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CONVERTING AN ARISTOCRAFT RS-3
INTO A D&H RS-3u

By Jay Winn & John Shaw


INTRODUCTION

The Delaware & Hudson has been my “kindred” railroad for as long as I can remember. I was enamoured by this road from an early age when my grandfather would take me to such formerly wondrous D&H strongholds as Oneonta, Cobleskill, Nineveh, Mechanicville, Richmondville, Colonie and of course Binghamton. This was around the early 1950’s and there was a lot happening. Steam was rapidly phasing out and new diesels were everywhere. Although I was very impressed (frightened) by steam, my favorite locomotive became the Alco roadswitcher. The D&H eventually had 130 of them (26 RS-2’s & 104 RS-3s). I liked everything about them, the shape, the lines , the smells and above all... the sounds. I still prefer the clatter of an Alco 244 prime mover to anything on the road today. Throughout the next 45 + years of being a railfan many locos came and went and I enjoyed them all, but I still liked the RS’s best. Then as they were disappearing from everywhere (even from my beloved D&H) a remarkable thing happened. The D&H sent 8 old RS-3’s to MK to be remanufactured. These new RS-3u’s as they were called became what was to be the final incarnation of the original Alco roadswitcher. I haunted the D&H, looking for and finding the new RS-3u’s.( #’s 501 to 508). Since I was a part time model railroad custom builder I decided to make myself an RS-3u out of brass in quarter inch scale. After much research, many photographs, measurements and a lot of planning I completed this model in about 1975. Of the literally hundreds of model railroad projects I did commercially over the years this D&H RS-3u was my all time favorite. By about 1981 I had gotten away from the model railroad business and remained away from it until one fateful day in 1994 when I happened upon a G size, 1/29 scale FA-1 by Aristocraft. in a hobby shop. The custom builder in me recognized all the possibilities for customizing, detailing , painting etc. So I was hooked again. I wandered through the G scale possibilities for a couple of years making various versions of FA’s, some GP-9’s, GP-20’s, and even a 4-6-0 camelback. When I heard about Aristocraft’s new RS-3. It was deja vu, I could make an RS-3u in G. From the time I first purchased one of the Aristocraft RS-3’s there was never any doubt.... It was destined to become a D&H RS-3u.

THE ARISTOCRAFT MODEL

The Aristocraft model is a decent representation of an RS-3. Although there were a number of flaws it still looked like a roadswitcher, and to give credit where it is due Aristocraft did all of the hard work. It certainly was a good starting point. There were a number of things I would have to change. There are basically three categories of renovation.
1. Detailing: To increase the accuracy of the basic model by replicating a particular option or RR inspired detail.
2. Corrections: Changes required to make the model a more accurate representation of what was created by the locomotive manufacturer.
3. Modifications: To change the basic model into something never intended by the modelbuilders.

As one would imagine these three categories often overlap.

THE CORRECTIONS

Most of the corrections are of a relatively minor nature and in no way should be considered absolutely necessary to make this already good model acceptable. This model is already quite acceptable right out of the box, I am only making corrections as I wanted to make it even more accurate. I chose to rework the following:
1. All the lift bars and grabirons on the pilots are cast on and will be removed and refabricated out of wire.
2. The headlights seem a bit low...a scale 6 inches or so. The short hood will be lowered and the headlight will be removed so that’s no problem here and on the prototype the long hood is raised about a foot so the headlight there ends up some 8 to 10 scale inches lower... close enough.
3. The hand rail configurations could use a little work. The pilot handrails are very wrong (unacceptable) and the side rails need some work where they meet the cab near the doors, and where they meet the steps.
4. The numberboards are too large.
5. The grabiron arrangement on the hoods needs some serious work to correct and also to get rid of those grommets.
6. Those marker lights had to go.


THE MODIFICATIONS

For the modifications we only need to refer to the modifications MK performed to construct the real RS-3u’s:
1. Chop the short hood.
2. Cut windshields into the cab, add an upper headlight box/numberboard arrangement.
3. Fill the upper rear windows in the cab.
4. Move the control stand to the other side if the cab, changing the “front” of the loco.
5. Add a new air filter box and grille just aft of the cab. (it has been suggested by some that this is a dynamic brake cooler but I don’t subscribe to that idea as I don’t see any fans).
6. Change the fuel tank to a later straight configuration.
7. Add new marker lights to both hoods.
8. Add a new cooling coil adjacent to the fuel tank on the left side.
9. Adjust the pilot stepwells to fully enclose the front.

There are a couple of modifications that I chose not to do as they were very complicated and in my opinion did little to change the overall “feel” the resulting model. At least not enough to warrant the effort. They are:
1. Raise the rear hood (long) by about a foot . MK had to do this to accommodate the new higher Alco 251 prime mover ( the RS’s originally had a 244) Raising the hood is not a big problem, but this means relocating the air intake grilles lower on the hood, a major effort for a comparatively small result.
2. Raise part of the long hood walkway on the engineer’s side by 6 to 8 scale inches to accommodate a new traction motor blower air duct. This too in itself, is not much of a problem , assuming one can find some non-skid walkway surface and don’t have to make it. The real challenge is to raise the handrails up on blocks along this raised area. The mounting arrangement for handrail posts that Aristocraft uses makes it a major engineering problem that I decided wasn’t worth the effort. Additionally like the real locos the air duct interferes with the long hood engineroom doors if the hood is not raised, and I have already decided not to do this.
These two modifications are linked and you have to do both or neither. I chose the latter.


DETAILING

This is the area where the sky is the limit. You can do anything your skill and patience permits. I chose to do the following:
1. Addition of an access panel on the top of the short hood.
2. Addition of a cab roof hatch.
3. Additional lift rings grabirons, chains, etc.
4. Radio antenna
5. Make a 3 chime horn
6. Real door handles
7. FRA mandated coupler lift bars.

PHILOSOPHY

This whole idea of what to change and what not to change is a value judgement. There will surely be those of you who when reading this will, disagree and that’s fine ... go for it and suit yourself.. after all it’s your time, effort, skill, pride, etc at stake so you’ve got to do what pleases you. I urge you to remember. however that as a general rule, all models are to some greater or lesser degree inaccurate. No mass produced model is absolutely to scale in every respect, and once we accept that premise, everything else is simply a matter of degree. My own personal taste is “ as accurate as practical”. If it looks like what I want it to represent, is reasonably well detailed (enough to be a classy model), well painted, runs well and above all recognized by my peers for what it is supposed to represent without me having to point it out to them... then I’ve accomplished my goal. Your goals may be different, more stringent or less stringent, so make your own choices accordingly. Always remember that you can only approach perfection , so be easy on yourself. This is a hobby, take pleasure in your accomplishments and don’t sweat the small stuff. I used to have a saying in my custom business. It’s: “show me a better one and I will truly appreciate it, but until then don’t complain about my version”


SCALE

Now a word about scale: I know this is a touchy subject and there have been volumes of opinions written in the pages of FSR about scale. With my philosophy of “If it looks correct that’s good enough” my only concern with scale is when I need to add a new part or assembly. If I know the real life size of the item I need some reference to scale to determine what would be the correct size for the model. I have found through years of custom building that the manufacturers as a group take liberties with scale for a number of reasons. This is not a complaint, merely an observation. For this reason I don’t get too hung up on exact scale size. Often a perfectly scaled part may not look correct simply because the parts around it may not be perfect. Therefore I figure out using the exact scale, what size a part should be and if it looks ok, whenever possible I make it correctly. On the other hand I don’t hesitate to take what I consider reasonable liberties with the scale if it would improve the overall look and feel of the model. I don’t want to have to keep explaining to people who have noticed that it doesn’t look right, that its “ really to scale, honest.” That defeats the whole purpose of a model. It needs to look as correct as possible and require no further explanation. Explanations of this sort usually sound like excuses. Being partially to exact scale at the expense of the rest of the model is not acceptable. So my take on scale:
“ Make it look right. If this means to exact scale all the better. Don’t let scale override your own good judgement”.
Hopefully this will help the reader understand my approach in the rest of this article.

STARTING WORK

First I disassembled the model as far as necessary. This was more complicated than I expected because many of the parts were either siliconed or worse yet glued (plastic welded) in place. For example I wished to salvage the headlight casting on the short hood to use for a future project, rather than simply fill it with putty and file it off. First I had to remove the bulbs and diode arrangement which was siliconed in place. When this was done I could see that the headlight casting fully penetrated the front of the short hood and was glued solidly in. I had to carefully drill out the back of the light tubes until I could release the entire headlight assembly from the back. There are a number of separate pieces that make up this model. Hoods, cab handrails, pilots, etc. I was happy to see that the cab was not only a separate piece but had a solid wall where the new windshield was going to be. This meant no infix would be required. I was equally thrilled that the hoods were separate since the short hood would have to be stripped of detail and chopped. and the long hood required substantially less work. The small removable panel that encloses the locomotive lighting, motor, and smoke unit switches on top of the long hood appeared to be in the approximate area where the new air filter box is going to be located. This will somehow have to be preserved, as I would rather not have to relocate these switches. One of my cardinal rules is: If it runs good, don’t tinker with the drive or electrical, and this loco runs great., Before doing any actual work start by studying each feature in photos descriptions in books and any other sources you can think of , then make a plan as to how you are going to replicate each feature on the new model. DO NOT START any work until you have a total plan for the new loco and this includes a plan for each item. Don’t start anything without a sure sense of exactly where you’re going and how you are going to get there. Now lets look at the construction of the major features:

THE SHORT HOOD

First we strip off all the removable details and fill in all the holes, depressions, numberboards, etc. with body filler putty. I use green squadron putty. A caution here with any of the puttys: If you put it on too thick it will take along time to completely dry and it will shrink. Remember this chopped short hood is very smooth and rounded. I noted that there was a noticeable depression at the front of the hood , possibly caused by the molding process, and since I was filling in , I filled that too. Once filled cured and sanded smooth I measured where it was to be cut and marked it with striping tape. (yes the same stuff we all use to mask when we paint stripes). I found this works very satisfactory when used as a cutting or sanding mark, is easily removed afterwards and leaves no marks. After a couple of checks with my photos and dimensions I cut the bottom off the short hood with a jeweler’s saw. ( about 7/8 “) The resulting straight cut along the new bottom of the hood then has to be notched in the proper places to fit correctly on the frame.
Now for the details. This low hood has few details but they are all important. The handbrake wheel needs to be relocated , new marker lights have to be installed , and an access panel needs to be put on the top in front of the windshield. The marker lights are going to be made out of 3/16”plastic tubing and the access panel out of .020 sheet styrene with rivets center punched from the back. When backpunching rivets the hardness of the material you place the piece on to make the punch determines the size of the resulting dimple that simulates the rivet head. Finally there appear to be two different lift ring arrangements on the D&H RS-3u’s. Number’s 501,2,3,4,5 & 8 have five lift rings (actually they are loops) and 506 & 7 have none. I chose to add them on my model as they are simple to do and add greatly to the look of the finished product.

THE CAB

Aristocraft has given us a head start here as the front of the cab is a solid wall, so all we need to do for new windshields is to locate and cut them out. When you locate the front windshields it is a good idea to locate everything else at the same time so you will be sure that all the new features fit together just right. Often there are anomalies in the model that require spacing and relative size adjustments that are only apparent when you put all the features for one grouping together. Set the cab on the frame, then the lowered short hood and carefully mark the outline of the hood on the front of the cab. Now locate and block out the area above the new windows for the headlight and numberboard box. Now outline the new windows with striping tape. Finally look the whole thing over very carefully and thoroughly to assure that all proportions and spacing relationships look ok. Make any necessary adjustments now as it is easy to do with tape and pencil marks and not so easy later after you make the cuts. I can’t stress enough the importance of patience and planning in a project like this. I know we can easily get caught up in the desire to see “how it’s going to look” as soon as possible. If you rush the chances are very good that you will spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to correct some foolish mistake you made, and then you have to make the correction. Don’t set up unrealistic time constraints. I try to simply complete a single task on the project each time I work on it. “Single task” may only mean thinking , planning your next move, measuring or just studying photos. Remember the thinking , planning and basic knowledge of your project is every bit as important to the quality of the final product as the actual cutting, filing, fitting and sanding.

When you are satisfied cut out the windows. Leave the striping tape outlining the windows in place and carefully drill a small (#50) hole in each inner corner. If done with care this should give you the rounded corner of the glass area. Having done all 4 corners of each window, connect the dots with a zona or jeweler’s saw and trim to the inner edge of the striping tape with a flat file of appropriate size. Next we will make the headlight box. Start by cutting two pieces of .020” plastic sheet to form this box. A front face roughly shaped like the profile of the cab roof and bend slightly in two places to form the flat headlight front and angled numberboard faces. This bend is made by marking the bend lines on the back of the piece and filing (not scribing) a slight notch to accommodate the bend. If you try to scribe it the piece is likely to break when you bend it. Cut flat piece of appropriate size and shape for the bottom and we have two of the 3 components. Now assemble the front and bottom and check if the subassembly will fit properly on the cab front. At this point having shaped and assembled part of the box, now is the time to locate and cut out the numberboards. We follow exactly the same procedure as with the new windshields. Mark, drill, cut and file. For the top I chose a thicker .100” piece so that I had some thickness to shape and fit to the curvature of the cab roof. Finally we build up the area for the new headlights with another .020” piece and drill out and install headlight tubes. For the tubes I chose brass tubing instead of styrene as I was concerned about any heat generated by the light bulbs distressing the styrene. File notches in the top of the brass headlight tubes to represent undervisors or shields before installing in the assembly. These undervisors were used to prevent the headlights from reflecting off the windshields at night. Using the marks on the cab face from the original planning session, glue the headlight box into place. NOTE: Before final installation of the headlight/numberboard assembly be sure to cut out the area behind this assembly so that you will be able to install lights etc. later in the project. After you’ve let this cure overnight, take a file to it and shape the headlight box top into the cab roof. This is the reason for the extra thickness of the styrene sheeting on the top of this assembly. Some additional filling and shaping will probably be necessary but keep at it until the new headlight box/ numberboard assembly looks like it always was part of the cab. All that remains now is to infill the 2 small upper windows in the rear of the cab. MK did this for a number of reasons. First the long hood when raised was slightly higher than the windows, second the new air filter box obstructed whatever view was left, and third they probably needed the extra wallspace for electrical cabinets and such. On our model the simplest was to accomplish this is to install the appropriate parts of Aristocraft’s window glazing as a backer and infill with putty from the outside. You know the rest of the procedure. Fill, file sand; fill, sand; fill , polish; etc... Now the basic cab is complete , additional small details will come later. We leave the small detailing until last as there is still much fitting, measuring, eyeballing and general manhandling yet to be done and any small details would likely be damaged in the process. So finish all the major construction first.

Filter BoxAIR FILTER BOX (or Dynamic Brake cooler)

The air filter box itself is pretty straightforward. Build a simple box of the right dimensions , fit it to the top of the hood and detail it correctly. The challenge here is that the correct location as measured from the cab, interferes with the access panel provided by Aristocraft for the motor, smoke unit and lighting cut out switches. Preferring not to relocate this stuff, I wanted to see how close the box would come to covering , and thereby becoming an integral part of the actual hatch. After some study it was apparent that the correct filter box location put the assembly partially on the hatch at one end (aft) and overlapping the top of the hood on the other by about a scale 6”. I thought about fudging the dimensions a bit and shrink the box enabling me to locate it exactly over the panel . Ultimately I decided against this approach as it clearly would not look right at that size and in that location. Additionally I discovered that if I located the filter box exactly where it belonged dimensionally, it did not line up properly with the doors on the side of the hood. This is one of those dimensional anomalies I warned you about. Apparently Aristocraft took some small liberties here on the original RS-3 model, so a compromise was in order. In situations such as this requiring a compromise I usually try to make the choice that gives the most “correct looking “ overall appearance. I could have resized the box a bit but I have found that resizing a major element rarely achieves satisfactory results. So I decided the best choice was to locate the correct size filter box so that it visually matched up properly with the doors on the long hood, handrail posts etc. The view from the side is generally more important, relatively, than the view from the top. This meant that the box was going to be about a scale 6”closer to the cab than it really should be but it was not noticeable. I feel this was the best choice as all who will look at this model will judge it on its overall appearance of accuracy and few will have a scale rule in their pocket and fewer still will be conversant with the actual dimensions of the prototype. Having made this choice I realized that now the overhang on the forward part of the panel was very slight (less than 1/16 “) and could be accommodated if fitted carefully to allow it to fit loosely over the top of the hood. Using the removable panel as a pattern for the curve of the top of the hood, I built an accurate to scale filter box assembly that fitted nicely on the rounded portion of both the panel and the top of the long hood. After I constructed and fitted the box itself I used small styrene channels to make the air intake area and fitted a couple layers of brass window screen to give the illusion of both grillwork and depth. I finished it off with lift rings and the heads of common pins for rivets. I went ahead and detailed this subassembly as I didn’t intend to install it permanently on the hood. It will be cemented to the removable panel and the free end will nicely fit over the hood when the panel is snapped into place. This entire assembly can now be removed at will for access to the cut out switches since the filter box is now a permanent part of that panel. The filter box subassembly is now complete.

THE FUEL TANK

Alco delivered the RS-2’s and early RS-3’s with a “Tee” tank. This tank is replicated on the Aristocraft model. However most of the D&H RS’s were converted to a simpler straight line tank , as was used as a standard on Alco’s follow on models to the RS 2’s and 3’s ( The DL-701 or RS-11 and the DL-721 or RS-36). The 8 RS-3’s that went to MK already had the straight-line tank, and it was utilized on all the RS-3u’s . So we must convert or otherwise renovate this “tee” tank. The best and most simple way to accomplish this is to make an entirely new tank and save the original tank for some future project. It is a simple matter to create the proper size box out of .080” styrene using the original tank as a guide. I used a similar mounting arrangement with the same screws in the same locations as the original tank, filed it to shape, and detailled as necessary. The only caution here is to add styrene thickness inside at all corners and edges that are to be filed round and otherwise shaped to assure depth of material for both shaping and final strength. When I mounted this new tank temporarily to the frame it fit and mounted nicely but it didn’t look quite right. A closer check of my photographs revealed that although it was deep enough, it was a couple of feet too short. Either the Tee tank that came with the model was foreshortened to accommodate the sharp truck swing required of the model or simply the straight, more modern, tank as supplied by Alco was bigger. (Probably both). In order to solve this problem I could either make a new correctly sized tank or extend the one I just built. An extension was the obvious choice. Either solution to this problem would mean changing all the mounting holes. I also checked to see if the longer tank would interfere with the truck swings. It turned out that it would if extended more than a scale foot, even when divided equally into 6” at each end. Since a proper size tank would clearly make the model look better I decided to search for a way to make some sort of extension. I found that if I left the end off the extensions the truck swing would clear the tank. This decision left me with a “mounting” problem. The solution to this problem was to extend the tank equally at both ends and leave the bottom out of the extensions. That way I could use all the original screws and corresponding holes in the frame. This left me a tank with about 12” “wings on both ends. It worked like a charm and still gave the appearance of a large tank. The addition of final details later is a snap. A few NBW castings, (that’s nut, bolt, washer) a vent, a sight glass, a couple of fuel fills and you are done.

PILOTS

The pilots on the model are a real puzzle to me as they are crudely done, with overlarge cast on details and they look like something from a 1950’s Varney plastic model; state of the art then, but really unacceptable today. This is quite inconsistent with the rest of the model, which exhibits a lot of investment in design solutions and decent details. It’s almost as if they ran out of something when they got to the pilots.(money, information, incentive, time,???) In any event thankfully it’s not much work to improve the worst of it. The main pilot handrails have to be completely rebent but that should not such a big deal either. Both of those items make a major difference in the appearance of the model. The RS-3u didn’t have the same types or quantity of MU connector boxes as the Aristocraft version, but cutting them off the model will weaken the end handrail posts considerably , be a lot of work and improve the model ..not much. The mu connectors are basically correct for some versions of the RS-3 and as such are not incorrect but only inaccurate for this particular loco version. All in all this adds up to “let’s just leave ‘em there”.

Let’s get started.. If we study the RS-3u as built by MK we see that the pilots are very simple. They are basically just a flat steel plate. This flat steel plate is devoid of details with a few exceptions. I noticed that while most of the detail relief present on the model can be filed off and sheeted over there is a detail at the bottom that looks a bit like small steps and a vee shaped affair below the coupler. It’s judgement time again. It appears to me that the pilot probably derives some strength from the additional thickness at the bottom and I would have to provide some additional reinforcing if the bottom is also filed flat. I decided on a small compromise here. Leave the very bottom edge alone and file off the cast on details and plate over the rest with thin sheet styrene. A review of the prototype reveals that the new pilots cover much more of the stepwells than the pilot on the model does. This is because the model represents an earlier “as-built” version while the MK version meets new FRA standards. There is not much of a choice here. The coupler lift bars need to be mounted on the infilled areas and there is a notch for access to the lift bar from the stepwell. This is in response to the modified FRA safety rule that requires that the lift bars be activated by a man in the relative safety of the enclosed stepwell. This also affects the configuration of the lift bars themselves. So we infill the stepwell openings (front) to the proper configuration using .125” sheet styrene and then plate the modified pilot over with sheet styrene. Once this is done we can add what few details there are. Lift bars, mu hoses and connectors. The front pilot predictably has the same configuration, flat steel plate, and mu hoses with the addition of a snowplow. For the snowplow I decided to take a piece of .020” styrene cut into a rectangle about 12 scale inches wider than the pilot and carefully roll it into an appropriate shape by hand. I found that the styrene became more pliable as you worked it with your fingers. Once I got it into the approximate shape I cut a couple of braces that when welded on would both hold the semi-curved contour of the plow and provide a method of mounting the plow to the pilot.This is very similar to the mounting arrangement on the prototype. Having done this I shaped the bottom edge of the plow with a file and trimmed the top to the exact size. When fitting the new plow to the front pilot it became obvious that the “vee” shaped projection on the bottom of the pilot would have to go after all. Since I was always concerned about the structural strength of the modified pilot I reinforced it from the rear before I filed off the front. This worked quite well, and wasn’t nearly the problem I had envisioned. So I decided that I would also do it on the rear pilot so it would be totally flat as per the prototype. I eliminated one of the initial compromises. The last detail on the plow was to cut prototype openings in the blade to allow the mu hoses to pass through. I accomplished this in the same way I did the windshields and numberboards. Now we have two completed pilots.

HANDRAILS

Now for the handrails. Did I say it would not be such a big deal? Well I was wrong again. Let’s start with the pilot rails, which are totally and completely wrong. The configuration on the model is unlike any I’ve ever seen on a Roadswitcher. They look like the modelbuilder’s were in a hurry to finish up and just bent them to fit the holes in the body and frame. I originally thought I could just rebend them to the correct shape. Well there is another problem. The front handrail posts are about 8 scale inches too far back from the front of the pilot. This is why the modelbuilders put a large offset in the vertical part of the rail. Otherwise the rail would not have fit into the frame. A check of the front posts revealed a very complicated mounting arrangement designed for strength that does not lend itself to be easily changed. Now another decision. I had no desire to try to redesign the whole front end so some sort of compromise was in order. Following my premise that it should “look” as correct as possible I decided to offset the vertical rail in two less obvious places. Right next to the outboard vertical post, and at the very bottom where the rail connects to the front of the pilot This allowed the posts to stay where they were and I was still able to rebend the rest of the rail more accurately. When I started the work there was another more predictable problem. Unbending a piece of wire and trying to get it straight is a dicey affair to begin with and there is the additional problem that the brass will “workharden” and break. I managed to get them straight again but they broke when I started to rebend them. It was just as well as they were too large to begin with and I should have changed them anyway. I got some new wire of a more appropriate size and made new handrails for both ends. I forgot that it is often easier to make something new than to spend a lot of time trying to save the old part. This is especially true with something simple like handrails. Now for the side handrails. On the model the portion of the side rail that turns down at the steps is bent like those on an EMD GP unit. It turns inward first and then swings out and down vertically. On an Alco RS they are much simpler, they extend straight out from the last post and then simply turn down vertically and return at the bottom to attach to the outboard side of the stepwell. I can’t imagine why the modelbuilders didn’t use this much easier detail. I guess they just didn’t know. Well I’m all for “easier” especially if it is more accurate, so I tried to rebend them. You guessed it they broke. Some people never learn! Additionally the side rails are wrong in the two places where they attach to the cab where the doors are. Unlike the condition where they meet the cab at the non-door locations and are straight, they turn vertically at the door and attach much higher on the cab. This is for safety reasons so a crewman stepping up into the cab will not “run out” of handrail. Well to make this simple correction you will need a longer piece of wire for the new rail and since I broke them, and they are the wrong size it doesn’t make much difference.

THE LONG HOOD

There is not a lot to do to the long hood in accordance with my current approach to this model. I’ve decided not to raise the hood, and the problem with the access panel and filter box has been solved. The rear headlight is located incorrectly for a “stock” RS-3 (about a scale 6” too low) but this is roughly correct for an RS-3u which had its headlight lowered about 8”. The other problem is that the lights are horizontal in the housing instead of vertical like the D&H locos. As with many of the other details this is not totally wrong . Many RR’s used this configuration, just not this loco on this RR. Add to this the fact that it cannot be drilled out from the inside due to the location of the fan motor and housing then I’m satisfied that we have another ”acceptable deviation” and I willleave the headlight alone. You probably would not notice if I had not mentioned it. So just what is left to do? Remove the handrails, silly grommets and fill in the holes, to be smoothed off and redrilled the appropriate size and location for new proper grabirons. Sand or file off the parting lines, and remove the marker lights (what RR did these come from?) and fill in the holes. Add new marker lights following a similar procedure as with the short hood. A caution here, The spacing between the lights appears to be different than on the short hood. They appear to be closer together on the long hood. Finally the only correction of consequence left is the making of the numberboards smaller. I know that you are thinking after all I’ve just said about detail choices... why bother here? Well for three reasons. First and most important... on this particular model the paint stripe will go right through the area now occupied by the excess size of the numberboard, thus making the inaccuracy obvious for all to see. Second no roadswitchers ever to my knowledge had such oversize boards cut into the sides of the hoods, so this is a wrong detail, not merely an inaccuracy for the particular RR. And third, it’s real easy to correct. First cut a piece of sheet styrene of the exact thickness (about .080”) needed to reduce the glass area and weld it in place letting it protrude a bit so it can be later filed to meet the side of the hood. After filing it smooth take another piece of sheet styrene exactly the thickness of the numberboard frame (about .020”) and weld it in place. File this down to meet the rest of the frame, effectively making a new bottom edge for the frame. Now add the details of your choice. I added door handles made out of bent 20 ga wire and drilled and “CA’ed” to the long hood, along with some small piping, grabirons, etc. The last item is the roof fan. Pop out the ridiculous pastic fan grille and replace it with a piece of window screen cut round. Then make a snap ring from a piece of wire and use it to retain the screen.

 

COOLING COIL

On the left hand side just below the frame and ahead of the air tank is some sort of a cooling coil. It is a nice detail, standard on some if not all RS-3’s, and it’s installation will not require any additional modifications. Now how to make it. For my coils I used some pieces of plastic tubing with appropriate size plastic coated wire threaded through them to simulate the piping. This piping was drilled into additional pieces of tubing set vertically to make the end pieces and then more plastic coated wire of a larger size to approximate the connecting piping. Now for mounting this coil assembly. Alco (and MK) simply hung it on straps from the frame. I wanted to make this assembly easily removable and attaching to the frame was not my first choice. After studying the prototype I decided to weld it to the piping that is part of the air tank. This way it looks fine as the piping on the air tank passes behind the coil on the prototype and the coil can be removed along with the air tank simply by removing 2 screws.

FABRICATED DETAILS

Air Horns

MK used a small even squatty 3 chime horn on the D&H RS-3u’s. I decided to make this horn arrangement by fabricating a mounting frame and then used a couple of bells from single horns in my scrapbox and made the third by reaming out a piece of plastic tubing. I inserted a pin in the bottom of the mounting frame, and inserted it in a small drilled hole in the cab roof.

Radio Antenna

The radio antenna is the flat “upsidedown can opener” type and is easily fabricated out of shaped pieces of styrene.

Windshield wipers

Here I prefer to fabricate out of brass for durability. Start with a brass wire,and solder (or CA) a flat piece of brass to simulate the blade.

Cab roof hatch

Simply fabricate out of styrene file to shape and install so that it sits just above the cab roof like a hatch should.

Chains

I mount my chains by installing a small piece of a common pin (the head) or brass wire wherever I want chains and then mount the chains on the pins or a loop in the brass wire. An alternative method is to insert small eye pins into the location and mount the chains by spreading the last link of the chain and slipping it onto the eyebolt. When spreading a link always spread it sideways so as not to misshape the link and besides it is easier and causes less stress on the mounting eyebolt when reclosing the link. The drop step chains were done this way because the resulting assembly is stronger and more flexible, and this is necessesary since the drop steps are movable and can be moved into either the up or down position.

SUMMARY

To make a reasonable model of an RS-3u from a stock RS-3, you need only to make the obvious changes; chop nose, air filter box, new cab front, and possibly a new fuel tank. If you wish to go further you can upgrade the pilots. If you wish to go even further you may choose to add or alter a number of details such as chains, grabirons, wipers, hatches, door handles, lift rings, coupler lift bars ,etc.etc. Your RS-3u should be unique unlike any other and you and you lone need to be pleased with the results, and I hope when you are finished you are extremely pleased.












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Last updated: December 31, 2006


Information supplied by Jay Winn
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