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Rebuilding an Alco Models Inc. HO Scale Brass Alco C-855a Pre-Weathering Parts 1 & 2

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  • Rebuilding an Alco Models Inc. HO Scale Brass Alco C-855a Pre-Weathering Parts 1 & 2

    What's up addictive modelers,

    Finally after over 10 years of putting off one of my personal builds I'm almost finished with the "A" of a "A/B set". Many years ago I was at a train show and saw a seasoned modeler selling off his many boxes of his (mostly plastic cheaper) collection. After listening to some of his interesting modeling war stories. I asked if he had anything brass for sale?

    He smiled and reached under the table and pulled out the only two undermost bottom boxes containing two Alco Models Inc. C-855a & C-855b units. The models were in poor condition very tarnished (as one would expect) and hadn't run in many years and as I pulled the models out of the boxes the shells were loose from where the screws had been previously removed, (most likely to see how the inner workings were made.

    Today I will focus on the rebuild and Dcc upgrade of the "A" unit only. (I’m not sure when the "B" unit will be finished because this was not an easy build).

    Below are the pics (sorry for any bad pics or out of sequence pics). I hope this pictorial gives the remaining C-855a owners some ideas on their build.



    1) Here is a prototype pic of the model I want to build.

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    2) Starting with a late 70’s second level detailed version of Alco c-855.

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    3) Ok, so here I’m cheating a bit. This shows the model in its test running Dcc phase.

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    4) I wanted to see if I could actually build a BB truck w/both sets actually powered. End result is yes so now I’ll go back and show most of my steps (some might be out of sync) sorry.

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    5) Because I already did some of the rough mechanical testing I now turned my attention to see if I could actually tape and paint this model at all (because of all the many uneven surfaces).

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    6) I painted a couple quick layers of custom made paint to see how the paint chipping technique would look. I decided not to go this route, but rather go in a different weathering direction.

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    One of the first things I discovered was the original trucks (cast w/brass side frames) had a couple tiny cracks and shorted every time a truck derailed. So I decided to use four Athearn plastic trucks with plastic side frames.



    7) First order of beeswax was to build a full solid span bolster frame (from thick solid brass sheet) and solder the pilots w/the original half frame bolsters together.

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    8) Here you can see the original frame (thinner gauge brass). I also cleaned up a lot of original solder blobs.

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    9) While testing the required articulation space of the truck gear towers I put back over cut brass material to add strength and weight.

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    10) Next I added cut brass flat bar (for cable blocks) and brass wire (for cables).

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    11) I think any place I can add details to a flat sheet is a good thing.

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    12) These to span bolster pilots have some much needed weight and strength. The hoses are Cal Scale brass details added along with custom made grabs and lift bar levers.

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    13) The frame needed some cutting of material as well as cleaning up more solder blobs. You’ll notice I lowered the motor mount and to clear the flywheels I needed to curve bend the frame supports as well.

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    14) This view shows how big of a bend I’m talking about for clearances. The reason I lowered the motor was because I wanted a lower center of gravity and space up top for electronics.

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    15) The fuel tank was hollow which allowed me to fill the voids with Cerrabend metal for weight.

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    16) Here I was test fitting the bolsters for clearances and articulation and frame swivel.

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    17) Now I start the paint prepping with first grit blasting.

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    18) Final overall look.

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    19) Notice how the cables under the frame already adding a cool detail effect.

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    20) Main frame painted and ready for motor.

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    21) Bolster frames painted and ready for mounting.

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    23) Underside view.

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    24) Pilot view.

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    25) Side frames painted with second layer.

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    26) Back side of side frames with painted rust layer.

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    27) Rust painted wheels.

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    28) Traction motors painted green (an old tyme practice).

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    29) All major frame sub-assemblies ready to be hoisted into place and bolted together.

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    30) Now we have a completed drive system. Note: how lowering the motor better aligns the U-joints.

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    31) Motor leads temporary tied together for track testing.

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    33) Under-frame view w/weight added in fuel tank voids.

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    34) Upper view of drive system. Notice the all wheel pickup leads are already wired and loomed around motor for a cleaner look.

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    35) Different upper view of wire looms from trucks.

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    36) This side view shows some of the truck brass detailing being added. At this point (sanding lines, brake lines, all wheel pickups, traction motor cable details added.

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    38) Notice the traction cables are actually run into the traction motors.

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    42) Close up view of all the truck details added.

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    47) Cab and upper walkway frame painted.

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    48) This model is starting to shape up nicely.

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    49) A lot of taping to get to this painted point of the three main colors.

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    51) This is what the model looks like on a 22” radius curved track. Not bad.

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    52) On straight track.

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    54) Now onto the cab details and crew. Custom brass detail castings on a custom brass mounting plates. Note: because of the tight opening in rear of cab I had no choice but to cut in half and install separately.
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    55) Side view of cab control stand.
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    56) Main shell superstructure painted w/3 main colors and some vent weathering base started.

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    57) 12 Led’s are in the cab alone (separate working class, number board, cab, headlights.

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    58) Test fitting two oval speakers, decoder and keep alive (I tried to put both speakers in on opposite sides of the shell, but the motor was getting into the way of the other components.

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    59) Once I decided where everything would fit. I glued in extra weight and secured the other components. A lot of wiring will be the order.

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    61) Because of the tight space I had to change to a newer smaller decoder and change from a square keep alive to a longer skinny current keeper. I also built a resistor board for all the connections.

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    62) The frame electronics connect to the shell with only two twin connectors.

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    63) The model assembled and ready for weathering.

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    64) First step with weathering is to start the peeling paint in little subtle places.

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    Prototype pic with peeling paint.

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    65) Front pilot detail painting next to be completed.

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    67) Subtle rust and peeling paint in various places started.

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    68) All decals are completed and sealed. Overall side view with weathering started.

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    70) Rear view with rust/peeling paint started.

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    71) Rear side view of railings.

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    73) Here’s a rare shot of something that’s never been seen before. (a C-855a coupled to a SD-70 ACe).

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    74) Couples up pretty well huh!

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    75) Speaking of rare views… Need I say more???

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    76) Here’s the weathering I’ll be shooting for when I complete the next part in this build.

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    More to come when time permits. I have more weathering, Light shots and Sound test video. Thanx Thom…
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Tom, great job!

    Comment


    • #3
      Tom wonderful work. And one of my favorite RR.
      Jerry



      "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." A. Lincoln

      Comment


      • #4
        Beautiful! That's impressive work, Tom.

        George
        The sky is not my limit, it's my playground.

        Comment


        • #5
          WOW Tom, I'm impressed with that step by step procedure.

          Interesting coupling between the two truck towers. looks like a spring for flex when running around curves. I guess it must be smooth since I didn't see any complaints about noise or vibration.

          Again great job on that up grade. It's getting me to want to redo a couple of Hobbytown projects I've got waiting in the wings.

          Bernd
          New York, Vermont & Northern Rwy. - Route of the Black Diamonds

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you Rick, George, Jerry & Bern,

            Bernie, I figured you and a couple others would pick up on that tower connection right away! When looking at both span bolster frame work you'll notice the added back material. I originally tried the towers apart rather than the finished together. That proved to be restricting in my turning radius' (I think it had a hard time going through #9-10 switches). So I turned the two outer towers inward together and they did much better.

            That produced another problem (the almost no space between worm shafts). So the original models had the springs on their worm shafts so I stole their design and used it on mine.

            The next (the main) requirement was always to have this model run smooth and quiet (and it does very well). I make all my engines run through the minimum #4.5 turnouts and 22" radius curves (although this will go thru a #4/18" 9/10 times) I don't build them for that and don't guarantee it.

            I have a few other Ideas on the "B" unit when I get around it. Worst case, I'll just copy what I did on the "A" unit then.
            T...

            Comment


            • #7
              Fantastic workmanship on this locomotive Tom. I can only agree with all before me. Great Job! Getting those baby's to navigate a 22" radius is a feat in itself.


              Louis L&R Western Railroad
              Pacific Northwest Logging in the East Coast

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you DD (desertdrover). While this was a much tougher build than I originally thought, it turned out well (even tho I'm not finished just yet)(I gots lots of weathering when time allows).
                Thanx Thom...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Nice work, C-855 always a favorite of mine.
                  Karl Scribner-Curmudgeon

                  Cedar Swamp
                  SW of Manistique, MI

                  AVATAR Image stolen from Model Train Stuff advertisement in my e-mail

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by k9wrangler View Post
                    Nice work, C-855 always a favorite of mine.



                    Special K~,
                    And now you know why I have 855 in my forum name.
                    Thanx Thom...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      excellent work ! thanks for sharing

                      Joe

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Joe,
                        You're welcome. Glad I could entertain a bit here. I'll post more on it when I finish the weathering.
                        Thanx Thom...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Beautiful loco!
                          Philip
                          Philip

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Philip View Post
                            Beautiful loco!
                            Philip


                            Thank you, Philip, I'm glad you liked it.
                            Thanx Thom...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Double wow! Outstanding work!

                              -Cody

                              Comment

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