Christopher Brimley updated March 14, 2012


Christopher Brimley's Tags


Browse Articles » How-To Text View Magazine View

  • Modeling C&NW SD9s

    by Chris Munson

    Model photos by the author

    Prototype photos courtesy of Railview Photos

    Model Railroading - August 1999 - Page 24

    Amongst the variety of railroads that utilized EMD equipment, the Chicago and North Western was indeed a major supporter. Like many Midwestern roads, the C&NW sampled a variety of six-axle units, with EMD SD9s well represented. The earliest SDs to arrive on the road included both SD7s and SD9s, outfitted for freight and passenger service alike. These locomotives served many years in both mainline and switching service, surviving rebuilds and repaints until retirement in the late 1980s.

    With a variety of excellent books and magazine articles available, as well as superb models from Life-Like, recreating them in miniature is a snap. Since a friend at work asked me to model some of these units in the C&NW scheme, I took the adventure one step further and decided to prepare units from two orders, in three variations. Research was supplied through the C&NW Motive Power book by Paul Withers and the "SD" article by George Melvin in the February 1998 Model Railroading. Special thanks to Lloyd Keyser for his assistance with prototype photos.

    Unit Differences

    The C&NW owned a variety of SDs which had a number of spotting differences and delivery dates. In all, three distinct order/unit types were received, as follows:

    May 1954 delivery - Two units, 1701-1702, wearing a simplified paint scheme (single nose chevron, no long-hood slogans). Equipped for freight service, these lacked dynamic brakes or passenger appliances, were fitted with early "SD7-style" bolted handrail stanchions, and had solid end handrails.

    May 1954 delivery - Eight units, 1703-1710, wearing the Streamliner paint scheme, with multiple nose stripes and long-hood slogans. Equipped for passenger service, these units possessed dynamic brakes, steam boilers and electrical connections for commuter service on both hood ends. Fitted with stanchions and handrails as above.

    November 1955 delivery - Four units, 1721-1724, wearing the simplified scheme. Equipped for passenger service as those in the 1703-1710 group, but wearing "standard" (late) SD9 stamped handrail stanchions, and a short-hood bell. Open end handrails. Some were modified later (after 1963) by having their dynamic brakes removed.

    Like most railroads, features changed over the years as a result of reassignment and/or re-shopping. By the early 1960s, the Streamliner units were repainted in a simplified scheme (removing the long-hood slogans and multiple chevrons), lost their solid handrails, commuter electrical connectors, and, in some cases, dynamic brakes/steam equipment. In the '70s, members from all groups were rebuilt with chopped short hoods, and were repainted in a third scheme.

    With my friend interested in early '60s units, we decided to model one unit from each representative group.

    Construction Techniques

    The construction techniques begin with the common changes to model any of the three series, followed by more specific instructions to complete the series.

    Roof Details

    A) Short Hood, all units: See Figure 1. For a dynamic-equipped (passenger) unit, turn the hood over and drill out the steam-hardware guide holes (#55 intake, #61 exhaust); leave the boiler intake and exhaust unattached, but cement the generator exhaust in place. Additionally, drill out the left pair of roof grab mounting holes from beneath with a #74 bit, but leave the grab uninstalled. Finish the short hood roof by cementing the sand-fill hatch and eyebolts in their mounting holes.

    CNW SD9 1702, from the first order, has SD7-style stanchions, no dynamics or steam-generator equipment. February 1968.
    Model Railroading - August 1999 - Page 25

    For a freight (non-dynamic) unit, drill only the grab holes as indicated, and attach the sand-fill hatch and eyebolts as above. See Photo 1 which shows the two short hoods, one with parts temporarily placed.

    B) Long Hood Ends, all units: Fill the factory horn holes on the long hood with sections of .030 x .040 styrene strip and CA in place. Trim flush to the roof surface and fill with putty. Once dry, sand smooth with 500-grit sandpaper. From within the shell, drill out the three factory winterization hatch mounting holes using a #68 bit. The hatches and cooling pipes will be installed later. Attach the fans within the grilles, using CA. Cement the sand-fill hatch and eyebolts in place. Install the factory hand brake equipment in the long-hood opening and CA in place.

    C) Long Hood Center Inserts: See Figures 2 and 3; there are three possible options for the long hood insert.

    1) On the non-dynamic insert (units 1701, 1702), there is a small mounting hole toward the rear of the insert; attach the factory "pipe" in it and trim flush to the roof with a razor as it will interfere with winterization-hatch mounting. Cement all eyebolts in place. To create spark arrestors for the exhaust stacks, see Figure 3. From a DA exhaust stack, cut the stack away from the base, and file the stack until it is about .065 tall. Using fine brass wire mesh, cut a length of mesh to an equal .065 width. Carefully tack cement the mesh to the stack, and "wrap" it completely around the stack as shown. Cut a second piece of mesh, shaping it to fit the dimensions of the stack top, and cement atop the stack. Review Photos 2 and 3, which show the DA stack, cut

    Model Railroading - August 1999 - Page 26

    stack/base, cut mesh and completed stacks on the long hood before painting.

    2) For dynamic-equipped units (1703-1710, 172l-1724), prepare the exhaust stacks/screens and eyebolts as above. Cement the small fans in place.

    3) For modified-dynamic units (post 1963) where dynamic-brake equipment has been removed, review the photos. Using a large rasp file, remove the brake grids from the sides of the dynamic insert until the surface is flat. Finish with a mill file and sand smooth with fine sandpaper to make the assembly appear seamless. To simulate fan removal/rework, cut two pieces of .005 styrene sheet in to .490 squares. Mark each square at its corners with a pounce tool to create "rivets," and cement the squares in place over the fan holes. Add eye bolts and screens as above. The final assembly should appear like shown in Photo 4.

    Hood Details

    Units 1701-1702 - Remove the four cast class lamps with a sharp blade and drill a shallow hole in each position with a #55 bit; lenses will be fitted later. From both hoods, shave off the existing headlamp assemblies and sand the faces smooth. With in the shell, behind the factory lamp holes, CA small sheets of .010 styrene as barriers. Fill the lamp holes with .062 styrene rod and cement in place. Fill the areas with putty, let dry and sand smooth as in the Photo 5.

    To create warning lamps, use early Pyle (DA LT1004) castings, dividing them in half with a razor blade. Carefully trim away the excess material to create two individual lens holders.

    Units 1703-1710 - Perform procedure "A" above. On both hood ends, cement an LT1004 headlamp casting over the filled lamp holes, aligning it to the bottom of the numberboards. Review Figures 4 and 7. To construct warning - lamp brackets, cut a length of .005 styrene sheet .145 wide. Divide it into two pieces, one .220 long (front bracket) and a second, .190 long (rear bracket). Bend the front bracket in half (.110 x .110), and cement at 90 above the head lamp and back to the sand-fill hatch. Bend the rear bracket offset (.1l0 x .080) and cement with the .110 portion above the headlamp and the remainder back to the sand-fill hatch. Once complete, cement the warning-lamp castings to the brackets as shown in Photo 6.

    In addition to the steam hardware that will be added, the engineer's side of the short hood must also be modified (see Figure 5). Cut a .243 x .662 (estimated) rectangle from .030 sheet styrene and use a file/sandpaper to create a taper about .215 from the bottom. Cement to the hood as shown, with the taper facing the walkway. Sand a Cannon 22"x65" door to a thickness of about .010, and attach to the hood at the face/side intersection, with the hinges facing forward (see Photo 7).

    Units 1721-1724 - Perform procedure "A" above. Since these units utilized both the LT1004 or late Pyle (LT1003) headlamp (depending on unit number), review prototype photos to determine which is appropriate. In our case, unit 1721 is fitted with the LT1003. Cement the casting in place as above, aligning it to the bottom of the numberboards.

    These units also utilized a high-mounted bell, located above the short-hood lamp assemblies (see Figure 6). Prepare the bell by cutting a .065 x.125 plate from .010 sheet and cement it to the bottom of the bell bracket. Trim the edges of the warning-lamp housing created in Figure 4 so that it fits snugly into the bracket assembly as shown. Cement in place and add a bell (see Photo 8); since the bell supplied with the bracket was quite large, I replaced it with a Life-Like GP18 bell.

    To Locate the bracket attachment point, place the completed assembly against the short-hood nose and gently press the metal "tab" into the plastic to mark it; drill a #74 hole in the spot (see Photo 9). The bracket should conform to the roof curve, with the warning-lamp bracket flush to the nose; Photo 10 shows the assembly temporarily placed.

    Model Railroading - August 1999 - Page 27

    To model the electrical (commuter) connections on both hood noses see Figure 7. At a point .715 above the deck, drill a .088 hole below the headlamp casting. Using a sharp blade, trim the circular opening to create a square hole. Cement a small portion of .010 styrene sheet behind the hole as a block. Trim material away from the mounting "stem" of a square MU connector so that its length will closely match the hole depth. Cement the connector in place, attaching it to the sheet behind the hole. Review Photo 10 which also shows this feature.

    Complete the steam-equipment short-hood requirements as denoted in "B" above.

    Cab Details (All Series)

    On all units, the cab details are identical (except horn type, see below). Shave away the cast gutters above the side windows. Using putty, fill the small depressions on either side of the gutter, the small door mounting holes in the cab-roof corners and the mold depression at the center of the roof (see Photo 11). Let dry and sand all smooth with 600-grit paper. Sun shades and wind deflectors will be added later.

    Per Figure 1, measure back .275 on the cab roof centerline, drill a #65 hole for a new horn, but leave uninstalled.


    Preparation - While the Life-Like shells are already primed, I suggest that you spray your rework areas (horn holes and cab roof/sides) to fill and flatten before painting. I use Floquil Reefer White thinned to 50%, then sand with 600-grit paper.

    Since undecorated Life-Like units come unassembled, painting is easier, since you can get better coverage in tight spots. To improve the process, disassemble the shell into its basic components and separate the detail parts for pre-painting. Before proceeding, note the following:

    1) SD7-style bolted handrails MUST be used on units 1701-1710 (available from Life-Like).

    2) Before painting horns, review prototype photos, as horns VARY from unit to unit.

    3) To upgrade the appearance of the winterization hatches, remove the cast plastic mesh and replace with brass mesh for a more realistic appearance (see Photo 12).

    4) Cut the plastic lenses from the headlamp castings, as they are no longer required.

    5) Optional - upgrade boiler in take with a DW casting; the Life-Like exhaust is adequate.

    6) Optional - upgrade wiper blades with A Line #29200.

    7) Optional - replace cast grabs with wire grabs and eyebolts with aftermarket plastic/brass units. Press all of the above part, including cooling pipes, sun shades, spark arrestor mesh, ladders, grabs and pilot details into a clay block for painting (see Photo 13).

    First painting - Airbrush detail parts and cab with CNW Green and set aside to dry for 24 hours. On the long hood, first apply tape along a horizontal line that extends from the cooling-fan intake grilles forward. At the hood end, use prototype photos to estimate the location of the chevrons. You will need to decide at this point how to handle them; in my case, I decided to paint the chevrons rather than decal them. As I do not like to paint over paint, I chose to double mask - a tedious process. Tape was applied so that only the green chevrons were exposed (see Photo 14); all chevrons turned out to be about .150 wide. As you tape this area, be very careful to "snug" the tape as it traverses various contours (numberboard openings, headlamp areas) to avoid bleed/overspray.

    With taping complete, I sprayed the CNW Green, thinned to 50% at 20 PSI through a Paasche H. As soon as coverage was adequate, I used a blow dryer to set the paint (medium setting, three minutes) and immediately removed the tape. The hood was then set aside for 24 hours.

    The process for the short hood is the same, though the paint edge line will be slightly different (see Figure 8). For the sill piece, units 1703-1710 and 1721-1724 will be painted solid green, while units 1701 and 1702 will be yellow beneath the raised walkways.

    Model Railroading - August 1999 - Page 28

    Second painting - With the paint fully dry, all green areas are re-taped, exposing only the remaining primer which will be painted yellow. Since it is difficult to cut tape to the exact chevron width, I used thin tape strips at the edges, and filled in the voids. All areas were carefully "snugged," as the second taping is critical to a clean, non spoiled (oversprayed) final finish. The yellow was applied and treated in the same manner as the green paint, and the assemblies were set aside for 48 hours.

    Be especially cautious with the yellow, as the gray primer will affect the final color depth. It is best to apply several coats to achieve best color uniformity.

    Decals - You must investigate prototype photos to determine which are appropriate for the time frame you are modeling. While this seems obvious, differences can be as subtle as the cab heralds, which can read either "C&NW Railway" or "C&NW System," an important difference! The cab heralds designated below are specific to the models featured.

    All decals were applied with Microscale solutions, placed according to prototype photos, and fixed with a clear coat. The following items are applied to each series:

    1701-1702: Two pairs of number sets, with one pair per hood. White letters for numberboards. Cab heralds (C&NW Sys tem). SD9 model designation plates beneath the raised walkways. Builder plates on the battery boxes.

    1703-1710: Two pairs of number sets, cab heralds (C&NW Railway), unit numbers, model plates as above. Small green "CNW" letters above hood-end chevrons (see photos). Builder plates as above.

    1721-1724: Two pairs of number sets, cab heralds (C&NW System), unit numbers, model plates as above. Small yellow "CNW" letters within hood-end chevrons (see photos). BLANKED DYNAMIC UNITS: "Radio equipped" slogans over side grid areas. Builder plates as above.

    Model Finishing

    HOODS - On both hood ends, cement the class lamps and warning-lamp lenses in their fixtures. Install the steam-generator equipment, and bell (units 1721-1724), to the short hood. Attach all nose ladders and grabs and CA from within the shell. Add the cooling pipes and winterization hatch atop the rear fans and CA in place. Paint the numberboard surfaces black and decal with white numbers. Seal with clear coat and affix within the ends.

    CABS - Brush paint the cab side window frames silver, as well as six pairs of DA wind deflectors. Create "glass" in the deflectors using Microscale's Micro Kristal Klear adhesive. Carefully glue them beside the cab's side windows; these will appear "upside down" by normal convention (see photos). Use the same adhesive to secure the factory windows inside the cab. Cement sun shades above each side window set and all window wiper blades in place. Cement each appropriate horn to its cab roof.

    PILOTS - Finish the body by securing the pilot hardware to the pilots, and trim the mount tabs away within the stepwells. Touch up all necessary details with a brush. Leave the footboards unattached until the chassis detail is complete.

    Model Railroading - August 1999 - Page 29

    MAIN BODY - Check all body surfaces and small details, touching up any paint as necessary. Spray all body subassemblies with a clear coat (flat/satin/gloss as desired) to fix the decals. Let dry, then install the cab windows. Assemble the cab, short walkways, long hood, short hood and sill together.

    Install the correct bolted/stamped hand rails to the appropriate body and cement in place.

    CHASSIS - To add speed recorders, drill out the center hub of the fireman's side front truck and cement a DA casting in place. To secure the cable end, drill a #74 hole into the sill and tuck the cable end into it, but do not cement it permanently. For the cable, I use insulation from a small wire.

    ASSEMBLY - To properly fit the coupler boxes in the pilot openings, use a large file to reduce the coupler land thickness by about .040. Cement the boxes to the lands, but do not screw them in place, as the screw head will interfere with the shell; I use Kadee® #33s. Once secure, snap the shell assembly onto the chassis and add the pilot footboards, which will help secure everything tightly.

    WEATHERING - Though I enjoy weathering, we decided to model these units as relatively new, adding only a flattening agent to the roof surface, some chalk soot near the exhaust stacks and a light coat of dust to the fuel tank/trucks.

    Final Notes

    Review the photos which compare the units side by side, and to the prototype. Trying a scheme different from my own favorite roads was a challenge, but if you choose to model one of these units, may your own adventure be as rewarding!!!!

    Article Album (1 photo)

    Share - Report
1 comment