Added Microscale decals out of several Burlington Northern sets.
In the introductory post on my GP10 project, I noted that I’d like this project done by October 31. I didn’t mention what year. It is well past the date which I originally targeted for completion of this project. However, those of you that know me know the two little reasons (Twin A and Twin B) for my lack of progress. The twins are fine and their brother, 2 1/2, is doing fine. Our life is getting back to the ‘new’ normal.
Any case, I took these pictures on October 6, 2013 and have made progress since then, but I wanted to let you know what has happened with this project leading up to October 6th.
I finished installing most of the detail parts that don’t interfere with masking. Parts I left off for the time being are the lower grab irons and three pane all-weather window. Another big task was to install the DCC decoder. I did a hardwired installation, as this Atlas unit predates DCC ready standards by many years. I chose a DH163 for its ability to produce rear and forward lights on F0 and a (simulated) rotary beacon on the cab top. Street price for a Dh163 is about $30.00.
The hardwired installation isn’t at all hard. Just time consuming. I removed the factory “board”. I wired the red wire to the right pickup, black to the left. An orange and gray wire each to the motor. I used the white and yellow wires for forward and reverse headlights and the green wire to power the fink light. I used the blue wire as common for all the wires. I used Miniatronics 1.5v, 30mA bulbs in all applications here, mainly for their physical dimensions. I’m always biased toward using LEDs, but in this case, it made sense to use these incandescent bulbs. The main issue was making sure all those bulbs would be easy to put back into place after painting.
Then it was off to the paint shop, where I shot a coat of BN green (Polly-S) on the body and frame. I masked using 3M blue painter’s tape and then painted Polly-S engine black on the rest of the model.
A bunch of post-paint work was needed to get the cab to fit down over the main shell and frame correctly. Remember that this model has been modified, so things didn’t quite fit as expected. After several permutations of assembly and disassembly and minimal cursing, I got the engine to fit together presentably and functionally.
Here are a few snapshots of the TCWR 409 on my Sioux Junction HO Scale Model Railroad. I plan to weather this unit later on this week.
This Atlas GP7 is basically a unit built for Atlas by Kato in Japan. It was probably built in the early or mid-1980s. This predates DCC by many years, so special care is needed to install a DCC decoder in this engine. Fortunately, Kato has made the job quite easy by the way the engine was originally manufactured. Here’s how to install a Digitrax DH123 in one of these nice-running units:
I began by disassembling the trucks. This step technically isn’t necessary for DCC installation, but I find it a good best practice for the running quality of the engine and appearance. I made sure all wheelsets were properly in gauge (they were not) and painted the outside faces of each wheel with Polly-S roof brown. This gives the appearance of a dirty, rusty wheel. I reassembled the trucks and moved on.
I cut the power leads from each truck near the copper wire that runs along the top of the gray plastic board inside the engine. I soldered the red wire to the engineers side wheels and the black wire to the fireman’s side wheels. Then I soldered the gray and orange wires to the motor. I later had to flip these around because I found the engine ran backwards. No extra work is needed to isolate the motor here because the leads from the trucks now go through the decoder. Unlike in Athearn and Proto2000 units, the frame in these GP7 units does not conduct electricity, so the motor is already isolated.
I then shortened the blue wire and split it into two wires, one for the rear headlight and one for the front. I soldered in 1/4 watt 390ohm resistors to the yellow and white wires. In series, I soldered in two Miniatronics 1.5 volt 30mA 1.2mm incandescent bulbs. I still like incandescent bulbs in model railroad applications much better than LEDs. Before doing so, I checked the length of the decoder wire to see that I didn’t have too much excess wire to interfere with the shell fitting over the mechanism.
All that soldered together, I inserted the bulbs into the headlight assemblies. I secured them with globs of poster putty, which I consider to be God’s gift to us DCC installing model railroaders! Also, I secured all my solder joints with heat shrink tubing, which I also consider to be a great asset to the hobby!
I replaced the shell, but then realized that there was a glow coming from inside the shell. This turned out to be the factory bulb on top of the Kato board, which had somehow survived being placed on DCC current without a resistor. Not wanting the risk of it overheating nor its unsightly appearance, I removed it and replaced the shell one last time.
A test run on my layout revealed that the wheels needed cleaning (because of the earlier paint step, mostly), so I cleaned the wheels up with acetone, applied with a q-tip. I have a DC powered wire brush at my bench to make the engine run while placed on a foam pad, wheels pointed up for easy cleaning.
The unit runs beautifully now and the lights look nice.
Work continues on my Atlas GP7 chop-nose project. I’ve painted the nose and cab front of engine Polly-S Railbox yellow. Then I masked that color off and painted the cab sides and rear and the long hood and handrails Polly-S Rock Island Maroon.
The maroon airbrushes on quite flat, so before beginning decals, I applied Micro-Gloss to the entire model before applying any decals. This is to help prevent the decal film from being visible in places where it is not wanted. I also painted the air horn and Details Associates all-weather window before applying them to the model.
Now that I am free of one big Progressive Rail project, I am free to pursue other interests in the hobby. Tonight, I installed eye bolts (Details Associates) in the holes I drilled in the top of the long hood. Places to drill were previously denoted by “bumps” that represented the eyebolts molded on the shell. The older Japan-made Atlas/Kato GP7 had molded on grabs. This is an example of such, so I shaved them off and drilled holes for Details Associates wire grab irons.
Stay tuned for a future post when I remove the 3M blue painters tape and reveal what colors this unit will be.
Yes, I’ve been thinking about getting a nose job. Those model railroaders reading this know that decent chop-nosed first generation EMD diesels are in short supply in the HO scale market. The crux of the problem is that EMD built almost no GP7 or GP9 locomotives with low short hoods. So modelers are left to fend for themselves or use out of date models that don’t look good or run particularly well.
So, I took my first shot at a chop nose this weekend. I’ve got some body work left to do. But I thought I’d give you a first look. Here is my chopped Atlas GP7 in HO scale. For the front of the cab, I just used the front of an Athearn GP38-2 cab. I shaved the cab front off and filed it down to match the early EMD round roof contour.
Eventually, I want to build myself a pair of BN GP10 locomotives. These will be non-dynamic shells, so this one is just practice.