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.
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."
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
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
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
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,
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
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,
for more information on his Blue Comet detailing.
Go to Page
2 see photos of my Blue Comet