Custom Painted P-2000 units

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Penn Central FP7 4348 Joins The Fleet

Greetings All,

Last month I came across a used Atlas Yellow Box undecorated FP7 at my LHS. With a 40% sale on used merchandise I couldn't pass up the deal. I brought the engine home and disassembled it for cleaning and painting. The power train was lightly lubed and tested. I was very pleased to see the engine ran very well without the need for further mechanical work. After painting and reassembly I added Kadee #37 (medium under set shank) couplers to match the Kadee height gauge. I ran it about an hour in each direction to break it in further.  

So what's an FP7 and why did EMD make them? The EMD FP7 is a variant of the famous EMD F7. Railroads looking for streamlined diesels to pull their passenger trains and needing better tractive effort on steep grades than the EMD E units could provide with their A-1-A trucks looked to EMD for a solution.. The railroads had found the F units provided better tractive effort however as a freight model the cab equipped F units did not have the space necessary to carry water and a steam boiler. Adding a B unit with such equipment worked but added to the expense of having to always use an additional diesel. Starting in 1949 EMD introduced the FP7 at the same time as the F7. The FP7 was four feet longer to house the boiler and water and used an upgraded main generator. About 325 were built. The largest order of 45 went to the L&N. The A.C.L. grabbed 44 and the Pennsy 40.

A little about the PC FP7s: The 40 FP7s spent the earlier parts of their careers fulfilling their billing as dual purpose units on the PRR. During the Penn Central era these units were strictly used in freight service and eventually had their steam generators and water tanks removed. Perhaps due to light service during their time with the PRR the 40 units arrived into PC fully intact. For the merger they were renumbered from PRR 9832A - 9871A to PC 4332 - 4371. Neatly tucked in between the E unit diesels and the E unit electrics. FP7s 4347, 4367 and 4370 were reported to be painted with the red "P" logo during April to June 1968.

About the model: The FP7 was listed as used but it seems to have never been run or removed from the box. It is Atlas yellow box engine #8300, made in Austria and equipped with horn hook couplers. Some research indicates this model was released by Atlas in 1990 making it 25 years old. But like I reported above it ran very well out of the box and improved even further after the break in period.

Atlas Undecorated FP7

The newly painted 4348 gets it's first look over by some the prominent rail fans of Empire City.

PC FP7 4348 has had it's water tank removed per Penn Central practice. The engine was protected with blue painters tape and the grills were sprayed with rattle can silver. 

A flank shot of the 4348

The 4348 leads a four unit lash up. The two F7s in the middle are non powered. 
C-424 2415 is also an Atlas Yellow Box unit released in 1989. 

A close up of the 4348

For it's next assignment the 4348 was assigned to a Mail and Express  Train

The M&E trains rolls into  Empire City Station. Looking to the left we can see a baggage car featuring the new Amtrak paint scheme

Thanks for reading!


  1. Really interesting post, and the layout photos are great. In their time as PRR units, it looks like their use in any kind of passenger service was short. Some were Tuscan with 5 stripes and kept in service close to Harrisburg to protect passenger trains if needed, but once passenger trains started to be discontinued in 1952, th PRR realized it had enough E units to protect passenger trains. By the late 1950s you could see the red FP7s mixed in with green Fs.

    The Clear Block PC videos show PC FP7s in Ohio a lot.

    The Austrian Atlas FP7s are easier to DCC than the Chinese ones. I have an Austrian that I'm slowly working on, but will probably do it as a Katy unit.

    1. Thanks for the positive comments and the information on the FP7s with the PRR Much appreciated.
      I'll have to try and find the Clear Block PC Videos!
      Good luck on your DCC conversion!

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  3. Nicely done John! I'll need to keep my eyes open for more of those Yellow Box locos at the next train flea market! Neat work on the silver grills. Any idea about PC practices regarding painting those black vs silver?

    1. Thanks Ralph! I'm really liking the yellow box units as well. As for the grills I don't know about a specific practice. From the pictures I saw some looked to have some silver still visible and I could not really discern whether the blac was a combination of soot on silver, black on silver or most likely soot on black on silver. After looking at the pictures again I weathered my FP7 grills to show it has been in revenue service awhile. Happy PC Birthday!!!

  4. Nice work on the engine John. I've just become a member of the PC RR T&HS as I joined at the Amherst Train show last weekend in Springfield, MA. Needed to join so I can keep up with you PC experts!

    1. Thanks Neal! No experts here just fans. I've been on the fence about joining the P.C.T.R&H.S. myself. May need to pull the trigger on that one soon.