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Plastic shell modification?

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Plastic shell modification?
Posted by Mjorstad on Sunday, June 10, 2018 7:47 PM

Hello,

So I have an IHC 2-8-0.  Solid engine, but I just can't get over the absurd boiler shell.  I want to be able to modify it in some form, ideally remove the domes and smokebox door and add some brass detail parts in their place.  I've seen some kitbash projects on these forums and others on similar engines (such as a Bachmann Consolidation) where one or both domes were removed.  However, such projects conveniently never said how they did such removals.  So how does one go about modifying or removing domes, details, etc. from a plastic steam locomotive shell?  What kinds of tools and skills are needed?

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 8:02 PM

Welcome

Not sure whether that loco is all plastic or has a die cast boiler insert for weight. Either way, they can be shaped with hand tools: razor saws, files, drills, etc. Takes a lot of patience, though, if it's diecast metal.

Many folks will turn to their Dremel. With the right bits, it'll dig right through that stuff.

In both cases, you'll be working with a hard to hold item and sharptools. Be careful.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:16 PM

Hi, and Welcome too.

I have only made minor modifications to some steam boilers, one was a Tyco die-cast pacific from years ago.

My reason for replying was to suggest looking at some of the excellent results that one of the contributors here has accomplished, RDG Casey. 

Perhaps he will chime in here with some hints. He has a link to his Flickr photo postings in his signature and you can see some of the results of his work there.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60361449@N02/

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 3:30 AM

gmpullman
...My reason for replying was to suggest looking at some of the excellent results that one of the contributors here has accomplished, RDG Casey....

Ed, if i'm not mistaken, I think that most of RDG Casey's very nicely-done stuff is scratchbuilt on commercially available mechanisms, although that may be an option for the O.P.

Mjorstad
...I just can't get over the absurd boiler shell....

I'm wondering what you find so absurd about the boiler, other than, perhaps, the second sand box near the cab.  As far as I know, these locos have a plastic shell, so it shouldn't be too big of a deal to remove that and close the hole with some sheet styrene.

To remove the dome, a razor saw or hacksaw will work or a utility knife, or a cut-off disc in a motor tool, or perhaps a coarse mill file.
Once the area has been cleaned-up, use .010" or ;015" thick sheet styrene to make a patch to close the hole - pre-curve it to roughly match that of the boiler's interior, and cement it in place (inside the boiler) using solvent-type cement.  With the hole closed, next you'll need to make a filler to bring the exterior of that area up the the same level as the rest of the boiler.  While many would choose body putty, a filler plug made from sheet styrene is a better choice, in my opinion.  Depending on the boiler's thickness, you may have to use more than one thickness to accomplish this. 
To get the proper shape, place a small piece of paper over the area, then use a pencil, held as parallel as possible to the boiler, to rub around the opening.  This will give you a fairly close approximation of the size and shape needed.  Mark the rubbing to denote the front, then cut it from the sheet and use it as a pattern to transfer the shape to the sheet styrene. 
Add as many layers as necessary to get the area flush with the original surface of the boiler, cementing each, in-turn, using solvent-type cement.  Sheet styrene is available in thicknesses starting at .005", with increases by .005", .010", or .020", so you should be able to bring that area flush with little difficulty.  If your patches were a bit undersize, once all of them are in place, some filler should take care of any gaps.  I formerly used Testors or Sqadron putty, but I've found Bondo's Glazing and Spot Putty to be a better choice and more economical, too.

It comes in a tube, and often some the solvent has separated from the filler, so take care that the tube is upright when you remove the cap.  I use a small screwdriver to stir the contents somewhat, then simply draw out a glob of filler on the screwdriver's tip, transfer it to a suitable applicator, and apply it to the areas needed.  The filler dries quickly and is easily sanded.   For filling deep depressions, several light applications are preferrable to trying to do it in one.

Mjorstad
I've seen some kitbash projects on these forums and others on similar engines (such as a Bachmann Consolidation) where one or both domes were removed. However, such projects conveniently never said how they did such removals. So how does one go about modifying or removing domes, details, etc. from a plastic steam locomotive shell? What kinds of tools and skills are needed?

Here's a Varney cast metal boiler shell.  It was used on both their 10 Wheeler and Consolidation...

I used a hacksaw, mill files, and some needle files, along with a cut-off disc and cutting bits in a motor tool to remove the dome, piping, air reservoirs, and cab.  Here's another of the same type, after removal of the unwanted items...

...and here's one of the re-worked locos before painting, sitting on the running gear of a Bachmann Ten Wheeler...

You can do the same type of work on plastic locomotive...

...or a brass one...

Wayne

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 10:54 AM

Didn't the IHC 2-8-0 use the same shell as the old Tyco "Chattenooga Choo Choo" train set loco, which in turn I seem to remember was a slightly stretched version of a USRA 0-6-0 boiler/cab casting.  

If that is true maybe it is good news as those Tycos are practically given away at train shows and maybe for a few bucks you could find something to practice on.

Removing domes on plastic boilers -- usually the dome is largely if not entirely hollow so it leaves a gap that has to be filled, and that can be tricky to get right.  One guy I know filled the dome with plastic putty first so that when he cut it down and then filed it down to the level and contour of the boiler itself, he was eventually filing the putty.  He didn't claim it was easy or worked every time.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 15, 2018 8:12 PM

Welcome to the Model Railroader forums. Your first few posts are slowed by moderators before they are posted, but that will end soon enough. Please stick around with us.

.

To remove a steam dome or sand box I work from the inside of the boiler with a rotary rasp in a dremel tool to remove most of the dome. Then I carfully clean off what is left with X-Acto knife blades and files.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 15, 2018 8:28 PM

 Dr. Wayne is correct, Casey's boiler shells are rolled from sheet styrene and then various bits are cut out to clear common commercial mechanisms - IHC, Bachmann, P2K, etc. He did a clinic on it at the Reading Modelers Meet a few years ago and made it look super easy. He also had a display of most of his locos, they were all beautiful models, and most of the models he does aren't available other than in brass.

                                       --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, June 15, 2018 9:28 PM

I’ve kitbashed several Rivarossi steam locomotive shells using Xacto blades and my Dremel cutoff disks.  They get easier the more you do.
 
This is a Rivarossi Cab Forward that I kitbashed into an AC-9.
 
 
 
The picture above shows the domes removed.  The AC-9 has a streamline skyline, I chopped up Bachmann GS4 shells to make the AC-9 skyline.  Both the AC-9 and the GS4s were made by Lima and used the same skyline.
 
 
Here is my blog link to the AC-9 kitbash project.
 
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, June 16, 2018 1:05 AM

rrinker
Dr. Wayne is correct, Casey's boiler shells are rolled from sheet styrene and then various bits are cut out to clear common commercial mechanisms

I agree.

My main thought was his skillful use of styrene and filler material — AKA Squadron putty — to achieve the end results that he aims for.

doctorwayne
Ed, if i'm not mistaken, I think that most of RDG Casey's very nicely-done stuff is scratchbuilt on commercially available mechanisms, although that may be an option for the O.P.

As Wayne points out, that may be a good option for the OP. I just thought that by seeing RDG Casey's results would be an inspiration for him to start his project.

I've seen bargain "grab-bags" of boiler shells and mechanisms at train show swap meets at reasonable cost that would make good fodder for practice or "scratch-bashing" a decent locomotive.

Cheers! Ed

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Posted by Southgate on Saturday, June 16, 2018 1:50 AM

I scrutinized a very clear on-line picture of the IHC model, and a Tyco "Chattanooga choo choo" in hand. They very much appear to be the same boiler body. Plastic. I compared pictures of the USRA 0-8-0, (as I'm sure that D K Nelson meant to say) and yes, the Tyco comes out a bit longer in the wheel base and the boiler. Otherwise, the boiler proportions check out fine. And the sand domes look a lot like some of the variations in the book. (Model Railroader Cyclopedia Vol 1 Steam Locomotives)

Personally, I've always liked the overall proportions and look of this model. Whether Tyco or IHC.  Some of the molded on details cry for replacement, but, I like to hope it would result in a decent model. Especially since I have one as a WIP project.Cool

With more than 23,000 Consolidations having been built, some as late as into the '30s, ya wouldn't have to go too far out on a limb to imagine this model came close to at least a small number of them out there. 

Maybe give it another chance?

Dan

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