Some things I need suggestions on...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Canopus, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    OK so I'm planning a series of low-budget projects just for fun. I want to buy some Athearn kits and spruce 'em up a bit - and now don't go telling me that I would be better off buying Atlas or Kato or Lifelike RTR versions because that's what those sourpusses over at Atlas forums told me. That's no fun in my opinion, I get much more joy working on and making cheap units look like 'spensive ones, rather than just buying a hugely expensive unit and spending weeks just working up the guts to weather the damn thing.

    Anyway, I want a switcher collection, as my layout will mainly be dedicated to switching and small industry operation, as I don't have room to run full freight trains, only as much as a short local freight. In my collection I would like an SW7, an SW1001, an SW1200, an SW1500, and a Baldwin S12. Now, obviously the SW1200 would come from elsewhere, but the rest would all be Athearn models that I've spruced up. But the part I want advice on is the SW1001, as that would essentially be a conversion. I'm planning on doing this by cutting down the frame so that the walkways and such are lower down, and then replacing the cab with an SW7 cab - what I'll do then is replace the roof to get the overhang right. Would this do it? Also, any advice for working on the other switchers?

    Another thing I want is a set of GP7s. Any suggestions for this loco? I'll be getting it from athearn, this will be another low budget "spruce up" project. Not sure what colorscheme I'll be going for, but it'll probably be something along the lines of ex-Conrail, that kind of era. The latest I can possibly run it anyways.

    I plan on having a line of dead locos and freight cars in my yard, so I'll probably get a load of athearn dummys for this - any tips or suggestions here? I know about putting buckets over switcher stacks, but that's about it. I plan on buying one of the walthers EMD 567 prime mover models, putting it in one of the locos, and opening up the loco's hood (I think I'll probably be taking out a lot of the access doors to reveal it or something, maybe need some suggestions on that?) so you can see it inside all rusty and oily like. I need to know which locos had this engine in so I can choose which one I want to do this to.

    Another thing I need suggestions on, is industry for my layout. I really like chemical tanks, especially the short and medium length ones. I've already figured that my kaolin plant will need occasional visits from Acrylic Acid tanks (which is used to thicken the kaolin slurry), but this would be so small time that we're talking a single car making a visit once every week or two weeks. Therefore I need suggestions on what to carry, and what kind of industry supplies it (so I know what structures to put on my layout). I figure I'll probably need something like a walthers oil tank loading platform (to act as chemical loading area) and some storage tanks... but I'm not sure as I've never seen such a plant before. I figure I'll at least need a load of pipework.. maybe trailing off into the distance, and we can imagine that the chemical plant is off the board out of sight?

    Thanks in advance.:thumb:
  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I'm not sure what Athearn is offering now in the way of switchers, but they used to market what they called an SW1500, which I think was actually an SW7. In any case, you can use it to model most of the early SWs, unless the over-width hood is an issue. I used this model to make SW1200RS roadswitchers for my free-lance Grand Valley.


    These are basically SW1200s with Flexicoil road trucks, although the prototype also features larger fuel tanks and an integral headlight/number board/marker light housing, which I opted not to model due to my roads relatively short runs. Both CNR and CPR used these locos, and many are still in service. I believe that the prototype first appeared in 1957 or '58. My four are detailed to match my own road's practices, and all feature can motors and added weight.

    The same Athearn loco can be used to build an NW2. The main external modification is to put a "step" in the hood, just in front of the cab. This is the only picture I have of mine, and the flattened hood just in front of the cab doesn't show too well, but basically, the slope on the Athearn model is altered, with the half directly in front of the cab flat, and the other half sloped. (I apologize for the dislocated front handrail: one of those "glitches" that you don't notice until you see it in a photo). The model has a can motor, added weight and a cab interior.


    I'm not sure what you want to know concerning the GP7, but Athearn's, which they call(ed) a GP9, is a good starting point, again taking into consideration the over-width hoods. This is a photo of one that I built in the late '70s for an article in Model Railroader's Paint Shop. The details were altered, working from a lot of photos of the prototype, to match the real thing, and the model is, other than the hood width, quite accurate. Again, remotored and with a lot of extra weight added. The loco on the left is similarily modified, using the same Athearn loco as a starting point, to represent a GP9.


    As far as stored locos go, buckets, or even plastic sheeting tied around the stacks were common, and the open or missing hood doors should look good. I worked at a steel plant that ran a fairly large fleet of older GE and mostly EMD switchers, which they kept in excellent mechanical condition. I would often see these locos sitting outside the shop in various stages of being dismantled for rebuilding. This went from open hood doors, to the entire hood removed, to just the trucks, frame and cab, right down to just the frame, sitting on stands. The rebuilds included not only the prime mover, but also the generator, traction motors, and all wiring, along with, where necessary, control stands. The few locos that remain in service now are all remotely controlled.
    I hope this information is of some assistance.

  3. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    Yes it is of some assistance. Hearing that the hoods are overwidth is very concerning. Just how overwidth are they? Are we talking, 1, 2 millimeters? Or more? I can tolerate a couple millimeters I think, just about, but any more than that would be unbearable. I have this thing where if I know that something is inaccurate I simply cannot mentally stand owning it.

    I'm assuming you're not familiar with the current Athearn range, judging by the way you talk about your switchers/locos. They currently offer an SW7, an SW1000, and an SW1500... they all looked totally accurate to me, each one having the features typical of the prototype. The 1500 has flexicoil trucks and the integral number/headboard either on the front of the hood or on the front of the hood and the front and back of the cab. The SW1000 has everything the average SW100 has, integral headlight/number/headboard, standard EMD switcher trucks, a single exhaust stack, and seems to be the right overall shape. The SW7 is exactly what I've seen in photos, it has both stacks, the standard trucks, and the typical SW7 cab.

    Actually, I had no idea there were any inaccuracies whatsoever until you claimed the hoods were overwidth... and I've definately seen enough photographs and drawings of the prototype to be able to identify errors. So perhaps, just perhaps, these are new toolings? I need to put my mind at rest on this issue before I buy any, as I don't want to have errors that are too substantial to correct and too substantial to ignore/not notice. Could you or someone confirm whether their current range of switchers are accurate? Also, you didn't mention anything on the S12... I hear this is a good model, which I'm tempted to buy as I HATE the user-unfriendly crap that Stewart Hobbies pump out.. but again this over-width hood issue has me spooked.
  4. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    don't loook at a picture of a real SW1001. The SW1001 cab is bizzare. its not only founded off, but its shorter, and longer. in addition, the batter boxes ( i think thats what they are) are an incorrect shape. the indent ahead of the cab is to long. the number boads up front will need some modification as well.

    I'd sure like to know how you'd make an SW1001, since they don't sell them seperate.

    Does anyone have scale drawings of an SW1001?

    i think Conrail was the end of the line for most GP7s and GP9s. the few that are left appear to belong to shortlines, and some Canadian roads. Conrail quickly got rid of older units early on. The GP7s were being phased out by 1999 by conrail. I'm not aware of any GP7s going to CSX or NS, who now own conrail and all its eqipment jointly.

    instead of GP7s, GP15-1s or GP38-2s would be a better match for post Conrail small locomotives.

    I assume you are working with the Northeast, and while i can't help you with engine acess doors open, you could get bunches of old locomotives ( like the GP7) with predessor paint showing through. if you go to , you can go check out some pictures of locomtives and cars that say CR on them, but just under the surface you see NH, PC, Reading lines, EL, all of that. that would be a cool project to have.

    if you buy the tanks, and walthers piping kit, it tells you exactly how to attach the pipes. However, these models are for oil. i'm sure you can find pictures though of a kaolin plant. pipework isn't hard, its usually straight forward.

    I have the Athearn GP7, and yes it is overwidth. no, its not really that noticeable. it won't bother you, and it will look fine.

    only the OLD athearn units are oversized. just take a look at the old GP35. that was scary. The GP7 isn't bad at all. anything new will be the correct shape. besides, most locomotives you buy will not be correct, just representations. in most cases you can buy detail kits for a specific railroad's configuration, but also cast on details can an very well could be wrong, and it can be very difficult to change those details. the best thing you can do is to literally study every inch of your locomotive, and see what you can do. when you talk about the GP7, those things have been around so long that its unlikely that your model matches the prototype, because it has been changed in various ways, like louver configurations, bells, whistles, vents, the list never ends. The various switchers you talk about will have all sorts of crazy things with them that you will need to change later. for example, the SW1500 was based on a Union Pacific prototype, i'm fairly sure, and UP's needs are different then that of other railroads.

    models are more representations than exact miniature replicas.
  5. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    The SW1500's are a newer release, and have scale width hoods, the earlier SW7/SW1000 had the wider hood because of the slightly larger motor, the newer Athearn motors allow the scale width hoods.
    I don't have samples of each to measure, but the difference can be picked out, once you have seen both. I have a couple of the older GP7/9's with the wide hoods. They're not so bad that I would trash the older locos, but I don't MU the old and new together.
  6. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    The SW1001 cab isn't bizarre at all. Many people think that it's a "cut down" cab but in reality it's just essentially an SW7 cab with a bigger roof overhang - these cabs are lower than the SW1000 cabs, which means they just look lower. The SW7 cab is not quite long enough, but only by a couple of millimeters, and this error is not even visible. The roof overhang can be increased by carefully removing the original roof, and replacing it with thin styrene sheet cut out to shape and then curved and glued onto the cab. By battery boxes I'm assuming you mean the boxes at the end of the loco near the cab - they're not incorrect shape on the SW1000, they're identical. The indent ahead of the cab can be modified really really easily - if you're a competant modeller, you should easily be able to modify this part of a switcher, because most if not all modellers serious about modelling a switcher prototype have to do this. All you need is some two-part epoxy modelling putty, and a flat, smooth piece of plastic to press on it to get it into a smooth shape, and to smooth out the contours. The number boards up front can be left, while they're not identical, they're so similar that really, who cares?

    I'm not really interested in historical accuracy, as I plan on running my Alco C630 hi hood alongside units that push the time period so far forward that my loco would be in the scrap heap by then. I want to do a GP7 from an Athearn model because I enjoy turning these things into really good models. I'll probably get a pool of locomotives that I can run when I'm feeling like being prototypical, most likely some Atlas GP38s, GP40s, etc. But even then they're still running on an entirely fictional location so all that effort to be prototypical is wasted the second I put the models on the layout. :rolleyes:

    I'll probably have more GP7s on the deadline than I ever will on my active roster though, because like you say with all the old liveries showing through it's a very cool project.

    Uhm, I think you misunderstand. I know how to use the piping kits and so forth, and I've even scratchbuilt pipework using different widths of plastic dowel, intersecting lengths of pipe with thin discs cut from the wider dowel. So that isn't my problem. Also, I know exactly what a kaolin plant looks like because I've lived around the most of my life (hence why I'm modelling it) so that's not the problem either. The other thing is, I'm not asking about the kaolin plant, I'm interested in having a chemical plant. Now I know that the walthers kits are for oil, but technically since a tank is a tank, and a pipe is a pipe, it doesn't really matter which industry they were intended for, as to the best of my knowledge all the industries use the same equipment. The only difference may be, that chemical industries probably use smaller tanks for more "specialised" chemicals that are produced in smaller quantities. What I need, is perhaps advice from someone who has got maybe a rail connected acid storage and loading facility on their layout, and what they used to model it.

    I know, I know, I was just asking if they represent the real thing as well as they possibly can within reason, rather than if they are exact miniature replicas. :thumb:

    Hmm, okay. And you're sure that the SW1000 has the wider hood, and that it's not just the SW7? If it's the case that the SW1000 definately has the wider hood, does that mean it also has the older chassis in it, or are the using newer chassis and older bodies?

    Because if it's a newer chassis, I'll buy the project in spare parts (easy to do with athearn!), using the hood of an SW1500 (which is close enough to the SW1000), the cab of an SW7, and the chassis of an SW1000 and all the detail parts for the SW1000. That way I can solve the overwidth hood issue... unless it's not really overwidth enough for it to be worth doing that. In which case I'll just buy an SW1000 and modify that like I was going to originally.
  7. A good industry IMO, which has tanks, piping, a flare, dead cars and engines, and myriad other details is a GATX repair facility, like the one at the east end of UP's Colton yard. I have some pics I haven't scanned yet, but here's a link to somebody elses': What these pics don't show are all the tanks and loading / unloading equipment at the southeast corner of the property for storage of materials while tank cars are being repaired.

  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I'll have to try that! i've been searching forever for a good way to make an SW1001. I have the athearn SW1000 pretending to be a Conrail Philadelphia division SW1001. I wasn't quite sure how you'd go about changing it. thanks for the hints! one day i'll get up the nerve to risk trying to convert it.

    Indeed i did! I'm sorry for the confusion:oops: . I don't have much on chemical plants, but i do have an article on an Asphault transfer facility. that looked really cool. Speaking of the Kaolin plant, do you have any pictures? i have a few Kaolin tankers, but i haven't ever seen a kaolin plant, and have no clue how i would model one.

    the SDP40 and GP35 are the only extremely obese athearn models i encounter often. The GP7 looks fine, although it is a little big. The SW1000s appear to be newer, and they have a scale hood width of 6'3"s. I'm not quite sure what the prototype is, but if it is the wrong size, its not noticeable.

    The SW1500s are as wide as the SW1000s. on top of that, i don't think an SW1500 could pull off an SW1001. there are way to many out of place details. However i don't think you'll need to use the SW1500. The current SW1000 shell is good. I wouldn't know about the SW7, but i'm sure there are SW7 cabs out there other than the athearn one if it doesn't fit. your original plan should work as far as i know. good luck! i'd like to see it when its done!
  9. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    To the best of my knowledge, Athearn never retooled the sw1000, so the frame, and body are still the same. It is possible that later production runs had the newer motors, so a scale width hood could be used over the existing chassis.

    -Everything is possible, it's all a matter of probability-
  10. Canopus

    Canopus Member

    Yes I've seen that model, pretending and failing to be an SW1001. The reason this happens is because they hear the words "The SW1001 is essentially identical to the SW1000" and assume it means that they're actually identical.

    As for getting up the nerve, you can buy sw1000 and sw7 bodies as spare parts from several places, because athearn likes to make their parts comercially available individually. I suggest you do this, convert it into an sw1001 shell, and then use it interchangeably with your sw1000 chassis. Cheap and easy!

    As a minor correction to my original post, the boxes behind the cab ARE actually slightly different to the SW1000 - the SW1001's has a sloped top, where as the SW1000's has a horizontal then a slope, but this can be modelled by simply cutting up the original to the right profile and fitting a piece of styrene to cover the top.

    Modelling kaolin plants is great because not many people do it, and I think it's a pretty neat industry. I should warn you I'm a bit fanatical about this, you've really opened a bit of a can of worms by asking that question! But I hope you'll have a use for all the info that I'm about to spew. ;)

    The product is shipped in one of three ways; powder, bagged, and slurry. Powder is taken in cylindrical hoppers and pressureaid hoppers, bagged being taken in box cars. Your tankers take slurry. This is loaded at a slurry plant, which is basically a place where the kaolin is thickened. I don't know much about this process, because I've mainly concentrated on the part of the process that dries the clay, but I'll explain it to the best of my knowledge. Basically, my understanding of it is the process is that the kaolin slurry is first of all thickened to a very thick sludge in outdoor thickening tanks, then it is pumped into a building where a chemical that prevents the kaolin settling to the bottom of the tank is mixed in. This is then pumped into covered storage tanks, and pipes go from here to the loading bay, which is usually covered.

    To model this, you'll need thickening tanks (about 12 or so in a whole plant, but you only need to really model one corner of the plant, and just "imagine" the rest of the plant is somewhere off the edge of the board), a row of storage tanks (smallish vertical oil tanks are good for this), and the building in which the chemical mixing takes place. Thickening tanks have to be scratchbuilt - this is best done using the walthers wide oil storage tank, cut in half. I'll let the pictures of my thickening tanks do the rest of the talking:


    This is a picture of the column type thickener - the ring around the base of the central column is the feed baffle, this will eventually be at the top of the column when the model is completed, and will be supported by framework. You only see all of the feed baffle and framework when the tanks are empty, so if you don't have to model this if you'd rather keep it simple. The catwalk will eventually have railings all the way along it. At the bottom of the tank will be the raking arms, which gradually pull the settled kaolin on the floor of the tank toward the center, where there's a collection pipe.


    Using the other half of the tank, I've started work on a bridge type thickener, which is simply two I beams and a catwalk. I'm modelling this as a full tank hence the lack of a base. This can be done by cutting a circular piece of styrene sheet, and the gluing it at the waterline of the model. Since kaolin slurry is white, you can leave the styrene white, and just add resin water to get the ripples etc.


    This is one of the stacks for my kaolin dryer. These sit outside the dryer building on a framework with lots of catwalks and safety caged ladders. The big "tank" that the stack is coming out of is a wet scrubber, used to remove sulfur dioxide and particulates from the exhuast gasses. This model still needs pipework and a whole lot of ladders, catwalks and framework. The dryer building is no wider than about 20 centimeters, 15 centimeters high, and about 50 to 70 centimeters long although it can be made smaller. The building usually has a pitched roof, a ridge vent and lots of other ventilation, and the entire structure is usually corrugated steel, iron, or asbestos cement. Connected to this building is the conveyor, which either leads to a store, silo, or mill, or all 3.


    This is the barely finished stack of the clay mill. Again, this is a wet scrubber configuration, to comply with environment laws. This will sit outside the mill, where the dryed kaolin is milled and heated to a fine powder with a moisture content of 1%, this is then bagged, or stored in silos, or both. My model will feature silos and a bag store.


    Silos and conveyor. This is a heavily modified walthers model, and is very much unfinished. I ran out of conveyor while I was making this, which is why it's a tad short. I'm currently in the process of figuring out how to extend it.

    There are some more specifics of the industry which you can model or not, it's up to you, but personally I don't think that they are worth it. One thing you should know is that silo types used vary greatly, some being similar to the plastic pellet transfer silos, some being more like grain/flour storage silos.

    A good starting point kit for a kaolin drying plant is the Black Gold asphalt. Black Gold asphalt is ideal for modelling the kind of open sided crude raw clay shredding and drying plant typical of Kentucky-Tenessee clay (K-T clay). Simply throw a pitched roof over the rotary kiln, loading hoppers, and such, supported by I-beams. Have the stack poking out of the roof. Under the same roof have the piles of different grades of clay, and a front loader. Have the pair of silos off to one side of the building. Voila! A basic clay drying plant. You'll of course have to modify the silos to accept rail traffic, as they are only designed for road traffic, but that's simple enough. This would be appropriate for use with hoppers.
  11. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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