SW1200RS Project: End of the Wire

Having completed the front handrails on 8152 this evening, all of the handrails on both of my SW1200RS units are now installed.  This marks the end of all the wire bending for this project.



In my previous post, I mentioned that the step, or riser, on which the front drop step is mounted was not included in the kit.  I had to build those out of bits of styrene.  I started by  measuring the height of the step on the rear walkway with a digital caliper’s depth gauge. I then cut a strip out of a sheet of .010″ styrene that matched the height.  I cut four pieces of styrene HO scale 4″x4″ stock and attached them across the strip with plastic cement. The spacing was determined by the etched piece for the two stanchions that are fastened to the riser.  Here’s what it looked like:


I chopped the excess 4×4 from the top and bottom of the strip and trued the edges with medium and fine sanding sticks, using a precision square to check my progress.



Once I had the top and bottom trued, I cut a piece of .010″x.080″ styrene strip the same width as the space between the inside edges of the middle stanchions.  I used the precision square to hold everything together while the cement dried.

IMG_2685Once the cement was dry, I chopped off the extra length of .010″ styrene strip to free the work piece.  The extra styrene made handling such a small piece much easier during the fabrication process.

With the extra plastic trimmed away, I sanded the workpiece on all faces to smooth out the seams.  I scraped away some paint on the front walkway and used CA to attach the piece.


Once the riser was in place, I was able to proceed with the rest of the handrails, starting with the centre stanchions.

I think I’ll turn my attention to window glazing next.  Stay tuned.


SW1200RS Project – Still More Handrails

Wednesday evening is our weekly work night at the WRMRC.  I couldn’t make it out to the club tonight, and I haven’t been there for a few weeks in a row now, because of other commitments.  However, I was able to make more progress on the SW1200RS project this evening.

Predictably, 8152 now has rear handrails.  I also bent the wire parts for the front, but I didn’t get around to installing them.  I’m one step closer to putting these units on the rails.


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 build part 3 – Stripes

As I reported in my previous post, one axle suffered a broken gear during my attempt to switch out the stock wheels for NWSL nickel silver replacements.  I shifted my focus from the trucks to decals while I wait for the Kato truck parts to show up.

These units will wear the early Multimark scheme.  The end stripes are most of the way there.  I think the door on the rear of the cab is supposed to be black with no stripes and I need to put stripes on the sides of the front fan box.  Plus, I still have to don the Optivisor and fix up a couple of zits.   I don’t have the other decals that I need, but it’s safe to put those on later.  I wanted to get the stripes finished before I installed all of the handrails and grab irons on the ends.  So, here they are posing on a pollen dusted table in my backyard.


CP SW1200RS in HO scale


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.