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CNJ Blue Comet Passenger Train

For our 20th Anniversary my wife gave me the Aristocraft Blue Comet Prime Mover Set. I had been admiring this set for two years. It now has a Phoenix sound system in the tender and Revolution On-Board TE. Kadee couplers and USA people will be installed this winter.

Pete Eggink posted the following information on the Blue Comet on the Aristocraft forum back in January 2005:

"The train itself is legendary as well. It ran from Jersey City to Atlantic City in 3 hours flat, crossing the remote Pine Barrens and traveling Reading rails from Winslow Junction to A.C. Each of the colors has meaning: Packard Blue representing the sky, Jersey Cream representing the sandy beaches, and Royal Blue representing the sea... the cream stripe running throughout the train resembling the trail of a comet.
Every train consisted of a baggage, combine/smoker, coaches, and observation car, and sometimes a diner.
Sometimes it was pulled by a black camelback Atlantic, often #592, which rests today in the B&O Museum in Baltimore."

January 2009, in another Aristocraft forum thread on the Blue Comet, Walter M. Matuch, Aristo-Craft Trains Product Manager 1991-1995, offered this detailed information on the Blue Comet which I reprinted here with Walter's permission. 

"First of all, let's do the initials...

CRR-NJ/Central Railroad of New Jersey (note hyphen) was the original name of the railroad starting in 1849. The Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad was chartered on February 9, 1831 to build from Elizabeth on the Newark Bay (with a steamboat transfer to New York City) west to Somerville. The line to Plainfield was completed in March 1839, connecting to the New Jersey Rail Road in Elizabeth. Extensions took it west to Dunellen in 1840, just east of Bound Brook in 1841 and the rest of the way to Somerville in 1842.

The Somerville and Easton Railroad was chartered February 26, 1847 to continue the line west to Easton. The first extension, to Whitehouse, opened in 1848 and was leased to the Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad. On February 11, 1849 the Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad bought the Somerville and Easton Railroad, and on February 26, 1849 the two companies were consolidated as the Central Railroad of New Jersey.

The NJC/New Jersey Central name was also used to describe the CRR-NJ interchangeably. The first time I have seen reference to NJC or New Jersey Central was in a 1909 New York Times newspaper article about how the READING gained control of the CRR-NJ in 1900. Both NJC and CRR-NJ were used on steam locomotive tenders...CRR-NJ just as initials C.R.R. of N.J. and NJC as the NEW JERSEY CENTRAL round logo...as on the Blue Comet's tenders. However there are different color variations of this NJC logo...on the BC, it was gold lettering and circle on a dark blue background. On 'regular' CRR-NJ steam locomotives just gold letters and circle with no background were used. The distinctive red/white NJC circle logo was applied to bridges/overpasses/stations etc. and also in a modified white-only format on the railroad's wooden cabooses including the 91500-91549 series of steel cabooses built in 1942. The reporting marks on CRR-NJ/NJC freight cars used CRRNJ and CNJ interchangeably.

The JCL/Jersey Central Lines name was formally adopted in 1944 and the Statue of Liberty logo has remained linked to the JCL ever since. During this time period, the reporting marks (on freight cars) were JCL, CNJ and, for a while included CRP. CRP/Central Railroad of Pennsylvania was created to own and operate all CNJ/JCL trackage in Pennsylvania as a tax dodge. This idea was soon declared illegal and was terminated. However, a few diesels were sub lettered CRP.

The CRRNJ/Central Rail Road of New Jersey was used again starting in the late 1960's - early 1970's to denote a 'new' CNJ/JCL and was the basis of a newly designed Statue of Liberty herald that replaced Jersey Central Lines around the statue with Central Railroad of New Jersey. This logo was featured on the stylish "Coast Guard' inspired red paint scheme that soon adorned CRRNJ diesels and freight cars (like the Aristo #41204 CRRNJ red covered hopper car).

This use continued until Conrail was formed on April 1, 1976. The CRRNJ (railroad) became JCI/Jersey Central Industries, a holding company that controlled remaining CRRNJ assets...mainly real estate.

Now back to the Aristo Blue Comet...

The 'COM' on the pilot of the Blue Comet locomotive is reference to COMmunipaw Engine Terminal located in Jersey City, NJ. C'paw was the largest engine terminal (i.e. roundhouses-2, turntables-2, coaling/ash /water facilities) on the line and at one time dispatched more steam locomotives then any other railroad terminal in America. The use of a designated engine terminal location on the pilot originated, at least for the NJC, with the READING COMPANY (Railroad) that controlled the NJC for many years. While not on CNJ diesels, the engine terminal location was also used on RDG diesels up to 1976. The letters 'EA' on the Aristo #22016 READING FA-1 pilot also showcases this designation.

The Blue Comet is considered by many toy train collectors to be the most prized of all train sets and has been made in all toy train gauges over the years...Z, N, HO, O, 0-27 and Standard.

In 1991, as Product Manager for Aristo, I suggested to Lewis that the Blue Comet be part of the new Pacific steam locomotive and heavyweight passenger car series and he agreed. Members of the China factory design team visited us in Jersey City and I took them to see original prototype CNJ heavyweight passenger cars...actually very similar to former Blue Comet coach cars except non-air conditioned...that were then owned by a shortline in nearby Pennsylvania. I can still remember our trip back to Jersey City when we stopped to have that all-American favorite...cheeseburgers and fries topped off with Stewart's ice-cold draft root beer at the Stewart's Drive-in near Flemington, NJ. (NOTE: Hence the Stewart's Root Beer reefer car)

Using historical drawings and documents that I had, a true replication of the Blue Comet was attempted. The blue/white checkerboard pattern floor, accurate lettering including lettering on truck side frames as per prototype and the Aristo #21404 steam locomotive and matching train was painted in the Packard Blue, Royal Blue and Jersey Cream colors matched to original DuPont paint samples of that era.

Because the Blue Comet had a different car body dining car, it was necessary to shorten the diner body to utilize the same under frame as the coach and observation cars. The diner also had a different body shell as the prototype car was originally wooden with steel beam underneath. For Blue Comet use, this car was covered with steel plate that is replicated on the Aristo model including the truss rods. A side note... originally the truss rods were only included with the diner but many people expected them with the other cars as the under frame design was the same for coach, diner and observation cars.

Speaking of the Aristo observation car, as on the Blue Comet prototype, the rear end inside wall was recessed to allow a more spacious observation platform. Tooling allowed either a recessed or normal location end wall depending upon what road name observation was being offered by Aristo.

The Blue Comet combination car was missing from the original Aristo Blue Comet offering of Coach, Diner and Observation cars.

A side note, guess by now you can understand why the Jersey Central was a large part of the Aristo offerings in the early 1990's. Steel boxcars, covered hopper, bobber caboose, gondola, stake flat car, Alco RS-3 diesel, Blue Comet steam locomotive and passenger cars. The CNJ is my favorite railroad and Lewis kind of liked it too.

I sometimes regret not doing the Alco FA-FB diesels in the Jersey Central green/yellow scheme. It seems that at one time the CNJ was considerating the purchase of the nearby L&NE/Lehigh & New England's FA's after the L&NE ended operations in 1961. I have seen paperwork that indicated that the CNJ was going to number them in the unused 60-69 series, right between the EMD F-3's 50-59 and the Baldwin 'baby-face cab units 70-79 series. They would have looked really neat!"

Thank you Pete and Walter!

Bob Whipple has done some very nice detailing on the Blue Comet set from Aristocraft as well as creating baggage cars, which were not made by Aristo. Visit Bob's web site, www.bobsgardenrailroad.com  for more information on his Blue Comet detailing. 

Go to Page 2 see photos of my Blue Comet

 

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Comments? Suggestions? E-mail me at golddogrr@wardhutton.com 

This site was last edited on 11/15/2015