Monday, June 24, 2024

New Haven DEY-3 (Proto 2000 S-1) DCC/Sound GAMECHANGER!

One of the coolest (and, as in this case, mildly irritating - but in a good way :^) things about having a blog is the feedback and questions you get. It's even better when the blog reaches such a wide-ranging audience.

Like a guy in Australia(!)

Earlier today, friend RodD from Way Down Under asked me a simple question about what Scale Sound Systems speaker I used in my Proto 2000 Alco S-1 (which I converted to New Haven RR DEY-3 #0967 - click here for that build thread). I didn't remember offhand, and I was shocked and annoyed to discover that I didn't mention it in my conversion posts (here and here). Spoiler Alert: It's Scale Sound Systems part# LLPR-S1S3-RC1.


When I went to the Scale Systems page to find the part# for that speaker, I discovered "something new had been added..."

Apparently, since I converted my loco to DCC and sound - using a LokSound v5 micro and separate Power Pack (which I had to solder to the decoder) . . .

. . . Scale Sound Systems has produced a shorter speaker that will allow you to use the LokSound 58921 Direct w/PowerPacks built in(!)

Snipped from the Scale Sound Systems website

You can find this speaker on the same page, but it's part number LLPR-S13S-RC1. Beware how close the part numbers are to each other.

This is a MUCH easier and more elegant solution for DCC/Sound in the P2k Alco S-1 - provided

  • the "drop in" board actually drops in (SSS recommends mounting it with double-sided tape) - click here for a drop in "fail" with this board; and
  • you don't actually enjoy soldering 3 tiny 30 gauge wires from a PowerPack to the decoder PC board - and trying to find someplace to stuff the PowerPack under the hood. . .

If I'd known about this new SSS speaker, I would have most definitely used it and the 58921 decoder with built-in PowerPacks instead.

But isn't that the way it ALWAYS goes?? You scratchbuild a long-coveted model, and - just as soon as you finish it - a manufacturer offers it? You build a scene with your best guess as to the look of a certain structure you have no photos of, and as soon as you're done, somebody shows you a photo of the structure - and it's totally different?

Well, chalk this up as another example of this weird "rule" in model railroading.

If you've been considering converting a Proto 2000 Alco S-1/3 to DCC & sound, hopefully I've warned you in time! :^) Just don't forget to isolate that motor . . .

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Part 10 - New Haven DEY-3 (Alco S-1) #0967: Weathering & Finishing!

It's been a long week CHOCK FULL of blog posts, for a huge change from the once-or-less per month :^) but now we've arrived at the final post of this DEY-3 build. We'll take this "brand new" 0967 and make it look like it's been doing some actual work.

And that means weathering!

Now, I'm not going to go step-by-step through the process I used, but will certainly publicly thank Ralph Renzetti again for being my weathering mentor, guide, and guardrails. For a more detailed description of the weathering process, be sure to check out the January issue of Railroad Model Craftsman where I weathered a B&M SW-1. If you don't have access to that issue, you can get much of the same content (in a more rambling and less edited format :^) here and here). But here are the highlights:

The first step is an overall white acrylic fade (10:1 thinner to paint) airbrushed over the model, focused on the top and built up gradually. Next is an "oil dot" fade where you apply alternate dots of black, white, and gray oil paint to the top of the hood and cab . . .

. . . and then "pull" it down with a soft brush just barely dampened with mineral spirits (dip it in, then wipe on a cloth or paper towel),  mixing the colors together at the same time.

For rust effects on the truck sideframes and stack, I use burnt and raw umber gouache, applied with a sponge that's been ripped into a random pattern, as above. Dip a barely damp sponge into the gouache, daub the excess off on a piece of scrap paper/newspaper, then daub on your model.

The stack was first painted with flat aluminum paint (Tamiya XF-16), then the "rusty" sponge was daubed on the stack - heavier at the top, lighter on the bottom.

Here's the final effect - and don't forget to blacken the inside of the stack.

How's that for a brief overview?! As you might imagine, weathering is actually a much more involved process, involving multiple layers, clear coats to seal between layers, and all the time it takes to let things dry in between. For additional process details, be sure to click on the links at the beginning of this post.

Once the weathering is done (actually, I still have a little bit of final weathering to do - but I ran out of time before the NERPM where I really wanted to finish this loco enough to display), it's time for final assembly.  THAT ended up being close to the most stressful part of this entire build - both because I didn't want to mess anything up, and because I was literally putting everything back together with only hours to spare before my self-imposed NERPM deadline (BTW - the most stressful part of the build was having to solder not one, but TWO, 30 gauge wires that had broken off of the PC board end of the PowerPack - with only a few hours left to go...).

Reassembly really deserves its own post, but I was so stressed out and in a hurry that I forgot to take any pictures. Suffice it to say that the Cricut cut window glass that Mike supplies with his cab is great - but it's a bear to glue the panes into a one-piece cab without glue getting on the windows - or the windows not actually adhering (window installation is the only advantage the 5-piece cab kit has over the 1-piece cab - you can put the glass in before assembly). I used MicroClear as an adhesive, but Aleen's clear gel tacky glue or canopy glue would work as well.

The railings are just press fit - and may need to come off for additional/final weathering at some point. The handbrake chains to the brake pistons on the rear truck sideframes were reattached and glued with a bit of thick CA.

PROTIP: There are no air hoses supplied with the P2k model and no good - or prototypical - place to install them on the end sills. So, I just CA'd Hi Tech Details rubber air hoses to the side of the KD coupler boxes. Be sure the front one is glued to the "wrong" side - remember: air hoses on both ends of a locomotive are on the engineer's side. For the couplers themselves, I used KD #158s.

I used a tiny bit of MicroClear around the edges of the numberboard openings before press-fitting the numberboards themselves into the shell. I didn't want them falling out. Since daytime headlight use didn't start on the New Haven RR until the 1950s - and the Valley Local is daytime only - I didn't bother with lighting the lights and used MV lenses instead (P/N 21), with MicroClear applied around the openings again. Honestly, the MVs looks MUCH better than unlit wired headlights IMO.

And here's the (semi)final result . . .

At first, I thought Mike had shorted me a window pane - but then I realized: since he added an armrest to the engineer's window frame, he must've decided to leave that window "open."

Turns out, I'm mighty glad he did. Makes that cool cab interior & gauges actually visible!

So there you have it - New Haven Railroad DEY-3 class #0967, flagship diesel on the Valley Local c. 1949. As I mentioned, I still have some minor weathering left to do (handrails & couplers primarily, and maybe some more oil spill on the truck journals and fuel spill around the fuel filler), but it was done "enough" in time to be displayed at the NERPM this year - which was the main goal. Maybe some of you saw it there?

Getting the 0967 finished for NERPM was the main reason I kept plugging away so regularly and fast on it, despite the stress. But BEWARE: You run a high risk of killing this hobby for yourself if you try to do it to a deadline!  I won't do that again if I can help it. Better to be more leisurely and actually enjoy the process.

Thanks to all of you that have been "with" me during this process via this blog and/or on Facebook. I hope you've enjoyed this build and maybe even taken away some helpful tips - or at least advice on what NOT to do!

And so, as we close out this build and until next time, enjoy the 0967's maiden voyage (with my apologies for the bounciness - I'll use a tripod next time %^) . . .

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Part 9 - New Haven DEY-3 (Alco S-1) #0967: Decaling/Lettering/Gauges(?!)

Decaling is one of my favorite parts of a project - and often the most harrowing. But it's a pretty straightforward process (which I go into detail about here) and really makes your model unique.

For the 0967, I used custom-made decals from Highball Graphics (which are now available to everyone here), and builder's plate decals from Microscale.

Since decaling IS pretty straightforward, I'll just make a few special notes and give a few tips here. . .

I mentioned that I used Badger's black Stynylrez as my primer AND topcoat for the frame. Well, the only downside of that is that it dries flat - not idea for decal application. Frankly, I'd forgotten about the lettering on the end sills until I started decaling. Thankfully, there's an easy workaround: Apply Future floor polish with a brush to where you're going to apply the decal, let it dry, then decal as usual. You can see the difference in the sheen above, but the difference disappears with subsequent clear coats and weathering. Easy peasy.

The numbers on the side of the cab were relatively easy to locate since Mike used precisely the same rivet pattern as on the prototype. So, I'm literally a rivet counter - I counted the number of rivets down the side to figure the height of the number - and then I just centered the number below the split window. The "New Haven" on the side of the hood is located just ahead of the 2nd hood door and just covers the 2nd door from the right.

As for the proper height? Here's your first ProTip: Don't do as I did . . . The good news is that I was able to use enough MicroSol to finally get the decal to snug down over the door handles. The bad news is that the decal should have been placed just below the door handles - then they wouldn't have been a problem. Thankfully, it's not that noticeable. Of course, now that I told you, you'll notice it . . .%^)

The fireman's side is better, as you can see above. Since the 0967 is always pointed south on the Valley Line, you always see the fireman's side. So that's good. Of course, all the cool details (air whistle, cab signal box) are on the Engineer's side. Oh well. Pick your poison dessert. Now both sides have good & bad points. :^\

These are the number boards - and here's your next ProTip: If your number decals are clear numbers on a black background - and your numberboards aren't lit (mine aren't), you will never see the numbers(!) Thankfully, there's an easy fix: Paint the clear numberboards gloss white! "Gloss" to make decal application easy, "white" so that the numbers show up. I applied the paint with a toothpick.

The last decals I did were on the front of the hood and the back of the cab, positioned as you see here. And note the numberboards - taped to hold them in place for painting and decaling.

I'll end with something super cool - at least to me. In the pic above, you'll see that my masking of the gauges worked well. And before I go any further - NO! - the cab interior is NOT "too dark." I have it on indisputable authority (Jack Swanberg, if you must know, who literally wrote the book on "New Haven Power") that DEY-3 cab interiors (at least before the November, 1947 batch were delivered) were initially painted "dark green" (see Shoreliner Vol. 35, #1, p.5). Later deliveries were painted the gray (or light "institutional" green) we're more familiar with.

ANYway, back to the gauges . . . I wanted to paint green around the gauges themselves, and didn't want to try to do it by hand using a brush - even a teeny tiny one. Somebody on the Valley Local Facebook Group (if it's you, say so in the comments here :^) mentioned offhand using MicroMask to cover the gauges. I accepted the challenge - and in the photo above, you can barely make out the fact that the gauges are covered with a blue fluid. . . That's MicroMask, applied with a toothpick to each guage.

I shot another coat of green over the cab interior, and then used the tip of a toothpick to just start to peel off the MicroMask - and used a tweezer to peel it off. See the result above. In hindsight, I shouldn't have bothered masking that center area - which I suspect now should have an "Alco/GE" emblem. Ah well - "next time"

I've used MicroMask on headlight lenses before, but never on anything this small - and now that I've discovered it works, I think that's a pretty good tip!

Once I got the builder's plates on (you can just make them out on the lower left corner of the cab), I couldn't help dry-fitting everything together to see how it looked. Pretty good! Now we're ready for weathering - but that'll have to wait until next time . . .

Friday, June 14, 2024

Part 8 - New Haven DEY-3 (Alco S-1) #0967: Painting

I don't know about you, but painting - specifically airbrushing - is something I've always feared. In fact, I put it off for well over 30 years(!) Click here for THAT crazy story (it's a fun read, if I don't say so myself). Thanks to my friend Ralph, I've since become a convert of Badger's Patriot 105 airbrush. Now I almost look forward to painting. Almost all of the time. Especially since painting and lettering make all the difference in converting a nondescript/undec model into Your Very Own.

So here - if only to document it myself for future reference, and perhaps to give some of you the extra push you need to try - is the process I'm currently using, step-by-step:

First, I remove the truck sideframes. On the P2k model - as with most - the gearbox cover retains the sideframes, so remove the covers first.

Here's my prep setup: ultrasonic cleaner for the small parts, basin of soapy water (Dawn preferred), toothbrush & tray for larger parts, gloves for handling cleaned parts, towel for quick cleanup of spills.

Ralph encouraged me to get an ultrasonic cleaner (I got mine at the local Wal-Mart), and now I don't know how I did without it. Add a few teaspoons of Dawn to the water and run it for 3 cycles. Cleans all those little bits thoroughly and safely (though keep a VERY close watch on those tiny uncoupling levers!)

Cleaning the larger parts is more straight-forward - just use the toothbrush (gently!) and your sudsy water - and be sure to plug the sink when rinsing(!). Here's everything all cleaned and ready to go (once thoroughly dry)

I use a variety of homemade stands, reversed clothespins, tape and cardboard to secure items for painting.

And since my friend Randy gave me a version of the cab interior that had the gauges preprinted (apparently you get the gauges with a decorated model - the undec just comes plain), I masked those off so they wouldn't get painted over.

And now we're ready to actually paint!

For my DEY-5, I used Tru-Color Pullman Green. You can see in the photo above how it (top) differs from the Atlas S-2 that was custom done for the NHRHTA (bottom). And - to my colorblind eyes - the NHRHTA version looks closer to the color prototype photos I've seen. Or maybe the DEY-5 just looks faded... In any event, I decided to use Badger Pullman Green for the 0967.

I started by priming everything with Badger's Stynylrez primers - which I love. They go on VERY easy, right out of the bottle with no thinning required. I used black on the frame and railings, and gray on everything else. BONUS! The black Stynylrez primer can also act as the "top coat" color.

Next, I shot the green parts with the Badger paint thinned with just a few drops of water, building up the color slowly.

While I was waiting for all of that to dry, I remembered I needed to paint the sides of the wheels, so I took advantage of the fact that the mech was disassembled already to solder the truck pickup wires to the sideframe contacts. I know Colorado Bill will be proud I'm no longer relying on those little plastic retainers to keep the wires electrically connected to the sideframe contacts and wheels(!)

Now that the 0967 is painted (and you'd be hard pressed to find an easier paint scheme :^), the next step is decals! Then it'll REALLY start to look like a New Haven locomotive. . .

Till next time!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Part 7 - New Haven DEY-3 (Alco S-1) #0967: Low-Profile Cab

FINALLY! we get to The Most distinctive feature of the New Haven Railroad's Alco switchers (well, the "low" hood ones anyway) - the "low profile" cab, necessary due to the railroad's extensive overhead wire.

Diagram from the NHRHTA's Shoreliner magazine, Vol. 35, #1, p. 15

As mentioned many times before, but in case you missed it :^) Mike Redden provides 1-piece resin castings of this distinctive feature of the New Haven's DEY-3 and DEY-5 switchers. And you can get them here. The resin he's using now is a more robust and less brittle than past iterations - but you still need to handle them with care (especially that front roof overhang. Ask me how I know...).

And there are a couple of pro-tips which I'll share below. . .

A bit of good news is that you can use the P2k upper cab grab on the Redden cab. The bad news is that the pilot holes are positioned just slightly too narrow for an easy fit.

Fortunately, it's an easy fix - just remove one leg of the grab . . .

. . . and glue in place as normal. The handrails next to the door have to be custom made from .015" wire since - due to the lower roof - they're shorter than stock. Thankfully, pilot holes are provided and Mike has a bending jig available to make it easier to form the wire.

With the pilot holes provided, you have only to locate 3 holes on the cab - and the one above is for the engineer's side handrail. I figured the height by test fitting cab and handrail to the frame and eyeballed the horizontal position, not wanting to drill too close to the corner.

While the handrail looks similar to a stock handrail on an Atlas S-2 (since the factory hole is similarly located), in hindsight I should've tried to drill the hole a bit closer to the corner. It's a matter of looks versus risk. YMMV.

The other two holes you have to locate and drill are for the step-to-cab handrails. You use the P2k handrails and I'm test fitting/positioning them in the photo above.

Marked, then drilled (you can see a false start on the left)

Fortunately, the bracket/bolts covered the mistake.

While in future iterations Mike may provide those 3 additional pilot holes, even more importantly, he'll hopefully provide a way to secure the cab to the frame/body. Fortunately, the cab slides easily over the rectangle of the P2k body casting. Unfortunately, it just as easily can slide off - or, at the very least, leave an unsightly gap between the cab and the frame. So I took advantage of the fact that the interior of the cab walls have bracing for strength . . .

. . . used my calipers to locate a point where two braces crossed one another . . .

. . . and glued a bit of styrene to act as a retaining lug.

I then tapered the lug to allow the cab to press down over it and lock in place. And, yes, I can get the cab off :^) But you'll want to be sure you've filed the lug down to the point where it just grabs the side of the cab.

And that, my friends, concludes the "build" portion of the project! I did one more quick test fit of everything . . .

. . . disassembled it all again to prep for PAINTING! Which is next.... So stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Part 6 - Proto 2000 Alco S-1 becomes New Haven DEY-3 (Alco S-1) #0967: (another) Test Run

(this is part 6 in this conversion - click here for the post containing the list of the others)

Before starting on the cab detailing, I decided to test run the engine again, this time with the cab interior in place. I'd test run the engine before and it worked fine, but for some reason, this time it ran like absolute garbage.

Turns out, "something" was touching at least one (or both) of the flywheels.

With a decoder (ESU v5 micro), "keep alive" capacitor (ESU Power Pack), and a Scale Sound Systems speaker all stuffed under the hood, it's a pretty tight fit - even with the stock weight removed.

My first line of inquiry focused on the speaker being pressed down to the front flywheel due to the speaker wires being routed between the speaker and the hood, as you can see above.

So I used a Dremel to rout out a channel for the wires. As you can see, the recess for the fan protrudes below the curve of the hood so part of this material can be removed with no problem.

I also made a spacer to be certain that the speaker couldn't be pressed down past horizontal.

Unfortunately, while that helped, there still seemed to be some binding somewhere. So I turned my attention to what I should have before - but was too scared to admit might be the problem . . . My decoder install itself . . .

YIKES! That's a lot of excess wire! (the power pack is temporarily mounted out of the way)

I untaped everything and decided to trim some wire. First thing to trim back were the wires for the lighting. Daytime headlight use on the New Haven didn't start until c. 1950 - after my era (yay!) - so I opted not to bother with working lights (and the attendant challenge of figuring out how to route them to the top/back of the cab without them showing, not to mention the hassle of the wires themselves). I'll use MV lenses instead.

Ahhhh....THAT's better! Much more tidy - and the Power Pack is mounted to the underside of the hood with double-sided tape.
The Power Pack is nicely hidden in front of the cab interior, which I can still use. But will the loco still work?

First off, let's dispel any concern that the Proto2000 S-1 won't pull much since I removed the stock weight to make room for the speaker and electronics . . .

As you can see in the video, despite losing 1.5 ounces of weight (which is all that big, clunky weight weighs), it can still pull a train up a 2 % grade - with a 24" radius curve!

And as for how it runs with the hood and cab interior in place . . . well, you tell me :^)

Suffice it to say, I'm VERY happy with how this model is turning out - it now runs and sounds as good as it looks. If you want a Proto 2000 S-1 with DCC & sound, fret not . . . You can remove the weight and make the room you need to do so. Just be sure to isolate that motor first!

Now that the 0967 is running nicely (again), we're in the home stretch on this project - next time, we'll finally get to that low-profile cab and finish up this model for final prep & painting!