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

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What They Say:

George H.

Blunt End Observation is a GRAND SLAM! I’ve wanted this car for ages but never figured out a good way to kitbash it.


Ferdinand Magellan is great! This really fits your mission of offering significant cars that otherwise wouldn’t be produced.


Nothing better than receiving that white box from Lowell Smith.


Lowell, thanks to you and your company SP&S modelers (myself included) are having a much easier time modeling the North Bank Road. Thank you for your hard work!


I really am enjoying what you are producing, Lowell! Thanks for doing it. Jerry

Gordon and Dorothy

I have never been treated as graciously and in a manner more suited to a VIP in my life, as I was on our train trip.  It’s obvious how you’ve made your life a success story.  Looking around the train and seeing your friends I’m pretty sure they  were all made to feel very special by you, and your…


Thanks for all the great trains – it’s nice to have such wonderful rolling stock on the layout.


“You have received many compliments when I have run my RailSmith cars with my friends.”

B. Kutch

Love your 3-rail O Scale Atlas Woodside Reefer series. Looking forward to future issues.

Dan D.

I look forward to continuing to buy trains from my favorite special run train maker. That’s how I think of you now, “The Train Maker”.  And speaking of cool trains, I just received a box loaded with great looking Texas Special cars. Thanks.  I certainly look forward to all the new releases you are planning.