working on my N scale modelling 'mojo' when I'm finding the time...
Back when, I used to love detailing locos and rolling stock...wasn't sure I still had the eyes and 'touch' after a 10 year hiatus...but with the start and progress of the HCD layout for the "Santa Fe" room, and the acquistion of the original releases of KATO's "Super Chief" and "El Capitan" passenger sets, I knew I would doing my best to super detail the locos that will be pulling these gorgeous trains..
(I've already started modifying and detailing a LL E6 set viewtopic.php?f=1&t=168
here are some pics of the work I've done (so far) to my two KATO F7A units (these are from the latest run...I plane to purchase another A-B-B and A-B-B-A set from the recently announced run....want some F3's as well...but will have to pass on the latest announcement of these-too much work is needed to modify the F3's to resemble the way these units looked during the mid to late 50's-the best, easiest way is to use an F7 shell, and 'paste' an F3 'roof'....)
I love that BLMA is around these days...their 'ultimate' E-F unit detail set is fantastic!-with simple #80 drill-bit 'drilling'..the KATO units can be superdetailed very nicely...the only items I won't be adding are the seperate door and nose grabs...careful painting and shading will pop the detail on the KATO units.
After lots of research into how these units appeared duing the mid 50's I came up with a list of items I wanted on the cab units...
FARR 'vertical' grills
cab window sunshades (on one unit in the L-A-B-C set)
Z scale front couplers (Red Caboose-formerly Unimate) couplers in the between consist units for 'prototypical' close-coupling...
Train air hose(s) and MU cables appropriate to the era (ATSF F's evolved quite a bit in this respect-most pics from the 60's and on show a whole array of pilot mounted MU hoses on both sides of the coupler pocket....)
coupler cut levers on the front pilot
Trucks and pilots sprayed with Tamiya Flat Aluminum paint
light weathering to accent the details
I've worked on both units concurrently to keep them as similar as possible.
Here's what I've done so far-
drilled and backed the pilot hose openings, peculiar to the ATSF (and perhaps more)..the 'as-delivered-from-EMD' pics don't show these openings at all. I drilled and filed the openings, backed them with thin sheet styrene, then painted the openings and backing black. At this point, I drilled and glued a plastic air hose and etched brass MU cable into the appropriate openings (both these items from BLMA-VERY NICE!)...painted with Tamiya flat aluminum.
with #80 drill bit, drilled for and added BLMA windshield wipers (I varied the orientation between both units).I tried Gorilla brand super glue for the first time...I love it...it seems to be a medium, gap-filling type...dipping the end of the part into a drop of decanted super glue leaves enough glue to tack the part into the hole...I use a microbrush to apply a tiny drop of glue to the back side of the hole from inside the shell...this gives the join a little more tooth.
At this point I applied the cab window sunshades...rather than fabricate actual scale sunshades, it's quite easy, and very effective, to simulate the sunshades with decal strips applied to the inside of the windshield glass; in my case I trimmed some Microscale white decal film toslightly different thicknesses, and applied them to one side of one of my cab unit's windowshields...I varied the height between the two to effectively simulate the sunshades being set at slightly different angles...through the 'scale' 6 inch windshield 'glass'..the decals work very well.
After much thought, numerous shims, modifications, and some 'consternation'...Microtrains Z scale (903's, I think) were added to both front pilots...the trick, it seems is to have them mate at the exact height, without 'sagging'...it required filing the top of the coupler pocket opening (fortuitous- as all my pics show the opening, on the prototypes, actually HIGHER than the KATO units!)
The couplers still 'sag', just a tiny bit, but this is only obvious (under the macro lens) in the lead unit...the trailing unit, connected to the rest of the train-'pulls' the coupler perfectly 'level'...more importantly, they mate, EXACTLY, in the center of all properly installed Micro-Trains and KATO knuckle couplers...they are suprisingly strong!
Still left to do....
Add, if I decide to do so, an air hose and MU cable to the right hand side of each pilot (photo references during this era show a lot of variations)
Drill, using the supplied template, the 4 #80 holes needed to mount the front pilot coupler cut levers
apply the Plano model Products Farr 'vertical' grills to the existing painted grills (These are beautiful and fit perfectly-being designed, specifically, for the KATO units)
Carefully shave the molded 'blobs' that represent the roof lift rings, then drill and install the ones supplied by BLMA.
Then, all that's necessary is to pop 'off' all the trucks, then spray them with Tamiya's Flat aluminum...a very nice 'scale' representation of the spray that ATSF used to keep these trucks, and pilots, looking 'new'
(I'll do this with all of the passenger car trucks as well...the 'silver' (more like gray) molded trucks don't capture the look very well...)
Thanks for looking!