Equipment Portraits :: 10

As I continue my series of posts about models in my collection, it’s time to turn to diesels. These two brass imports ran on my S scale Port Rowan layout. They were very different projects…


I’m tickled that even a continent-spanning operation like the Canadian National Railway system had a “Number 1” locomotive – and this is it. Dan Navarre at River Raisin Models imported 180 of these GE 44 Ton diesels in December 1993. (That’s actually a huge number of brass models for any scale, let alone S!) They’re a well-designed model with a nice drive. To create CNR 1, I added marker lamps on the four hood corners, removed the stock single-chime horn and added an (oversized) HO scale Miniatures by Eric horn on a custom bracket on the front exhaust stack, then built the cab roof-mounted number board from a pair of steam engine style number board kits from my friend Andy Malette at MLW Services. I added a crew to the cab, real glass in the windows, LEDs in the headlights at each end, and an ESU Loksound sound decoder hooked to a TCS Keep Alive module under the hoods. A speaker shoots sound up through one of the open hood hatches. I painted the engine with Warm Black from the CNR Historical Association and I worked with Bill Brillinger at Precision Design Company to develop custom decals. At some point, I may re-visit this locomotive to add the protoype’s boiler-tube pilot. But for now, I’m really pleased with this project.

CNR 3640

This was a real beast of a project. The model started as an Overland Models Inc. brass import from 1989. (Yes: Overland used to offer S scale brass!) I found a few errors on the model that needed to be corrected to more accurately represent a CNR locomotive. I did not fix most of them because they were, to me, minor. But the one I did address was turning the cab interior 180 degrees so that the crew would face the long hood, which was “forward” on these models. The mechanism also needed attention to remove binds, isolate the (two!) motors, and adjust the ride height of the truck side frames so they wouldn’t foul on road crossings and turnouts. In S scale, there’s a lot of space inside an RS18 and I packed it with electronics – including a Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder and current keeper module, a large speaker, a second decoder to give me additional lighting effects, and a fistful of small LEDs for headlights, class lamps, number boards, truck lights and a cab interior light, all run off separate functions. (At some point, I will revisit this model to upgrade the decoder to an ESU LokSound with “Full Throttle” features. I have the decoder, and an expansion board that will give me enough function outputs to control all of the lighting. I just need to sit down and do it.) The next challenge with this model was painting: There are no decals for this unit in S scale, and while CDS offered dry transfers at one time, they are wrong. So, I painted the whole unit yellow and then, based on photos, carefully masked it and sprayed the green. The yellow bands were then trimmed in black by hand, using a fine tip marker. The lettering – cab numbers, road name, heralds and so on – came from a set produced for S scale F-units and available from Al Ferguson at Black Cat Publishing. I wrote a feature about this model, which appeared in the October, 2019 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine.

Click on the Portraits category to find all posts in this series. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with it.

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

One thought on “Equipment Portraits :: 10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: