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Athearn U36B Blue Box Locomotive Modification - Show and Tell - NEW PHOTOS

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Athearn U36B Blue Box Locomotive Modification - Show and Tell - NEW PHOTOS
Posted by cmarchan on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3:15 PM

I have several Athearn BB locos from my childhood; this one was purchased in NYC at the Red Caboose (no longer in business) in 1974. I was just glad to get anything in SCL. The unit originally looked like this:

Athearn U36B - only numbers were changed

 Original Rear appearance

The numbers were changed by me on the unit above; this is the second unit.

 Years later, 30 years in fact, I decided to make some modifications to 1733 (original unit):

Rear View mod

btw, some may recognize this unit as my avatar

The U-Boat stated to look closer than the original; but there were some things I wanted to improve, especially since I run this unit with other U-Boats in my fleet from Atlas and Proto 2000. I remembered the cool article written by John Edwards in the August 1988 issue of MR on U36B's and the MATEs (special GE road slug). After wearing out the article and several copies of prototype photos, I went further:

 Final Modification Stage

UPDATED PHOTOS HERE:

I realized the SEABOARD COAST LINE lettering was'nt quite right, so I removed the old and replaced it with the lettering from the Microscale SCL set as it is setup for U-Boats; the standard EMD style lettering has more space between the letters. More weathering was added, with washes of gray and my dirty water mix of earth and rail tie brown from Pollyscale

Most of the mods from John Edward's article were applied. Some did not apply as this is an SCL era unit and not Seaboard System. Some of the changes:

1. Handrails were fabricated from brass .015 wire; Utah Pacific stanchions were used.
2. Pilots were rebuilt with styrene and Tichy rivets; the buffer plate was kitbashed with styrene and Details West parts.
3. All lettering was replaced with Microscale decals; numberboard decals were printed on decal film using a laser printer. The rear numberboards were added by using numberboard blank decals and custom numbers previously mentioned.
4. All "window glass" was hand cut from clear styrene.
5. Molded-on grab irons were replaced with brass wire types.
6. The unit was not completely repainted. much of the paint is original.
7. Weathered with pastel chalks and PollyScale acrylics.
8. DCC and sound installed; all MARS lights and headlights operate.

Yes, there are other options out there, chop up an Atlas U23B and U36C shell or U30B and U36C combo; but I wanted to share some ideas for other BB owners who like to detail units and would like to make them look more like the diesel locos available today. I hope someday Athearn, Atlas, or Proto 2000 will make a modern version of this model. For my era and modeling, I'd gladly exchange a wheelbarrow of money for a fleet of them; especially the bicentennial unit 1776 (which btw was the country's first delivered in that scheme in 1971!).

Carl in Florida - - - - - - - - - - We need an HO Amtrak SDP40F and GE U36B !

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 5:20 AM

 Carl,

Outstanding craftsmanship! This looks nothing like an Athearn Blue Box unit and more closely resembles a well detailed brass unit.  IMHO, this would be a prize winner at a prototype modelers exhibition.

The thinner wire handrails and grab irons stand out and look much more realistic. You got rid of the cab roof vents, added the firecracker antenna and a Leslie 5-chime horn.

Excellent job on the decals and the weathering.  This looks like so many of the SCL U-Boats I saw hauling phosphate trains and long stretches of Trailer Train manifests. I always got a kick out of how loud they chugged at full throttle. Music to me ears. Headphones

Neat thing about this thread is that currently a good number of modelers (myself included) have been mailing Walthers, InterMountain, and Atlas urging them to produce a U36B/U33B as this particular type of GE has a significant history.  (The first Bicentennial diesel was a U36B, The 1970s "Auto Train" was hauled by U36Bs, the famous "Tropicana Juice Train, U36Bs often "pinch-hit" for Amtrak trains on the east coast when their aging E-units conked out.  Several other roads, including the Rock Island and Penn Central owned these high horsepower chuggers as well.  The U36Bs even made it into CSX and some survive in the hands of regional railroads.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=98026&nseq=8

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=260053&nseq=12

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=260263&nseq=11

Over on the Atlas forum there's an active thread on this subject.

Carl, thanks so much for sharing. I have two Blue Box U-Boats left and decided a while back to give one a prototype style makeover.  Your photos are excellent references and should be on a magazine.

High Greens CoolCaptainThumbs Up 

 

 

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by SSW9389 on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 6:59 AM

The last four U36Bs that Auto Train ordered were delivered as Conrail #2971-2974. These were Conrail's first new locomotives.

COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
DJO
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Posted by DJO on Thursday, October 22, 2009 6:49 AM

thats what we call good work! only thing missing is the belching smoke. i think the Rock Island had these 4 axel GE types back in the day.  why are they called uboats?  I remember they were loud but boy did they run fast!   I wouldnt mind have 2 or 3 of them in ho.

DJ Route of the Zephyr
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Posted by SSW9389 on Thursday, October 22, 2009 1:55 PM

Terry Kirkland photographed this phosphate train in Florida led by a U36B. The unit is followed by a MATE and a U18B.

 

 

COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
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Posted by Catt on Thursday, October 22, 2009 3:56 PM

[Quote]  Why are they called uboats? [Unquote]

The u in uboat stands for Universal Series which is what GE called this seriers of locos

Johnathan(Catt) Edwards  (My railroad's logo) Co-founder of The North American Rail Alliance A purrveyer of Possible Actualities
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Posted by aloco on Friday, October 23, 2009 2:40 AM

Athearn never made a blue box U36B, so I'm assuming that this loco is modified to represent a U36B. 

Bachmann did a U36B, but it was a piece of junk with a pancake motor.

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Friday, October 23, 2009 6:51 PM

Aloco,

It's an Athearn U33B.  The prototype 33 and 36 series look very similar although there are some minor exterior differences.  On the prototypes the 36 put out an additional 300 horses. I was fortunate to have seen them in action. It was amazing to view mile long+ phosphate trains pulled with only 2 U36Bs and a slug sandwiched in between them for the added traction.  Even with their minor teething problems, SCL management sure liked them.   The above photo certainly stirs up some fond memories. Cool

I re-read the thread more slowly this time and am amazed that this unit was purchased in 1974!        35 years old, and now looking and running far better than when she was new, and equipped with sound, to boot.  HeadphonesThumbs Up

It's projects like this that make this hobby so enjoyable. SmileBig SmileThumbs Up

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by SSW9389 on Sunday, October 25, 2009 8:19 AM
The term "Uboat" has been attributed to a Rock Island Silvis Shop employee. What he said stuck as a nickname for GE's Universal Series of diesel locomotives.
COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Sunday, October 25, 2009 8:43 PM

 SSW, thanks for that info.  "U-Boat" has always been very catchy, but I've wondered over the years  why a class of locomotives would be nicknamed after WW1 and II German submarines which were "infamous" for sinking hundreds of allied ships.

On another note, for those of us into sound:

For Seaboard Coast Line U33 and U36 units, the majority of them used the Leslie RS5T-RR0 5-chime horn. I know that there may be arguments as to which sound decoder would be the best.  Although I have my issues with the Tsunami, Soundtraxx offers the Leslie RS5T horn sound, which is extremely close. Basically the RS5T-RR0 horn is a variation of the RS5T, with differences in the direction the trumpets face.

I am glad to see that Seaboard Coast Line's popularity on forums has been increasing.  This is the road that was among the great success stories during the Penn Central era.  Also did a great job with high quality passenger service right up until the formation of Amtrak.  http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=75989&nseq=3

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by stokesda on Monday, October 26, 2009 10:15 AM

Very cool! What a timely coincidence, because I also have one of these models that I'm trying to do the same thing to. I'm definitely bookmarking this thread for future reference.

I grew up in central Florida in the 80's, so my earliest and fondest train memories are of the wonderful black SCL locos rumbling through the countryside. Of course by then they were all SBD or Family Lines, but many still wore the black SCL scheme, even into the CSX era.

My dad bought this partuclar model when I was a kid sometime in the 80's. It's been in a box in his attic until I rescued it last year and decided to give it a new lease on life.

 

Dan Stokes

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Posted by DJO on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 6:45 AM

much obliged for the info on how these engines got the uboat name.  another thing.  how do you all know how to tell these train wistles apart?  thinking about it there sure is a lot of different train wistle sounds but how do you know what railroad used what?

DJ Route of the Zephyr
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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 5:07 PM

This, imho, is one of the best websites for learning about the various types of locomotive horns on American and Canadian units, past and present. 

http://atsf.railfan.net/airhorns/

There are audio clips available that enable web surfers to sample various horn types. ( I think you must have a media player already installed on your computer to listen to the sounds).  

For me, knowing what type of horn specific prototype railroads used on their locomotives makes modeling with sound even more enjoyable 

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Sunday, November 08, 2009 1:30 PM

 I felt that this YouTube clip would be very appropriate for this thread.  Compare the weathering on Carl's model to the prototype U36B leading the SCL hot-shot fast freight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Spvd469P-ck

 

 

 


"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by cmarchan on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 8:25 AM

Thanks to all for the feedback. I should have titled the thread Athearn U33B modification; thanks Aloco for the FYI. The Athearn model fits the late model 33's and early 36's; the SCL 1776 was a later phase and the model is inaccurate for this locomotive; BTW, a little background on the Bicentennial:

SCL actually received a Bumble Bee (BLACK and yellow) 1776 locomotive in the 1st order (there were 4). Realizing the country's Bicentennial was coming, the SCL brass decided to have a special locomotive built to commemorate the event. It was delivered in 1971 in the red, white and blue scheme. There are records showing GE spend extra effort to make sure this loco was to be made with the utmost care. It was outfitted for trackside display and celebrations: floodlights on the walkways, two shiny brass bells; one mounted under the cab numberboards; a collapsible platform; carpet on the cab floor.

SCL U36B

The original 1776 was renumbered to 1813. The 2nd 1776 represented the 3rd order - the pilot and the longer scalloped area behind the inner step handrails are spotting features.

This unit traveled the country, making an impact on the entire railroading world. It started the flood of me too units from the other RRs. Several "fantasy" models were created from AHM, Tyco and others. 

Sadly, this unit was not preserved and was scrapped. The original 1776 (1813) is still around as a TTi unit.

Carl in Florida - - - - - - - - - - We need an HO Amtrak SDP40F and GE U36B !

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Posted by Allen Jenkins on Thursday, December 31, 2009 1:18 AM

I've heard about the Rock Island Silvas Shops employee.  I remember that he called them "U-boats" because the sound the engine made reminded him of the sound of the WWII German U-boats....he was about as fond of one as much as the other!

Allen/Backyard
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Posted by DJO on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 8:53 AM

found a Atlas b30-7 ho in ok shape.  Is the body the same as the u36-b?

DJ Route of the Zephyr
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Posted by sandusky on Wednesday, May 08, 2013 8:38 AM

Allen Jenkins

I've heard about the Rock Island Silvas Shops employee.  I remember that he called them "U-boats" because the sound the engine made reminded him of the sound of the WWII German U-boats....he was about as fond of one as much as the other!

His experience probably had less to do with the adoption of the designation by the railroader/railfan/model railroading community at large than the fact that it was a shortening of the game given by the manufacturer............

Mike

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Posted by Southgate on Saturday, May 11, 2013 1:54 AM

Nice work on the Athearn. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one still running these old growlers. Dan

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Posted by zstripe on Saturday, May 11, 2013 4:04 AM

I thought,the Italians,came up with the u-boats?? ''Is thatta u boat''? ''Naw,,That's notta,my boat'!! LOL.

Cheers,

Frank

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, May 11, 2013 5:33 AM

Carl,Great job on a old locomotive..Thumbs Up

I wish there was more modeling topics like this..

Thanks for sharing.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

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