|Create an Ann Arbor GP35
The following step-by-step directions are intended to
serve as a narrative and visual guide for creating a custom N scale
locomotive. Any road name could be substituted, or any products can be
used. There is no intended promotion of any one manufacturer, nor is this
necessarily the "best" way to go about building your own
locomotive. As I have selected a railroad that has a very limited amount
of commercially available rolling stock and motive power, I have been
"forced" to solve things on my own, so here's how it was done:
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Modify a caboose
Atlas Classic GP35
undecorated w/o dynamic brakes, purchased from the LHS. Original
photo downloaded from web, detail parts from Sunrise
and decals from Solidesign, along with glue, paint, Dremel tool, pliers
and X-acto knifes.
||It may seem like a daunting task to
completely disassemble a
perfectly good locomotive, but it's the only way to create a realistic Ann Arbor
GP35 in N Scale....you can do it!
Note the plastic bag with black blobs in the center of the picture: the
blobs are really
Alco trucks! - this
whole thing is coming apart!
Locate new trucks
To match the Ann Arbor GP35 trucks (they traded in 10
FA units in 1964 but had EMD use the FA trucks) you'll need to
substitute Atlas U-25B trucks.
||Contact Atlas through their web
site, where the trucks can be ordered on-line... they were $1.00 each
when I ordered 5 sets in 1999.
|Step 3: Disassemble
Carefully separate the entire body assembly from the frame. Then remove
the handrails from the cab, squeeze the sides of the cab inward and
remove the cab. Lift the body off the sill and running boards by
gently squeezing the center of the shell. If you look underneath you will see four small
tabs that hold the body on the running boards.
||Lift the black running board treads off the
sill. Pop the
metal tabs off the back of the coupler housing, slide the black coupler pin out and remove
the Rapido couplers. Remove all clear plastic lights and
windows. Disassembly is now complete. Next, wash all the pieces to be painted in warm
soapy water, rinse and set aside to dry for 24 hours.
Install new trucks
Remove the old EMD trucks by pulling firmly down and to the
side. Insert the new Alco trucks by firmly pressing them straight up into
- Remove the metal wipers and
create a downward angle just outside the fuel tanks. The new Alco trucks
have shorter electrical contact points and the wipers need to be adjusted
downward to reach the shorter contacts.
Prepare detail parts
Ann Arbor GP35s had nose mounted headlights in
addition to the cab mounted lights. I used a chisel point X-acto knife to
carve an appropriate notch into the nose of the diesel.
||I used Walthers
Goo to cement a Sunrise double headlight assembly in place. While the glue was
drying on the nose lights, I prepped and painted the M.U. (Multiple
Unit) hoses and
pilot plow - they are at the bottom right of the photo.
Add details & paint
At this point the M.U. hoses and plow have been installed
along with cab sunshades, and the body parts have all been painted. The
tiny "frames" around the cab marker lights have been shaved off
to better accommodate the number decals that are still to be applied.
||The same technique was used for the back
marker/running lights, and Micro-Trains 1015 couplers have been added to
the pilots by simply re-inserting the black coupler post through the
coupler box and into the sill.
|Step 7: Add
At this point the "ferry in the fog" logo and
lines have been added along with the front numbers.
||The "ann arbor railroad system"
company name will be added next.
|Step 8: Re-install
Reinsert the clear plastic windows and lights in the cab,
then apply the unit numbers in the cab marker lights. Then take the shell assembly and gently slide it back onto the
frame and handrails. Now
you are ready to slide the cab
back onto the shell.
||Once the cab is back in place, reattach the
handrails to the holes in the cab.
Note that the "Michigan Interstate Railway Company
Operator" decals are at the bottom left of this picture as they
cannot be added until the entire body is back together.
Carefully apply the last decals and then slide the completed body back onto the
motor chassis. Now compare your effort to the photo guide and make sure
you're satisfied with the results. This was a very relaxing vacation
project, consuming just three evenings.
||If you're like me, despite your best
intentions you may have inadvertently
overlooked one or two small details... like the front handrails on the
prototype were painted white! And I didn't bring any white paint on my
vacation, so I didn't "complete" the job until I got home!
Ultimately each of my GP35s will get a nice
dose of weathering... but for now I've lightly dry-brushed some grimy
black onto the exhaust stacks, fan grills and hood louvers.
After painting the handrails white upon my return to
Michigan, it was time to fiddle with the digital camera settings in an
effort to get some better pictures.
||Digital photography is pretty easy, but the
ability of my camera to capture close-up N Scale details is not that
great... hopefully these last pictures are a little bit better.
||back to the