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Let’s Kitbash a GE 80 Ton Centercab Diesel Switcher!

May 23, 2011

HO scale GE 80 Ton Centercab Diesel

It started as a pile of extra shells from making some of my Boxcab locomotive conversions. I didn’t really want a fleet of homely 70Tonners either, but I was always a fan of the larger centercabs. The US Army, Airforce and Navy all rostered plenty of these types of units and many found their way into shortline or tourist lines after their lives in the military. Some were even built new for Steel Mills and the occasional railroad.

I try to make my kitbashes as self-contained as possible, using as few outside detail parts as possible, so feel free to go farther and more ornate then I did. I wanted to make this an easy, relatively inexpensive project for someone who has a razor saw and a few hours time. Things you’ll need for this project are:
-2 Bachmann 70 Tonner Diesel Shells
-1 70 Tonner Drive (the new one is preferrable as it has DCC)
-Styrene Tubing for the exhaust stacks or the spark arrestor detail part seen on the model
-an Airhorn casting. (either single note mounted on each hood or a 3-chime atop the cab)
-A thin .010″ piece of styrene

Since this model was perhaps the first of many, I was experimenting on how best to build the long hoods. The best method is cutting each shell behind the 5th door from the front of the hood. This should produce the desired length of hood to make it equal length and make it snugly onto both end platforms. Secondly, along the mold parting lines on the cab, you have to remove the front of one cab and the rear of the other, so you have side-door access for the centercab on both ends. I used a LONG and rather deep ZONA razor saw to make the clean cuts along the hood. The plastic is thankfully pretty soft and cuts easily. Apply constant pressure to ensure the blade cuts flush with the walkways.

Another note: Make sure you save the handrails from both shells by taking an exacto-knife and carefully cutting off the bottom of each upright handrail stanchion. You can also just use old Athearn handrails for more sturdyness or use finer-scale stanchions with brass wire for that extra detail.

Be sure to lightly sand the bottom of the hoods you just cut to ensure they’re perfectly flat and ready for mounting on the shell. Also sand the half of the shell with the walkway so that there’s no leftover cutaways or flash. Once you have all the parts cut out, time to glue them together with typical model glue. I use the Model Master cement with the needle applicator. DO NOT GLUE THE HOODS TO THE WALKWAY, just glue the hoods to the cab and test-fit them on the walkway. Once you’re satisfied that the hoods are down flush with the walkway, set the hood/cab part aside and then go in with a piece of acetate or thin styrene. Lay the Styrene onto the flushly-sanded walkway, and cut to fit. for additional detail, look to see if manufacturers like Plano make treaded walkway. Attach the exhaust stacks, horn and any other details prior to painting.

You can use the stock fuel tank, but to conform to the 80 tonner look, I removed it and just put two pieces of .040″ styrene against the metal weight to model the smaller rectangular tank found on these units.

I then primed it with some Rustoleum clean metal primer (it shoots on quite thin and provides a nice primer layer for the slippery plastic bachmann uses)

Next, Paint! I just used weathered black . After the paint dries gloss it, decal it, weather it and then seal it with dullcote. I used some leftover Microscale ATSF Caboose decals for the stenciled numbers. Stick the glass back in the cab, and then glue or attach the hood/cab assembly to the frame assembly, and you’re ready to run.

For fun, using the leftover parts I kitbashed a little “modern” Electric flat motor, so no parts go to waste. It also shows the removed rear of the other cab attached to this model.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 24, 2011 2:29 am

    Now I have a use for all my old shells. Thanks for the great idea!!!

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