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WalthersProto
Empire Builder

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America's Great Domed Luxury Train - the Most Beautiful Passenger Train in the Nation.

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WalthersProto Empire Builder Passenger Cars
Upgraded to WalthersProto Standards for Realism With:
  • Factory-Installed Grab Irons
  • Prototypically Accurate Window Tinting as Appropriate
  • Available with Factory-Installed LED Lighting for DC or DCC
All Cars Also Come with These Great Features:
  • 10 Authentic HO Cars for Trains in Service 1955 - 1970s
  • All Cars Available in Two Prototype Paint Schemes
  • Omaha Orange & Pullman Green as Used from 1955-1971
  • Big Sky Blue as Used from 1967-71
  • Easily Mixed & Matched for Authentic Late 60s Trains
  • Correct Turned Metal 36" Wheels
  • Detailed Interior is Passenger Ready
  • Car Name & Number Decals
  • Proto MAX™ Metal Knuckle Couplers
GN F7 Diesels to Power Your Empire Builder
  • Limited Edition - One Time Run of these Roadnumbers
  • Prototypes Usually Ran in A-B-B-A Sets
  • Available for the first time in Simplified Scheme used 1962-67
  • Empire Builder Orange & Green Units Also Available
  • Perfect Power for pulling Empire Builder & Big Sky Blue Consists
  • Available with Soundtraxx® Tsunami® Sound for DCC & DC Layouts
  • Authentic Bulldog Nose
Both Schemes Feature GN-Specific Details Including:
  • Snowplow Pilot
  • Correct Air Horn & Placement
  • Carbody Filter Vent
  • Cut Skirts
  • Nail-Type Radio Antenna
  • Square-Cornered Winterization Hatch
  • Roof-Mounted Cooling Coil
  • Scheme-Specific Horn Placement
See the entire train on the Product Listings page, or visit your participating hobby shop!
Empire Builder Consists
GN's flagship streamliner was actually operated by the CB&Q (Chicago-St. Paul), the GN (St. Paul-Portland) and the SP&S (Portland-Seattle), with highest ridership in the summer vacation months. All cars were finished in Empire Builder Omaha Orange and Pullman Green until the debut of Big Sky Blue in 1967. Motive power included CB&Q E8s, GN A-B-B-A sets of F7s, and SP&S E7s or F series locos.
Here are some sample consist, easily modeled with WalthersProto® equipment:

Summer 1955
46-Seat Great Dome (Vista Dome) coaches added in May.
RPO/Storage Mail
Baggage-Dormitory
60-Seat Coach
48-Seat Day-Nite Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
Ranch Coffee Shop
Diner
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
Lounge Observation

Winter 1959-60
Baggage Car - Storage Mail
Baggage Car - Storage Mail
RPO/Storage Mail
Baggage-Dormitory
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
Ranch Coffee Shop
Diner
Great (Full) Dome Lounge
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
6-4-1 Lounge Observation (Not used after February 1960)

Summer 1962
With the start of the Seattle World's Fair, consists increased to as many as 20 cars and required an additional F7B.

Baggage Car - Storage Mail
RPO/Storage Mail
Baggage Car - Storage Mail
Baggage-Dormitory
60-Seat Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
Ranch Coffee Shop
48-Seat Day-Nite or 46-Seat Great Dome Coach (as needed)
48-Seat Day-Nite Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
Diner
Great (Full) Dome Lounge
16-4 Sleeper
4-7-3-1 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
6-4-1 Lounge-Observation

Summer 1967
RPO/Storage Mail
Baggage Car - Storage Mail
Baggage Car - Storage Mail
Baggage-Dormitory
60-Seat Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
Ranch Coffee Shop
48-Seat Day-Nite Coach
48-Seat Day-Nite Coach
46-Seat Great Dome Coach
Great (Full) Dome Lounge
Diner
6-5-2 Sleeper
6-5-2 Sleeper
7-6-1 Sleeper
4-7-3-1 Sleeper

Named for James J. Hill, known as the "empire builder" for his consolidation of several smaller lines into the Great Northern, the train that would become GN's flagship debuted on June 11, 1929. Providing fast, luxury service between Chicago and Seattle, riders were treated to a breathtaking look at both the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges, which with influence from GN, led to the development of Glacier National Park. Streamlined in 1947 and finished in a stunning orange and dark green scheme, the train was re-equipped in 1951 and expanded in 1955 with the arrival of Great Domes in the form of both 46-seat vista-dome coaches and full dome lounge cars. In 1967, the railroad began updating its image with a bold, new color scheme of Big Sky Blue and white on all types of equipment, which remained in use through the Burlington Northern merger of 1970. With some route changes, the Empire Builder remains in operation under Amtrak.

From 1955 to 1971, Great Northern's Empire Builder (EB) set the standard for travel out west, but you may be surprised to learn it was equally important on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy ("Q"); Spokane, Portland & Seattle (SP&S) and Northern Pacific (NP)! Although operated independently, the four roads had had deep ties, and jointly operated the Builder and other long-distance passenger trains for many years.

The "Q" rolled the Builder between St. Paul and Chicago, adding its own EMD E7 and E8 diesels, along with Budd-built stainless steel RPO and baggage cars ahead of the EB equipment. In later years, depending on the season, NP's North Coast Limited (NCL) cars were also moved on the same train, sometimes behind power from one, both, or all three roads.

Out west, subsidiary SP&S hauled the Portland section west of Spokane, adding its own head-end cars and a mix of motive power that included the road's EMD F units, its lone E7 and the occasional passenger GP9. West of Pasco, Washington, the train also carried the Portland section of NP's NCL.

While GN assigned cars specifically to the EB, the rules began to relax in later years as trains were consolidated. Equipment began to move around and it wasn't unusual to find EB cars from both the 1947 and 1951 orders running together or on secondary trains like the Western Star.

More changes came as plans to form the new Burlington Northern took shape and the EB, NCL and Twin Cities Zephyr were merged into one train, with a mix of cars in three colors! By 1968, some were sporting new BN green but this was short-lived as Amtrak took over passenger operations on April 1, 1971.

In Amtrak's early years, some EB cars wandered all over the west. Imagine riding in a Ranch Coffee Shop Lounge on the Coast Starlight out of Los Angeles - it happened (and it was a fun ride)! Since the train was rerouted onto Milwaukee Road lines between St. Paul and Chicago, ex-GN locos and cars were regularly seen on MILW lines. The cars also migrated onto the North Coast Hiawatha - Amtrak's version of the NCL, and the Chicago-Duluth, Minnesota North Star. Other medium-distance trains radiating out of the Chicago hub carried former GN cars too. This colorful mix and match of cars lasted into the mid 1970s.

Aside from the cars, GN EMD F7s also made the rounds under GN, BN and Amtrak. Dressed in GN's simplified Pullman Green and Omaha Orange scheme - a scheme that lasted into the BN and Amtrak eras, the units mixed it up with standard EB painted units, Big Sky Blue locos as well as NP, Amtrak and "Q" power, plus units from other roads as Amtrak assigned them. Units in this scheme also ran in freight service. Looking back on its long and colorful history, the WalthersProto Empire Builder makes a perfect addition to Amtrak, BN, "Q," MILW, NP and SP&S layouts as well.

A Bright Addition to Your Passenger Trains from WalthersProto®
Moths flicker quietly in the yellow glow of lights from the station windows. The dark rails begin to gleam, swept by the beams of the Mars light and headlights on the approaching engine. Pools of light ripple over the brick platforms as the cars ease to a stop, providing a brief glimpse of the warmth and comfort to be found inside.

Traveling by train at night is a magical experience, and now, you can bring that same romance to your HO layout quickly and easily with WalthersProto®.

For instant fun and realism, we're now offering cars with factory installed interior lighting ready to enjoy right out of the box! Each features bright light emitting diodes (LEDs) that produce a warm, uniform light throughout the car. The cars are equally at home whether your railroad runs on DC or DCC, and feature constant lighting, so whenever there's power to the tracks the lights come on and stay on. Unlike bulbs, there's no heat that can damage plastic parts, and LEDs last for thousands of hours in normal operation.

These same lighting circuits will also be available as ready-to-install upgrades you can add to Walthers passenger cars at any time! Each drop-in unit comes fully assembled, with constant lighting circuitry and LEDs in place. Powered by the built-in electrical contacts on the cars, just remove the roof, install the kit, put the roof back on and enjoy! Three different kits are available to fit a wide range of equipment including:

Standard Car Lighting Kit
920-1060
Made to fit most full-length cars, including the P-S and ACF coaches, diners, sleepers and observations found in this Empire Builder train.

Vista Dome Lighting Kit
920-1061
This set is made especially for the lower level of Budd Vista Domes.

Great Dome Car Lighting Kit
920-1062
Some of the best seats were found in the full domes from Pullman-Standard and Budd, including Milwaukee's "Super Domes," Santa Fe's "Big Domes" and Great Northern's "Great Dome" cars. This kit makes it easy to light the lower level of these cars that housed a variety of lounges and other on-board services.

Additional lighting kits for specific types of WalthersProto cars are also available at walthers.com.