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DeHanes Transportation Milestones

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Transportation Milestones DeHanes Santa Fe AB diesel set Transportation Milestones was created by Robert DeHanes in 1985 in Keasbey, NJ to make 1 gauge (G gauge) and Standard gauge model electric trains. Together with help from some friends and his son the company produced a GM F-3 diesel locomotive and streamlined extruded aluminum Budd type passenger cars. They started out selling Santa Fe Super Chief sets, and later expanded the line with other road names. Both the 1 gauge and Standard gauge trains utilized the same ½" scale body shells.

DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge 26" Santa Fe Streamlined Cars
DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge REA Santa Fe Express Aluminum Baggage car DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge Isleta Santa Fe Streamlined Aluminum Passenger Car DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge Laguna Santa Fe Streamlined Aluminum Passenger Car DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge Oraibi Santa Fe Streamlined Aluminum Passenger Car DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge Taos Santa Fe Streamlined Aluminum Passenger Car DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge Navajo Santa Fe Streamlined Aluminum Observation Car

In the mid-1980's, DeHanes Manufacturing Company introduced the legendary Santa Fe Super Chief set featuring a GM F-3 locomotive and streamlined aluminum Budd passenger cars. The initial offering was for an A unit, three Pullmans, and an observation. Later, a powered B unit was added along with more cars which included a baggage car, baggage combine, sleeper, diner, and vista-dome coach. Unfortunately, the glut on the market of low cost, foreign made G gauge trains made it difficult for this handsome streamliner set to sell well, and few were made. A tragic fire at the production facilities eventually brought production to a halt completely. However, the scarcity of these sets has made them quite valuable among collectors today.

The roots of Transportation Milestones began with a little Dutch kid from New Jersey receiving a Lionel Pennsylvania line #1688 Torpedo engine and tender that had been repainted seven times by the time he was seven. Add in the little guy’s trips to a local hobby store where he established a charge account as a teen to buy Lionel trains with his paper route money. Later, take a veteran math teacher and mate him with his undying interest in trains. Mix in a boyhood dream of owning a Standard gauge Santa Fe Chief F3 in war bonnet colors like Lionel’s 'O' gauge model from the late 1940’s and early ’50’s. Add original Santa Fe railroad drawings from the real F3.

Robert DeHanes was born in Perth Amboy, NJ, in 1941. That Lionel Pennsy Torpedo engine and cars were complemented over the years by Robert’s paper-route-financed acquisitions and his expanding interest in the hobby. His first Standard gauge purchase was a Lionel Baby State set. Now, with trains in both 'O' and Standard gauge, he was hooked. That vision of owning a Standard gauge war bonnet F-3 which nobody made was still alive even after his three decades in education. “Why not just build one?” was the compelling question. No matter that his years teaching math didn’t naturally prepare Robert to be a manufacturer of toys, or for that matter, of anything. It’s not as if he owned a machine shop or had earned his keep in a factory. He had dream, and this is America, isn’t it? In the eighties, DeHanes began searching out the component vendors he would need to build his dream set. He would start with those beautiful extruded aluminum passenger cars in Standard gauge. Getting original drawings from the Santa Fe railroad and from the Budd Company were major breakthroughs. In a phone interview in November of 2014, he said he had always been interested in drafting and mechanical drawing. In converting 1:1 scale drawings to 1:29 scale for Standard gauge, his math skills came in handy! He wanted to offer his set in two lengths, one to operate on Lionel’s traditional Standard gauge track and the other for the railroad enthusiast using wider radius track. Using the plans from the Budd Company, he began to scale down the cars to fit his scheme. One problem he encountered is the loss of detail when scaling down an item while maintaining the exact configuration of the exterior. This is where his artistic talents had to prevail. Robert’s one man band business did get some help from friends John Harmon, John Kresse, Walbert 'Joe' Witt, and son Robert DeHanes, Jr.

DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge 30 It was obvious that to make a set, they had to produce passenger and observation cars. Striving for realism, he designed a set with opening doors, stainless steel springs and hinge pins, and articulated trucks, all the while keeping the weight to a minimum. Other cars followed to create a consist of baggage, baggage combine, diner, three sleepers, and an observation. These were offered with a bright anodized finish in two sizes and two road names, Santa Fe and New York Central. Soon thereafter, he dubbed the products “Transportation Milestones.” Smooth sided, painted aluminum cars followed and were offered in New York Central, Pennsylvania, Southern Pacific, and Norfolk and Western road names. An early sales brochure lists Santa Fe cars in 26" and 30" length cars named Isleta, Laguna, and Oraibi (passenger), Navajo (observation), Taos, Acoma, and Santa Clara (sleepers), Vista Heights and Vista Valley dome cars, and a Cochiti diner. There were also a baggage and baggage combine cars, which were difficult to produce because they each required separate tooling. The 26" cars sold for $175-$265 with the 30" cars running $200-$290. The DeHanes streamlined passenger cars were fitted with the AMT knuckle couplers utilized on their 'O' gauge trains. These were the operating couplers that featured a simulated air hose, which when lifted up, opened the spring loaded knuckle.

DeHanes Transportation Milestones 1 gauge 30 A later brochure advertised the GM F-3 locomotive A unit available in both Standard and 1 gauge (G gauge), the latter requiring different trucks. The locomotives were made out of a cast resin material. The accompanying Budd passenger cars were offered in both gauges. A four-car set modeled after the 20th Century Limited train sold for $1,870 with 26" cars and $1,970 with 30" cars. A number of additional names identified cars for sets with different road names. Monikers like Buffalo Harbor, Rariton Bay, Hickory Creek, City of Rochester, Cascada Valley, Westchester County, and Century Inn marked the cars. An F-3 B unit, engines with both one and two motors, and other production variations filled out the order list. The B unit was priced at $795 and the A unit at $895 when purchased separately. The locomotives were serialized with the Model Unit No. stamped on the bottom. Also stamped on the bottom were the words "Transportation Milestones" Trains By DeHanes GM "F" Series 3401. The A unit locomotive lighted number boards bore a '16L' identifier. Locomotives painted in Jersey Central Lines livery have turned up.

The first passenger cars hit the market in 1988-89, and the first engine in 1989. The details on the GM F-3 were to scale with one minor exception. The pilot had to be altered slightly to handle the curves of Standard gauge track. The locomotives featured cast side trucks, detailed body, markings, logos, ladders and railings, metal horns and windshield wipers, West Coast mirrors, and full lighting with headlights, number boards, and running lights. The drive train included a Pittman ball bearing custom motor, iron bearing oilites, brass worm gear, 4-wheel positive drive, and turned steel wheels.

DeHanes Transportation Milestones Standard gauge Santa Fe RR F-3 A unit on the Cover of the Smithsonian Magazine When Robert DeHanes introduced his line, his Santa Fe diesel model was chosen to be the cover photo for the December 1988 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. Robert's single most gratifying recognition was what occurred with the editors of Smithsonian Magazine. They were doing a cover story on the hobby of model railroading and toy train collecting. The magazine’s photographers shot hundreds of pictures of toy trains including many from the collection of Richard Kughn, former owner of the Lionel company and its archives. Looking for the perfect cover photo for the story, the editors picked the front of the DeHanes Santa Fe Chief F3 for the December 1988 issue! Robert said he talked to representatives of the magazine, and they told him the choice of his dream train for the cover was "…hands down, hands down," the best choice. In a way, it seems that God smiled on Mr. DeHanes and his boyhood dream of owning that beautiful engine and cars in Standard gauge.

The G gauge version of the DeHanes A-B-A locomotives ran on 2-rail DC. The Standard gauge version ran on 3-rail track using either DC or AC power. These locos were fitted with either one or two Pittman motors and a bridge rectifier. These were very large can-type electric motors integrated with the power trucks. Locomotives fitted with 2 motors were quite heavy - almost 20 lbs. The dimensions for the engines are apx. 20" long, by 6" high. The F-7 diesel locomotives were accompanied by loose ornamental horn parts and 2 General Motors EMD nameplates. The extruded aluminum passenger cars have detailed passenger car ends, all metal construction, prototype sprung metal trucks, operating knuckle couplers, fully lighted interiors with dual pickups, spring loaded opening doors, stainless steel handrails, tapered brass axles with turned aluminum wheels. The Navajo Observation Coach featured a rear light and illuminated Super Chief Drum Head.

The locomotive units sold for $995.00 each, and the cars varied from $200 each to $275 depending on the body type. Standard gauge is larger at 2⅛ inches between the rails. G gauge is 45 mm or about 1¾ inches between the rails. Accepted Scale for Standard gauge: 1:26.59. Accepted Scale for G gauge: 1:20.3, 1:22.5, 1:24, 1:29, 1:32. 1:32 is standard scale/traditional for gauge 1 track.

In 1992 tragedy struck when a fire in the manufacturing facility put the company out of business. An electrical short in the DeHanes factory building started the fire which destroyed the entire production tooling and inventory. Robert tried to start up again but his wife took ill, after which he went through one setback after another. DeHanes Trains manufactured and shipped roughly 85-90 sets according to Robert, making them especially rare.

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