Blowing up a decoder doesn’t stop a project moving forward

Back in December I wrote about the start, and abrupt end of a project as I detonated a DCC Decoder part way (well, at the final stretch) of an installation here. This could have been the end of the project, but, It’s not, as I’m not letting myself making a mistake defeat me. There are still lots of other things on this locomotive I can do, like strip off the Canadian Pacific “script” paint scheme so I can backdate it to “block” lettering, and correct a major error I didn’t notice when I bought my project locomotive. The Alco S-2 came with two types of radiator shutters, vertical and horizontal. The CPR bought almost all vertical shutters, and all the ones assigned to Toronto were vertical. The model I bought, CPR 7013 has horizontal shutters in the body. Sigh, I had a choice of two road numbers, and I chose the wrong one, that to Atlas’ credit, they got the shutters right!

Alco S-2 Radiator shutters, my CPR 7020 with vertical, the 7013 shell with horizontal, and a donor shell with vertical ones.

So, what to do. what to do indeed? There is of course, only one answer. Replace the shutters!!! To do this, I went online and found an undecorated Atlas S-2 body shell surprisingly cheap on Ebay, and bought it. Using the replacement shell, I cut out one of the shutters, and used it as a master to cast a replacement from. I could have tried to use the S-2 I have and made a press mould or something from it, but that felt way to much like trying to mess up a second locomotive that was just fine thank you very much!

Making replacement S-2 radiator shutters. I kept the frame, though the plan is to sand these down and cut openings so I can use the frame on the keeper locomotive to help hide the join between the casting and the plastic body.

The casting of the new shutters was pretty straightforward once I had the donor body to cut them out from. I’ve cast a few, just so I have some spares for the filing and fitting phases, resin is relatively cheap after all.

The next phase of work I can do, is I can strip the paint and paint the body shell so it is ready as a Toronto numbered locomotive when I eventually get around to replacing the fried electronics and making it work again. I also need to get the old paint off so I can see what I am doing cutting the openings for the shutters and for fitting.gluing in the replacements.

Atlas paint strips “easily” in a 99% Isopropyl Alcohol bath. Shown after the first bath, then after the 2nd.

My paint stripping technique, at least on Atlas locomotives is relatively simple, a 99% Isopropyl Alcohol bath. The shell doesn’t even need to be fully submerged, I find getting alcohol on it in a closed tub for half an hour softens the paint, and it will come off when rubbed gently with a toothbrush. I find the first pass gets off most of the paint, and a second go around with fresh alcohol (it eventually collects the paint and stops working) finishes the job. This is a messy job though, the toothbrush can flick chunks of paint everywhere, trust me, I’ve made that mistake! Move the brush in one direction into your tub, make sure you lift so it doesn’t pull and flick back towards you, and cover where you are working with a shield, even just a piece of paper towel will do. At my old apartment, I coated large parts of my workbench in painty crud once, it took ages to clean up, don’t do that to yourself! Areas that have pad printing on top of paint, like stripes and numbers take more passes to get the paint off. With the paint stripped, I can move on to cutting out the wrong shutters, and installing the right ones!

To install the new shutters, first up was to carefully drill holes in the four corners of the existing ones, and cut away between the holes. The holes are drilled inside the frames, so when I was finished cutting away, the frames would be there, and the finish work could be done by sanding. Similarly, once the holes are cut in the body, the cast resin shutters will be sanded and filed to fit before being glued into place. Once they are in and glued, its onto primer and paint. In all likelihood, the body will be ready long before I have sorted out the wiring, but that is hardly the end of the world.

One S-2 Body shell missing its radiator shutters, ready for the replacement resin castings to go in with some more filing and tidying up of the openings.

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