Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Rock Island GP35 #301

Tonight, Rock Island GP35 #301 joins the fleet.

I never knew much about this Maroon Dip scheme and wasn't aware that it was ever applied to the GP35's until I started researching paint schemes for the 35's?  It's a Plain Jane scheme but I like the simplicity of it.  I know a lot of the U25B's wore it.

I weathered it pretty much the same way that I did the last GP35 and the U33B's so I won't bore you with the details.


For comparison with the #325

And this time a quick video of the pair crossing the bridge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Rock Island GP35 #325

One down, six to go.

I applied the finishing touches on the first of the Rock Island GP35's.  I originally did this loco a number of years ago and was not planning to redo it until I pulled it out to give it a look over.  There were several things that I did wrong back then because I wasn't very knowledgeable and I really didn't have that many images available, unlike there is today thanks to the internet and Facebook.  Not to mention what I've learned with weathering and some of the newer mediums we have to work with today.

Like I did with the U33B's recently, I painted it with TCP Rock Island Maroon, Micro Scale decals, and the numberboards by Shell Scale decals.  The weathering was done using mainly Pan Pastels and the oil and fuel leaks were done with Tamiya Black panel liner.  Plus I installed all four marker lights this time since I have enough to last me now.

The way the glazing sets (specifically the headlights) in these Atlas units are designed, I didn't have to replace them with Fiber Optics like I did on the U33B's.  In this case all I needed to was to glue the 804 LEDs directly the headlight glazing.  While it's not quite as bright as the Fiber Optics in the U33B's, it's a hell of a lot brighter than what it is with just relying on the surface mount LED on the DCC board.

If you look at the two pictures of both ends of the loco you can see how dim the rear lights are compared to the front light since I didn't add an LED to the rear.  Why didn't I add an LED to the rear light you ask?  I normally don't run my locos long hood forward so I didn't waste the time and effort.

Anyway enough rambling... 

Here's a side by side of the original on the left and the new on  the right.

The old one was painted with Floquil Rock Island Maroon which is a bit lighter.  The TCP is a much richer Maroon and closer to the factory color.

After as much research that I've done recently with the U33B's and these GP35's, along with all the new available photos that I've found online, the one thing I've come to realize about most of the Rock Island locomotives that were photographed in the final years of operations is that most weren't Rust Buckets. They were more grimey than rusty.  This is why the newer GP35 is a little darker this time around.

Several of the GP35's that I have planned will not be as dark or grimey but will hopefully look a lot more sun bleached and faded.  The weathering was quite diverse in the final years of the Rock.  This is what has drawn me to model this road.


Thursday, September 1, 2022

1mm Jewels for marker lights

Years ago, back in the late 80's I bet, I ran across some little tiny jewels at the local hobby shop.

They were brought to my attention as a friend used them for marker lights on his HO locos for marker lights.  Intrigued, I took a closer look at them and saw that they had them as small as 1mm.

They also came in three colors: Red, Green and Clear.  So I picked up a pack of the clear 1mm's to play around with.  

They looked to be just about the right size, maybe a tad too big.  Feeling gutsy I took a sharp #17 exacto blade and shaved off the molded part of the marker light (the part that was supposed to the lens) and left the base.  Then I took a #56 carbide drill bit and slowly started to drill in the middle of the remaining base, just enough to where the little jewel would sit into the hole.  The trick was to not drill clear through, so I twisted the bit a few times and checked the fit.

Since the drill bit had a slight angle on the tip, like most do, it left a nice little divot just big enough that the 1mm jewel dropped right in.  Then using a toothpick I applied a tiny drop of CA glue and carefully laid the jewel in place.  Viola!  A nice looking marker light.  It wasn't lit, but it reflected the ambient light just enough to sparkle and look like the light was on.

I've been doing this for years but recently I noticed I was getting low on them and knowing they'd been out of stock/production forever.  I was beginning to think that I wouldn't ever find any again.

But while snooping on the nifty little tool we have at our disposal these days: the Internet, I started in one night looking for "1mm Jewels".  Not much luck, so I kept refining my searches.  Finally I found some that looked similar but were too big.  These were Rhinestones.

So I refined my search and bingo!  I found some on Amazon but they were still a little too big.  I finally found some 1mm's on a site from the UK called mybeadsfindings.

I wound up buying two 5 packs of them, each 5 pack had roughly 1440 stones, so I wound up with almost 3000 marker lights for about $15 with shipping from the UK.  I don't think I'll ever have to worry about running out again?  Unless I misplace them...

I apologize for the fuzzy images, my new phone doesn't do close-ups as well as my older iPhone 11.

I drill out the molded in marker lenses.

Then apply a small dab of CA glue to the finished model.

They might be a tad too large but they sure look good when the light hits them just right.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Rock Island GP35's

With the U33B project wrapped up I had planned to get back to the layout and work on a couple areas.  But I just don't seem to have the interest built up enough yet.  When I was prepping the U33B's I also laid aside five GP35's so I could them added to the fleet.

So last night I got them stripped down and ready to attack.

After taking the image I got to thinking about the two GP35's that I painted and weathered years ago.  I was never really fond of them after what I've been doing with weathering over the last several years and what I've learned.  When I dug them out last night and took a long look at them, I decided to strip down two more GP35's and add them to the "To-Do" list, so now I've got 5 new ones and two re-do's on the bench.  This will also allow me to correct one mistake that I did to them before I knew what some of the correct details parts were.

One will be the only Rock ISland GP35 to wear the 70's distinctive Red and Yellow livery, the rest will be painted in several different versions of the solid Maroon dip and the Maroon and Yellow schemes.  

Friday, August 26, 2022

Let's follow train #34 SB from Biddle yard.

Today we're going to follow train #34 SB from Biddle yard in Little Rock, AR. south to Whitewater Creek, just north of Fordyce, AR.  Today’s power has 5 U33B's.  
Although 16,500 hp might be a bit of overkill for this train, it sure is neat to see.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Rock Island U33B #273

Put the wraps on my fifth and final U33B.

This time I actually had the presence of mind to take a couple of "Before" pics this time.

As I've done with the previous four, all the weathering was done with several Pan Pastel colors.  In this case I used Raw umber tint to fade the paint, Raw Umber to tone down the fade so it was so stark and then Black for the soot.  I also used the same colors on the trucks and fuel tank.

I did not use the Tamiya Black Panel Liner this time for oil and fuel spills, but I may go back and add a little?


With this project wrapped up, I'm not sure what I plan to do next?  While I do have 5 GP35's on deck next, I may start working on the next scene on the layout.  This would be one of two things:  1) The Ouachita River Bridge scene (the bridge in the images above)  or 2) Reworking all the tracks in the town of El Dorado.  Basically removing most of the existing yard tracks and the A/D tracks.

One thing I do plan to do this fall is to start listing a lot of the extra stuff that I don't need anymore: Rolling Stock, Locos and some building kits.  Since eBay started with their nonsense of the $600 limit, I plan to start listing stuff on several of the Forums and probably Facebook.    

Saturday, August 20, 2022

804 LED installation in the U33B's

Been meaning to post this for a while now.

The Atlas B23/30-7's have a different type of light glazing over some of their other locomotives which presented a problem that I needed to overcome in order to get the bright lights like I did on the GP18's earlier in this blog. 

Here is a closeup of the two front cab glazings.  The one on the left is from the B23/30-7's, the one on the right is from a GP40, this one has a "U" shaped area (where the red arrow is pointing to) molded into which is where the early 3mm LED would roughly fit in place when the model is assembled and for the most part, this design works pretty good.

However on the other one you can clearly see the light tube that lowers it so that it sits in front the newer surface mount LEDs that are now being used on the newer drop in DCC boards.  The trouble is that for whatever reason this tube does not carry the light very well?  Maybe because it's bent?  

So I wound up using some .030" clear fiber optics that I found on eBay after a friend told me about them.  I think they cost me around $12 with shipping?  They are just a bit smaller diameter than the light tube openings, but when I flared the outer end, they'll seat snuggly in place.    I now have enough to light my entire fleet up and then some.

I first flare the ends carefully, it doesn't take much heat at all!  Just few quick swipes of a lighter flame is all that's needed.  Then I cut these to 3/8" long.  It's hard to see the flared end.

Once flared, I stick them in the light holes.  One small thing, the 804 LEDs are not quite big enough to cover both fiber optics because of the little bit of space that separates the two light holes, so I that's why I cut them at 3/8" long and when inserted, I can sit the fiber optics right on top of each other with no space.  I still have to be careful when positioning the LED to the ends of the two fibers as its still close.

So to hold these in position someone suggested that I try Bondic Glue.  Bondic Glue is a glue that is cured using UV light within about 5 seconds.  It was advertised to glue ANYTHING!  Well to a point it will, it's not a wonder glue but it does hold the fibers and LEDs in place good enough for this application. 

Next I spot glue the LED to the fibers and check the positioning, if I get the LED is off center just a bit, one light will be a bit dimmer than the other.  If needed I can take a knife and pop the LED off and pop the excess glue off the fibers and try again.  


With the fibers secured, I'll spot glue the LED to the ends of the fibers and apply power to see how well I they're both lit.  If it looks good, I'll encase the LED and fiber ends with a larger glob of Bondic glue and cure it with the UV light, then I'll paint the blob black.  This helps keep the maximum amount of light contained in the tubes.

Here's the end result, 10x better than the factory lights!


Friday, August 19, 2022

Rock Island U33B #199

This is the fourth U33B to join my fleet.

Nothing very special about this one over the others, however I did find out the other night that the #190 & #199 were the only two U33B's to wear the Red and Yellow scheme.  I did not know this when I was planning for the U33B build, the only reason I wanted two of the Red and & yellow units is because my fleet is lacking units wearing the this scheme.

I tried to keep this one from being too filthy.

Here's a comparison of a weathered and freshly painted loco to give you some idea of the amount of weathering I'm applying.  They both started out looking like the one on the right.

I picked up the fresh one from eBay a few years ago.  Even though I knew it was a foobie just like the ones I'm working on now, I was happy to get it until I got it home.

It had no details applied, the walkways were left black, it didn't have a 5 chime horn, but the biggest thing I didn't like was that this is a B23-7 and most of those IIRC included an Anti-climber on the front porch, which Rock Island never had.  So it'll be going back on the chopping block soon.

One to go...

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Rock Island U33B, #285

3 down, 2 to go...

This 3rd U-Boat carries the Maroon and Yellow scheme with the large speed lettering that was common on the Red and Yellow scheme of the 70's, I always thought this to be a interesting combination, because looking at Black & White pics of the Rock Island, it was sometimes hard to tell what colors the locos wore.

Also noteworthy, this loco has had it's trucks replaced with new ones.  Evidently this was done after the road decided to switch to Red & Yellow scheme.  In the Maroon era, trucks and fuel tanks were painted black, in the 70's with the change to Red & Yellow the trucks and fuel tanks were now painted in a medium gray, which is very close to UP Harbor Mist gray or SP Dark Lark gray, but after a few months of service, they got so dirty they began to look black.  I tried to keep mine a little cleaner so the gray showed up.

Here's a shot of the three I have done so far, we see them crossing the Ouachita River bridge.   I really need to get this area sceniced...

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Rock Island U33B #299

Just finished up the second of five U33B's  #299

This one is a Plain Jane unit with just a couple of letters on a few doors.  I'm not sure if this unit was initially fully lettered and the majority of the lettering wore off, or if it started out with no lettering and some doors got replaced with the "Is" intact?

I'm really enjoying playing around with the Pan Pastels for weathering, it's a much easier process and much more forgiving.  For this unit I wanted it faded quite a bit so I started with an off white color I had, but it changed the colors too drastically to the point it looked like a Mauve.  So I did some searching and found a color called Yellow Ochre Tint that resembles a Pastel Yellow.  I did try the straight Yellow Ochre but it had a slight greenish hue to it.

As with the #190, the grills and oil spill is done with black Tamiya Panel Liner.  

2 down, 3 to go...

Friday, August 5, 2022

First of the 5 U33B's #190

Been steadily working on the U33B's.

I got all of them decaled, had a good fight on my hands with the sill striping though.  They all wanted to break apart in and out of the water.  Applied three coats of Microscale Liquid Decal Film which helped a little.  The decals were kind of old, but only the striping gave me fits.  Which is why the sills are not shown yet.

Finally picked up some new 1/32" white stripe decals and they worked better.

Finished the first of the five U33B's tonight.
It still needs couplers and the front headlights installed, but the weathering is complete.

The weathering was all done with Pan Pastels. The oil and fuel leaks and all the grills were darkened with Tamiya Black Panel Liner.
I sealed it with several light misted coats of my dulling agent. Had I covered it with a single heavy coat, most of the powders would have faded away.
Pan Pastels do not fade as bad pastel chalks, but they do fade, especially the lighter colors.  I had to go back and reapply the pans on the trucks and fuel tanks a couple of times.