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Walthers HO scale Chesapeake & Ohio Pere Marquette

Read this review from Model Railroader magazine
Walthers HO scale Chesapeake & Ohio Pere Marquette
Michigan’s Pere Marquette streamliners are rolling along HO rails thanks to Walthers. Introduced by the Pere Marquette Ry. in 1946 as America’s first postwar streamliners, two identical 7-car trains provided daily service between Detroit and Grand Rapids, Mich. A 1947 merger made the PM part of the Chesapeake & Ohio, and the trains continued to operate on routes that had become the C&O’s Pere Marquette District.

Delivery of the C&O’s huge new post-war passenger car fleet began in 1950, and Pere Marquette service expanded to include other trains operating between Chicago, Grand Rapids, and resort areas to the north around Muskegon, Traverse City, and Petoskey, Mich. With plenty of equipment on hand, the C&O assigned new Pullman-Standard cars to all of these trains, and the original Pere Marquette consists were sold.

PM E7s. A dozen General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division E7A locomotives were purchased by the Pere Marquette Ry. between 1946 and 1948. All but nos. 101 and 102 had large number boxes. The side windows along the body were plated over in the early 1950s, and a rear porthole was added on each side.

The Chessie repainted the PM E7s, replacing the PM’s pre-merger light yellow with C&O’s darker Federal Yellow to match the new passenger cars. The E7s kept their original PM numbers.

We reviewed the upgraded Walthers E7A in the May 2009 Model Railroader. This PM version is accurately detailed and painted to match the 1950s prototype. The model’s plastic body shell features well-defined molded rivet seams and the many separately applied detail parts include grab irons, windshield wipers, and etched air-intake screens.
Locomotive performance. Like the 2009 release, the motor and flywheels are mounted in the center of a zinc alloy frame. Two downward-facing speakers are enclosed in each end of the frame. The E7A is now available with a SoundTraxx Digital Command Control (DCC) decoder, which replaces the QSI decoder of the previous release.

The charts on the next page show the model’s smooth performance on our direct current (DC) and DCC test tracks. A prototype E7A could be geared for top speeds as high as 117 mph. The models are slower than that, but fast enough for compressed HO scale main lines.

On our DC track, the diesel rpm sounds increased as I advanced the throttle. The startup sequence simulated the sound of the prototype’s two engines starting independently.

At speeds under 10 scale mph the bell rang. When the locomotive was at a stop, a flip of the direction switch triggered the appropriate horn signal for the locomotive’s direction (two blasts for forward, three blasts for reverse).

On our DCC layout, the SoundTraxx decoder has more user-triggered functions, including the bell, horn, and coupler crash. The decoder’s many adjustable configuration variables (CVs) let me fine tune the E7’s performance and sound. I appreciated the 14 preset speed tables and individual volume control for each sound effect. I easily advance consisted our E7s to run as an A-A pair.
The models are prototypically detailed inside and out. The cars, including the diner coach above, are available with factory-installed overhead interior lighting.
Passenger cars. The Walthers models represent the revised consists that replaced the original 1946 PM trains as C&O assigned cars from its Pullman-Standard order to its Michigan trains. These C&O cars operated statewide between 1954 and 1963. More information on these trains can be found in Arthur B. Million’s book Pere Marquette Passenger Car Pictorial, published by the Pere Marquette Historical Society Inc.

Walthers has chosen seven cars (listed in the photos above) that operated in the various Pere Marquette trains. The American Car & Foundry RPO is a stand-in, but the Pullman-Standard cars are excellent replicas of the C&O prototypes. The diner-coach, lunch counter-buffet-lounge (Chessie Club), and 10 roomette-6 double-bedroom sleeper are new tooling. All but the baggage and RPO are available with optional light-emitting diode (LED) interior lighting for use on DC or DCC layouts.

The ready-to-run cars follow the same construction as the Chessie Club car reviewed in the July 2013 issue. A pair of steel weights are sandwiched between the interior and the floor, along with truck electrical pick-ups and contacts for overhead lighting. The operating diaphragms almost touch on straight track.

Each plastic carbody has a simulated stainless-steel finish on the window frames and fluted lower sides. The
models’ lettering matches the post-1950 C&O cars. A sheet of decals is included so the modeler can add individual car names and numbers. The roofs are removable to add passengers or highlight any of the interior details.

All the cars ride on the correct General Steel Castings type 41-N-11 4-wheel trucks. Proto-Max magnetic couplers are mounted at the proper height. The cars as well as the locomotives will handle 24" radius curves, but look better on curves of 30" radius or greater.

A pike-size passenger train. In the 1960s, a typical Pere Marquette consist on the Detroit run included 2 to 4 regular coaches and a diner-coach led by a single E7A. The Chicago-Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Traverse City trains were longer and had various combinations of a RPO, baggage car, 2 or 3 coaches, a lunch-counter-lounge, and a 10-6 sleeper or two pulled by a pair of E7As.

Besides the Pere Marquette trains, C&O fans will also find these models useful to make up a variety of the C&O’s other mainline trains.

Overall, Walthers has really done a great job of capturing the C&O-era Pere Marquette streamliners in HO.
E7A: DCC sound (numbers PM 107 or 108), $299.98. DC, no sound (numbers PM 103 or 105), $199.98.
Passenger cars: $84.98 (with lighting), $74.98 (without lighting), $69.98 (RPO, without lighting).

Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
P.O. Box 3039
5601 W. Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Road name: Chesapeake & Ohio (Pere Marquette)

Era: 1954 to 1963

E7A locomotive features:
  • Cab interior and crew details
  • Factory installed, painted metal grab irons, handrails, and lift rings
  • 5-pole, skew-wound can motor
  • Individually controlled Mars light, headlight, and number boards in DCC operation
  • Metal scale 36" wheels in gauge
  • Proto-Max metal couplers at correct height
  • See-through air intake grilles
  • 12-wheel drive and electrical pickup
  • 24" minimum radius
  • Weight: 19 ounces

Passenger car features:
  • 8-wheel electrical pickup
  • Factory-installed grab irons
  • Optional LED DC/DCC lighting
  • Proto-Max metal couplers at correct height
  • Tinted windows
  • Metal scale 36" wheels in gauge
  • 24" minimum radius
  • Weight: 7 ounces (matches National Model Railroad Association RP-20.1)

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