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  1. #1

    Detailed KATO F units-ATSF WIP

    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
    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 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' 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!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    ATSF LA Division, Second District
    Bruce, that's nice work, keep them coming! I need a bunch of these, too...
    Regards, Otto

  3. #3
    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 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,

    Unit 40 (L)

  4. #4
    Here are shots of unit 40C

  5. #5
    Last edited by arbomambo; October 25th, 2011 at 04:04 PM. Reason: mistake

  6. #6
    ..and I shouldn't forget the ALCO's!................

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    NW PA
    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.

    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....

    N Scale Kits:Randgust Home Terminal
    Logging Prototype: Wheeler & Dusenbury / Hickory Valley Railroad
    Albuquerque Third District in N Scale

  8. #8
    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' would be silly to not include the stirrups in the 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...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    NW PA
    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.

    N Scale Kits:Randgust Home Terminal
    Logging Prototype: Wheeler & Dusenbury / Hickory Valley Railroad
    Albuquerque Third District in N Scale

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Another Planet
    Both of you have some outstanding models - great work! Randall, I love the grime, spark arrestors, and the wrecking lugs.

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