To BSB or Not to BSB

Building an Accurate Train

We always want to do the best we can to create an accurate train in our Build-a-Train process. That said, lets consider the Big Sky Blue sleepers we recently announced in our new P-S 4119 (Duplex) plan.

Our research for this GN ‘River’ series (each car having the suffix ‘River’ in its name) was easy as they are all well documented. And while they may be accurate car names for this series, our search with the Great Northern Historical Society for cars that were painted in the Big Sky Blue scheme yielded no results! It seems that no authority could produce such a list.

After our announcement, several GN fans suggested that the cars ‘Mouse River’ and ‘Skagit River’ perhaps had never received the BSB paint, and they produced photos dated from the 1970’s with these cars still in the Empire Builder green and orange scheme.  This led us down an interesting path with the revelation that not all of the cars were painted in Big Sky Blue. We do know that to be true as we see Empire Builder green & orange cars in the ‘Rainbow Era’ of the 1970’s.

The fact is, that even though they may have been painted in BSB, nobody can produce a photo of those two cars in that scheme, thus providing some question.

So with apologies, and in the spirit of striving to be as accurate as we can, we have decided to release the Mouse River as well as the Skagit River at a later time in the orange and green paint. Please see the web site. The single car is now to be the Fraser River and the three-car-fleet will include: Snohomish River,  Fraser River and Bad Ax River.

We know that none of you will really care as you also prefer accuracy in your trains. And, none of you will be disappointed that you did not get a Mouse or Skagit River car in BSB, but rather have more confidence that you probably have a train justifiably close to the real one!

Lowell Smith

A native of Portland, Oregon, Lowell Smith married his church choir sweetheart Barb in 1978. After a lifetime of rail-fanning, Lowell and Barb ventured out in 1992 to launch a new business in Portland, Oregon. Read more


  1. Dale Miller on September 27, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Lowell, I appreciate your commitment to quality and accuracy in the models you are producing. You have made passenger train modeling in N scale more exciting than ever!! This has led me to add models/trains that are not even in my model time period.

  2. Ralph Hintze on September 30, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Lowell, Thank you for adjusting the car names for this release, and for the quality and accuracy of the cars that you produce. Looking forward to when you announce these sleepers in the original scheme which I will also order.

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