Adding Detailing to Diesel Model Train Engines

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By modeling four different periods over a 20-year stretch, Matt Snell of the Conrail New Jersey Division was faced with challenges in super-detailing his model train engines. He shows Model Railroad Academy’s Allen Keller how he goes about adding model railroad details to his diesel locomotives.

First, Matt does extensive research using pictures and slides on the motive power Conrail inherited from other lines when it was formed, as well as the different models Conrail purchased between the early 1980s and 1998, examining small detail changes. Using an off-the-shelf Athearn model, Matt shows that adding model railroad details like front and top grab irons, cut levers, lift rings, Sinclair antenna and horn is relatively easy. Using a tweezers, small pin vise and CA glue, Matt makes quick work of the additions, using parts from Detail Associates and Details West.

Finally, he adds the appropriate type of snow plow used by Conrail on that particular locomotive.

Matt’s advice for adding grab irons is to cut one post shorter than the other so you only need to fit in one hole at a time. The other tip is, if the area you’re detailing on your model locomotive will eventually have decals applied over it, make sure the details are removable until after the decaling is finished.

When faced with the dilemma over what model train engines, rolling stock and equipment to keep and what to discard from the historical period he models, Matt says he will keep any piece that is unique and/or adds to the prototypical appearance of the railroad. Limited by space, he also compromised on running full Amtrak passenger trains through his Northeastern Corridor, by running lots of shorter commuter trains and some smaller and unusual pieces of Amtrak M-O-W equipment which can be seen in interchanging traffic on his pike.

Tags: Allen Keller, detailing, engines, Premium Videos, Rolling Stock