I'm pretty new to the hobby side of Lionel, and whenever I've "googled" a question, it seems an OGR forum post comes up as the answer. So I thought I'd go right to the source since you all are so knowledgeable and helpful.
Several years back I bought the Lionel "The Chief" RTR set (6-30178) with the pre-lionchief FT and the red stripe passenger cars. I also bought the two add in cars, and happily ran these around the floor loop with the kids.
Fast forward to last month, when I fulfilled a childhood dream of owning a full Warbonnet SF F3 ABA set, when I purchased a mint 6-14588 set from 2005. I them bought the essential Legacy units to use the TMCC functions. I love the locos! But when I string those "Chief" passengers cars behind those scale (?) F3s, they look kind of silly. And my internet and ebay searches turn up many many Lionel Santa Fe passenger sets and models, and no easy way of knowing which are the size of the classic traditional models, and which would fit better with the F3s.
So which sets should I look for? Here is my preference list:
1. I'm not looking for a scale model, nor a prototype consist. I would like 4-7 cars to string behind the ABA set. (I actually want to add a 2nd B unit, but that's another WTB post )
2. O36 curve capable since I use Fastrack.
3. I prefer the all-silver cars, but could live with a red stripe.
4. I don't have strong feelings regarding the shadow inserts or full interior. But if I had to choose between two equal options, I'd lean toward the interior and populate it with figures.
5. Not looking to model a "real" consist, but I do like Observation and dome cars, if available.
6. I'd like a set that is realistically obtainable either new or auction sites.
Thanks for the help and guidance on recommendations.