Ron Marsh

Simple Details That Make Your Locomotives Unique

Ron Marsh
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Duration:   7  mins

Model Railroad Academy Editor Ron Marsh shows how adding just a couple of details enhances the realism and prototypical look of a locomotive or piece of rolling stock. These details can also take a nice but ordinary locomotive and make it completely special to your layout.


Ron recently bought a brand-new Atlas model N scale GP40 decorated for Helm Leasing Corporation, road name and number HLCX 4225. (If you ever need to renumber a factory-painted locomotive, we have a video about that too.) This locomotive is from Atlas’s Master Line Silver Series, so it is nicely detailed right out of the box with radiator fans and grills, warning decals, safety striping, and much more.


Ron first needs to do a couple of things to get this locomotive mechanically ready to run. The model is a decoder-ready and sound-ready DC model, so it needs a decoder installed. It has a speaker pre-mounted in the fuel tank, so Ron could put a sound decoder in this model if he chose, but in this instance he’ll just use a motor decoder. Ron shows step-by-step how he installs it.


Ron did some online research about this particular locomotive and learned that at one time it was owned by Chessie. During that time, it received a Chessie Rock Plow on the front pilot and a High-Hood Bell on the dynamic brake blister on the conductor’s side. Ron thought that adding these two details, which were not included on the Atlas model as he purchased it, would add to the realism of his layout.

Ron again shows step-by-step how he adds these details and how he solves challenges like finding the correct paint color.

If you have purchased a new old locomotive or rolling stock instead of brand-new, check out Ron’s MRA video on upgrading rolling stock from swap meet to layout.


Now that he’s done all the adjustments, Ron takes HLCX 4225 for a real test run. It runs smoothly and looks great.

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One Response to “Simple Details That Make Your Locomotives Unique”

  1. Rick

    I enjoyed the presentation and was delighted with the level of detail regarding parts and paint. New to model railroading, this is appreciated. Thank you.

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