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Stumpy’s Station – “Prairie Dog” Part Three

November 4th, 2013 · No Comments

If you have built last year’s “Project Atlantic” you will find much of the following to be old news. We’re going to move some details around to give the locomotive a different look.
We’ll start by removing the cast metal bell from the plastic shell. These are pressed in, not glued, so you can pull them out. Work carefully so as not to damage them. A little firm prying with a screwdriver is better than the crushing grip of vice grips!
Next, we’ll remove the bell mounting bracket by carefully cutting it of with a hobby saw. File and sand the remaining area smooth to make it look like there was never a bracket there. This will destroy the bolt detail, so you’ll have to “make” replacement bolts. This step will be better done after the headlight is removed.
Next, remove the headlight lens (you can often just place a small screwdriver behind it inside the shell and pop it out) and cut the headlight and bracket off. Fill the headlight hole with a piece of plastic rod, wooden dowel, or putty, and sand smooth. For all such “body work,” use gray primer to bring out the surface to check your work. Sand/paint/sand/paint as necessary until smooth just as auto body shops do to make car body surfaces smooth.
Stand the shell up so that the boiler front is flat and use a toothpick to place small dots of white glue in place of the missing bolt heads. This takes a steady hand and patience. Start small, allow to dry completely, and build up the glue dots until they are about the same size as the original ones. Use gray primer to check the placement and size each time and also to seal the white glue.
With the shell standing on end, you may also want to place a “number plate” in the center of the boiler front. You can buy these as detail parts or make your own quite easily and cheaply. I use a common paper punch and punch-out three to five circles of cardstock (3×5” file card, available at office supply or craft stores very inexpensively.) I glue these together in a “stack” and then glue this “number plate disc” to the center of the boiler front. Paint with gray primer to “seal” the part.
Next, drill a 1/16 inch hole atop the boiler between the domes for the bell, but don’t glue it in until all painting is done.

By the way, Duco Cement from the home supply store, or Walther’s Goo from the hobby shop work well for adding such details.
To back date the engine somewhat, we’re going to mount a headlight on top of the boiler. Up until the Turn of the Century, placement of the headlight high up was in vogue because they were kerosene fueled. The need to get as much light as possible on the tracks ahead pretty much required such a high mounting.
However, with the use of electric lights, powered by a steam generator, some railroads began mounting the headlight on the upper smokebox front or in the center of the boiler. Therefore, a headlight mounted high atop the boiler gives the engine’s profile an older appearance.
Quite possibly an early 2-6-2 would have a square headlight atop the boiler. However, since we’re representing our “Prairie Dog” as it would be later on, after years of upgrades, we’ll use a cylindrical headlight.
So that we can use light from the regular headlight bulb, drill a 1/16” pilot hole in the exact center of the top of the boiler shell about a quarter inch behind the boiler front. To get this right, it is easier to measure and work from the inside of the boiler shell. In this way, you don’t drill into the thickness of the plastic of the boiler front and block some of the light off.
The actual finished light accessing hole would then be drilled to a “loose” 1/8,” and no more than 3/16” inch.
We’ll make our more modern headlight from a piece of 5/16” outside diameter plastic tubing, about the same diameter as the cut off headlight and big enough to put the original lens in. This plastic tubing should be 1/2“ long.
Drill a hole in what will be the “bottom” of the headlight tubing so that with the headlight protruding slightly in front of the boiler front, the hole lines up with the hole in the top of the boiler shell. This will allow the light to enter the headlight and be channeled through the plastic lens like a crude form of fiber optics. The inside of the headlight tubing should be white to further help the light on it’s way by reflection.
Cut a piece of flat material (plastic, wood, even cardstock) to the back of the headlight, or putty the back of the headlight tube closed. File the “bottom” of the headlight tube slightly flat and glue it into position on the top of the boiler.

When the glue is set, paint the headlight and entire smokebox with gray primer. You will insert the lens later after all painting is done.

Stumpy Stone

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