Friday, November 23, 2012

Rock Island [ex-D&RGW] GP7 #4206

Just in time for "Black Friday"

I've always been a fan of the “Oddities” and “One-offs” and one fairly easy project that I've wanted to add to my fleet was one of the ten ex-Rio Grande GP7's. The Rock acquired these to help supplement their power when they ran their large fleet of 125 GP7's through their CRP [Capital Rebuilding Program]. 

Two notable features of these units were, as far I can tell, the only units that The Rock ever owned that had Dynamic Brakes. The other thing was that they were not MU capable.

This delegated them to transfer runs and local switcher service. The only thing that Rock Island did was to paint out the logos, hastily apply a few shields and cab numbers and slapped their asses into service. They eventually entered the CRP and had the Dynamics removed and MU ability added.   NOTE:  See addition at the bottom of this post.

Not much work was needed for this loco.  I picked it up second hand at a swap meet since it was already decaled for Rio Grande. 

I swapped out the chassis with a newer DCC ready chassis and installed a TCS ASD4 decoder.  I removed the small logos on the side, painted out the lettering on both ends with a splotch of orange, and applied the Rock Island heralds and cab numbers and number boards. I added a typical 3 chime horn to the top of the short hood, the spark arrestors and cab shades.

I used an oil based light grey for the fade coat and an oil based  burnt umber for a wash.  Finished it off with some Bragdon powders for the soot and rusty areas. 

One thing that didn't turnout like I had hoped it would was on the side sill, Rio Grande added six red [what looks like] round reflectors. I picked up some 1mm red jewels to simulate these, but the indoor lighting doesn't make them stand out more than just black zits.

I plan to keep this stationed at El Dorado for a sweeper loco.

Here is the scoop on the 10 ex D&RGW GP7's  This is taken from the soft cover book: 
ROCK ISLAND Diesel Locomotives 1930-1980  by Louis A. Marre

"The second hand GP7's acquired directly and not via CRP exchange were 
ten decidedly decrepit Denver & Rio Grande units. bought with traded F units
in November of 1972.  Exactly half were later traded to Precision National and the 
roster completely, as detailed in the CRP roster.  While still in their original condition
they were nearly useless, as they would not MU with standard Rock units due to
incompatible brake systems"  

Over the years of collecting photos of The Rock Island, I have come across several pictures showing these Geeps in a lashup with other Rock Island units in action.  So there's always the possibility that a few of them might have been modified if needed, before they entered the CRP.  Here are several shots of the GP's in action.

Grouping of like units were common.

Note in these two shots unit #4602 is in a consist, possibly modified at one time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

First Video!

WooHoo!  My first video.

OK, so it's not the best and the quality is kind of crappy, but you have to start somewhere, right?

A friend gave me a little FlipVideo camera to play with and got me setup on YouTube [another first].  So I thought I would see what I could do with it.

So without further ado:

I know one thing, it won't be up for any nominations...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Resurrected Power

Back when Kato first introduced their F units I grabbed a few and worked them over for Rock Island units.  Nothing says Rock Island like a freight with hood units and a covered wagon thrown into the mix!

These units racked up a lot miles when we had the Bend Track modules set up.  But in 1997 when we switched over to DCC, I never had the nerve to attempt to mill and hardwire any decoders in them.  So they set on the shelf in their cases until last year when I contemplated selling them off.

After reading on one of the forums where someone mentioned something about swapping the shells over to the new KATO F3 chassis......the light went off !  A buddy of mine had once mentioned doing this very thing.  So I did a little research and latched onto several newer Kato F's and proceeded with the project.

There is only two minor modifications needed for this: 

1]  The side glass is what holds the shells on to the chassis, you need to keep the new side glass with the new chassis and the old side glass with the old chassis.  Some folks have reported that after swapping the shells, the older shells are a tad bit loose with some up and down play, so far mine seemed to be nice and snug.

2]  On the A units, you'll need to widen the coupler pocket just enough to accept the MTL 2004 coupler box that comes pre-assembled in the MTL 2000-1 coupler kit.  This coupler conversion on these newer Kato A units are a breeze compared the original A units.  You just un-clip the coupler box and it slides right out.  On the original Kato A unit front coupler, you had to un-clip or un-screw the coupler box and then try to wiggle it out of the Pilot hole before the shell could come off.  A real PIA!

When Intermountain came out with their "F" units, they were designed so that you just un-screw the front coupler and it slides right out.  A much nicer design!  So I bought a few of these to replace these older Kato "F" units.  [So now I guess I'll have a few more Covered Wagons to add the fleet in due time].

The rear couplers and the "B" unit couplers make use of the MTL 1128 kit.A fairly simple conversion.

Since I had "welded" some of the side windows over on a couple of the units, I just needed to shave off the little molded protrusions on the glass so they set flush with the inside of the shell.

I picked up two more Digitrax DN163K0B decoders to go along with the one that I had on hand.  Then I got them installed and speed matched.

The last thing I did was to weather the new trucks and fuel tanks to match the shells and Viola!  

Rock Island F7A #120

Rock Island F7B #25

Rock Island F2A #42