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:
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):
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:
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!).