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One of the most popular modern locomotives in the USA is the SD70 Manufactured by Electro Motive Diesel (EMD):
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Before it was Electro Motive Diesel it was Electro Motive Division of General Motors and before that it was Electro Motive Corporation. EMC started out making gas-electric self-propelled railcars:
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GM bought it and started producing diesel-electric locomotives using Winton diesels, first as switchers and streamliners, most famously the Zephyr line:
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Then in 1935 they broke into the road engine market with the EMC 1800. Powered by two Winton 900 hp diesels, AAR trucks and GE motors these locomotives were the direct predecessors of the more famous E and F locomotives:
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EMC produced five 1800’s all in 1935: Two were demonstrators #511 and 512. Never sold, these locomotives were shown to prospective customers. They were scrapped in 1937 after they served their purpose:
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Two were sold to the ATSF for use with the Super Chief. They were always operated together and the Santa Fe later uglified the lead unit, giving it a clown nose with a cab on top, then took the cabs out of the rear unit. They were traded in to EMD in 1953 and converted to booster units.
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The last one was Baltimore and Ohio #50
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It was purchased to haul the Royal Blue and did so for two whole years until replaced by new E-units. Then it was uglified with a shovel nose and turned over to the Chicago and Alton to pull the Lincoln. After WW2 the new Gulf Mobile and Ohio inherited the locomotive and restored it to its original beauty as #1200, where it was used for local passenger and branchline service until retired and donated to the National Museum of Transportation in St Louis. There it sits today, fading and rusting.
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(All photos but the last from Wikipedia)
 

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Being a fan of the B&O, boxcabs and of oddball locomotives in general I thought it would be fun to build a copy of #50. Proper trucks were the critical components so when an old Yugoslavian AHM RS-3 ended up in my possession I thought it would make the perfect donor engine. After a trip to the museum for photos and measurements I got out my saw and went to work.
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First step was extending the engine frame to 60’, approximately 1 ¼” in HO scale. A liner from an old 50’ flatcar (I think it held semi trailers?) provided the bulk and it was sandwiched between two brass plates (that frame is not moving). A stretch of brass rod extended the power shaft to the truck and the power pickup wire was easy to lengthen. The extended drive shaft means the engine won’t pass #4 switches anymore.
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The body is boxcab in design and in that way is relatively uncomplicated. I made a diagram of the sides in Powerpoint using old photos and measurements and then glued it to a plastic sheet. First I drilled relief holes in the corners then started cutting. The plastic was pretty thick and I didn’t end up with perfect squares. Also, I used my exacto blade much longer than I should have, when it was no longer sharp.
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Most time-consuming in the whole project was the outside frame on the sides, 46 tiny strips of paper cut and glued in one-at-a-time. They create a nice effect though. As the project continued some broke loose during handling and had to be reglued. The ends were fabricated out of more plastic and I think stuck out just a bit too much but the effect is nice. Grab irons were green garden wire folded into the appropriate shape.
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The roof is a piece of ¼” basswood, rounded on a belt sander with the ends ground down with a Dremel. Details are all either fabricated from paper, brass rod or PSC castings. I forgot to order the bell and turned it on a lathe out of a piece of brass. The roof turned out to be problematic because I couldn’t get a good look at it. Worse, I only have two pictures from 1935, neither of the roof and apparently it changed over the years too, but I wanted the 1935 engine. I ended up doing the best I could with what pictures I could find but doubt its 100% accurate.
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The RS-3 was the right engine for one reason, its trucks are the same type as the 1800. The only serious difference was that the RS has two small brake cylinders but the 1800 has one large brake cylinder. I carefully trimmed off the brake cylinders and glued on some normal freight-car types from PSC, hopefully they won’t fall off. There was a bracket on the opposite side I added with angle plastic.
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After I got the three parts basically assembled I started looking for a way to add weight. I aimed for 13.5 oz, what my Yugoslavian GP-18 weighs after I weighted it. I was able to cram a piece of flat lead sheet on the underside of the roof, but I still needed a bunch so I cut a ¼” square mold in a board on a table saw, heated the lead with a propane torch (in the garage with all the windows open) and created lead strips that fit very nicely between the outside of the old body supports and the inside of the new boxcab body. I didn’t stress test but it pulled my older, six car Royal Blue train no problem.
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The pilots could have been fabricated but I thought that would be too time consuming and the result too fragile. Instead I drooled my way through the PSC steam catalog and picked the one that looked closest. I had to do a bit of modification to get the trucks to fit and wish I’d bought a couple hoses but otherwise it is as is. They stick out a bit too far and the profile doesn’t match the body but I think it’s a good compromise.

I spent a while trying to figure out how to paint it. I have the current picture (faded blue keel to masts), a picture of the repaint in 1973 (royal blue, the same paint job as current but not faded for 50 years), A picture of a model (Royal blue on sides and grey on top), and finally a 1935 picture in black and white with light roof and darker sides.

Thing is, silver makes more sense for the roof to reflect sunlight and the other 1800’s were all silver, so I figured roof silver, rest royal blue. I liked the blue trucks in the ’73 photo and had to paint the brake cylinder anyway so went ahead and painted them blue. Then I cleaned the paint off the wheels where it bled through around the tape.

After that decals and clear windows. I still need to touch up the paint on the ends, and the final touch is an engineer on order. The engine came out ok, with the usual self-criticism but overall came out nice and I doubt there are many floating around out there. I still need to figure out why the old motor needs some encouragement before it warms up and have to build a train to go with it. Unfortunately the passenger cars were special-built and are as unique as the engine.
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Your skill and attention to detail, such as the brake cylinders, is amazing. Very nice work!
 

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Outstanding work.
 
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