Modeling a Metrolink F59PHI

From John Deere to Metrolink. Athearn John Deere F59PHI from a Wal*mart train set, to Metrolink #884.

When I first saw the Wal*mart Athearn John Deere train set, I had my eye on an F59PHI from one.  I'm modeling Cajon pass, from San Bernardino to Barstow, with Metrolink terminating at San Bernardino. To search out, and pay for a decorated F59PHI takes time, AND money. Undecorated models run the same. This train set allowed me to get it cheep, $49 when I bought it.


Making a 3 pane All-weather Window

How I made a 3 pane window

Short how-to on making 3 pane all-weather windows.

During the detailing of an SD9-3 I recently received off of a custom order, I realized, that there was NO 3 pane all-weather window available [Ed. This article is from October of 2006, as of 2019 Athearn sells a 3 pane].  So, I went out to my local hobby shop and picked up two packs of Details Associates all-weather windows, Walthers stock #

I then cut one of the panes in half from each frame, and glued them together, creating the middle pane of the 3 pane window.  After considerable drying, and some Testors Silver, I attached it to the unit.

I'll post a picture or two later if I can restore the lost photos from the old website software.

©2006, 2020, Josh Baakko,

Scratch-bashing a Locomotive Pilot

How I made new pilots for my Bachmann Spectrum DD40AX

Simple quick tutorial on constructing new pilots, in two different ways. This article refers to HO scale, but can be used in other scales if you'd like.

Modeling P&W 2008

P&W 2008 is a GP38-2, which I built for a customer.

Paint & Weathering Athearn GP38-2 stripped, detailed, and painted for P&W 2008.

A customer of mine requested a semi-detailed GP38-2 modeling Providence & Worcester #2008. #2008 was purchased new by P&W, and originally was painted orange & white. P&W switched to this, brown & orange scheme, and subsequently all units have been repainted.

The basis of this article is to inform other potential modelers of the colors I used to paint this unit. However I'll also supply a list of details used.

The customer provided an Athearn GP38-2 in BN colors. The orange paint is Boyd "Sunburst", the brown is Model Master "Raw Umber". Decals are Microscale, MC-4067.

Creating a Hanging MU Cable

Railroads don't always store MU cables in dummy plugs on the pilot of locomotives.

Some time ago, maybe 2015 time frame, I noticed several BNSF locomotives in Victorville CA, with MU cables hanging from the pilot handrail stanchions.  Recently I decided to model this on a locomotive I was building for a friend.


Painting Fine Mesh Grills (HO & Smaller)

How I painted the Fine Mesh etched grills for my SD50F

Just showing you an interesting way to get a good paint coat on fine mesh grills. Very useful for HO & smaller scale, scratch or kit builders.

During the process of building my Kaslo HO Scale SD50F, I realized I needed a way to paint the fine mesh grills included in the kit. Kaslo says to paint them before install, so this is what I chose to do.

I picked up two of these Elmer's "Painters" from Wal*Mart one black, one silver, for detail use on my models. I use the silver to do the window frames on many units. The black got used here. They also have a other basic colors, but RR specific colors, such as BNSF green, or Santa Fe blue will not be there.

Construction & painting of a BNSF GP7u

Step 1 Unpainted
Step 2 Primer
Step 3 Blue
Step 4 Yellow
Step 5 Blue and Yellow
Step 6 Decals and Bonnet
Step 7 Some Details

Step 1
This unit began as a Life Like Proto 2000 GP7 highnose. The cab was constructed from an Athearn non-dash 2 cab, and some styrene. The nose is chopped down from the high nose, and the head light has been built into the nose. The chassis weight also had to be cut down.

The Beginnings of a BNSF (BN) GP28M

I've chosen to use a Life-Like Proto 2000 GP20 chassis, and Kato Walkway

The Morrison–Knudsen built for BN, GP28M has its beginnings in retired GP9 and GP18 models from EMD.  I've been tossing around the idea of building one, because they looks like a cross between a GP35 frame, and GP38 hood.  But that's not the case!  That's only where the complexity begins.

The GP7/9/18/20 all share a common frame length and truck centers.  The GP28/30/35 again share a common frame and truck centers.  Where the confusion begins to arrive is the frame length! Every EMD GP from the 7 through the 35 line shared a common frame length, but to accurately model the GP28M, not the EMD built GP28, we need the correct frame length and truck spacing.

Removing Athearn Blue Box or RTR Trucks, Simplified.

Something I've been thinking about adding for some time now, finally got around to it. More Athearn topics to come.

Installing Cannon Fans on a Kato Shell

This article focuses on Kato HO Scale shells, however the technique doubles for Athearn Blue box, or any model with cast on fans.

Kato, and Athearn in their earlier models (some current RTR and Roundhouse too) used a fan on diesel locomotive that was cast on to the model in the shell molding process.  While these are often well detailed, they cannot match the detail and scale fidelity of Cannon & Co see through fans.