Mar 11, 2008

In a detailing mood...

I've been staying out of the basement lately, and have gotten into a super-detailing mood with some of my diesel locos. It started because I'd reached a point in layout construction where I wanted to install my command-control system (an old Keller OnBoard system). I've started working on that, but got to the point where I needed to install decoders (Keller calls them throttles) in some locos.

Not wanting to tackle the steamers yet, I figured I'd ease back into this by starting with some diesels (remember - my RGS is set in the late 1950s, and the SP has purchased rights or perhaps the entire road, so SP diesels will be showing up sometimes).

Keller likes low-amperage motors, and needs really great pickup in order to work smoothly. On my old layout, I'd converted a pair of GP35s and a pair of SW1200s, remotoring with Sagami can motors (I like the 2032 best), and wiring the units together in pairs, using all 4 trucks for pickups. I also replaced all the old Athearn wheels with NWSL wheels, again, for better pickup (the NWSL wheels are nickel-silver, and much better than the old style Athearn sintered iron or steel wheels).

Those engines will run great, and I next remotored my first Athearn loco, an F7 I received in the late 1970s I suppose. Then, I started on converting a pair of Athearn SP Daylight PA-1s. That project was put on hold about 14 years ago when kids came along, and have sat (in pieces) since then.

Fast-forward to today. I pulled out the ancient F7, and (for practice mostly) got that running again, It also has a Sagami 2032 can motor, hard wiring to both sides of the trucks, new wheels, etc. It needed a drive shaft repaired, and now runs like a top. With a little confidence now, I finished remotoring both PA-1s and two more F7-As, and installed new wheels and trucks on a pair of F7-Bs as well.

So now I'm ready to install the Keller throttles, right? Well, I also have a Proto2k PA-1 that's gorgeous, and really those Athearn shells could use some details. I'm going to use LEDs for the headlights, which means the shells will be hard-wired to the frames, which means any shell detailing is best done now.

Off I went to the hobby shop, and returned with MV lens, handrails, etc. I can't tell you how much fun it was to sit at the workbench installing lift rings, grab irons, and what not. It's been YEARS since I'd done anything like that, and it was very fun to return to. Plus, the basement is still cold and the workbench is upstairs in the comfy warm study. I'm sick of winter, and the warm study is inviting.

I'm still finishing up the super-detailing, and even added a backup light and cab room grabs to the Proto2k unit. I've got the LEDs ready, and will someday get the Keller throttles installed. That's gotta be last, because as soon as they're ready, I'll probably jump back down to the basement so I can get the Keller system installed, and then I might never return to the workbench and finish the detailing work!