No. 129: Three New Engines for the Fleet

I had an unusually tough summer, but despite all the challenges I managed to get some good modeling done.

At the end of March I had some unexpected trouble with St. Louis RPM planning, and after a lot of praying I resigned from that whole thing.  That hurt, and I was bitter for a while, but it was the right thing to do for a lot of reasons.

In April I broke my shoulder playing soccer, and that caused a whole basket-full of problems.  The worst problem was that I couldn’t sleep, so I walked around like a zombie for months.  I had surgery to repair my Supraspinatus, and that too caused a lot of trouble.

Making everything worse was the weather.  It was one of the hottest, dryest summers ever recorded in Southern Germany.  Nobody here as air conditioning, so when it’s hot you’ve gotta live with it.  My large vegetable garden–my summer hobby–burned up in the heat.  Then we had a major water leak in our rented house and when the water wasn’t turned off, we had difficulty with water pressure.  For about three weeks, into early August, it seemed like we were living in the tool shed.

No right arm, no sleep, no running water, no exercise, no modeling, no a/c, bad work environment–man, the grind don’t stop as the kids say these days…

The Good News is our loving God who kept me healthy and focused and strong, and gave me plenty of endurance.  While it felt like all the troubles would never end, they have ended now, and life is better.   Through it all I knew He was on my side, so I never worried about a thing.

Back to Modeling

After my surgery the family went to the U.S. to visit relatives.  I stayed home to recover and carry on at work.  I was able to get some modeling done on the brutally hot evenings, even with very limited use of my right arm.  I managed to complete three or four unfinished models I’ve had on the workbench for a year, and reorganized every box of spare parts and supplies, and sold a few models, and also finished two new engines for the fleet.  IMG_6693

Here’s one of the new locomotives, below.  It was the star of an earlier post, which can be found here: The model is an old Kato RS-2, one of the best running and most beautiful models ever made.  I bought this to fulfill a desire to run a New York Central scenario on my Ackley, Iowa layout.  Here’s the model right out of the box–crisp and clean.


I immediately sent the model to my friend Mike Christianson in Albert Lea for installation of Loksound (DCC and sound).  Mike did a marvelous job.  The engine runs even better than before and sounds great.

When I got it back in June, I installed a few detail parts and a crew, but otherwise didn’t do too much to the model.


Below.  After the detail parts were added and painted to match, I sprayed the model with a light coat of Testors Dullcote, and then added a few more detail parts on each end (like MU cables and couplers), and then lightly weathered the model using both a paint brush and an airbrush.  My choice of weathering colors is Testors Dark Tan in the little round bottle.  Here’s the finished model below.


Another project was this NYC GP-7.  I bought this engine from a friend last year.  It is an old Proto 2000 engine of course.  Here is a photo, below, of the engine right out of the box.  These Proto engines are nicely detailed and simple, and great for upgrade projects.


I installed Cannon replacement fans, horns from Details West, new wire grabs, eyebolts, and a lot of other parts on the cab and on each end.  The MU stands came with the model.  The cab sunshades were scratch built from scrap styrene.


After all the detail parts were installed I airbrushed all the replacement parts carefully with a satin black I mixed myself.  Some of the details get lost when painted black, but the overall apperaance is excellent in my view.  The prototype engines had yellow handrails but I don’t want to mess around and paint those slippery handrails with anything, including Dullcote.  At some point later I may replace the hahandrailsith wire, and if I do they’ll get the proper coating of yellow trim.  For now, that can wait.


On my Ackley layout my engine of choice has always been a rebuilt Proto 2000 PRR GP-7.  It wasn’t the PRR paint that was a big deal, it was the powered underframe.  Mike Christianson installed a Tsunami 2 sound/DCC board back in 2013 and this engine runs like a dream.  The current keeper keeps the engine running smoothly.  I recently sold the PRR shell and am now using the powered underframe under the NYC engine.


Here’s the crew for the GP-7, which I modified using the popular Labelle set.  I call them Doc and Marty, like the main characters in the movie Back to the Future.  I repositioned a few arms and repainted the figures, and had to amputate a few limbs, but I got the crew I wanted.


Here’s Marty, with his repositioned arm hanging out of the cab.


After a light coat of Dullcote to blend everything together, and some light weathering, the engine can be seen in service at Ackley.  There’s Doc, hard at work!


The next engine to be finished is another Kato product, this Milwaukee Road RSC-3.

MILW RSC-2.jpg

The prototype photo below was taken by Ed Wilkommen in 1949.  This photo and hundreds of other excellent Milwaukee Road and C&NW photos, and much more, are online at the fabulous Lake States Historical Society site, which can be found at  Warning: If you haven’t been there yet, you WILL spend every waking moment on that site for the next two weeks.

MILW RSC-2 984

I’m working on the next post, which will be photo essay on a recent M&StL ops session on the Ackley layout.  I’ve got some good photos and I’m excited to get them on the blog as soon as I can.

On The Move…Again

Meanwhile…the upcoming Ackley post will probably be the last on the Ackley layout.  We are moving to a new rental home next month and the new house doesn’t have a suitable space for the present layout.  The plan is to store the Ackley layout and build something new.

The new space is two 13-foot-long walls in a downstairs den.  I don’t know what I’ll be modeling yet, but I’m leaning toward a Milwaukee Road location somewhere in Iowa or southern Minnesota.  Due to the space limitations, the layout will have to be something small and comforting…maybe something like this:

IMG_4224 (2)

I would appreciate your thoughts as I move forward with the new plan.  I’ll post some details soon.

I hope you all have a blessed week!  – John G

3 thoughts on “No. 129: Three New Engines for the Fleet

  1. Sorry to hear about your rough summer. Suffering has a way of refining us, so it sounds like there were benefits. 🙂

    I love the old Milwaukee SW1 “Donkeys” that ran MU’d in southern Minnesota and N.E. Iowa. I’d vote to have you model those beauties. You could take a stab at modeling the beautiful bluff country in that region.


  2. Thanks for the update! Hope you and your family have a smooth move to the new home! Military life can be rough on model railroading! Your post inspires me to get more creative with some Proto 2000 locomotives that have been languishing in my collection for “someday” projects! God bless!


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