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Stumpy’s Station – “Project Atlantic” Part Three

November 7th, 2012 · No Comments

The changes being made are for demonstration purposes. You may want to leave the loco as it is in some cases or come up with other modifications. You’ll notice that in the photos, sometimes the areas being worked on will be painted primer gray while other times the work area will be black. This is only done to make the work stand out for the photographs.
Using “primer” paint is an old auto body working technique to highlight any very small dents, sanding scratches, or other imperfections. You sand and primer, sand and primer, spotting bad spots and filling scars until the surface is up to standard. Gray primer works best for most model projects. During cleaning the shell, I removed the bell, whistle, and headlight lens. They are all just a “press fit” into the shell with no glue having been used. Light prying with a small screwdriver will usually pop them out. The headlight lens is most stubborn, and the best way to remove it is to put a small screwdriver or dowel inside the cab and push it out from behind. Sometimes it will need the help of a small hammer to knock the screwdriver or dowel ahead to push out the lens.

The bell was originally located between the stack and front dome on the boiler top. But I’m going to move it to a spot between the domes. The bell can be moved simply by drilling a 1/8” hole in the top of the boiler between the domes. If you stop the drill before full penetration through the shell, a press fit will be enough to hold it in position. You’ll want to file off the “ring” around where the bell was, fill the hole with putty, and sand it smooth. At this point however, we’ll not install the bell because these small parts will go on after final color is applied.
The whistle was originally mounted above the firebox area of the boiler shell, and on the original Atlantic is just fine. But most engines had the whistle straight up and near or on the steam dome, and that’s where it’s going. I drilled a 1/16” hole (some whistles have a 1/16” mounting pin and some have the 1/8” pin, so check which you have first) right behind the dome between the dome itself and the boiler band behind it. Cut and file off the original whistle mount on the boiler. For now, don’t install the whistle either.
Now, the first big cutting begins by moving the headlight from the top front of the boiler (smokebox) to the center. Using a hobby saw or Dremel tool with a “cut off wheel,” CAREFULLY remove the old headlight. Do as little damage as possible to surrounding bolt heads, smokebox door lugs, or classification lamps. Smooth the area with sandpaper, but work carefully as you’ll be repairing any damage you do.
Fill the empty hole with a piece of plastic rod, dowel, or putty it closed and sand smooth. To represent the bolts around the boiler front and damage to the smokebox door lugs, I use drops of white glue from a toothpick. It may take some practice to get these just right, but it works well. A couple of coats of primer seals these to the boiler.
Next, drill a 1/16” hole directly in the center of the boiler front where the new headlight will go. This is a “pilot hole” to make sure you’re located right, you next drill a 3/16” hole in the same spot. You’ll need a piece of plastic or metal tubing at the hobby shop or online that fits the original headlight lens. This will be 3/16” ID (inside diameter).

Depending on what you use, you will sometimes have to file the inside of the tubing and the hole in the boiler front a bit, or fill it a little to get the right fit.
In a pinch, I have used plastic drink straws split and wrapped in layers around the lens stem and it works amazingly well! A friend used to make headlights in HO scale out of black electrical tape wrapped around plastic rod to make headlights!
Use a small piece of plastic or strip wood stock to make a headlight bracket to go under the headlight itself. Glue the bracket to the bottom of the headlight and when that dries, the whole assembly to the front of the boiler shell over the hole. You want a nice tight fit to the boiler front. I find typical home improvement store adhesives which “glue anything to anything” fine in most cases.
If you were able to use the tubing method, leave the lens out for now. If you used the wrap method, use masking tape to cover the lens so you won’t get paint on it.
Okay, you’ve changed the profile of the locomotive somewhat, but there is more to come!

Stumpy Stone

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