The Erie Lackawanna Railway
Modeling the Railway and the Equipment
Page 3

Click on underlined words to see photographs.
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  with model pictures January 11, 2000
This is the page for modelers and a running dissertation on the continuing remodeling and upgrading of equipment to come close to the prototype.
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Building an Erie Lackawanna SW8 switcher out of an Athearn undecorated SW7

I wanted to add to my fleet of switchers and one of the types I didn’t have was an SW8.  The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad had 11 of them that transferred over to the Erie Lackawanna Railroad at merger time.  The Erie had none.  The SW8 was a one stack 800 horsepower engine, so we have some modifications to do to this with an SW7 Athearn kit.   You will first notice that the SW7 has two stacks.  The one closest to the bell stays.  The other one goes.   The headlights are also supposed to be dual Pyle lights so the single headlight on both ends will go, too.  There are many other “things that go” and "things that are added", but let’s take them in sequence as we do the model modification.
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After you open the box with the Athearn SW7 model in it, take all the shell parts and break them down so that you can work on each piece separately.   Don't touch the frame or the motor assembly unless your including a DCC chip.  The next step is the hardest part.  Taking a knife to a perfectly good model.  First I took an Exacto saw blade and carefully cut the headlights half way through as close to the mounting plate as you can.  I then took a #11 Exacto knife and cut them completely off the body.  You might want to hold on to the headlights you just cut off.  They make great backup lights on the E8A's.  It’s best to leave the square mounting portion of the single headlight on the body for both ends.  This provides a base for gluing on the dual Pyle lights later.  I also cut with the saw blade, half way through the stack closest to the cab and used the #11 knife to cut through to the finish.  While the knife was in my hand and I was in the cutting mood, I took off the upside down “u’s” that hold the handrails in on the front sides and the front and rear of the body.  Also take off the molded grab irons on the rear of the cab.  This can be done again with your Exacto #11 blade.  While I was at the rear of the cab, I widen the top of the large windows and rounded the outside corners to match the prototype curvature.  From the front on each side of the long hood, carve off the first two handrail holds and the last one on each side of the body.  We will replace them later with new side mount lift rings.   Then I carefully sanded down the cut areas for the headlights, the removed stack and the handrail holes.  Areas where I cut were then filled using Testors gray contour putty and re-sanded to hide the cut marks.

 I next drilled two holes for the fuel fillers, one on each side of the unit. These are positioned on the side of the fuel tanks towards the front of the unit.  The holes are drilled with a .060 drill and at a 25 degree angle downward.  You can put the fuel fillers in place at this point and glue them in from inside the model.  I let them dry overnight and then sanded down the inside so the inside stub of the fuel fillers doesn’t interfere with the inside of the model and keeps the fuel tanks flush with the metal frame.  To mount the revised handrails, I used a #75 drill to put holes in the rear of the engine deck (in the back) about an 1/8” from each corner on both stairways.  Then I drilled a hole directly in the center of the back deck.  Now do the same in the front of the unit.  We will form handrails for these areas later.  Using #78 drill size, I drilled holes for the grab irons I shaved before off the cab rear and also drill two holes directly over the large windows in the rear of the cab for the windshield wipers.  The windshield wiper placement for the front of the cab is a little different.  You will notice that one side of the cab has a window and the other side a cab door with a window.  Drill the hole for the windshield wiper centered directly underneath the window on the door side.  The other side windshield wiper hole is drilled closest to the long hood about one third of the way up from the bottom of the window.  With the same drill, I drilled holes for the two grab irons on top of the long hood.  The first of these go, with the front facing you, on the far right side of the air vents in the middle top of the long hood.  The next goes about ½ inch across the hood.  The next grab iron hole is drilled 1/8 of an inch from the first one. And then the second about one inch toward the front of the hood. Do not put any of the detail parts on yet except the fuel fillers.  Using the #78 drill, drill two holes for the coupler bars in the front and in the back of the unit.  More grab irons are on the front and back of the unit.  These are positioned directly under the coupler bars.  Drill holes for these now.
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Now we turn our attention to the clear plastic inserts for the windows in the cab.  The back part of the cab windows has an extension for the original single head light in it. Cut this portion off.  You will also not need the clear plastic piece that goes in the front head light.  All other clear plastic pieces for the cab windows are to be left intact.
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Next we have to rework some of the handrails.  The original model has a small side handrail towards the front of the long hood.  On the DL&W and Erie Lackawanna units, the handrails extended the entire length of the hood on both sides.  We will not use the small side handrails for the front of the unit.  Instead we have to fashion a longer handrail and then use Athearn short stantions (140-10428) to replicate the prototype. Before you start this step, there are two different ways to do this.  If you want to really follow the prototype precisely, then you probably will want to use Kemtron handrail short stantions (not in the W.K. Walthers catalog). Then use Detail Associates round brass 1” (229-2505) for the handrail. You now have to drill 7 holes on each side of the long hood.   For the Kemtron stantions, holes are then drilled on the top of the deck after threading them through the stantions.   Spacing is as the indicated in the pictures and they follow the same way on each side.  Two stantions towards the front of the unit are close together and the rest are evenly spread down the side of the hood.  I used the Athearn short stations and drilled the holes on the side of the unit below the deck line.  The handrail itself is bent with a 1/8” of wire to be inserted in the front lower hole, then bent again at 11/16ths of an inch at a 90 degree angle to the first bend and to the side also at 90 degrees.  The long railing is 3 & 7/8ths inches long, then bend the railing down towards the deck at a 90 degree angle.  The end of the handrail is 9/16ths of an inch and then another 1/8 inch for the bent inserted end.  Make two of these, one for each side.  Take a pair of pliers and slightly bend the front of the handrail in towards the hood.  This will give it the proper curvature and a prototype look.  Check the handrails for fit on the unit, then take the Athearn short stantions or Kemtron stantions and place them in the drilled holes.  This is again for fitting purposes.  Make adjustments as necessary to the handrail dimensions to properly fit the stantions of your choice.  Without gluing the bottoms of the stantions to the side of the deck, glue the tops of the stantions to the handrails.  Just a small drop will do, just to hold them in place.  Using a small pliers, squeeze the tops of the Athearn stantions after lining them up vertical to the deck.  Do not do this step if you’re using the Kemtron stantions.  They just need to be glued in their proper place along the handrail. Again, DO NOT GLUE THE BOTTOMS.
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In addition to the long handrails, there is a handrail directly in front of the radiator. It’s an upside down “U” shape.  There are two rivet lines on the grill in the middle making a three piece radiator.   Drill two holes each about 1/8” from the two inside rivet lines toward the outside of the unit.  Just a little wider than the middle section of the radiator grill.  The handrail height is just a little lower than the front of the unit handrails.  You will have to fashion one out of the Detail Associates 1” round brass stock. Model - front.
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The front and rear handrails are a little different from the Athearn configuration.  If you look at the pictures, you will see they only have three stantions on both ends.  Athearn’s stock kit has four on each end.  Shave off the two stantion “u’s” in the middle of the ends with an Exacto knife.  Leave the outside ones, near the bottom, alone.   Drill three holes for the short stantions, one on each end and one centered, either Kemtron on the deck or Athearn below the deck.  Now insert the Athearn end handrails threading the stantions on first and fit them to the model.   Do not glue the bottoms.  Glue the tops again and if using the Athearn stantions, squeeze the tops with a small pliers.   Now let the glue dry and then take them off the model and put them aside.  We will get back to them later.  I found that the holes in the Athearn body are not well drilled, so I redrilled all of the holes for the stantions, even the ones provided by Athearn on the body.  Fashion grab irons for the rear of the cab, the front and back of the unit and for the long hood now and glue them in place.  Two small grab irons go near the rear cab door need to be formed and fit into the model.  There are also two grab irons on the top of the hood that need to be formed and fit.  The grabs for the front and back of the unit should be formed and install all of these now while referring to the pictures.
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These are two steps that you might not want to do.  There is a small hatch on the side of the hood toward the front.  On the Athearn stock model, these hatches are positioned too low, for the Erie Lackawanna SW8.  The cure for this is to very carefully cut the hatch and an equal amount of the hood above the hatch from both sides of the hood.  Take this piece and turn it upside down, so that the hatch is higher on the hood.  Do this to both sides.  Glue in place, put contour putty into fill the edges, seat them properly and sand them on the bottom portion lightly flush with the hood. Model - engineers side.
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The second step involves the louvers on the hood and the cab.  This is very complicated, but to be correct, the Athearn stock body has too many louvers in some places and not enough in other places.  Here we go.
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Let’s take the cab first.  The stock model has four louvers on each side of the lower part.  There should be six on each side.  On the hood, the model has six sets of louvers on each side with three louvers on the top part of the molded body doors and twelve (12) louvers on the lower portion of the hood.  In the pictures I have available, I can’t find any louvers on the top of the hood doors, so these will eventually be removed.  The bottom of the hood doors have louvers, but as I said, there are twelve louvers on the bottom of the model and only eight on the prototype.  The prototype has eight sets of louvers over both sides of the hood as opposed to the models six.
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I, very carefully, cut the three top louvers off with a very sharp Exacto knife and tried to leave them in tact.  Again, very carefully, I cut off two of the louvers just removed and fitted them to the rear of the cab.  Place them on the top of the ones on the unit.  This brings the set on each side of the cab to six as the prototype has on it.  The balance of the cut off louvers can be used to put louvers on the hood doors.  The hood doors on either side of the ones that have louvers molded on them should have a set of louvers put on them.  These can be fabricated out of the balance of the upper louvers that we cut off.  The ones cut off are in sets of three, so we need two sets and two louvers to properly replicate the two extra louvered doors on each side.  Be careful to line them up with the ones molded on the unit.  If all went well then you can just scrape off the extra louvers near the bottom from the molded doors so that only eight louvers on each door remain.  If you messed up any of the top louvers then try to cut off the three extra louvers off the bottom of the hood doors that are unnecessary and use them.
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Next, we will put the detail parts on the unit.  First cut the switcher lift rings from the sprues.  Each package contains 4 lift rings,  Unfortunately, we will need six, so you will need two packages of Detail Associates (229-1105) switcher side mount lift rings.  Make sure the open part of the rings are upright when you glue the six of them on the hood where you shaved off the stock ones.  Now glue the dual headlights on each end in place right on the flat mounting plate left on when you cut the stock headlights off.  While these parts are drying on the model, take the very long hood grab iron and glue both sides in place over the lift rings.  Put this aside and let them dry thoroughly.
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After letting the headlights dry, take a #63 drill and drill out the holes in the headlights right through the body in the front and the cab in the back.   Next we will install the coupler lift bars on each end.  Drill two #78 holes on each end lower than the Athearn stantion holes, for the coupler lift bar mounting. I secured two eye bolts with ACC (Krazy Glue) to the ends of the model.  First thread the coupler lift bar through two eye bolts, drop a little ACC glue on the ends of the eye bolts and push them in to the drilled holes.  Do the same to the other end. Model - rear.
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Time for painting and a decision.  The undecorated model I have, came in black, but most of the detail parts and handrails are unpainted and some are gray.   At this point, you must decide which Erie Lackawanna color scheme you want.  The gray, maroon and yellow, the later scheme or the one I choose, which is black with yellow lettering , the early scheme. Either scheme can be done by using Microscale decals #87-16.  First we will do my black and yellow model, then the gray, maroon and yellow model.  Stop at this point if you're doing the gray, maroon and yellow version.
I'll take up the gray, maroon and yellow version at a later date because of the specific detail of this painting is so delicate, it should be treated separately.

Black & Yellow Early paint scheme.
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It is now time to install the handrails on each end and on the sides of the hood.  They have been all matched up so we just need a little glue on the bottom ends of all the stantions and handrails and push them into their places.  Now place the handrails on each side, push them in place using a small pair of pliers if necessary and glue the bottoms in place.  Do the same for the back and front of the unit handrails.  Both the back and front handrails need an extra bar across the bottom of the stantions.  Glue this with Krazy glue or it's equivilant.
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Take the model as it is now and spray paint it with a gloss black, not too thick, but just enough to cover the small details with black paint.  Let it dry overnight.  Go to the decal sheet and cut out two EL yellow heralds and two gothic Erie Lackawanna wording in yellow.  At this time you will have to pick a unit number between 360 and 371.  I choose 369 only because I have a picture of the unit in black and yellow and can follow the detail and painting differences from the real engine to the model.  Cut out four unit numbers in the same font.  There will be two on the cab, one on each side, one in front and one in back. Also cut out four sets of 3" white numbers on a black background for the number boards on the light fixtures.  These do not come on the Microscale #87-16 sheet and you'll have to scrounge for these.  Model - firemans side.
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To continue with the black and yellow unit, we now have painted it black and are ready for the application of all yellow decals.  Strange as it may seem, the 369 has a different font for the numbers then the decal sheet (see above picture) and I, at this point, took modelers license (ML) and used the ones provided on the MicroScale sheet.  We first take the (EL) road name in yellow and applied it to the side of the hood. This goes above the hood louvers and is basically centered on the hood.   Next, the top point of the EL logo goes directly under the "K" in Lackawanna and is applied over some of the louvers.  You might want to use some MicroSol(vent) for both these decals to help them seat properly.  Do the same on the other side of the hood.
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The road numbers are applied centered on the side of the cab about 1/4 of the way down from the window.  Do this on the again other side.  The next road number goes on the front of the hood, next to the dual Plye light centered between the edge of the hood and the light on the left side looking directly at the unit.  The last road number goes on the back of the unit again looking straight at it on the right side of the under the coupler bar and grab iron.  Some more decals are needed, so let's go back to the sheet.  In very, very, very small lettering are the class numbers.  For a guy my age, you have to use a magnifying glass and a pencil.  Once you pull the magnifying glass away, you lose where the decal is on the page, so use the pencil to mark it or circle it on the sheet.  You're looking for a very small "SE-8" class number in yellow.  That's the real class number, but I can't find one on my sheet, so we will improvise.
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Modelers note:  Just for your information, MicroScale revised their #87-16 the Erie Lackawanna diesel sheet in April of 1994.  Many pertinant decals were lost based on their revision in this set.  I am fortunate enough to have the sheets from before their revision and "SE-8" in yellow is on those old decal sheets.  I cut two of them off an old decal sheet and used them.  On the revised sheet, "SE-8" appears in maroon, but not in yellow.  Maroon "SE-8" class numbers were never used, never done and totally useless on most units.  Also the GM builders plates discussed below are also on the old sheet but not the revised one.  I do not know what prompted them to revise the sheet in the manner they did, but these are only a few things that were lost through the revision.  If you can find one of these old decal sheets in your hobby shop, grab it.  It's a treasure.
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Now we paint only the frame edge yellow on both sides, from front to  back.  After this dries, we can put on the last decals.  They are the GM/EMD builder plates.  There are two types that go on this unit.  The first one for each side on the bottom of the cab.  This is an oval decal with a red circle in the middle. These should be centered under the road number on the frame edge at the bottom of the unit.  The second builder plate decals are silver rectangles (don't try to read them.  You will hurt yourself).  Cut two of these out, off the sheet and place them towards the front of the unit again on the frame edge just to the rear of the second handrail stantion.  The black "F" in gothic for the designated front of the unit should also be cut out of the decal set and applied.  You will need two of them, one for each side.  The decal set has these in a circle.  We don't need the circle so try to cut inside of it.
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Now that the decaling is done, final touches are in order.
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Next comes the yellow paint on parts of the handrails.  All the handrails and stantions in the front are painted yellow including the handrail in front of the radiator.  Do not paint the coupler bar.  It remains black. The two grab irons under the coupler bar are painted yellow.  All the handrails on the back are painted yellow.  Again, do not paint the coupler bar.  The long handrails are left black except for the front near the stairs.  These are painted yellow from the bottom front to the top before the first stantion.  This is done on both sides. The edge of each step on the front and the backs of the unit are painted yellow very carefully.
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Before you install all the windows in the cab, put in the rear window and redrill the holes for the dual Pyle light on the cab right through the windows so that it doesn't interfere with the installation of fiber optics.
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The head lights can be done three different ways.  The Athearn unit comes with a light bulb in the front, but this does not light the back (rear) light.  We've changed to a dual Plye light, so the Athearn stock clear headlight pieces will not fit. If you want to light both front and rear then follow the instructions #1 on installing fiber optics.  If the front light is enough then all we need is a double lens for the front and a "dead" lens for the rear and follow instructions #2 or #3.
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#1. The fully lit rear and front head light method -  fiber optics (BL Hobby Products) are used in the front by cutting two small (1/2") pieces of 10 mil fiber optics and pulling them through the headlight fixture from inside the shell while heating the outside ends to form a mushroom shaped bubble.  The best method of heating them is with a soldering iron.  You don't have to touch them, just get close.  Don't use an open flame or you might have a melted switcher.  Now pull them out, put a little glue on the sides of them and push them back in.  You now have dual working headlights in the front.  Now take two long pieces of 10 mil fiber optics, about 5" long, and put them throught the rear dual Plye headlight fixture on the rear of the cab.  Again, applying heat to the ends to make a bubble while pulling them into the fixture.  This works real well and makes the lens fit tight in the fixture.  With a small brush, paint the fiber optic black inside the cab (otherwise it will look like flourescent lights in the cab) and then string it into the hood to the Athearn installed light bulb.  This will draw light from the bulb down the fiber optic and light the rear headlight fixture.  Secure the fibers with glue at two places inside the top of the long hood making sure it doesn't interfere with the motor or mechanism.
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#2. The lit front headlight method - fiber optics are used in the front by cutting two small (1/2") pieces of 10 mil fiber optics and pulling them throught the headlight fixture while heating the outside ends to form a bubble.  Now pull them out, put a little glue on the sides of them and push them back in.  You now have dual headlights in the front.  Do the same for the back fixture and you have lenses, but no lighting.
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#3.  Use MV Product lens #25 for both headlight fixtures.  Scrape a little of the backing off the front ones so light comes through from the bulb.  The lens in the rear will pick up outside lighting, but not be lit by the bulb.
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Make sure all decals have seated properly on the model and are in the right places.  Any adjustments can still be made by applying a small amount of MicroSol and moved carefully with an Exacto knife.   The last step we take now that the model shell is completely detailed, decaled, painted and put together is to spray it with Testor's Dullcote.  Let it dry overnight, even though it may feel dry after a hour or so, just leave it be.
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Detach the cab from the body.  The Athearn instructions don't tell you about this but there is a way to easily put  in the cab windows.  First a little glue on the portion of the rear window that does not show through the window area.  Push it in place.  Now do the same with the front of the cab windows.  The side windows should just slide in from the bottom of the cab.  Push all in place until they are flush with the cab sides.  Now take the windshield wipers and paint them silver.  Then, very carefully cut them off the sprue.  We will need four of them.  Go back in these instructions to where we drilled the holes for them and with a very small amount of glue on them, place them in their respective positions. Put the cab back on the model and then put on the handrail from the rear steps to the cab.  Do weathering with chalk and paint as you feel necessary.
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Now carefully push the motor and frame assembly into the body shell.  Grab irons, placement of the fiber optics, detail parts that protrude may have to be trimed or adjusted.
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Your model is now finished.  Take it to the test track to run it and test the lighting.  This makes a great model for switching duties for yards or on local drills.  SW-8's were kept close to large yards because their capacity in fuel was limited.   SW-8's handled duties in Croxton and in Hoboken switching cars and making up trains.  They also did short haul work in drills fairly close to the yards.  The pictures throughout this article show them at work in Akron and western yards as well.
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Finished model - engineer's side 7/8 view.

List of kits, parts and decals
1 Athearn (140-4001)  SW7 Powered undecorated kit
1 Athearn (140-10452) Short Stantions (pkg 36) [optional, see text]
1 A-Line (116-29201) Windshield Wipers, short (pkg 8) [need 4]
1 BL Hobby Products (183-700) Assortment of Fiber Optic Material (5' of each 10, 20, 30 mil
            fiber) [Optional]
1 Detail Associates (229-1011) Dual Pyle Headlights w/number boards & sealed beams (pkg 2)
2 Detail Associates (229-1105) Switcher side mount lift rings (pkg 4) [need 6]
1 Detail Associates (229-1805) Antenna Motorola Firecracker (pkg 6) [optional for black &
            yellow unit- need 1]
1 Detail Associates (229-2205) Coupler Lift Bar (pkg 10) [need 2]
1 Detail Associates (229-2206) Eye Bolts (pkg 24) [need 4]
1 Detail Associates (229-2504) round brass 3/4" (pkg 10) for grab irons [need 7]
1 Detail Associates (229-2505) round brass 1” (pkg 10) for handrails
1 Details West (235-167) EMD switcher fuel fillers (pkg 4) [need 2]
1 Floquil (270-110010) Engine Black or Accupaint (102-2) Stencil Black
1 Floquil (270-110031)  Reefer Yellow or Accupaint (102-20) Medium Yellow
1 Floquil (270-1100101) Bright Silver or Accupaint (102-40) Aluminum
1 Kemtron handrail stantions (optional, if you can find them)
1 MicroScale (460-87-16)  Erie Lackawanna diesel units (for both versions)
1 MV Products (516-25) clear lens 6 3/4" (pkg 4) [Optional-need 1]
    For gray, maroon and yellow unit only
1 Floquil (270-414236) Erie Lackawanna Yellow  or Accupaint (102-24)
1 Floquil (270-414239) Erie Lackawanna Gray or Accupaint (102-48)
1 Floquil (270-414242) Erie Lackawanna Maroon or Accupaint  (102-34)

Acknowledgement.Prototype pictures for these units can be found on George Elwood's site and the above are linked directly to his site.  Thank you, George.

(c) Copyrighted in 1999 by Joseph W. Jordan, Jr.

Ex-Santa Fe Stainless Steel Commuter Cars


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Now that the Life-Like Proto 2000 passenger GP-7's with torpedo tubes are coming and is said to be delivered in late October/early November, I decided to upgrade the passenger cars that many of the GP-7's pulled during their lifetime on the Erie Lackawanna.    A really great looking train was the GP-7's and the ex-Santa Fe corrugated 52 seat stainless steel streamline coaches that ran in commuter service in New York and New Jersey to Hoboken.  These cars were also dragged behind RS-2's, RS-3's and E8A's.  The New Jersey Department of Transportation purchased these cars to substitute for the Stillwells and Boonton coaches in commuter service while waiting for delivery of the U34CH's and push-pull Comet cars that were on order.   As usual, I only have two pictures of these cars which is not sufficient enough to get an exact fix on the model versus the real coach.
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Two models come close - Athearn model #1810 (this shows the line up of these coaches behind an E8A from the lower left to the center of the picture) is an undecorated stainless steel coach and Con-Cor's H-701 also an undecorated stainless steel coach.  Close enough for government work??  Athearn's coach measures 73' 3" and Con Cor's measures 85' 3".  The real coach is 79' 8", right in between them.  Both are wrong by 6',  Athearn's too short and Con Cor's too long.  Both have the different window arrangements.  The Con Cor model windows are larger and more spread out.  They are, from the door (A) end, one small thin window, two square small windows, a space, one small square window, six long windows and then 2 square small windows.  The Athearn model has, from the door (A) end, one small thin window, two square windows, a space,  eight long windows and then 2 square small windows.  The prototype coach has , from the door (A) end, one small thin window, two square windows,  seven long windows and then 2 square small windows.
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So the choice is prototype seven large windows; Con Cor six large windows, and Athearn eight large windows.  Both models have the proper vents on both ends with one crazy exception.  The Athearn model seems to have been molded two different ways; one end round vents and the other end round vents and square vents.   The square vents should be on the non-door end.  Two of the eight Athearn coaches that I have, have this backward roof molding applied to it.  I assume that the mold at Athearn is in at least three pieces and someone configured the mold wrong and molded them with the roof part backwards during a production run.  It's an inconsistancy that you only find out when you get them home from your local hobby shop and say Mmmmm ...something's wrong here!".  The fact is that most people won't notice, but the nit-pickers and rivet counters might get you.
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Neither of the models have the right window arrangement, so a judgement had to be made.  Well, based on the fact that many models are smaller than the prototype on model railroads and they take the turns better than longer cars, I selected the Athearn model to be my "fleet" standard.
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The first operation was to clean the car of any printing.  If you couldn't get the silver undecorated car, you have to take off the "Santa Fe" or foreign road name off the top name plate.  Check the number on the car you bought.  If it is between 3070 and 3099 with the exception of 3071 and 3083, leave the numbers on for the numbers remained the same for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT).  Two cars from the series appear to be missing. Possibly they were destroyed in accidents or not fit for service and were not delivered to NJDOT from the Santa Fe.  You can take the printing off by using some Mirco Sol decal setting solution and gently, with a soft paper towel or tissue rub the unwanted paint off.  Careful not to loosen the printing (numbers) you want to stay on the car. If you were able to get an undecorated car painted silver, you can, of course, skip this step.
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Next, I carefully drilled holes (#76 drill bit) for the handrails on the inside frame of the doors. I could not find any other handrails or grab irons on the exterior of the car from the pictures I have.  When the doors are open, I did see interior handrails that don't show when the door is closed.  I fashioned the handrails from Detail Associates 229-2505 round wire (1" handrails) for each car and secured them with Krazy Glue.  I next popped the brake wheels on.  Regular plastic glue will do here.  I noticed that the brake wheels are molded in black. I took some silver paint (Floquil #110101) and painted both the handrails and the brake wheels.
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Installing the windows is a bit of a bear.  Opaque styrene is included in the kit in strips that almost fit the window arrangement.  The exceptions are the windows in the door and the ends of the car.  To make the strip of windows fit, you have to really push them into the window holes in the car body.  Sometime it feels like you're pushing too hard, but if you tilt them slightly towards the bottom of the window, they should pop right in.  The door windows and end windows have to be separated from the plastic sprues and trimmed to fit in their proper place.
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At this point, pull out the talgo trucks and determine your choice of couplers.  I installed Kadee #5's in all of these cars. Easy installation, outside plate on the top of the coupler box, place Kadee coupler in the box and snap on the cover plate.  Check them for ease of movement.  The trucks on the prototype are covered with dirt.  I have no idea what the original color is or was.  To conform we must paint truck frame and sides grimy black.  Careful not to paint the insides of the trucks where the wheelsets are seated.  It will interfere with the rotation of the the wheelsets.
With the couplers on and trucks painted, you're ready to go to some new decision points.  With or without interiors??? With or without interior lighting?  I decided to light the cars with Athearn's lighting kit (#90200) built especially for these cars.  It's not very efficient lighting, but it works.  I'm going to have to develop a better way to light the coachs then with this one little bulb, but for now it works.  It consists of one tiny bulb suspended between two metal weights and connected to the truck screws for the electrical pick up. The pick up is done by pressure bent copper strips over metal wheel sets.  Is the investment worth it???  I felt it was, so I decided to light the interior and not put any interior seats, people, etc. in the car.  Additions to the original car kit will be the lighting kit and metal wheel sets from Athearn (#90504 36" metal wheel sets).  This package of eight wheel sets provides enough for two cars.  Make sure the wheel sets are put in so that the insulated side is on the same side on each truck and then the other truck is configured just the opposite so you get the plus and minus electrical current.  Take the truck frames and apply some outward pressure to release the plastic wheel sets from them.  To insert the metal wheel sets, spread the truck frames and insert the metal wheel sets.  When you have them in place, spin them and make sure they are loose enough to run smoothly later on the tracks and centered in the frame truck holes. Fit the copper strip over the tops of the axles to make a good contact for the electrical current and under the truck frame center piece.  Then take the assembled truck  with the copper strip in place and push the stem of the truck up through the car bottom. Place the car weight in the body bottom and then screw  the body bottom from the top down into the truck assembly frame and finally into the copper strip.  The screw in the body bottom must also hold down the car weight.  This makes a complete circuit for the light bulb.  Place the other body weight and the light bulb suspended in between the weights and screw the second truck on to the body bottom.   Even though you can see in the picture that they readily rust DO NOT PAINT THE WEIGHTS.  This will set up an insulation and the bulb won't light up if you do.
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Time to decal the car body.  I used MicroScale decals #87-16 for the New Jersey Department of Transportation symbols.  Each set provides enough to do two cars.  Prime Mover Decals #PMD-009 also have two NJDOT symbols (one car) in them that are a little smaller and probably more correct.  I also used Champ PH-22 for Santa Fe passenger cars and the numbers for this series of cars.  Again, you can get two maybe three cars out each set depending on the numbers.  An alternative to the Santa Fe sets is Microscale Railroad Gothic Alphabet & Numbers Black (87-7002) for the unit numbers.  From the one set, you may be able to get up to six cars.  The number series for these cars was mentioned above.
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The NJDOT symbols decals can now be put on the cars.  Looking at the car, the symbols always go on the right end.  The door end of the car has the symbol next to the door centered in the flat windowed part of the corrugated side and about 6 scale inches from the door frame.  On the other side the NJDOT symbol decals should be centered between the end frame and the window.  I then selected the numbers for each car, cut them out of the decal set and applied them to each side of the cars on the small number plate provided on the car body.
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  The next step is to put the plastic body on the plastic bottom/underframe of the car properly.  If you look at the body underframe, you will see that each side is different.  Two air conditioning units are molded into each side of the underframe. These air conditioning vents should be away from the door end when you mount the car body on the underframe.  Carefully put the car body on the body bottom/underframe oriented with the doors away from the a/c vents.  Push down firmly so that the edges of the car body slip into the underframe.  You might hear them snap into place.  What's left? There appears to be a black square object, maybe a maintenance/lube plate on one side of the cars directly under the right side of the first large window on the bottomof the car frame.  I took some very dark blue decals I had left over from the Horizon cars, cut squares out of them for each car and applied them.  You can also apply lube plates for these from lube plate decals from either Herald King or Walthers decal sets.  Now with all decals applied, over spray the car with Floquil glosscote to secure the decals to the cars.  This will glaze the windows a little and cover the fact that there is no interior.  You could also put window shades into the interior of the car to again cover the fact of no interior seats, etc.
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At the test track, check for rolling properties.  Remember that they have electrical pick ups on the axles of the wheels so they will not roll as free as unlighted cars will, but they should still roll enough that they move easily on the layout under power.  They should also light up at the test track when current is applied.
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Other details that can be added are steps on each end of the cars.  I noticed in one of the pictures two steps were hanging off of each side on each end.  I did not add these to the models, but you can if you want.
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You're now ready to run them.  As I said in the beginning, these cars go well with the new Proto 2000 GP7's in Erie Lackawanna with torpedo tubes.  They also look fabulous with E8A's and the RS's in Erie Lackawanna in gray, maroon and yellow.  These cars only ran on the EL for a short time, but they provided commuter service in northern New Jersey for a host of people.  They were noted for their only having doors at one end and thereby cutting down on the "wind tunnel effect", much to the happiness of the commuting public, that the Stillwells and Boonton cars provided on cold winter mornings.  These cars were also used on the commuting runs on the NY & Long Branch and Central of NJ runs provided by the NJDOT and originally on the Santa Fe long distance trains.

Finished model NJDOT #3081.
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List of kits, parts and decals
Athearn #140-1810 Undecorated, painted silver, Sante Fe type corrugated side stainless steel coach
Detail Associates #229-2505 round wire (1" handrails)
Athearn #140-90200  lighting kit
Floquil #270-110101 bright silver paint
Floquil #270-110013 grimy black
Athearn #90504 36" metal wheel sets (package of 8) [does two cars]
MicroScale decals #87-16 Erie Lackawanna Diesels (revised 4-94) or Prime Mover Decals #PMD-009 Horizon Comet Coaches(for the NJDOT decals)
Champ #PH-22  Santa Fe passenger car numbers  or Microscale Railroad Gothic Alphabet &
            Numbers Black #87-7002
Herald King (HK #lube-1) or Walthers lube plate decals
 

(c) Copyrighted in 1999 by Joseph W. Jordan, Jr.

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