, but a better choice would be to send you to the wikipedia article on EMD f units. All your questions about the prototype will be answered there and if you click the blue text in the article, you'll be taken to separate articles which can amplify the discussion further.
RCH, You threw me another curve ball....Rivarossi? Not in the Wikipedia, but there darn sure on Ebay. The cars are clearly marked on the bottom with an oval shield saying CON-COR, made in USA, very light weight, only metal is the axels, so I thought I'd just post another pic for grins. I took your advise and looked at the link. Alot to absorb. The cars have little stickers of people and curtains in the windows. Thanks for all the advise, you should have a paypal donation button, so all you guys could have a big blowout and get together. I'm in for a couple bucks! Worth all that and more just for the tutoring. Thanks


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Haha! No, you'd need a refund because you caught me giving bad info. The cars in the photo you just attached are not Rivarrosi just as you say. They, like the Athearn line of passenger cars, are too short in length to be Rivarossi.

At the time these models were developed, the standard train-set curve radius was 18" (it may still be), so it wasn't practical to operate full-length passenger cars on these curves. A full-length car would be a scale 85 feet (which is right under 12 full size inches), but Athearn et al made their models 72 scale feet to turn on the curves that most people were using.

Rivarossi was cranking out models of big steam and diesels in the 60s through the 80s and you could get them pretty cheap. They were also known for their passenger cars, which were the only game in town except brass and craftsman kits for the full 85 foot long cars. The Rivarossi cars had a very distinct look to them, from the ends to the roof, but none had the silhouettes of passengers in them that I can recall. The Con-Cor ends and trucks are very similar to the Rivarossi ends and trucks (and may even be the same trucks). I don't know how the Con-Cor cars are put together, but they may share a design with the Rivarossi cars. On a typical Rivarossi car, the roof and side "glass" are one part that slides into the open top side/end/floor casting. I could be way off there, but the similar appearance makes me wonder if there could be any similarity in design.

My late Grandpa had dozens of these steamers and several sets of the passenger cars (as well as several sets of the Athearn cars), so that's where I got this info from. It was free for the taking then, so I'm always happy to share it. I don't think my Grandpa would approve me taking money for his information!

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