Some Primary Research

I have previously mention my plans to detail my Atlas SW-8 as a Canadian National unit for Comstock Road’s primary Motive Power. I am lucky in that there are many photographs of these units to be had. The issue is that railfans have different photographic goals than model makers. They never include one of those dimensioned sticks for instance. They also are less concerned with underbody, pilot or roof detail although bridge shots do tend to cover the latter.

Thanks to a Tuesday Train post by Stephen Gardiner, I knew there was a plinthed CNR SW-8 in Memorial Park in Lindsay, Ontario. Which is conveniently on the way to this years canoe trip. I managed the time to stop by the park with notebook, tape measure and phone/camera in hand to gather some information. I am especially interested in the shop-built handrails that replaced the factory hood mounted ones.

I had a warm but enjoyable time climbing up and down over the loco accompanied by half a dozen railfans in the 5-8 year old age bracket. I was the only one taking notes and measurements and allowed to climb about unsupervised so nyeah! 🙂

I took many badly composed but useful detail shots and learned a few things you can’t tell from photos. For example, the handrail stanchion bases look solid from any normal angle but are actually formed from 1/4″ steel plate just like the stanchions themselves. I foresee a use for my Micromark photo etch kit in the not-to-distant future! stanchion_base_down

I also took shots of the brake gear, the pilots, the headlights, etc. Here is another shot railfans would see no reason for.8510_shorthoodpilot

All these shots are of a restored locomotive so there may be some deviations from the original (other than the missing spark arrestor and blocked off windows) so I will check for other sources where I can but this is way better than just working off shadows in photographs.

Here is an overall shot of the long hood end just to round things off.8510_longhoodend

FYI, the side handrails are centered 3 feet about the walkway. Somebody liked round numbers. 🙂


Motive Power

In the not too distant future, Comstock Road will have some rails that a locomotive can run on. I have an Atlas SW-8 converted to Proto:48 with drop-in NWSL wheelsets. This unit will be the only loco for the near future although I will probably acquire at least one more of a different class that CN might have plausibly run in Scarborough in the ’70’s.

The before photo reveals a few minor tweaks needed.sw8before

I am neither an experience locomotive detailer nor an expert on CN locomotives so I expect this project to be a learning experience in many ways. I have begun making a list the things that will need to done to produce a plausible CN SW-8. I am looking at photos on sites such as CNR Photos to get an idea of what needs to be done.

  • DCC decoder and sound.
  • Paint (duh) – the yellow paint looks very thick to my inexpert eye. The louvers and hinges may be decently molded under all that paint.
  • Decals – fortunately, the simple paint scheme does not require a special decal set. If I can find CN “wet noodles” in the appropriate size, I am class labels, GS-8a, and unit numbers, 7100 series, away from done.
  • Maybe louvers and hinges depending
  • Spark arrestor – this is probably the most distinctive feature on CN switchers.
  • Headlight/number boards
  • Side handrails – outer ones on stanchions, not ones on the hood. Some holes are going to need to be plugged.
  • Remove MU drop steps
  • Air hose but no MU hoses.
  • Sinclair antenna on the cab roof
  • Horn – seems to vary from unit to unit, will have to pick a specific one. None match the current model one, of course
  • Those bay windows – extended view?
  • Sunshades
  • Flush windows – the Atlas ones are highly inset – there is/was a kit for these
  • Replace all the grabs and handrails with scale sized wire.
  • Windshield wipers

Stretch goals:

  • The roof and cab wall are massively thick compared to the prototype. A replacement cab out of sheet brass would look much better if I can pull it off.
  • Cab interior.

Phew, this might take a while. I will either need to resort to an initial quicky re-paint and do the detailing incrementally, get a second loco to use while this one is all over the shop floor in pieces or be resigned to having an unpainted, partially detailed shop escapee handling the switching chores.