Saturday, March 19, 2016

More E 's and F 's will join the fleet...

Several years ago I got in contact with a custom painter to have a few E's and F units painted up in the Rock Island's Maroon with a yellow wing as well as some Red and Yellow units to help fill in the gaps in my fleet.  While most of these older covered wagons were retired by 1975, a few soldiered on until the end.

Even though I'm modeling beyond the shutdown, I still wanted a few of these to add some color and interest to the roster.  There's just something about seeing a covered wagon lashed up in a string of hood units or leading the hood units!

About two months ago I learned that my painter had passed away and I worked with several great folks to see if I could get my stuff returned, which I was able to, thanks guys!

I started looking around for another painted shortly after receiving my shells,  I made contact with a few of them and asked for some estimates.  Once I settled on one I began to do a little work on the shells since I was in a holding pattern on my kitchen cabinets yet.

I've added details before but this time I wanted to try some body work which meant filling in some holes.  I have used Squadron Green putty with mixed results. Recently I was told to try some Bondo Spot Putty which was suppose to dry a little faster and not shrink as much.  I was also told that I should try and fill the holes with styrene as much as possible then putty in the remaining gaps, makes sense.

Well I got things gathered up: some BLMA horns, styrene, my touch-n-flow applicator, a sharp Exacto blades, a pair of snips and sprue cutters.  Then I sat in front of the computer for several hours examining the pictures I've collected over the years until I decided on which units I wanted and what each unit needed for detail parts.

Here are the four units that I want to add to my roster, all of which will be in freight service.

Now, one thing I've learned over the years, be it right or wrong, was "Less is More".  I add just enough details to make it say Rock Island.  This generally includes the unambiguous 5 chime air horns, cab shades, and a firecracker antenna and maybe snow plows.   But one thing I don't get into is lift rings, handrails, grab irons......the finer details.  I suppose one could call this the 3' rule?

Anyway, I started the process by removing the airhorns.  To fill these in I used .030" x .030" styrene stips that I kind of tapered on the ends so I could wedge them into the holes. Once I got them wedged in,  I placed a small drop of MEK from the touch-n-flow applicator and waited a few seconds for the MEK to soften the styrene and shell, then I pushed them a bit more until I could see they filled the slide in a bit more.  This worked good because while they were soft, they conformed to fill the holes completely and then I let them dry.

After getting the F7A to this point, this image from the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" came to mind!

Then I snipped the styrene as close as I could and began smoothing them off with a file and then fine sandpaper.

This worked great as I did not need any putty to fill the holes!

I needed to fill in the lower headlight on the F units, so following the same technique.  I found a small chunk of styrene from a model sprue and filled it to fit much like I did with the square styrene strips and repeated the same process. It worked like a champ!   

After the holes were plugged and sanded smooth I added the details.  First I added the BLMA 5 chime horns to all of the A units.

On the F7A I went a little further and I added a pair of flared spark arrestors as well as a rooftop radiator that I made from scratch.  Wasn't anything special and did not follow close to a prototype, mainly because images of the rooftops are rare and hard to find.

Once the radiator and arrestors were in place I added some very small screens to the them to add a bit more detail.

Next step, off to the painter. 
Normally I have no issue with painting my own locos, but these E's & F's have curved stripes and I just don't feel like tackling them at this time.  Plus it will give me a chance to scout out a new painter...


  1. Very neat job Allen.
    If I wasn't so far away I would offer to paint them for you just for the pleasure.

  2. Nice work Allen. I love the variety of paint schemes the RI used on its diesels.

    1. Thanks Ron!
      That's the main reason I was drawn to model the Rock Island in the first place. I love the Rainbow of colors in the lashups in the waning years as well as the overall bedraggled look of the road!

  3. What a great mix of power. They will look great on the layout!

    1. Hopefully they'll add to the Rag-Tag appearance I'm shooting for and help fill in the gap of the red and yellow units I don't have yet? Thanks for the kind words Karl. :)