Detailed KATO F units-ATSF WIP

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by arbomambo, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    Hello all....
    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
    http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/group.php?discussionid=1259&do=discuss
    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...
    lift rings
    FARR 'vertical' grills
    windshield wipers
    side mirrors
    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!
    Bruce

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  2. Cajonpassfan

    Cajonpassfan TrainBoard Supporter

    Bruce, that's nice work, keep them coming! I need a bunch of these, too...
    Regards, Otto
     
  3. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    Hello all...
    some further progress on the two F7A units...
    air hose and MU cable added to the right side of the pilot
    Rear view mirrors (BLMA)
    and...most importantly, drastic improvement to the Z scale couple mount and appearance.

    I wasn't content at all with my initial mounting of the couplers...they 'stuck out' too far forward and had a 'sag/droop' to them...this was a result of trying to use the hardware that KATO is using for their latest F unit releases (if one is using KATO couplers or Micro-trains couplers, the new coupler mounting method is a Godsend...but I found I needed to carve the Kato pilot insert/ headlight viewblock to more resemble the part used on the older, initial releases of the KATO F units...a simple .060 shim and Micro-trains screw later, the Z scale 903's were affixed to the unit in a much improved and more prototypically correct appearance...
    ..still left to do...
    roof lift rings
    FARR grills (I have it in mind to paint/decal the prototypical 'cutout' areas on the carbody before gluing the Plano grills to the units...I think black paint, or decals (flat coated) will do a lot to give the units a little more 'depth'...(the Intermountain units actually model this feature...in this respect the detail really works...I feel the KATO units capture the subtle 'looks' of the F unit bulldog nose just a little bit better...hence my use of the pre-painted KATO units for my railroad...also, the KATO mechanism is without equal)

    Here are some pics, posed on a section of my in-progress door layout (forgive the blue foam)...I've placed some carved samples of blue foam rockwork in the shots to give some perspective...

    Thanks for looking,
    Bruce

    Unit 40 (L)

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  4. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    Here are shots of unit 40C


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  5. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2011
  6. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    ..and I shouldn't forget the ALCO's!................

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  7. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    One more detail you may want to seriously look at is the cab stirrups and body steps. I was pretty stunned how much difference they made on mine. Mind you, I'm doing the Amtrak-lease 70's look (skirts cut off, spark arrestors, lift rings, nose ladder, orange fade color shift, and mostly, a lot of DIRT) but those body steps replaced with GMM stainless steps, yeah, that makes a very visible difference. After I did the lead unit the other three looked downright chunky to me.

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    I'd painted mine from a couple SOO units so I was able to get the aluminum vs. stainless deal in there.

    I really like the Z coupler front end. I may go back and do that.... nice....
     
  8. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    Randgust,
    You SOLD me!...(especially after seeing your 60's-70's era units...NICE!)...
    I've thought about those for all the F and E units...and the ALCO's...it would be silly to not include the stirrups in the upgrade...do you recommend a particular favorite manufacturer?
    Also...I would LOVE to find some Sunrise Enterprises speed recorders for the F units...sad that they're no longer made...
    Love the stainless effect on your units...I'm thrilled that KATO, in their latest releases, actually did a very nice job on simulating the difference between the stainless panels and paint...ot 'quite' as shiny as the real deal, but a very distinct 'two-tone' treatment...
    on that note, I'm definitely going to 'gloss' the E6 units...comparing LL's finish to the KATO units (which I'll 'dull' just a tad), the LL units have a dead flat finish that just won't do for a recent rebuild and paint...
    Thanks,
    Bruce
     
  9. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    I'm using the Gold Medal Models steps (GMM). And yeah, Kato (unlike everybody else that ever did an ATSF unit) did recognize the aluminum vs. stainless color difference on the current runs.
     
  10. 3DTrains

    3DTrains TrainBoard Supporter

    Both of you have some outstanding models - great work! Randall, I love the grime, spark arrestors, and the wrecking lugs. :)
     
  11. OC Engineer JD

    OC Engineer JD Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    That is just bad to the bone! Really makes the detailing stand out, and the new stirrups make a BIG difference! Hard to imagine weathering a Santa Fe F unit, but it sure looks realistic!
    Bruce, keep up the great work, they are all looking excellent! Going to get me started on mine.....LOL
     
  12. Bill Denton

    Bill Denton TrainBoard Supporter

    Intermountain F7's are also in this club!
     
  13. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    Hello all...
    with a little spare time last evening, I 'bit the bullet' and dove into the one part of this detail project that intimidated me...applying the cut levers to the pilots of the F units...I had decided that I wanted to add the beautiful BLMA levers (they show up on EVERY pic of EVERY ATSF F unit 'post-delivery')...IMHO, they add to the 'busy-ness' of the pilot, yet don't detract from the 'sleekness' of these beauties...
    I was hesitant, more from never having used these before, and not being sure about their 'robustness' i.e. whether they would hold up to the regular handling of the units, and their ability to take the bends necessary for them to fit properly w/o breaking or causing the mounting rings to detach from the pilot...
    Again...installation requires the requisite drilling of #80 holes...4 in this case, for the mounting 'lugs'. BLMA supplies a jig, which is supposed to be taped to the pilot face-two different sets of outboard lug positions are available, depending on the angle that one desires for the cut lever. A bonus, to my thinking, was that the ATSF units seemed to have a variety a mounting angles and length of cut levers...this would work in my favor, absolving me of extreme accountability to the 'rivet counters' among us (me being 'somewhat' included in that group...lol)
    A quick note...I'm finding that I'm really enjoying using this 'Gorilla Glue' brand super glue/CA...I've used it during this project for the first time; it seems to produce a much stronger (and forgiving) bond, and, although it's closer to a 'gap-filling' viscosity, I've not had any problems applying it sparingly, using a microbrush or a finely chiseled toothpick.
    I decided not to use the drilling jig, for two reasons, 1) the jig doesn't have an 'arc' built into the bend- it's not accurate, and won't produce correct alignment of the mounting lugs, and 2) because I had already applied the air line and MU hoses, using a properly oriented jig would be difficult at best, so I used to MK I eyeball to make the first (outboard) holes...using some of the 'lines' of the pilot, and photos, it is relatively easy to mark this spot accurately, a pair of dividers helped me make the inboard holes using the first as a reference...
    Carefully using fine tweezers to hold the lugs, I dipped the ends into a small decanted drop of gorilla glue CA..dipping the end a few times produces a tiny 'blob' of CA that helps fill the hole (another benefit of this Gorilla Glue, is that it allows 10-20 seconds of 'fiddle' time to orient the parts perfectly). I usually apply a tiny drop of CA to the hole from the backside as well to help create the strohgest bond possible, and I did in this case.
    Oh, i should mention, also, that this Gorilla Glue CA doesn't seem to fog, i've applied it sparingly, so as to prevent as much fogging as possible (having not used the product before)..but so far, with the sparse application, no fogging yet...
    Now for the 'tedious' part...bending and affixing the cut lever itself...this part was a little frustrating...the bends required to mount on the 'bowed' pilot face, AND angled 'down' toward the underside of the cut lever, all the while, doing my best to not upset or break the hoses already mounted.
    Also, understand that the BLMA etched stainless parts are gorgeous, with subtle relief, allow bending in the plane to which they're manufactured, but resist bending in the other plane, in this case, the vertical...however, between the two parts, left and right, I managed to bend, coax, curse under my breath, and glue the two levers to a pretty 'symmetrical' appearance...to the eye (with readers and magnified ottlamp) they looked good...only the camera, with macro feature, would really tell the tale...a benefit, and curse, of having the macro feature available is to point out deficiencies in paint and work that i wouldn't have seen otherwise...quite frankly, I've used it to 'go back' and fix something that I thought was 'done'...

    Here are the latest...'lead' unit 40L is still in process, but now that the first one is under the belt, the others should go faster
    ...still to go...FARR grills, roof lifting rings, and, now, etched foot stirrups (already ordered)

    Thanks for looking,
    Bruce


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  14. SecretWeapon

    SecretWeapon TrainBoard Supporter

    ‚ÄčNice job Randy!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  15. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    This is a little OT, but not entirely given the discussion about the louvers and depth. This is the Intermountain F that I pretty much nuked and started over on, as in my mind the blue was just way too 'blue' for a '70's unit. What intrigued me about the IM unit was the grilles, just love 'em, but yeah, in order to get any depth I had to pop them off, paint it black behind them, and put them back on again. Without that effort I had nice, clean yellow in there and that wasn't right.

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    Here's the 'before' shot....http://gustafson.home.westpa.net/IMF722801.jpg

    You can clearly see the GMM stirrups and the lift rings on this project, too. So far this is the only unit I've ever made real brass screen spark arrestors for, you can actually see a little through them.

    This is done to represent one of the 'pre-Cleburne' units pretty much on death's door prior to CF7 conversion in '72. And since I run it in regular service as a trailing unit that big ol' coupler stays, despite the appearance.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2011
  16. SP-Wolf

    SP-Wolf TrainBoard Member

    You've done a beautiful job. But- shouldn't the cut levers be behind the hoses-? Just wondering.

    Wolf
     
  17. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    Randall, love your freight unit... I lived in central Texas during the last gasp of these units...as much as I'd like to, I'm just not going to 'bite' on the Intermountain F units (although their announcement of the re-release of Black widow F's WITH snowplows are really going to test my resolve!)..I really like the 'look' of the KATO F's and I really like their mechanism...and, like you, I enjoy the detailing process...
    that being said, i AM going to be on the lookout for KATO ATSF freight shells...I want, at least, one 50's era A-B-B-B-A F7 freight lash-up...so, it's either search for shells to mount on new mechanisms, gather some undec freight shells (i'm kind of partial to this possibility) and do'em 'up' myself...or wait for KATO to re-release the frieght scheme....
    it just occurred to me that an FT lashup might be in my future as well...so, perhaps IM isn't completely 'out'...

    Wolfgang,
    it seems that air and MU hose 'placement' was kind of haphazard, although, I'd imagine that an outfit like the Santa Fe had some standards and best practices 'in play' along these lines...pics of F's in every era show a pretty good mix of the way hoses were 'stowed'..here are just a few pics of F3's and F7's to illustrate my point...(look closely and you'll see that varied the 'hang' of the hoses on both my units to reflect a little 'randomness'...the left side hoses are tucked behind the coupler cut lever...on the right side, the air hose hangs 'over' the lever...
    Sincerely,
    Bruce

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  18. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

    just finished the 40L unit levers....
    as I suspected, this install went a lot quicker than the previous due to being a lot further along the 'learning curve'...
    going to take a small break from these units now...waiting for the stirrups....
    I'll do some more cutting on the foam for the layout this evening...
    and, at some point, during the weekend, going to work a little on the E6 units, now that I found my stash of decals!

    I'll post these pics in two stages....(I see a small smudge of CA on the pilot that needs a little polishing...lol...before the very light pilot weathering these units will recieve, the entire pilot will be sprayed in Tamiya Flat Aluminum...so i'm not sweating the visual difference between the etch steel detail parts and the color of the painted pilot...)
    Thanks for looking,
    Bruce

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  19. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    I do appreciate anyone that can answer a question with good documentation, because I was wondering the same thing....

    The only thing I will say about the IM units - the mechanisms are equal in my opinion, the etched grilles are better but only IF you want that stainless look, the windshields are worse. I've got four Katos and one IM. Compared to the five Trix units they replaced, they are all wonderful.

    Another 'subjective' thing on the ATSF passenger units is the appearance of the stainless grilles at the warbonnet area. I've seen various photos that would seem to prove that they factory painted them the red color and then it came off, they never painted them after the original factory paint, they just painted under them but not over them, and that they never painted them at all and carefully took them off and on at repaint. Or that different paint crews were left to discretion on what to do. I have yet to see a factory paint scheme that looks right to me, because of the odd treatments and see-thru nature. Kato's stock compromise of painting the stripe and NOT the red color doesn't look right to me as a compromise. I've about convinced myself that you can find evidence of all those situations if you study enough photos. Neither completely red or completely silver looks right to me; by the 70's it looked to me like they had sometimes painted over them and the paint had peeled back off in spots leaving stainless, but underneath it was dirt over red. But in any place the car locomotive washer touched, off it came.

    Here's one of my '70's beaters (Amtrak era) where you can clearly see that they warbonnet, and the stripe, is painted on the body and apparently the grilles were taken off, body painted, and put back on. You can see it all behind the grilles:
    http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=82554&nseq=70
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2011
  20. SP-Wolf

    SP-Wolf TrainBoard Member

    Bruce,
    That is truly awesome info!! Thanks. I too can appreciate well researched and documented modelling. Excellent attention to the finer details. I tend to get tunnel vision on the SP. So I'm clueless on other roads practices.

    Thanks again,
    Wolf
     

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