N&W #1804 - From Proto 2000 SD45 Shell & Kato Drive

Photographed In Progress 01/24/2004

Updated 01/27/2004

Finished Photos 04/21/2004

One of the first things I did with the SD45 shell maybe wasn't the smartest. I cut the long hood end out to replace it with a Cannon part. I've done this before, in particular with the old Rail Power Products SD45 which had a dreadful long hood end. I just decided I wanted the uniform "Cannon Look" but it was a lot of work due to the filling in of the "wings" from the flared radiators.
Here's the Cannon hood end in place glopped up with Zap-A-Gap as filler. The reason this isn't such a hot idea is due to the glossy finish of the Cannon parts, it's difficult to patch or fill around them without it being obvious. Oh well, the deed is done.
The cleaned-up long hood end.
The Proto 2000 SD45 shell is quite nice, and is more dimensionally accurate than the Kato shell. It has more separate parts, which makes it easier to Cannonize it. One area that should be easier is the fans - a Kato shell has molded-on fans which must be drilled out, but the P2K shell just has holes, so it's just a matter of dropping in the Cannon fans, right? Not so fast... see those little recesses around the holes? Uh-huh. They have to be filled in, otherwise the Cannon base flanges will sink below the top of the hatch.
The proper solution is of course the Plano SD45 fan hatch (etched stainless steel) but not having one at the time I decided to try my hand at fixing this problem. So I used a #11 blade to scratch a line around the stock P2K fan into some .010" styrene sheet, and then cut the pieces out and snipped them to size. 10 thou is about right. I glued them in place with solvent which is actually inferior to CA in circumstances like this because it softens the plastic and slows down working time.
10 thou styrene is only about as thick as heavy paper, so it's easy to poke the #11 blade through the hole and carve out the opening. This is the rough cut. Some sanding of the surface and cleaning up of the inner hole is all that remains. And patching with Zap-A-Gap in the places where the shim breaks loose as of course it does.
Now the Cannon radiator fan bases fit correctly.
The Cannon fan hubs, blades, shrouds, and top grill in place. At this point only the bases are actually glued to the model. The shroud and grill assembly will be painted separately and attached later.
The dynamic fan holes fortunately don't have the same problem so they are more or less a drop-on. There is a small gap from the keying notch but I decided to leave it alone. Unless something underneath starts glowing, it shouldn't be visible on a dark blue, weathered locomotive.
So, what's good enough? Are plastic see-thru fans good enough? Are the Cannon fans worth the expense and trouble? You be the judge.
This part is easy - the forward panel is already open (mostly), the other two are closed but the plastic is very thin. A few passes with a #11 blade and they pop right out.
The outer ledge needs to remain there so the Plano inner grill will have someplace to rest.
Prototype photo of an SD45 late style radiator panel with the rectangular inner grid. Dave Hussey photo.
The Plano grills in place on the model, both layers. I learned after the fact that only every third vertical wire in the outer grill has the bolt attached to the carbody.
The angled view shows the depth and relief between the inner and outer grilles. Attaching the grill to match the prototype mounting is going to be a challenge any way you look at it. These Plano grills are still "experimental" at this point, so production parts if they come to pass may end up somewhat different.
A quick diversion to the long hood. I removed the blower housing and inertial grill from the left side, and filled in the oversize drain hole with Zap. Shown here with the Cannon parts installed and the long hood now glued to the walkway. The hole under the inertial hatch area is to provide mold ejection for the inside screw mount column. These inside mounts aren't needed and in fact with the Kato chassis, they are in the way and have to be removed.
Cannon inertial hatch in place. This time I did a fairly clean job of removing the molded-on sub base, and the front end is now fully ready to receive the Cannon cab/nose/base assembly. Note the 4 holes on the opposite side - these are the locator holes for the cab steps. The cab steps will end up being Cannon parts so the holes will be covered up.
The Kato chassis has the area below the blower duct filled in with metal. So the portion of the long hood side that occupies the gap beneath the blower housing must be removed on the P2K shell along with other obstructions. You can see also toward the right where the vertical screw mount column has been snipped out with the trusty Xuron cutters.
The high step pilot is another notable feature of the N&W SD45s. The N&W opted for this pilot style on all of their 40-series EMD locos. All of the existing SD45 models - Proto 2000, Kato, and Rail Power - have the low stepwell. On previous models I hadn't really dealt with this and just built the model with the low steps. But once I notice something it starts jumping out at me until I fix it. So I rebuilt the pilot wells with the steps closer together and the bottom step raised up a bit. I used an Atlas SD35 pilot as a guide. You can see in this photo the original location of the middle step notch which has been plugged. The difference in height of the steps is noticable, and especially the shape of the pilot face when viewed head-on.
Now on to the unique triple-clasp trucks. These Athearn Blomberg sideframes gave their lives for the SD45 triple clasp project. Why are they cut in pieces? The inner shoe on each truck is usable, but always breaks off in the same place. Clipping the sideframe after this happens allows the break to be re-glued with Cyanopoxy, and then the inner shoe assembly can be clipped off. The outer shoes on the Blombergs wind up as the outer shoes on the triple clasp Flexicoils.
Kato's latest run of SD40s now has the later style "high cylinder" version of the Flexicoil Type II truck, but it's set up in the standard configuration of two brake cylinders and inside brake shoes only. The Kato truck gets a third brake cylinder - the loco itself comes with 2 spare cylinders, and 2 more are Athearn parts (indistinguishable for this purpose). The Blomberg's shoes and brackets are tacked onto the base of the journals with Cyanopoxy and carefully positioned to not interfere with the wheels.
This photo gives a better look at the brake shoes. When the truck is painted and weathered it will photograph evenly and the modifications will stand out. Notice I didn't replace the inertial grill on this side. Lazy I guess.
The high step pilot coupled with the very busy looking triple-clasp truck adds to the N&W look. If the frame looks familiar, it should. It's the frame from the other SD45 project (1721) on this site. I haven't decided what to do with the 1721 - whether it's worth finishing or not. It will be a first order unit with low-brake trucks, but already has the wrong stepwells, which I will probably not try to change.
A look at the whole unit on the side with the Plano grills installed. The cab sunshade is a Cannon part snipped to about half it's width, which near as I can tell matches up with the prototype photos I have.
More progress - 01/27/2004. Pretty much straight forward detailing at this point, or in other words no big experiments. Addition of the modified Details West N&W bell, grab irons, the Cannon sweep doors, Cannon SD jacking pads, and the Salem air dryer assembly from the Proto 2000 parts bag.
The Cannon air reservoir is definitely the cream of the crop among a number of selections here - although some of the factory pieces are getting better, I still feel the Cannon part is worth the trouble. The Salem setup here is a one-piece molding that came with the P2K shell parts. The filter "cans" are noticably smaller than the parts available from Details West in white metal. Gets me wondering which is correct... be the Proto parts clear the fuel tank without modification so guess what.
Still experimenting with the Plano grills. This side I cut the extra bolt points off so only every third vertical wire bolts to the hood, which is correct. But on the right-most grill I took too much off which you can see in the image below more clearly. Which means I botched one grill piece and I have to dip into my second set. I hope I can get more of these... tricky as they are, they are still a big improvement over any solid grills. However... I was pleasantly surprised how accurate my kitbashed Cannon 40 series grills appear along side these.
A look at the whole unit to the extent my camera will focus. I've been fooling with sliding the close-up lever to a position "in between" the distance and close-up setting, with mixed results. I still find it amazing that this cheap-ass Fuji digital can take a spectacular close-up at a distance as close as 4-5", but at about 18" which is what I need to take in the whole SD45 profile, it can't focus properly at either position. Piece of junk.
Sometimes the good stuff is old stuff. A-Line still makes the best windshield wiper out there. And those are Detail Associates wire grabs (no, I don't roll my own) which have been on the market something like 27 years. Ditto the Details West N&W bell, which is crude but the only bell that is close to accurate. It's appearance is much improved by removing the flat part on top (not visible here) so it's open and you can use the Cannon sand fill hatch. Overland's N&W bell bracket, like a lot of their parts looks good but is closer to S scale, and the bell that comes with it is a ridiculous shape with no connection to reality. The Atlas plastic N&W bell is about like the DW, it's scale size but solid on top and the bell itself is only half round, which needs to be fixed or it looks pretty strange.
Here you can clearly see where I cut too much off the vertical wires on the forward grill - so that one will get yanked off and replaced. You can see here one of the nicer aspects of the P2K shell - the brake wheel recess which is a separate insert. Even the brake wheel is decent, very close to Cannon quality but I may end up replacing it. The factory m.u. stand fits nicely but it's wrong, the N&W 1804 has a later style (non-beveled) m.u. stand which is another golden oldie DA part in my stash. The P2K pilot details stand up pretty well including the cut lever and the horizontal grab rail. They actually tack into place straight on the pilot without sagging, pretty impressive for delrin moldings not a whole lot thicker than dental floss. I can clearly see in this photo what's not so obvious to the naked eye - the delrin fan grab must go, it sags... oh well!
The next group of photos shows the painted and finished model.
Once again the harsh flash of the digital doesn't do any flattery to my weathering.
The "good" side of the radiators, where I got two of the three panels trimmed correctly.
Why no nice view of the whole locomotive? This camera can't do it! I also botched the length on the rear headlight wires.... I couldn't get them to reach into the shell far enough to mount, so at the moment the back end has no lights. Have to take the shell off, cut the wires, and extend them.
In this view, the missing rung of the forward radiator grill almost looks realistic. Locomotives with this type of wire mesh grill frequently show damage, but it's almost impossible to model it with a solid plastic radiator. The etched radiator is going to show every imperfection in the forming process, and makes it possible to model bent or missing rungs. Yeah, that's the ticket!
The Cannon air reservoir, combined with some of the plastic details that come with the Proto 2000 parts pack. This is more detail than I usually do at the frame level, but since I put so much effort into I-beaming this Kato frame, I thought I should put something there. Actually I had to rebuild the frame rails a second time, the first time was awful. One more practice run, hopefully to go more smoothly on the next Kato SD40 or SD45.
The modified drain holes look about right here. Unfortunately, I neglected to plug the holes for the cab steps, which weren't needed with the Cannon sub-base and steps. Fortunately only visible from this angle, and with flash... or Optivisor and good light. Or the eyes of a 12-year old. Notice my trimmed Cannon sunshade has already been clipped again. More handling damage, for a loco that has only been out of the house once!
Other side you can see how dense the radiators look when I mistakenly left all of the "feet" in place.
This is what the shade is supposed to look like. It's not quite the right design (Cannon part is later version) but it's stronger than the ancient DA part (huh, I broke one already). I clipped it back to make it narrower as the prototype appears. Most N&W SD45s got winterized windows on both sides when repainted to 13D black.
No cab interior here. Notice the stack of sheet lead visible inside the cab window. I was able to add a fair amount of extra weight thanks to the open design of the Kato chassis and the spacious interior of the SD45 shell.
The high step pilot looks like it belongs, even though I made it just from eyeball measurements. The Cannon steps had to be set on little strips of styrene to locate them in approximately the right place. When coupled to my older SD45, with the RPP shell and low pilots, the difference is striking. The chalky looking weathering is from a wash of Pollyscale "concrete". For some reason, it had more tendency than usual to hole up in cracks, but once again, the flash makes it light up like driven snow. Under normal viewing, it's not that bad.
Oh yeah.... those triple clasp trucks look like they belong too. I was even able to leave the outboard shoe in place. Compare these trucks to the SD35 trucks (Atlas) to see the subtle differences between a Type I Flexicoil and a Type II with triple clasps. This is certainly not a perfect model of the N&W truck, but it's more accurate than sticking an Atlas truck under it, and certainly captures the N&W look a lot better than a 2-cylinder truck would. The main characteristic of these trucks (and N&W's HT-C triple clasps on their SD40-2s) is the daylight between journals - no angle rods or rigging at all.
The camera does well at close-ups but clearly distorts things.
A more typical layout eye view. Love those Cannon fans. Notice the little hole next to the dynamic fan rim. A Proto 2000 exclusive to be dealt with, I didn't think it would show up on the finished model. It doesn't except in very close, well-lit views like this.
Some of the benefits of going to the trouble to put the Proto 2000 shell on a Kato drive. The crisp roof hatch detail, fine handrails, fine treadplate, and the weld marks along the air duct seam.
Close-up of the finished radiators on the "bad" side with too many feet. Yes, I made shutters from clapboard styrene and painted them gray and brown. I didn't plan for the "pin stripe pants" effect but back at any distance, it just gives a slight subtle hint there are vertical shutters back there.
The good side... left two panels are correct - at least as much as I can tell from photos and what I could piece together from the parts. Right panel is missing top and bottom horizontal ribs where I got a bit carried away before I realized what I was doing/
Close-up of dynamic housing from the other side shows the fans, exhaust stack, and the "oops" little "vent slots" next to the fans. Apparently these are keying slots for the P2K's slightly oversized fan flanges.
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