Creating Custom Snow Plows

Article reposted by the generous authorization of Pat Durand's son Casey.

Yes, you too can build Alaska Railroad snow plows.  Do it just like the railroad did, one at a time.   You will notice that there are no two plows exactly alike except on the SD70MAC units.   A template and a few examples are included here to help you get started.

The template can be printed on your computer printer at whatever scale you want.  Just blow it up or shrink it down until the printer output matches your scale ruler when laid over the template ruler.

Home Made Radiator Curtains

Article reposted by the generous authorization of Pat Durand's son Casey.

Keeping diesel engines warm in Alaska's severe winter weather was a constant battle. You will notice weather curtains mounted over most radiator intakes on early units, Alco S2, RS1, RSD1, 1070's, etc.

Construction of a Railflyer Model Prototypes Chassis Bundle

Since the Railflyer bundles do not come with instructions I'm placing this article online. It should aide in the construction of a frame bundle.

If you have not yet heard of the Railflyer project, then you're missing out!  Railflyer is slowly releasing a full modular kit of sorts, to construct a full, to scale, 1:87.1 diesel locomotive.  This article will be accompanied by a number of other articles as I collect the parts from Railflyer, allowing you a online "instruction" of sorts.

The Frame / Walkway Module + Scale Profile Fuel Tank Bundle is the "main" bundle needed to start a locomotive.  To order one for yourself head on over to Ebay and see if there are any popping up!.  You can order a frame to model the GP38/39/40, GP38AC, GP38-2/39-2/40-2, SD38-2/40-2.  Canadian wide cabs were included.  The frames should work for SD45-2, F59PH/PHI and GP50, however Railflyer does not make additional parts for those, as of November 2008.

This bundle consists of frame/walkway module, and a fuel tank module.

Scratchbuilding a Santa Fe SD24 Slug

Building a Santa Fe SD24 slug, from the walkways up.

Santa Fe built numerous 6 axle slugs on the chassis of former Union Pacific SD24B's. These and their larger SD40 built slugs number in the 20's, and appear in quite a few Santa Fe (and now BNSF) yards.

FP7 Steam Generator Housing

Article reposted by the generous authorization of Pat Durand's son Casey.

The Alaska Railroad's three FP7 locomotives, 1510, 1512 and 1514 were fitted at the factory with a unique stack assembly over the steam generator. I believe these were a cold weather adaptation that may appear on some NP, GN and Canadian FP units as well. I have not found any drawings of the housing. With all three locomotives gone, we modelers were left with lousy photographs from which to imagineer these devices.


BNSF rebuilt several ex ATSF GP35us into GP39-3. Athearn or Kato doesn't make the BNSF GP39-3 in HO so one was made from an Athearn GP35.

The unit started out as an Athearn GP35 in Santa Fe colors which I had bought from one of my friends named Tyler Brett in 2011. In the middle of 2012, I gathered a lot of locos I didn't use anymore, and put them in storage pending deposition. In early 2013, I made the decision for this unit to be overhauled into a BNSF GP39-3. So I mailed this along with some cars and locos to custom painter named Kevin Marshall. The middle fan was removed, ditch lights on both ends were installed, nose headlights installed and of course was repainted in BNSF Heritage 3 paint scheme. So a BNSF GP39-3 was born.


The BNSF C44-9W has been the mainstream power on BNSF as well as the GEVO locomotives. As the oldest C44-9Ws turned twenty, the time had come to rebuild or retire them. So BNSF had twenty of the former ATSF Dash 9s rebuilt. The result: AC44C4M, and an HO model was built as well.

An HO AC44C4M was made, but how?

Nose Headlight for a Dash 8-40B

Recently I was asked to build a model of BNSF 577, a blue bonnet Dash 8-40B, with a nose headlight.  The Atlas model used, only came with the high headlight.

Moving headlights seems to be my specialty, but I usually end up having to move a headlight into the nose of an EMD product.  This would be my first GE move on a nose (I've done a move on a rear headlight on an ES44DC before).

Modeling a CN Big Blue Dash 8

A step by step way of turning a rare locomotive into an excellent model

Dash 8-40CWs in Conrail Blue have been beloved by railfans. Today, since CSX and NS have finished repainting their Dash 8-40CWs from Conrail colors to their respective colors. The only blue Dash 8-40CWs are owned by CN and have CN markings, but are still popular with rail fans old and new. Atlas did a run of the CN Blue Dash 8-40CWs years ago, but those are rare and hard to find. Here, we will turn one of those engines into a high-quality replica of one of those blue Dash 8s in service today.

The first step is to get a CN blue Dash 8 from Atlas.

Applying Commercial Automotive Transmission Lubricants to Model Railroad Gears

Save some money, one quart of ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) will last you though hundreds of locomotives, and years of service.

When test running some new locomotives of mine, I noticed a few noisy offenders and decided it was time to lubricate them.

LaBelle makes some awesome lubricant, but at $5 a bottle, its expensive.  Thinking back, I remember a certain thread on a forum, discussing using ATF.  Here's what I found.

  • One quart bottle of ATF, $2.19 at Auto Zone.
  • Two plastic, curved tip syringes from a Hobby Store, $4.95
  • Cap from an empty 1 gallon Gatorade bottle, $1.50 (cost of Gatorade!)

Carefully pour just a little bit of ATF into the bottle cap.  Using the syringe, suck up that ATF.  Carefully, and sparingly, dispense the ATF onto the gears of a gear box.

After some minor running, the noise should go away.  If it does not, then its time to completely dismantle the gear box, and re-lubricate every point of motion.

©2008/2020, Josh Baakko,