Six thousand horsepower for fourteen lightweight passenger cars! Union Pacific’s premiere Los Angeles to Chicago streamliner, the City of Los Angeles, in 1941, was powered along the entire route by a single EMD E6 A-B-B trio.
In the 1930’s Union Pacific were pioneers in lightweight diesel-powered streamlined passenger trains. Ironically, this forward thinking in dieselization did not extend to freight operations. UP watched all of their main Western competitors dieselize their fast freight trains with EMC/EMD FT locomotive sets prior to and during World War 2. It seems as though their situation was similar to New York Central’s: pre-war, the UP had many modern and powerful 4-8-4, 4-6-6-4, and 4-8-8-4 steam locomotives, as well as many, many other types large and small. They also had plenty of coal fuel from company mines in Wyoming.
Among the first diesels to wear UP’s iconic Armour Yellow/Harbor Mist Gray (I believe that other EMD E6’s delivered in August 1940 were the very first), this striking model is by Broadway Limited Imports (this version circa 2015, I think). It was the next in line to be upgraded with Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 DCC&Sound, Soundtraxx LEDs, and Sergent couplers for each unit.
Appearance-wise, the model is quite good. The only major error of note is that it has the more common solid pilot. The A-unit actually had a perforated pilot with many horizontal oval holes. I understand why BLI offered it like this and I can live with it. If this were a layout engine, I would try to make the correction (perhaps with a 3D printed part), but I know my skill would not allow me to make the change to a high level of finish needed for a display model, so I’ll leave it.
Competitor to Santa Fe’s Super Chief, but unlike that premiere train, the City of Los Angeles had dedicated power. They were uniquely “numbered” as LA-4, LA-5, & LA-6. For DCC purposes I have assigned the addresses 1214, 1215, & 1216 respectively – “L” is twelfth letter in alphabet (12), “A” is the first (1), and the numbers 4, 5, & 6 added as appropriate. The number boards show “104” which is the eastbound train number (103 would be the westbound).
The sister train City of San Francisco also had an identical dedicated locomotive set numbered SF-4, SF-5, & SF-6.
The CoLA locomotives were delivered in February & March 1941 (EMD s/n 1172 [LA-4], 1173 [LA-5], 1174 [LA-6]).
The Classic Trains book Passenger Trains of Yesteryear: Chicago Westbound (J. Welsh, Kalmbach, 2002) has a very nice overhead picture (p. 34) of the 1941 CoLA leaving for Los Angeles from Chicago’s North Western Terminal.
It would be crewed and cared for by the Chicago & North Western Line to Omaha, Nebraska, where it would then continue westward on Union Pacific rails. The joint ownership is reflected on the nose of the lead unit with heralds from both railroads displayed.
In the fairly recent Classic Trains special issue Great Trains West (2016), there is a good article on UP’s streamlined City trains.
I had some fun moving the units around the engine terminal from the coach yard lead to Ready Track 1. However, uncoupling and coupling was very difficult due to the heavy spring force on the diaphragms not allowing to run in some coupler slack. For cars in the Fillmore coach yard, this will be something I have to improve if I want to move towards full Sergent “coupler-ization”. Here are some photos from the unit shuffle…