All aboard it is my favorite AA set of diesel locomotives, the Nickel Plate Road Alco PA’s from the MTH Premier Line! These engines have a long and storied in both real and model form.

The American Locomotive Company simply known as Alco developed the PA as a high speed passenger diesel. The “P” stands for passenger and the “A” stands for A-Unit meaning that it has a cab unlike a B-Unit. For the Nickel Plate the PA was the answer to revolutionizing their passenger service in the post WWII era. 11 A-Units were purchased and were immediately put to use hauling long distance trains all over the NKP system. They were initially delivered in a blue and silver paint scheme, this is where I come in to the story.

You see, the silver metallic paint ended up rusting over time so the NKP tried using substituting different silver paints but all failed. The solution was to replace the silver with white and for the better part of their careers the PAs were blue and white. This led to the nickname “Bluebirds.”

In 2013 MTH Electric Trains brought the NKP Alco PA back to the Premier Line but there were some issues. First off these engines had been made nearly 12 years before with Proto-Sound 1 in the blue and white scheme and were a complete sell out. As such they became highly desirable and hard to find. When one looked at the catalog it was impossible to tell if the engines would be blue and white or the never before seen blue and silver. I was working at Stockyard Express at the time 3 months of phone calls, emails, research, debates, and photo comparisons of real PA’s we got our answer. The engines would be the blue and silver.

This of course caused many would be buyers to be upset as they desired the blue and white scheme. Why? Well it was the more memorable and attractive scheme. MTH agreed to manufacture 16 blue and white models in addition to the many blue and silver engines already in production.

With exclusive engines coming we just had to have more! Hence the creation of the City of Lorain, Lima and Fort Wayne Pullman Sleeping cars along with the two heavyweight Railway Post Office cars 830 and 831.

Making a model train takes a great deal of work. It took nearly two years to get all of these models finalized and in production but took only a day or two weeks to sell out. My greatest wish is that we would of have doubled the amounts put into production for everything but that takes risk. Just goes to show how popular the Nickel Plate Road is to the model railroad industry. Someday I hope to work for either MTH, Lionel, or even Atlas. Believe me I have applied relentlessly but still I have yet to receive a definitive answer. Email is acmatthews@icloud.com

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