My recent posts on couplers have generated a lot of great feedback – thank you! While I’ve been digesting your comments and coming to a decision on that issue, I’ve switched focus and over the past two days I’ve made some progress on my recently-acquired model of an EMC gas-electric.
As the above photo shows, I’ve installed a DCC sound decoder and speaker. After much pondering, I settled on an ESU/Loksound decoder. It’s the first time I’ve used this manufacturer’s decoders and I’m quite impressed.
My decoder came loaded with sounds for a GE 44 Tonner. That may sound like an odd choice, but it produces a nice rattle from what is obviously a small engine. It’ll do for now, and the beauty of this decoder is I can reprogram it if/when Loksound produces a proper EMC gas-electric audio file. (I’m pretty impressed by the Loksound audio catalogue. While a European company, ESU has a large and growing selection of audio files suitable for North American prototypes. So I’m optimistic that a correct audio file will be offered in time.)
The DCC board is mounted to the floor with two small pieces of double-sided foam tape – located where the mounting holes are for substituting this board for a lighting board in a variety of HO scale diesel models. As the photo shows, I mounted a fairly large high-bass speaker directly behind the motor – again, using double-sided foam tape. This not only secures the speaker, but dampens vibration between the speaker and the floor. I built a styrene baffle, which completely encloses the “front” of the speaker, so the sound ports up, though the speaker’s “back”.
When I finish the model, I will not add glass to the windows in the baggage compartment. These have safety bars in them anyway, so the lack of glass will not be noticeable – and the sound will exit the body near the location of the prime mover.
I made a couple of modifications to the model to support the DCC install:
I added pick-up wipers to the insulated wheels, so the model now has eight-wheel pick-up. This is vital for sound decoders and I always wonder what manufacturers are thinking when they produce a model that has an “unrealistically optimistic” electrical arrangement. In this case, the model picked up from just four wheels – the two right wheels at the front, and the two left wheels at the rear. Obviously, the designer of this model never thought anybody would actually try to, you know, run it! The pick-ups were fiddly, but well worth the effort as the model has gone from “unreliable” to “smooth” at even a crawl, with no interruption of the audio.
I also drilled out the headlight casting, added an opening in the roof behind the casting and added a “golden glow” LED for a headlight. The Loksound board supports LEDs without the need to add any extra components to deliver the correct voltage, which is a very nice touch. I connected the headlight to the board with a two-prong connector so I can disconnect it when removing the body from the floor.
Readers paying attention will note that the formerly-bare frame is now black. After doing my DCC install, I started painting the doodlebug.
I debated whether to paint it for the CNR or another road (since the CNR didn’t actually have a gas electric of this design). In the end, I decided I would do it for the home team, because it’s highly unlikely that a correct model will be offered in 1:64.
Everything below the body is done in Scalecoat CN Warm Black – a terrific paint produced for the CNR Historical Association. The black will cover just about anything without any prep. I’m betting it would adhere to pizza grease (but I’m not about to try that). I carefully airbrushed the floor, frame and details, including the trucks, then cleaned off the wheel treads.
I then set aside the frame and moved onto the body:
As the above photos show, for the body I decided to do some priming – mostly so I would not be airbrushing yellow over bare brass on the nose. Again, the CNRHA provided a lovely Scalecoat CN Yellow – and after painting I put the body in a warm oven to help it cure. I’ll leave this for several days to make sure it’s good and dry, then mask the face and spray the green body. Finally, the unit will get a black roof and belt line below the windows. Black Cat Publishing makes S scale CNR passenger car decals, which will supply the lettering.
While photographing my progress, I noticed a challenge: The back of the gas-electric has an enclosed compartment – and the manufacturer has not provided a means to get into this:
Unfortunately, in my experience this is also a common shortcoming with brass models, such as passenger cars with vestibules. Apparently the same designer who decided nobody would ever run their doodlebug also decided nobody would want to install glass in the seven window openings in the vestibule. I suspect I’ll be doing some butchery on that interior partition to remove most of it – leaving enough to maintain the support for the roof and exterior walls. I can always install a piece of painted styrene in the opening to re-create the partition. More likely, I’ll add lots of window shades and be done with it.
I’m pleased with the progress so far. The masking around the nose will be fairly straight forward although there will be some finicky bits around the class lamps, as the green on the sides will wrap onto the front face up to the first seams. But I’m looking forward to spraying more paint about. Stay tuned!