SW1200RS Project: Inching Forward

I had a busy weekend, but I was able to squeeze in a couple of hours at the work bench.  At least some of that time was dedicated to my continued organizing of the work space, and I cleaned up a bit.  It’s amazing how such a big work surface can get cluttered with so many small tools and parts.

The SW1200RS project inches forward.  I finished the rear handrails and stanchions, and painted all of the bits that have been added.  I’ll post my progress on the front handrails as soon as I have something to show.


SW1200RS Project – Handrails, Air Lines, Lift Bars

I spent a couple of hours at my new workbench, and the SW1200RS project continues to inch forward.  Today I installed train line air hoses and coupler lift bars on both ends of both units.  I wanted to start working on the rear steps and handrails, so I installed the drop step on the rear of both units. Once that was finished, I got to work bending handrails.

Some time in the 1960s, these units were refitted with handrails along the walkways and safer handrails at the steps.  The kit provides a template for bending these, and it turns out  it’s bang-on.   I’ve only finished the inboard handrails at the rear of 8152.  Here’s how it looks so far.

IMG_2661I took the time to paint the handrails because they didn’t show up very well when they were unpainted.  The lift bar and air hoses are still unpainted.  I’ll leave those for now.You can see that I took the shells off of the drive again.  I had them together while the models were packed for the move.  I’ll keep them disassembled now, until they’re ready to roll down the tracks.

Bending hardrails is one of those jobs that I dread until I get into it, and then I usually discover that my anxieties were unwarranted.  There’s probably an easier way to do this, but I’ll describe the approach I used with a few really basic tools.

IMG_2659I started these handrails by bending the semicircle with enough of a tail so that I could trim them back later.  I used that set of pliers with the red handles in the photo for the circular part.  I’d like to collect a variety small dowels or pieces of metal tubing for this purpose, because finding the exact spot to bend on the conical pliers is a bit more tricky than simply having a piece of tube to wrap the wire around.  But that mean I’d have to figure out what size tubing I need and then chase it down at a hobby store.  I’ve not had much luck purchasing scratch-building stock; it seems the only thing out of stock is the piece I need. Anyway, once I’ve bent the semicircle with the tapered-jaw pliers, I move outward with various bends until I reach both ends, then I cut off the extra bits.

For straight bends, I use a very nice pair of Xuron pliers.  I don’t use these pliers for anything other than bending wire and etchings, so they’re still sharp with true edges.  It’s hard to see in the photo, but the jaws of that pair of pliers are not serrated.

I bought a grab iron bending jig from Micromark last year, and it was very handy for bending the dozens of custom grab iron I needed for the 16 resin ore cars I built.  However, this jig is not the right tool for doing handrails.  Without overstating the obvious, the only other tools I’m using for this job include a variety of precision tweezers to handle the pieces as I’m building and test-fitting them, a drafting divider to measure distances between bends, and a small wire cutter.

I bent each piece according to the template in the kit instructions.  I had to throw out the first one, but the second and third attempts are now glued onto 8152.  So that’s the handrail bending “method” that I made up.  If you know of other techniques or tools  that will make this job go more smoothly, please let me know.

SW1200RS Project Continues – MU Hoses

It’s been just over four weeks since I moved into my new house, and at long last, I’ve managed to get my work space functional.  The tools are unpacked, and I got a bit of work accomplished.



After some drilling, glueing, and painting, both units now have MU hoses on both ends.



I used the metal variety of hoses, instead of the vinyl ones.  I like the way the metal hoses bend.  The only problem is that they don’t fit into the slots on the pilot.



If you look closely, you can see that the coupler pockets are different on each model.  The pockets provided by the kit didn’t fit into the openings in the pilots, and even if they’re modified to fit, they would result in coupler height that is about a half a coupler too high.  I ended up using the coupler pockets from the P2K model from which the drive was taken. They had to be pretty extensively modified as well, but they worked.  Apparently, LifeLike changed the mould for the coupler pockets part way through their production because the two models had slightly different pockets.  Something as insignificant as this can really slow down progress, to the extent that extra hours are eaten up trying to come up with a solution.  It all worked out in the end.

I still have to install the air hoses.  I’ll get to that next time.

CP SW1200RS Project: Interior Colour

This is a story about the value of sharing the progress of your work with a community of modellers.  On June 21, I posted a couple of shots of my progress on these models, which prompted Dan Dell’Unto to offer this feedback:

Sharp units! You may want to look into the interior cab colour though – when repainted into action red, CP was repainting the cabs with a beige interior colour (often seen in many of the interior shots of FP7/9′s posted on the interwebs).

As well, the datasheets for the GM SW units (DS8, 9,12) show the as-delivered (maroon & grey) interior colour as being “Suede grey enamel” rather than green that many 1st generation units had.

A short while later, Dan sent me this image of the interior of a CP RS18u.

CP RS18u interior.  Dan Dell'Unto

CP RS18u interior. Dan Dell’Unto

This was good information for me because I was guessing about the interior colour of these switchers, but there was still a gap in my knowledge.  While Dan’s photo clearly shows the interior of a CP unit, it’s not an SW1200RS, and it’s an MLW product, not GMD.  Furthermore, this is probably not the builder’s paint because the locomotive was extensively rebuilt by CP.  Regradless, Dan’s information was very helpful in pointing out an area where I could improve the accuracy of my model.

A plea to some friends at the WRMRC for interior shots of an SW1200RS prompted my friend Justin to offer a link to this photo:

CP SW1200RS interior, taken on the GRR by Carson Weibe, date unknown.  From Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society website http://www.solrswat.ca/1%20Action/Action%20Past.htm

CP SW1200RS interior, taken on the GRR by Carson Wiebe, date unknown. From Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society website http://www.solrswat.ca/1%20Action/Action%20Past.htm

The shot was one a series of images taken by Carson Wiebe, presumably during a cab ride on the Grand River Railway.  The locomotive is confirmed to be an SW1200RS by the road number stencilled on the ceiling above the engineer’s head.  Also, having read George W. Roth’s book, I knew that these locomotives were staples on the GRR.

I was initially disappointed because someone had shifted the tint on the image, and it didn’t look like I was going to be able to definitively conclude whether the colour was grey or green.  I know very little about digital photo processing, but I naively assumed that if someone shifted the tint on the image, I could go into iPhoto and shift it back.  Here’s the result of my dumb luck:

My beautiful picture

I don’t know how close this is to the original tint, but the engineer’s skin tone looks about right.  Before I changed the tint on the original photo, I would have guessed that the engineer’s shirt was white.   I was surprised to see it come up as yellow.   I’m also not sure of the colour balance on my iMac computer screen, but in my processed version of the photo, compare the colour of the throttle stand with the colour of the wall ahead and to the right of the engineer.  Proximity and lighting can significantly change the shade of the grey I’m trying to match.

I’m not going to get too worked up about finer points.  I’m just pointing it out because lighting always affects our perception of colour.   Armed with this new information, I’m going back to the models to repaint their interiors with a colour that looks good to my eyes.  Stay tuned for some new photos of the models with an interior colour that probably represents a more accurate colour match, thanks to the collaborative efforts a number of different people.

CP SW1200RS build part 4 – Milling the frame

Given the fact that I decided to use the Proto 2000 frame for my SW1200RS build, I had to do some fairly extensive (for me, at least) milling to the frame to get everything fitting together properly.

The instructions from the Point 1 kit have a diagram showing the necessary changes to the frame.  These changes amount to narrowing the frame width by taking about .020 off of both sides, shortening the frame by removing material from the coupler pads (I didn’t measure how much came off, but it was far more than the instructions suggested), narrowing all parts of the frame that will eventually slide up into the carbody, and entirely reshaping the rectangular prism shaped block at the front of the frame so that it fits inside the shell.  I would characterize this as a pretty extensive amount of shaping.

I shaped the first frame with a sharp mill file.  For the second frame I used a Unimat belonging to my friend Chris.  He set me up, gave me some quick lessons, and then ran away.  It took about about two evenings of milling where I followed the kit’s instructions and then adhered to a process of test-fit, mill a bit, repeat as necessary until both frames were nicely fitted to their respective bodies.  Once the second frame was finished, I put the first frame (the one that was done with a hand file) onto the Unimat and squared things up more cleanly.

Both frames are now finished and ready to be painted.

These are probably not the most engaging photos, but here you go…