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  • BUILDING THE TIGER VALLEY ALCO CENTURY C424 PART II

    Finishing the all-metal model in Reading dress

    BY JIM SIX MODEL PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE AUTHOR

    Left: Reading Century 424 No. 5203 leads a GP35 and SD45 in March 1975. In a shade more than one year, the little-photographed anthracite road would be absorbed by Conrail.

    One of Reading's Centurys stands vigil at Beth Yard engine terminal, Allentown/Bethlehem, Pa., in 1970. The Reading, Pa.-based coal-hauler owned 10 C424's, Nos. 5201-5210; they became Conrail 2490-2499.

    Right: The long hood of the Tiger Valley Century 424 goes together well, the trickiest step perhaps being the cutting and fitting of the screen over the openings just behind the cab. The cab you see on these shots of the author's model was fabricated from styrene after the metal cab was accidentally damaged during modification-yes, editors make mistakes, too!
    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 29 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 30

    In part one of this article, we assembled the cab and mechanism of the Tiger Valley C424 unit. This month we'll finish the model by building the body superstructure and applying final details, paint and decals.

    Assembly of the Alco's superstructure requires a minimum of time and effort since so few items need attention before buttoning down the cab and hood to the deck. Install the grabirons provided with the kit, fasten the dynamic brake blister to the hood top, fit the walkway across the radiator, and cut and fit the screen over the opening near the front of the hood. To the cab, attach the grabs, headlight, and sand hatch covers. The parts mentioned thus far are included with the Tiger Valley kit. All were secured with ACC cement, though some modelers may prefer some other type of cement when fastening metal parts to metal surfaces.

    Tiger Valley has taken considerable care in producing stanchions to match those found on the various Century locomotives. However, I believe Athearn stanchions more accurately portray the prototype items found along the side walkways in the case of the C424. Unfortunately, I did not realize this until after the model had been completed. After you trim the flashing from the stanchions, fit each into the mounting holes, then cut and form the railings from the wire provided. When all railings are in place, carefully adjust their alignment and apply a small drop of ACC cement to each joint. This strengthens the railing assemblies and will keep everything aligned. A paper towel can be used to draw away excess cement before it hardens.

    Truck and underframe details

    The Alco Centuries sit high above their trucks, leaving open space be tween the top of the trucks and the bot tom of the walkways. It's an uncluttered appearance which can be enhanced b y adding extra details. Several items were added: speed recorder drive and cable, sand pipes for each wheel, wheel-slip sensor drives to each axle journal on the fireman's side, emergency brake chain, and fuel-filler pipes with the distinctive Century su port brace. Most of these parts are readily available over the counter.

    Reading Lines installed speed re corder drive units on the forward-most journal on the engineer's side of their C424 locomotives. A Utah Pacific speed recorder drive was fitted to the model by first drilling a hole large enough to clear the mount pin, then securing it in place with ACC cement. I prefer the use of mount pins whenever possible since they add the strength needed to avoid breakage while handling. I stress this point for those who prefer working models rather than a static display. Stranded wire such as that attached to grain-of-wheat bulbs makes an excellent drive cable, and it can also be used for sand pipes. Strip one end of the wire and pull the strands out of the sheathing and trim the wire to length. Drill a. 016" hole into the deck just be low the front battery box. Fit a. 016" stub of piano wire into the hole protruding about 1/8" below the deck-this is where the drive cable will attach. The other end of the wire is slipped over the fine-pointed fitting located on the drive unit. In this way, the drive cable can be detached for disassembly of the locomotive should the need ever arise. Wheel-slip sensor units and cables are mounted at each axle journal on the fireman's side of the locomotive in the same manner as the speed recorder assembly. The sand pipes are fitted in the same way except the wire strands are not removed completely from the sheathing, but merely pulled out about 1/8" from one end. The hollow ends are attached to. 010" brass wire stubs fitted beneath the deck (like those with the speed recorder drive cable) and the other ends cemented with ACC to the backside of the outboard brake rigging at the end of each truck sideframe.

    Page31: Some of the components you see applied to the cab---grabirons, headlight and sandhatch covers--are included with the Tiger Valley model; the remainder come from Details West, Detail Associates and Precision Scale (see Bill of Materials, page 33, June 1986 PM). Next to be applied: handrail stanchions and underbody details.

    Page 32: The author's finished C424 model features a custom-blended Floquil paint job and airbrush weathering. Three different applications of weathering were made, as well as a touch of black around the roof exhaust. Decals are from Herald King.

    Page 33: To comply with FRA rules that equipment acquired by a railroad carry that railroad's markings as soon as possible, Conrail simply stenciled its markings over the old paint and put the new numbers in the number boards.
    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 31 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 32 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 33

    Fuel tanks on Reading C424 locomotives are flat-sided, rectangular affairs and somewhat uninteresting in appearance, but the addition of several small details will help improve their looks. Drill a. 040" hole to attach the fuel filler pipes; one is located near the rear of each side of the fuel tank. What appear to be drain pipes are located vertically on the sides of the fuel tank, just behind the fuel fillers. These are represented by. 020" piano wire cemented in place. A hole is drilled into the bottom of each side of the deck to hold the pipes, and a small rectangular piece of styrene is cemented between the tank and the pipe on either side of the locomotive to serve as a spacer. Just in front of the fuel tank's center on the fireman's side of the locomotive is another pipe mounted down from below the deck to near the bottom of the tank. This pipe is somewhat larger in diameter and.030" piano wire is a reasonable facsimile; mount it in the same manner as the two other pipes. Grab bars and coupler cut levers are cut from. 016" piano wire and bent to shape, then located at each end of the locomotive on the pilot facings. Also fitted to the pilots were the ever-present m. u. hoses.

    Painting and final detailing

    I decided to custom-blend the paint for my Reading C424. After thoroughly researching the colors by examining several slides and various pictures in books, I discovered that each unit I saw displayed a slightly different variation of the cream color. The resulting frustration brought me to realize that locomotives out of the paint shop for more than a few weeks would display different signs of weathering, with the various aging elements beginning their work immediately (Ed. note: see Company Mail, page 43 May 1986 PM). Generally, darker colors are affected most since they absorb more of the sun's radiant energy, whereas lighter colors are more reflective. Although a light color, Reading cream did not hold up well to mother nature. Since the sun probably can't be solely responsible for the severe fading of the cream color, perhaps there was help from the Northeast's infamous acid rain. Regardless, the point is you don't need to expend too much effort to match factory paint specifications, since the prototype locomotives them selves didn't match after a short while on the road.

    I used Floquil Erie-Lackawanna Yellow to three parts Floquil Reefer White diluted to 60 percent lacquer thinner40 percent paint. When lacquer thinner is utilized as a medium for Floquil paints, it is unnecessary to apply primer. The green was also a mix of Floquil paints, one part Engine Black and two parts Reefer Yellow blended with ten parts Railroad Dark Green; this color was also thinned to about 60 percent lacquer thinner. Railbox Yellow was applied to all hand railings.

    After allowing a day for the paint to dry, Herald King decals were applied. With a new blade in my knife and a metal straight edge, each decal was cut from its sheet as close to the actual de cal edge as possible--no extra decal film is wanted. While the decal was soaking in water, Walthers Solvaset

    was freely applied to the surface where it was to be located. After application to the model, a cotton swab soaked in water was used to tamp the decal in place, pushing out all air pockets from behind its surface. All decals were applied in this manner. After allowing an hour for drying, more setting fluid was brushed over each decal and the tamping process was repeated. This procedure was repeated until all decals laid tightly against the surface of the locomotive.

    The railings were painted Railbox Yellow. It appears Reading painted stanchions on its C424's both yellow and green. Some units were seen dis playing both stanchions and railings in yellow, while others:had green stanchions and yellow railings. I painted the stanchions on my unit yellow along with the railings, but I didn't like the appearance of the locomotive with this combination of colors. I later repainted the stanchions and railings green. To me, this appears to be a more realistic representation of the prototype.

    Finishing touches

    Remaining grabirons and other details should be installed at this time, including marker jewels, pilot grab railing and coupler lift bars, m.u. hoses, headlight lens and anything else you like. With all details in place, paint each the appropriate color with a fine brush and start thinking about weathering.

    Alcos were inherently dirty locomotives -- their sooty black exhaust contributed to much of the dark gritty covering of the hood sides and roof top. With the Reading located in the northeast, long months of rainy days and resulting wet operating conditions added further to the grime and filth found on most of the locomotives. And then, more grime came from the long coal drags which created clouds of black dust. This dust seemed to find its way into every crack and crevice of the units. The trucks and areas below the deck received coat after coat of powdered sand from the repeated sanding applications required to start those long coal drags. In summary, heavy tonnage and demanding operations in an inherently wet climate resulted in less than optimum conditions for maintaining clean locomotives and equipment.

    An assortment of weathering paints is needed to achieve a realistic appearance for model railroad equipment. I'm not a follower of the "pastel chalk" method of weathering, since I find the resulting finish to be somewhat grainy. Hence, the weathering on my models is applied with either a paint brush, airbrush or both-usually both. The best results can be achieved if "thin" weathering paints are used. This means paint which has been diluted to at least 70 percent thinner, with many mixtures ending up closer to 80 percent thinner, 20 percent paint. I have found that typical K-Mart lacquer thinner works perfectly with Floquil, Accu-Paint and Scalecoat II paints. It can be purchased by the pint, quart or gallon and is inexpensive. Further, by using lacquer thinner as a medium, all three of the just-named brands of paint can be readily mixed in any combination without fear of ad verse results such as the paint developing chunks. This method of mixing different brands of paint and using a lacquer thinner medium can also be used for non-weathering applications.

    The entire area below the deck was sprayed flat black, a mixture of three parts Floquil Engine Black and one part Dust with one part Testors Dull cote, diluted to 50 percent thinner-5 0 percent paint. The first weathering color to be applied is a mix of two parts Floquil Engine Black, three parts Erie Lackawanna Gray, one part Roof Brown with two parts Dust and two parts Testors Dullcote, diluted to 80 percent thinner-20 percent paint. The area which received the flat black then gets several coats of this weather ing mix.

    Next, I prepared more of the same blend, but lightened it by adding more E-L Gray and Floquil Reefer White. It too is thinned to 80 percent lacquer thinner. Lay the locomotive on its side, and aiming from below, spray this col or on the lower areas of the trucks, fuel tank (especially its corners) and the air reservoir. Repeat the process for the other side of the unit. Also spray the pilots and the roof, concentrating along the roof centerline. Mask all in takes and vents on the hood sides then spray them as well.

    The final weathering is an application of the lightest (yet to be mixed) and darkest weathering colors. Mix more of the last color used and lighten it even further with Reefer White and Testors Khaki; dilute to about 80-90 percent thinner. This color represents the lightest weathering effects which result mostly from sanding applications. Again lay the locomotive on its side and sparingly spray the end and lower areas of the trucks, the bottom corners of the fuel tank and inside areas of the steps and pilots. Keep in mind you are trying to represent a coating of dust caused by sand being thrown up from spinning wheels. And last, use the flat black diluted to 80 percent thinner to spray the area around the exhaust stack, streaking it slightly over the sides but mainly away from the stack both forward and toward the rear of the locomotive. Again, remember you are trying to represent the sooty, black Alco exhaust resulting from running the engine in both forward and reverse.

    Closing comments

    The finished model is a real joy to operate. It pulls like a tractor and runs quite smoothly: In fact, as it became broken in its operating characteristics improved even further. The drive chain which transfers power from the above-deck motor to the drive axles be low is about as efficient as is realistically possible. It makes no noise, contributing greatly to the quiet operation of the locomotive. The thick metal shell, which caused me so much pain in getting a "thin wall" appearance for the windows, also insulates the motor from transmitting sound. There is no "echo chamber" situation, like many plastic body shells have.

    For years I have longed for low geared model locomotives since they would offer operating speeds and brute power. Now that I have found one, a new bother has presented itself. I have no other Reading engines that will run with this fellow. As suggested in part one, the Tiger Valley Alco should run smoothly with Model Die Casting's RS3; it too is geared quite low. Tests proved this hypothesis to be true and luckily, the Reading owned a number of RS3's. By the time you read this, I will have completed an MDC RS3 in cream and green, and the pair will be dragging unit coal trains up the branch to the mines on the layout.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Jim Six
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date July 1986

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