And now we do some serious work that many of you may wish to pass up. In this installment, we will go beyond the point of no return on this project by sectioning two old shells into one! This modification is time consuming and requires you to work slowly and carefully.
We’re going to change the project locomotive by removing the wide “Wooten” firebox and the cab and replace it with the firebox and cab of a junk plastic 280 series Pacific shell. The mounting points for the Atlantic shell are not going to be touched, eliminating a complicated procedure, and the portions cut off both shells will be the same length. The key is finding a junk Pacific shell with the firebox and cab area intact. Usually this will be one with the mounting posts broken and unrepairable, which are not needed for this project anyway!
We will cut the Atlantic’s shell right at the front of the wide firebox, which is a bit behind the rear mounting points. To make sure you cut as straight as possible, measure back from the boiler front because the firebox front is not exactly vertical. You want to cut at the bottom of the front of the firebox, which actually is slightly forward of the rest of the front of this firebox and not “straight up.”
Measure the removed firebox and cab section and cut the Pacific shell firebox and cab the same length. Once the two are removed, match the front of the Atlantic boiler shell to the rear of the Pacific boiler shell. You’ll find that the Pacific boiler is a bit wider toward the bottom than the Atlantic boiler, and that the various pipes and lines molded on the boilers will not line up.
I filed and fitted the two shell sections as closely together as possible, and then turned my attention to removing the running boards and other detail cast onto the firebox area of the Pacific shell. I left the details on top of the firebox and the steps on the side intact, but removed the rest. It is much easier to do this removal now than when the two sections are
glued together. Do not use putty or primer paint on the mating surfaces because you’ll need them “clean” to glue together.
You’ll find yourself doing a LOT of very careful cutting, filing, and sanding these details off and smoothing the scratches and damage made in the
removal. It will not be perfect. Because the lower part of the boiler is wider than the Atlantic boiler, you’ll want to file some angle into this area
to help it mate closer in width. However, there will be some bulge at this point which cannot be avoidable. All this takes the most time of all the things you’ll do on this part of the project and I used a LOT of primer paint and sandpaper on this step. I never did get it “show car” nice.
Once the Pacific shell section is ready, it’s time to glue the two shells together. In this case I used J B Weld, an epoxy with a slow setting time for maximum strength. Faster epoxies are available, but generally the strength of the slower ones is better, and the slower setting time allows you to make adjustments before the glue sets. I used the J B Weld with the 15 to 24 hour curing time and allowed a full 24 hours.
To start with, I prepared the work table with several layers of old newspaper to catch any dripping epoxy. Next, I blocked the Atlantic shell into position, making sure the blocking was not too near the area to be epoxied. Then used masking tape to tape the top of the boilers together, allowing the Pacific portion to be swung away for gluing.
Then I applied the epoxy to the Pacific section and swung the part into position, making sure that I aligned the top of the boiler and got the sides as close as possible to square, using the tape to hold the Pacific portion in position. I slipped some blocking into place where the epoxy wouldn’t get to it and left the work table and project until the next evening.
J B Weld is sandable, filable, drillable, and so on, so anything that might get stuck by accident can be cut or filed away. This is also good if some epoxy squeezes out of the joint to where you could see it on the completed model. Cut, file, and sand this. The inside doesn’t have to look as good, just clear the chassis and motor when you attach the shell to the chassis.
To fill the gap where the two sections go together, use model putty and do the sanding, primer painting, sanding, painting cycle until the joint is invisible. The gray primer will show up any imperfections.
If you do choose to make this radical, tough, and time consuming modification, it will be well worth all the worry and effort when people notice your “one of a kind Atlantic” for the first time!