N&W #400 - Phase 2A RS11 From Rapido Model
This is my first project utilizing the new Rapido RS11. As you know if you've followed my commentary, the Proto RS11 done a few years back was completely useless. Rapido announced theirs in 2018 and it was released in late 2019. They did two different N&W versions - an as-built and as revised (not really rebuilt). The N&W was the king of RS11s, having 99 of them on their native roster before acquiring even more from Nickel Plate.

Rapido's early model represents the N&W as built, which I'm not really interested in. The modifications made in the 1960s didn't really constitute a rebuilding, just equipping them with hollow louvered hoods over the side intakes - aka "box louvers". These make them instantly identifiable as N&W (or ex-N&W for survivors from the torch).

N&W 308-364 were all phase 1A RS11s. Excuse me for not using the Roman numerals but the lower case letters and fonts make the Roman stuff kind of silly for a web feature. The Arabic numbers were invented for a reason.. they're better. The phase 1A on the N&W are characterized by the five evenly spaced box louvers over the engine compartment, and the triple louver box over the intercooler - I think that's what it is. In the past these bits have been scratchbuilt or were made from Tiger Valley Models cast white metal parts. Rapido did an outstanding job creating these parts. They only made a couple of mistakes. The undecorated version of the N&W comes with two dynamic brake/engine compartment inserts, one plain with the screened openings, the other with the five box louvers tightly glued in place with CA cement. It comes with the screen type intercooler, and an extra pair of screen type rather than the triple louvers. I have been in contact with Rapido about obtaining the missing triple louvers and hopefully when they can squeeze in a run I will get them. In the mean time I was able to acquire some resin castings to use for the triple louvers from a friend - I won't disclose unless he wants to volunteer, so he won't be inundated with requests from all three serious N&W modelers. Besides, I feel that Rapido needs to supply the replacements to all who purchased the N&W undecorated models.

N&W 365-392 are phase 1C, and they do not have the equipment box behind the cab on the left side - handrails go straight across, and they lack the large rectangular actuator on the radiator. The actuator is rather prominent and it's present and molded in place for all three RS11 models (Atlas, Proto, Rapido). The only way to get rid of it is to cut out that part of the radiator and replace it. You can see how I did this on my model of 375 elsewhere on this site, and how I did it with the Rapido model. The radiator panel is actually a separate part and that would be a really good thing if it wasn't already super glued in place on the undecorated "kit". The shutter actuator for the radiator on this phase is actually a small mechanism forward of the radiator panel. It's fairly easy to scratchbuild it, as I did on the 375. Some brutality was involved in removing the parts from the Rapido shell and grafting them on but ultimately the super glue mostly yielded. Since I previously built a phase 1C from the Atlas model, building another one is probably not necessary. Not yet anyway.

So this project is building N&W 400, a phase 2A of which there were 8 on the roster - 393 to 400. My choice of 400 and the 375 earlier is a December 1975 photo in which I caught both units on a westbound at Osborn. The phase 2A needs the same modifications as the 1C - the actuator being changed from the large to small, the removal of the equipment box and subsequent handrail positioning, and - changing the spacing of the five box louvers from even spacing to two spaced apart and three grouped together. Removing the equipment box leaves a pair of short doors on the hood side that need to be replaced with tall doors.

The photos generally tell the story up to this point on 12/15/2020. I sacrificed the long hood from a Rapido undec unit to donate the tall hood doors and the radiator panels and at the same time cut out the nice multi-layer fan and grille to use on an RS36 build. The long hood can be sacrificed because the RS36 will wind up using the long hood from the Atlas Trainman series model, which is essentially a correct starting point. I've been posting photos to the faceplant (for those who insist on precision, that's my name for Mark Fuckerberg's billion dollar social spywork platform) in the Diesel List and N&W Modelers group. I am an admin on the former, but just a regular member on the latter. Stuff I post almost anywhere has a habit of disappearing... in case anybody wonders why I don't participate in the "Diesel Detailer" forum - I complained, on a completely different forum, about the DD forum's being split into so many sub-categories that it was impossible to follow. I didn't even mention it by name. It was also micro-moderated, if anything even remotely controversial happened entire threads were deleted. The result was a Stalin-like purge from the forum. My membership was erased along with every post I ever made. I decided to stop pouring my efforts down the drain - eventually had to do the same with the "Atlas Replacement Forum" when fear of controversy set of hair-trigger administration. I just don't have the patience to go to ground with these micro-managers. So here on my own web site, the stuff will stay.

Westbound at Osborn - some time mid December of 1975.
Rapido's nice rendition of the box louvers. All super glued in place. I used CA debonder to get it apart, but the stuff does attack plastic like a solvent glue. It's always something.
The Rapido drive line complete with an ESU LokPilot decoder installed. Has LED lights for front and rear headlight as well as number boards (fortunately can be turned off), control stands, class lights, and running lights. The number boards will need to be done in black-on-white, hopefully some Shellscale decals will fit the number board inserts. Alco was not very generous with the size of their numberboards, and getting decals to fit has always been a challenge. We'll talk more about the drive when the replacement motors arrive. Apparently the entire run has problems and Rapido is replacing the motors free of charge. Seems like putting decent motors in them to begin with would be more economical. There's really no reason to have motor problems from China anymore.
The factory painted N&W unit comes with the correct triple louver. Rapido I believe did this one in four different numbers. Any number higher than 364 is incorrect for this phase. I have the 369. Plenty of correct numbers to choose from, this was just an oversight. Besides at a glance the 1A and 1C units don't appear to have any differences. When I was looking over the U30B drawings for Atlas, I missed the exact same item - equipment box on the left side. It is a pain to fix - if it had been noticed, Atlas probably would not have changed it just for the N&W version although N&W was king of U30Bs just as they were with the RS11s. I don't think the railroad was all that fond of either, but they got their money's worth out of them. As a modeler I don't really need any excitement. I need stuff to run reliably and run together. If I ever have a layout and locomotives that run so perfectly that I need to inject problems just to make things interesting then I guess I'll write a computer program to do that. Until then, just solving the real problems of HO scale will keep me busy.
Removing the shell involves damaging the handrails. The instructions suggest removing them. Except many of the stanchions have been super glued to the metal walkway.
Oh yeah, the walkway and mechanism frame are one and the same - just like the Atlas GP7 of long long ago in a galaxy not very far away. Operators love the extra weight. Modelers hate dealing with pot metal. In the case of this RS11, it doesn't seem to add much weight at all. It just means the mechanism has to be torn down in order to paint it. But I have to do that anyway to replace the motor.
Out of the box Rapido model, compared to my own rendering of the phase 1C based on the Atlas model.
Putty-less splicing is always best.
The radiator panels on the right side came off with a little careful prying in spite of being super glued. An attempt to get under them would damage the molded on frame.
Had to also clean up the cavity left from the panel from its super glue residue. I used methyline chloride (Tenax / Flexi-File) to attach the spliced new panels.
The mostly finished long hood posed with the frame, cab, and nose from a factory unit. The actual build will use the complete undec kit. Sort of kit. At least the windows weren't glued in. Now that I have the formatting for this page done - took about an hour longer than I planned for, since I have forgotten how to do it - I can easily add more in-progress photos. I think I'm going to put the more detailed steps on this page from now on and just post links on faceplant and in the diesel list when I have an update. Let's hope this gets finished sooner than the 375 did Both the 375 and 400 were committed when I stood there at age 18 and snapped their pictures, visiting Hammond during Christmas break after my first quarter of college. It took 37 years to finish the 375, and now almost exactly 45 years later I'm doing the 400. You'd think I was planning to live to be 300 at the rate I do these things. But doing a blow by blow of the construction is a good way to keep motivated. See how well it worked for me on that GP30 I started in 2001... That was long ago enough that the photos were all shot on film.
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