Virginian Electrics - EL3A, EL2A, EL1A (BCM-1)
Instructions July 25, 2007

Bill Mosteller, 3306 Parkside Terrace, Fairfax, VA 22031

Virginian Railway electrification ran from RoanokeVirginia to MullensWest Virginia.A variety of issues created the need for a high adhesion, high horsepower, low maintenance (compared to steam) locomotive.The result of reviewing other electric project motors was the EL3A and its sisters",the EL2A and EL1A.Consisting of three units, but still known as one motor, the EL3A performed their designated jobs diligently from about 1925 to the early 1960s.The N&W Railway retired them soon after the purchase of the Virginian[1].

Road Numbers: EL3A locomotives were numbered 100-109.They also existed as single units, EL1A numbers 110-115 and at least one instance of a two-unit locomotive EL2A number 100 is documented.The EL3A was big, measuring 152 feet 3 inches long and weighing just over 1,282,380 pounds.Each unit was driven by two traction motors connected to the drivers through side rods powered the large 62-inch drive wheels.Tractive effort was 231,000 pounds at a rated horsepower of 7125.Railroad enthusiasts are still debating the largest, longest and most powerful locomotive in US history and the EL3A is still considered in those arguments.

ALCO (American Locomotive Company) teamed up with Westinghouse to build these units and the first motor, number 100, was built in April of 1925.The remaining units were delivered as finished through March of 1926.The Virginian made a variety of modifications to the original units, such as adding an extra front window and a fireman's side window.

These decals are the result of purchasing an undecorated Alco Models brass EL3A (imported in 1978[2]).Concurrently, Crown Custom Products produced decals for these units[3].Overland brass also produced the EL1A and EL3A (in 1990) and offered their own decals.Rail Graphics produced the decal sets for Overland

After several months of searching, I was able to purchase one set of Overland's Virginian decals.I sent my Alco Models brass units to my friend Scott Housman who soon informed me he would need at least two more sets of decals to complete the units.No decals were available through the limited search I was able to conduct.The N&W Historical Society did not know of anyone who had decals available either. We attempted to reproduce the decals by scanning the Overland set into the computer and printing it on decal paper.This resulted in much less than professional results and Scott refused to accept them.

Scott called Overland to get additional information.They did not have any decals left.They mentioned that Rail Graphics had printed the original decals and we were welcome to contact them for help.

The only solution left was to print a new set.Wow, all of this hassle just to paint one set of brass units."Is it worth it?"Well, after some six years of being promised new decals were coming from a variety of sources, Scott convinced me we needed to produce a new run ourselves.Rail Graphics was contacted but unfortunately did not have the artwork for the EL3A decals.

Color: During preparation, extensive efforts were made to carefully match color and placement of the decals based on existing photographs.Review of all color photographs seemed to point to a red-orange and/or a dulux yellow color.The decals are available in orange and dulux gold.The units' window frames should be painted to match, and PolyScale PRR Depot Buff is a good match for the dulux gold sets.The exact color of the lettering will always be in question and additionally there is the claim of one or two units existing with white lettering.However, there does not appear to be proof of this and all we have to depend on are faded memories and existing photographs.I suggest this light colored lettering was the result of sun fading and old color film photographs.

After many discussions, suggestions, trial printings, art work changes, additional costs and dedicated efforts, we now have what we think is a great set of decals for the Virginian EL1A, EL2A and EL3A.

Therefore, for your pleasure, here are the best decals present knowledge and technology can produce for your use.Enjoy finishing your model and send any questions to: 

Bill C. Mullins, Box 845VictoriaVirginia23974

[1] Virginian Railway, Volume 2 Robert A. Liljestrand and David R. Sweetland, p. 4
[2] Brown Book of Brass Locomotives, 3rd Edition, John Glaab, p. 223
[3] Virginian Railway Bibliography and Resource Guide, Marty Swartz