Dummy Locos

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by coachC, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. coachC

    coachC Member

    What company carries the best dummy locos? Most of the websites like Atlas and Bachmann are a pain to navigate and I couldn't find much on them. Athearn had a few. I was wondering if anyone used many dummy lococs on their layout and if they were as detailed as the power ones? I want to buy one and practice detailing/weathering before I try it on an expensive powered loco. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome.
  2. NIevo

    NIevo Member

    I like Athearn simply because they are cheaper then most, and if you are using them to practice thats what you want. Another suggestion is to maybe buy a few shells to practice on.
  3. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Most of my dummies are Athearns which appear identical to the powered units.
    Others are old Tycos I gutted. :)
  4. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    coachC, hope you dont mind me asking in your thread, but does anyody know if anybody sells any dummy kits that would fit rail power SD38 shells?

    But to get back on topic, coachC, you could go to a train show, and Im sure you could find some cheap shells for less than $5 a piece.
  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    For a dummy...just take the shell and build a primitive new frame from styrene or scrap material. Then acquire an accurate, preferably junk box set of SD trucks or sideframes. Then either pull the gears out so it rolls freely, or get a set of wheels for it (36"?...I'm not a diesel person). Voila! It should be serviceable then.
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Athearn used to offer pretty much all of the parts for their locos separately - I powered some dummy units with can motors, and got replacement trucks with gears and sideframes, plus the driveline universals, although I don't know if Horizon still offers the parts in this manner. Couldn't hurt to ask. ;)
    You should be able to find used Athearn Blue Box locos, both powered and dummy, at a very reasonable price. To make a dummy from a powered unit, remove and discard the steel strap that runs between the trucks and the motor, then remove the driveshafts that connect the motor to the trucks and remove the worm from the trucks. To do this, use a small screwdriver to pop the cover off the top of both trucks. Merely lift out the worm and bearings, then pull the drive line away from the motor. You can simply remove the parts that slide away freely, or pull the entire works from the motor shaft. Snap the covers back into place on the trucks, as they help hold everything together and also hold the truck in place on the frame. Leave the motor in place to give the unit some weight, or simply grasp it firmly and pop it out. This modified unit will offer some resistance to rolling because there are still gears inside the truck - They can be removed, while you've still got that top cover off the truck, by also carefully removing the bottom cover. Use the small screwdriver, but be careful to not break the retaining lugs. On most Athearn trucks, there's also small third cover near the end of the gear housing. Separate the two halves of the casing, lift out the gears and reassemble everything. Don't remove the gears that are part of the axles. The original Athearn dummy units used a different truck that had no internal gears and was very much like a freight car truck in the way that the wheels snapped in place - it had to be replaced if you wanted to power the unit.
    Here's a modified truck from an Athearn switcher. The worm cover and the worm and bearings are removed in this photo, but you can see the small cover still in place on the inboard end of the truck, near the frame of the loco. The bottom cover is longer, but similar.

    Here's and old LifeLike (Proto No-Thousand) :rolleyes: that I bought via mail order many years ago. The handrails were heavy plastic castings that were part of the walkway, there were mounting slots in the sides of the hood and cab, and the motor was mounted on one truck and was a very poor runner. I removed the motor and all internal gears, then redetailed the body shell. The two that I have are the only dummies on the layout, and needless to say, they don't pull very well. ;) On the rare occasions they're used, they run with a pair of Atlas RS-11s.

  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Wow! Dr. Wayne, I'm very impressed! Your re-detailing on the trainset locomotive has turned it into quite the nice model. Very impressive!...I'm thinking of a LL HO dockside switcher and wondering if I could do something like that to it...including the reduction of it its top speed from 120mph down to 20mph
  8. coachC

    coachC Member


    Ask anything you want. I don't mind anyone asking anything they want in threads I have started.

    Thanks for all the replies. Doctorwayne, those models look great. I just want to detail and weather a loco to get a feel for it. I don't just want a shell for this project because if I do an ok job on it, I would like to display it. As for shells, I plan on using them to practice painting with an airbrush, that so far, I've been afraid to use.
  9. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    For your first practice sessions, I'd suggest starting on some cardboard. The reason for this is that you need to learn what the airbrush will or won't do and you need to learn how to control those things. Why waste an otherwise perfectly good model learning the proper use of the tool. The booklet that came with my Paasche VL, a dual-action airbrush, suggested some simple exercises that will help you to control what the tool does.
    The first thing to do is to choose the type of paint which you intend to use. Lacquer-based paints will spray differently than acrylics, so you'll need to consult the paint manufacturer for the particulars of thinning for airbrushing and the pressures recommended for whatever paint you're using.
    Try spraying at different distances from the cardboard, and make passes at different speeds to see the effect on the spray. Also try adjusting the air pressure up or down - there are instances where this can solve difficult painting situations.
    After you've gotten comfortable using the airbrush, try this exercise, which I found especially useful. First, try spraying a dot, without making a spatter around it - you want the edges to be distinct, and the dot to be as small as possible. This helps to teach you to control the flow of air and paint, very important if you want to get an even finish. When you've mastered the dot, make a grid of them, with the rows as straight as you can get them. Then, connect the dots, keeping the lines as narrow and distinct as possible. This exercise teaches control over the tool.
    When you feel comfortable doing these exercises, move on to practising on the loco.

  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Athearn used ot offer dummy versions of all of their locomotives. The dummy units have pretty much passed from favor. About the only dummy they offer anymore is the b unit in the r-t-r f7 A-B set, and to my knowledge it isn't available separately. t train shows you might find some older Athearn blue box dummys for sale.
  11. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I have one Athearn Blue Box dummy loco, a SD45, in EMD demonstrator.
    The good Dr. is right that the trucks are like your basic rolling stock in that they just snap into the frames. They are also lighter weight wise then the powered units.
    They are getting harder to find, but you may still get them at shows(try the "bargain boxes"), or ask the guy at your LHS. His distributor might still have some in stock, or he may even have a couple on hand.

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