I’ve been working on a pair of what I consider to be the quintessentially Canadian diesel road switcher from the ’60s through the ’80s. The SW1200RS was developed by General Motors Diesel Division (GMDD) to provide a light weight locomotive that could do double duty as a road locomotive and yard switcher. It was based upon the SW1200 switcher, which was the latest iteration in a long line of highly successful yard switchers by EMD (and its Canadian subsidiary GMDD in London). The most obvious alterations to the basic platform made to the switcher include larger number boards and more sophisticated flexicoil trucks, which made it possible to operate at higher speeds. Between 1958 and 1960, CP took delivery of over 70 of these locomotives, and put them to use across the system.
During the 1970s, the period we’re modelling on the WRMRC, CP kept a small fleet of them in Sudbury, so we need to have them represented on the WRMRC to effectively depict the range of motive power in use at the time. We have a limited range of options for models in HO.
Twenty-five or thirty years ago, Juneco offered a kit consisting of white metal castings that could be added to the Athearn blue-box switcher that was erroneously marketed as an “SW-1500.” This kit was welcomed by Canadian modellers, and many people used it to convert an Athearn switcher, myself included. Shown in the photo above, the Juneco parts kit is best characterized as being aligned with quality of the Athearn model switcher that it was designed to modify. The obvious drawbacks include the fact that the Athearn switcher itself has an out-of-scale hood, and the Juneco parts are a bit crude by current standards. These models are not suitable for use on the club layout, so I had to look elsewhere.
Overland offered a beautiful brass import of a CP SW1200RS. My limited experience with brass models has been universally disappointing. While the detail and finish on new brass is always impressive, I’ve never owned a brass model that runs well. I know there must be good runners out there, but I simply don’t have the means to find them. A poorly running model is worth very little to me as I intend to operate everything I own. The price of building up a pair of roadswitchers from the Overland model would be beyond what I’m able to muster for my hobby. For me, at least, brass imports are not an option at this point.
True Line Trains has announced and taken reservations for their HO model, which they initially scheduled for delivery in the summer of 2013. These promise to be impressive, and I’ve put money down to reserve two copies of my own. There are probably at least eight more reserved by other members of the WRMRC. I haven’t heard a peep from TLT about their progress toward bringing these to market. I’m hoping they can meet their original 2013 target.
As I wait patiently for my deposit to be converted into models, I’ve decided to check out the only other option for having an SW1200RS in HO scale. The long-discontinued resin kit from the defunct operation called called Point 1 Models builds up into a nice model, if you can find them. The kit itself consists of a large resin casting of the locomotive body, cab, and walkways. It has smaller castings for the pilot and steps, the roof, fuel tanks, interior, and flexicoil truck sideframes. There are also some nicely executed etchings for the finer parts like grills, steps, and stanchions. I found two kits and got to work right away.
By far the most challenging and time consuming part of building one of these kits is the modifications to either an Athearn or Proto 2000 switcher drive so that the finished shell fits over the drive. Despite the fact that the instructions supplied with the kit downplay the complexity of the frame modifications, this step can be daunting, and is made even more demanding by the conversion of the truck sideframes.
I’m about three-quarters through the build at this point, so I’ll go back through my photos and come up with a series of posts to chronicle this build to the best of my recollection.