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  • Modeling Pennsy's Century 630: A Second-Generation Brute

    by Stuart R. Thayer

    Model photos by the author

    PRR 6322 is doing what the Pennsy C630s were known for best...pushing hard on the rear end of a heavy train, while the trains conductor watches the show.
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    *Text Not Available*

    Starting in 1965, the Pennsylvania Railroads motive-power purchasing policy shifted to six-axle motive power. At that time, the dominance of EMD locomotives that had been established early on continued with 70% of the new locomotive purchases of six-axle power going to EMD. These purchases included 40 SD35s (6000-6039) built between February and May 1965, 65 SD40s (6040-6104) built in February and March 1966, and a whopping 130 SD45s (6105-6234) built between October 1966 and January 1968. During this time, newcomer General Electric also got into the action and supplied new six-axle motive power to the Pennsy in the form of 20 U25Cs (6500-6519) built between April and December 1965, 15 U28Cs (6520-6534) built during September and October 1966, and five U30Cs (65356539) built in January 1967.

    Finally, the Pennsy turned to long-time locomotive supplier American Locomotive Company (ALCO) to supply examples of their new Century Series six-axle locomotives to be specific, the Century 628, Century 630 and Century 636. Between March and December 1965 the Pennsy took delivery of 15 C628s (6300-6314) and 15 C630s (6315-6329) built between October and December 1966. Fifteen C636s were ordered by the PRR, but were delivered during March and April 1968 after the Penn Central merger. Consequently, they were delivered as PC units. It is the C630s that are the subject of this article.

    On the Pennsylvania Railroad the ALCO C630s carried a classification of AF-30. Translated, this alphanumeric code meant ALCO Freight unit rated at 3000 horse power. They were built with builders numbers 3466-01 through 3466-15 and came with a gear ratio of 74:18, which gave them a top speed of 66 mph. All 15 units were put into service at Enola, PA, but were later assigned to Conway Yard for maintenance. Although they could be used system wide in freight service, they most often were used as pushers, or Snappers as the PRR referred to them, out of Altoona. Immediately after the Penn Central merger in February 1968, the 630s could still be found toiling away on the Mountain as before in the same numbers that the PRR assigned to them. However, motive power assignments soon became disrupted, and the big Centuries could be found wandering the entire Penn Central system pulling all types of freight. By the time of the Conrail merger in 1976, the C630s had migrated to Mingo Junction, OH, were their low-speed lugging abilities, so characteristic of ALCO Centuries, could be best put to use working on heavy mineral trains.

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    When delivered to the PRR in 1966, all but one of the new C630s came painted in the then-standard PRR diesel paint scheme of Brunswick Green with stick-on Keystone heralds and large road numbers under the cab windows. One unit came delivered in time for Christmas 1966, and was painted in white with Christmas bells and holly painted down the long hood on the engineers side. The front of the nose was decorated with a colorful wreath with both PRR and ALCO logos. Also stenciled down the engineers side of the long hood was special lettering that read: Christmas Special Schenectady, N.Y. to Enola, PA. 500th ALCO Century Locomotive. Unfortunately, I could not find a reference as to which C630 this was. Should you be interested, there are two very nice photos of this special unit on page 70 of Pennsy Diesel Years Vol. 3 by Robert J. Yanosey from Morning Sun Books. A model of this distinctive unit would be a definite eye catcher.

    I have long had a strong interest in the PRRs big Centuries, and when Stewart Hobbies announced their HO model of the C630, I knew it wouldn't be long before I would have a model of the PRR version. I just love the big husky look of these locomotives, and the Stewart model does an excellent job of capturing that. Luckily for us Pennsy second-generation diesel fans, the first run of the Stewart Hobbies C630 came decorated in PRR without a road number. Some might not like the absence of the road number, but I found it a real plus, because I could then model whichever unit I chose. Upon close examination of the Stewart model and photos of PRR C630s it became apparent that a very nice model could be realized with the addition of appropriate details and decals. One thing that I wanted to do with this model was to save the Stewart-applied Brunswick Green. Of all of the various renditions of Brunswick Green that have been recreated by the model manufacturers in HO, theirs is by far the best.

    Students of PRR diesels will note that there are two significant details on the Stewart model, and the model shown in this article, that do not match the prototype PRR units. The first is the access doors under the cab on each side. The PRR units had much larger doors that extended below the top edge of the sidesill. The Stewart model has smaller doors that are correct for a great many C630s but not the Pennsy's. I debated whether or not I should try to change this detail on the model to make it more accurate, but decided not to attempt it on a predecorated model. If I had started with an undecorated model, I would have definitely made this detail change.

    Close-up view of the front end, engineers side, showing all of the added details prior to painting.
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    The other discrepancy is the fact that the Stewart model has the ALCO standard three classification lights over each of the front numberboards. The PRR units only had one red classification light centered over each numberboard. The Stewart model has the correct orientation of classification lights as are found on most C630s, and they light up according to direction. This means that in the reverse direction, the inboard lights will light up red, and in the forward direction either the center green, or outboard yellow classification lights will be illuminated according to how the modeler sets the dip switches on the lighting circuit board. In order to make the classification lights correct for a PRR unit, the lights on either side of the center ones would have to be removed. Thats the easy part. The next thing that needs to happen is the reconfiguration of the LEDs on the circuit board so that the red LED now lights up the center position instead of the inboard positions. I did not elect to try and accomplish this, as I did not want to mess up the lighting circuit board. Electronics is not my strong suit, so I will leave this conversion to someone else more talented in this area. I hope all you Pennsy purists will forgive me, and if any of you have a good solution to the classification light problem please let the rest of us know about it.

    Detailing of this model is fairly straightforward, and not difficult. First we will complete all work on the body, then the pilots, and finish up with the chassis detailing. You will notice that this follows the basic layout of the model. The body is separate from the walkways and pilots. This makes breaking down the work into areas much easier. Begin by disassembling the model down into its basic components. This will include the body, walkway, cab, and chassis. Further, go ahead and remove the truck sideframes so that they can be more easily worked on when we get to them.

    Body Details

    Start by drilling all of the grabiron and lift-ring dimples on the body with a #79 drill. Starting with the rear grabs going up to the top of the long hood. Starting at the bottom, the first, second and third grabs are Detail Associates (DA) #2202 drop grabs. The fourth and fifth grabs are Westerfield 18" straight grabs. Moving to the nose area, the grabs on the top and right side of the nose are DA #2202 drop grabs. You will have to bend your own corner grabs out of .012 brass wire. The lift rings come in two different sizes. Most are smaller, and are available from Detail Associates, where as the two lift rings between the exhaust stack and radiator are larger. In both cases I bent my own out of .012 brass wire. Secure all grabs and lift rings with thin cyanoacrylate (CA) from the inside the shell. Once the CA has completely dried, cut off the grabs and lift rings flush with the inside of the shell. This is so there will be no interference with the circuit board when the shell is attached to the chassis. While we are working on the roof area, go ahead and drill out the exhaust stack. Clean up the hole with small files.

    Close-up of the rear end of the model prior to painting.
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    While you have your files out go ahead and do the only modification that is needed for this model. That is, remove the existing handbrake casting in the notch on the nose. Stewart picked a unique notch configuration for their C630. From my research, I can only find PRR C630s with this type of two step notch. Most C630s have a single angled notch. This works out great for PRR fans, because we need to add a different hand brake anyway. After you have removed the existing hand-brake detail, snap the body into the walkway and mark where the top of the sub-base is in the notch. Mount a brakestand from a Miniatures by Eric CPR brake & stand (#B10) in the notch with the bottom being flush with the mark you made. Snap the body into the walkway again for a test fit, and check to see that everything lines up as it should. Then mount a Precision Scale brakewheel (#3959) to the brakestand. This is not exactly correct, but it is very close and definitely captures the look of the prototype brake equipment.

    Cab Details

    Moving on to the cab, add a DA Sinclair radio antenna to the cab roof, two-thirds of the way back from the front on the engineers side. Drill and mount DA windshield wipers (#2314). We will add the window glass after we have weathered the model. Next, you need to add an air horn over the engineers front window. Start by drilling two #67 holes for the air-horn mounting bracket supplied with the model over the engineers window. I drilled mine so that the bracket would mount level. After I had already finished adding the air horn I found a photo that showed the orientation of this bracket better, and it should be angled to match the air horn. So, dont make the same assumption and mistake that I did. Next, add an Overland three-chime air horn (#9007). I had to ream out the mounting hole at a 45° angle with a 3/64" drill bit to get it to mount at the correct angle. Cut off the mounting stem of the air horn so that it will be flush with the bottom of the mounting bracket, then mount the horn in the hole with CA. The top of the horn should be pretty much flush with the top edge of the roof. Finally, a dd DA cab wind deflectors (#2312) on either side of the cab side windows. You are now done with the body portion.

    Pilot Details

    Moving on to the walkway portion of the model, we need to add all of the necessary detail to the pilots. Begin by drilling the dimples for the cut-lever bars and pilot grabs with a #79 drill bit. Add a DA cut lever bar (#2205) using lift rings to secure it to each pilot face. Then bend the long pilot grabs out of .012 brass wire, mount them to each pilot and secure with thin CA. Mount a DA ALCO drop step (#1405) to the anticlimber with two eyebolts. Add a Details West (DW) trainline hose & angle cock (#AH-268) and bend down in a 90° angle to the pilot face. Refer to the model photos. Finally, add DA MU hoses (#1508). Adding the MU hoses is an area where referring to prototype photos of the engine you are modeling really comes in handy. This is due to the fact that 6322 had a different MU hose arrangement than most of the other PRR C630s I saw photos of. On t he model shown, the arrangement is as follows: Looking at the pilot there are four hoses to the right of the coupler, and one with three pipes to the left of the coupler. Most of the other Pennsy C630s had just the opposite arrangement.

    With the pilot detailing finished we move on to the sill area. Here we need to drill a #61 hole in the underside of the sill just ahead of the jacking pad on the engineer's side below the cab for a DW locomotive step light (#172). The last detail to address on the sills is to drill and file a small slot in the jacking pad on the fireman's side below the cab.

    Although used mainly as "Snapper" power, the Pennsy's C630s could also be found putting their muscle to work pulling trains. Here 6322 is working solo on a merchandise train.
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    Chassis and Trucks

    We now move on to the last area of work, that being the chassis and truck sideframe detailing. Begin by adding a DA underframe mount bell (#1202) just behind the sub-base on the engineers side. This is a little tricky because you need to recess the bell into the frame a little to get it to clear the truck sideframe. Add the fuel-tank details included with the kit and the air-reservoir tanks above the fuel tank on both sides. Finish the underframe detailing by adding a DW large air filter from their air filter set (#139) just ahead of the fuel filler on the engineer's side.

    Now we move onto the truck sideframes. To make this easier, you need to determine a location for each sideframe. That is, two will go on the fireman's side, one forward and one rear, and the same for the engineer's side. The reason for this is that the firemen's side is detailed differently than the engineers side, and they all need to go back onto the model in the correct arrangement. Starting with the sideframes on the fireman's side, each axle needs a DA GE speed recorder with flange (#2808). Start by drilling through each journal cover, and mounting the flange. Then before mounting the head, drill a #79 hole through the head. Mount the head and add cables made from .012 brass wire into the holes that you just drilled. Refer to the model photos for an idea of what the cables should look like. Moving to the engineers side, the second axle from the front on the lead truck needs a DW speed recorder (#284). Prior to adding these details you need to add sand lines to each sideframe. This is accomplished by making brackets out of .030 x .030 strip styrene. Drill a #77 hole through each bracket, then mount the brackets in holes drilled into the sideframes. Form sand lines from .015 brass wire, and thread them through the holes drilled in the brackets making sure that they do not extend down too far and interfere with the rail head when the engine is put on the track. Secure everything with CA.

    Paint and Decals

    We are now ready to finish up our PRR C630 model. Paint all the new details on the body and walkway/pilots MODELflex Brunswick Green. This includes all lift rings, grabs, radio antenna, air horn, brakewheel and stand, cut-lever bars, trainline angle cock and pipe, drop steps and the pipe portion of the MU hoses. Paint the hose part of all MU hoses and both trainline hoses MODELflex Weathered Black. Paint all of the sideframes MODELflex Engine Black, as well as the bell and air filter. Paint all the step edges, pilot step edges, pilot grabirons, and handrails on either side of each set of the steps MODELflex Insignia Yellow. Paint the windshield wipers, glad hands on all MU and trainline hoses, and cab side window frames Floquil Old Silver. The final details to paint are the fuel filler caps, which are painted Floquil Signal Red. This completes all of the touchup painting required.

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    Next, we need to add some decals to make this models paint scheme complete. Using Microscale 87-21 for Pennsylvania Hood Diesels, I added new Keystone logos over the existing ones on the model. The red background on the existing ones was a little too dark, causing them to not stand out enough. I also got the road numbers for the cab sides from this decal set as well. The warning labels and FIRE EXTINGUISHER INSIDE labels came from Microscale 8748. Cut out and apply small rectangles of white decal for the background on these labels, then apply the text portion of the labels directly on top of the white back grounds. The ACI labels came from Herald King, but Microscale also makes very nice ones. I just happened to have some of the Herald King ACI labels that I am trying to use up. The final decals, and probably the most important for modeling any PRR diesel in the mid-to-late 60s are the RADIO EQUIPPED logos. At this time I know of only one commercial source for these decals, and that is Raritan Bay Hobbies set #PRR-1. To me a second-generation Pennsy diesel model is just not complete without these logos. These logos started showing up on locomotives and cabins after the PRR discontinued the use of their Trainphone system in about 1963. Pennsy modelers are lucky that Raritan Bay Hobbies makes t hese decals available. You can contact Raritan Bay Hobbies at P.O. Box 4231, Metuchen, NJ 08840, (732) 494-2932. For those of you on-line they can be reached via their website: www.raritanbayhobbies. com or via email at

    At this point our PRR C630 is finished except for weathering. Prior to weathering I sealed the whole model with Floquil Flat Finish. Once dry, I applied Conte chalks with a Q-tip, and various weathering colors with the airbrush. I thin my weathering colors down to a wash with about a 10:1 ratio of solvent to paint. The idea here is to apply a fair amount of weathering. These units saw a lot of hard usage, and the weathering should reflect that.

    After applying sufficient weathering, we can put the window glass and the head light castings in. Add some Kadee couplers and put this husky brute to work pulling a heavy mineral train, or pushing on the rear of heavy freight fighting its way up the east face of the Allegheny Escarpment around Horseshoe Curve.

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