Route 66 #1

Route 66 #1
Route 66 Museum

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Memories of the Warbonnet Livery

Electric trains and Christmas Trees have been a normal pairing for over a hundred years now. So when sitting under my tree last night with my two sons watching the train go around it hit me that the Santa Fe Warbonnet livery must appear under more Christmas Trees then Bing Crosby's White Christmas is played on FM radio stations during Christmas time. 

The Warbonnet livery of red and silver, is the same livery that graced Santa Fe's diesel motive power in front of its great passenger trains like the Super Chief, El Capitan, and many others in Santa Fe's passenger fleet. For the past 60+ years though the Warbonnet livery has also graced electric trains staring with Lionel's  Santa Fe F-3 in 1948. This particular unit by Lionel would become iconic not only for Lionel, but Santa Fe, and the hobby of electric trains in general. 

Even though the Warbonnet livery hasn't been used in front of a passenger train since 1971, Santa Fe has used it from time to time on their modern freight locomotives. Before the BNSF merger and the appearence of the "Pumpkin" livery Santa Fe was using the old Warbonnet on such locomotives as the Dash 9, and SD-70. Although I haven't seen any ACE's or AC's in the Warbonnet livery supposedly BNSF has a few as part of a "Heritage" series today. 

In the realm of electric trains though the Warbonnet livery is alive and well. The set under my tree is a Lionel El Capitan set from 2008, Lionel re-released this set in 2012 as it's Super-Chief set alought both sets are identical. But leaving the comfort of Lionel, we see other manufactures making and selling Warbonnet sets, by the bushel full over the years. The livery can be found on locomotives from Z to G Scale, in a wide range of sets. In a quick review of a Christmas ad from a local hobby shop for instance I was able to find a Bachman N and HO set both featuring Warbonnets, the Lionel Super Chief set I spoke about, and a loose Alco in Warbonnet livery by USA Trains in G scale. Of course these are just a few of the more well known manfacturers, and excludes others out making trains in the Warbonnet livery like MTH, Atlas, LGB, Marklin, and K-line all examples of modern manufacturers.

So 60+ years and a myriad of toy train manufacturers translates into a lot of trains made in the iconic Santa Fe Warbonnet livery. Which if you do the math of trains and Christmas Trees means there are a lot of these trains making the evergreen circle right now.

With that said I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!!! 

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