Lee Lines was a small upstart manufacturing firm based in Miami, Florida that operated from 1975 to 1982 and was
founded by Dana Lee Barlow. In 1976, Lee Lines got into the streamliner game when they advertised a massive GS-4 Daylight 4-8-4 locomotive and tender
in Standard gauge initially priced at $500. This was the lone offering from the Lee Lines catalog. The first GS-4 was delivered in spring 1977. The locomotive was
available in a number of paint schemes including Southern Pacific Daylight, Southern Pacific Freight (black), Western Pacific, Amtrak, Pennsylvania RR and a Bicentennial
American Freedom Train. A number of matching streamlined passenger car sets were produced to go with the locos. These extruded aluminum cars were offered as a
three-car set with extra cars available. John A. Daniel designed the streamlined passenger cars that shipped with the Lee Lines GS-4.
These were priced at $850 for a GS-4 loco and 3 passenger car set.
The Lee Lines GS-4 was a 4-8-4 Northern type loco with twin motors designed to run on tinplate 3-rail track. It came ready to run
with twin motors and a double worm drive so powerful it could pull a Standard gauge #408E loco by Lionel. At over 37"
long and 6" tall it was the largest Standard gauge locomotive ever built.
Its cast aluminum boiler and tender body have a total engine and tender weight of over 17 pounds. This 4-8-4 was the first commercially available steam-type loco with
8-wheel drive built to navigate standard 42" track curves. It was available in AC or DC versions, and was equipped with a forward and reverse switch.
Cleverly made from just a few pieces of cast aluminum, the loco body was rough, but it fit well
with the model toy trains it was meant to run with, standard gauge tinplate production from the 1920's and 30's.
It was the largest standard gauge locomotive ever mass produced up until that time. Other materials found in the loco were metal, wood and fiberboard. No plastic
was utilized. Production was
very limited. The Daylight version was available with three matching cars, but the American Freedom Train version had none.
The Lee Lines GS-4 was not built to exact scale. It had over 600 simulated rivets and more than 3' of handrails. All 8 drive wheels were nickel rimmed. The loco
featured brightly detailed valve gear, twin motors, double worm drive, a cast/aluminum tender body and locomotive boiler. Each hand built loco was serialized.
Lee Lines had ambitious plans for the future that included Standard gauge streamlined passenger cars of extruded aluminum construction similar to Lionel's
'O' gauge #2500 series cars of ribbed sided extruded aluminum construction, as well as a GG-1 loco, a N&W J series loco, F-3 diesels, a B&O Dockside switcher, a box car, caboose,
a Subway set, and a limited production run of the UP Big Boy loco. Lee Lines had big hopes to produce many interesting items but the GS-4 was the only one to see the light of day.
Only 50 SP Daylight GS-4 Streamlined Standard gauge locomotives were produced by Dana Barlow's Lee Lines. And roughly half as many streamlined passenger cars were made.
A single Subway Set in #1 gauge, 1.777 (G gauge) also existed. Dana Barlow eventually gave up on building Standard gauge products and became more involved with G
gauge manufacturing, calling his company G Action Models.
In 2016, after almost 40 years of sitting idle, Jim Waterman of New Jersey, purchased the Lee Lines tooling and parts.
This included the original patterns for the GS-4 engine castings and the extrusion dies for the passenger car roofs and ribbed sides in 6 styles,
as well as 150 electric motors. Also included was the original pattern for the Subway car sides and some resin cast ends.
He subsequently built some GS-4's and passenger cars using
the parts left over from Lee Lines original production. A total of 11 engines and 60 streamlined passenger cars were built in SP Daylight, American Freedom Train, and
N&W, along with a couple of specials and offered for sale in matching sets to a few lucky customers. A N&W J was developed using 3-D printing for a bullet nose
and modifications to the GS-4 casting. Streamlined passenger cars were built in the original 22" length as well as 30" long models.
Plans were to build additional cars, as original castings for another 40 were on hand. And should there be
interest among collectors and operators, to produce additional castings and products. If there was interest, production of small single digit quantities
to ensure good quality would continue. A SkyTop tail for a prototypical parlor car was in development as well, again using 3-D printing.
Waterman also had 5 sets of boilers and tenders for a near scale version of the locomotive, and planned
to build those with larger drivers and a better drive system. These castings were about 3 inches longer overall than the production aluminum Lee Lines engine
and had finer detail. Apparently Dana Barlow intended to build these up, possibly for G scale, and never did.