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  •   Modelling
  • Building a Union Pacific SD60M from a Rail Power Products kit
  • Combin(ing) a Chivers Way Car with Boulder Valley Models combine sides
  •   Union Pacific
  • Union Pacific "Double Diesel" Locomotives
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  • [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Building a Union Pacific SD60M from a Rail Power Products kit

    Author: John Oxlade, Salfords, Surrey, UK (EMail: )

    When I visited the US over Easter 1997, I saw a double stack container train running down the Feather River Canyon in California, and was so taken with what I saw that I decided to try and model it.

    Not having seen a Rail Power 'kit' before, I ordered a 3-window shell and chassis, with the intention of seeing what I got for my money, and what additional parts I would need to make a model of UP #6207, the loco I saw on the front of the double stack train.


    I popped a question on the rec.models.railroad newsgroup, and got a few comments that basically the Rail Power shell is just that a shell, and the chassis is just a lump of metal. James D Thompson also offered me a lot of assistance on what parts I should look to get to complete the loco, but most importantly, suggested I get a copy of the 'Diesel Era' book on the SD60 (see References at the bottom of the article). Subsequently I have discovered that building an accurate model of an SD60(M) would be virtually impossible without this book. There are so many differences between batches (particularly on the Union Pacific as they have so many), that there is no way you could do a proper job without a good source of photographs. One area that the book is short of photographs on is the roof. There are very few shots to help with things like which way round the Q-fans should be fitted.

    Sure enough, when it arrived they were right. The chassis is simply a one-piece metal casting designed to take the trucks and other drive components from an Athearn SD40-2 or SD40T-2. The body shell is just the main body and a separate cab - presumably to cover the 2- and 3-window variants. RPP include a few extra parts like the fans, but basically its a 'raw' shell to which you add the parts to match your prototype. Most of the time it wouldn't be necessary to remove anything.

    I bought a complete SD40-2 as this is the quickest and probably cheapest way of getting the trucks and transmission in the UK, but it might be easier in the US to get just the trucks etc. Essentially, you only need the trucks from an Athearn SD40-2 or SD40T-2, but you also need longer drive shafts than normal, so the SD40T-2 is a better choice if you are going to buy a complete locomotive.

    There is more information on UP SD60Ms in the Union Pacific diesel locomotive section.

    Parts to model UP SD60M #6207 (a Phase 1c SD60M):

    Quantity Manufacturer Description Part number Notes
    1 Rail Power Products "3-window" SD60M shell and chassis #60-521
    1 Athearn SD40-2 or SD40T-2 (powered) various Either buy a complete locomotive, or the parts below, but not both.

    1 Athearn SD40-2 powered front truck #140-44011 You will need all 5 of these items if you do not buy a complete locomotive.
    i.e. Enough for 2 complete trucks.
    1 Athearn SD40-2 powered rear truck #140-44012
    2 Athearn Worm gear assemblies #140-34027
    1 various your choice of motor
    (I used one from A-Line)

    1 Run 8 3-window SD60M window glazing kit #1882
    1 A-Line Windscreen wipers #29200
    1 Cannon & Co. Free-flow blower #191-1601 This is optional. RPP include a blower moulding in the kit, but the Cannon & Co. part is better, but will require more work.
    1 Detail Associates Head & Tail lights #229-1003
    1 Detail Associates Bell #229-1202
    1 Detail Associates Cab Sunshades #229-1303
    1 Detail Associates MU Hoses #229-1508
    1 Detail Associates Speed recorders #229-2807
    1 Detail Associates Sinclair antenna #229-1803
    1 Detail Associates Q fans #229-2008 These are optional. RPP include Q fans in the kit, but the Detail Associates parts are much better, but will require more work.
    1 Detail Associates 52" fan #229-2007 This is optional, and should only be bought if you choose the Details Associates Q fans (see above).
    1 Detail Associates Grab irons #229-2202
    1 Detail Associates Coupler lift bars #229-2212
    1 Detail Associates Coupler lift bar brackets #229-102213
    1 Detail Associates Walkway guard #229-2219
    1 Detail Associates Wind deflectors #229-2310
    1 Detail Associates Sand fillers #229-3001
    1 Detail Associates Fuel tank fittings #229-3102
    1 Detail West "Firecracker" antenna #235-157
    1 Detail West Dash 2 electrical cabinet #235-161 I am not entirely sure this is the correct part. Only some SD60Ms have this, and it is not easy to see in photographs. It is however the right general shape and size.
    1 Detail West Coupler knuckle brackets #235-196
    1 Detail West Leslie 3-chime horn #235-190
    1 Detail West Ditch lights #235-229 The exact type of ditch lights used on UP SD60Ms do not appear to be available, but these parts are a close match, and are almost hidden by the snowplough.
    1 Detail West Snowplough #235-234 or #235-140
    1 Kadee Couplers #38
    1 Rail Power Products Long drive shafts #60-145 Only necessary if the donor locomotive was an SD40-2.
    1 Smokey Valley SD60M handrail kit #676-210

    General notes:

    A word of warning, if you can't find the Smokey Valley handrails, do not get the "Rail Detail Products handrail kit #104" as this is intended for a later model 2-window Rail Power SD60M body shell, not the 3-window version. There is a difference in the shape of the handrail behind the cab on the left/fireman's side. Rail Detail Products may well make a handrail kit for a 3-window SD60M, but kit #104 isn't it. Several of these packs contain more than one of the item, so if you were to detail more than one loco you wouldn't have to buy them all again.

    Click image for a larger version OK, the hard part (this can be skipped by the faint-hearted, or those who are happy with RPP's fans). Looking at the rear 3 fans over the radiators, use a drill of about 1mm diameter to drill out round the outside of the raised rim for RPP's fans. Take care and your time doing this. You'll then need a reamer or a file to open the holes out large enough for the Details Associates Q-fans to sit inside, but not so big that the hole shows under the fan. The DA fans have a lip on the bottom, and the hole in the body needs to be this big for them to fit flush. Align the fans so that the flattened side of each fan is next to each other (i.e. front and back, not along the sides).
    That was the easy bit. The difficult part is the 52" dynamic brake fan just behind the cab. This needs to be fitted from the inside. This gives you very little margin for error, as the whole of the hole (no pun intended) will be visible - no flange to cover your mistakes as you had with the Q-fans. I still ended up using a small amount of filler to conceal a few 'goofs'.

    There are prominent sand filler hatches on top of the noses of Phase 1c SD60Ms, and I was unable to find a detail part to match. I made some from a few small pieces of plasticard and Evergreen strip.

    Click image for a larger version
    Click image for a larger version This stage is optional, if you are happy with the RPP blower moulding, you can skip this step.

    Take the Cannon & Co. free-flow blower, and remove the back plate flush with the raised outside of the duct. The easiest way to do this is score around the blower duct with a sharp knife, snap away the flat plate, then clean up with a fine toothed file. You now need to reduce the depth of the back of the blower housing by the thickness of the plate you removed. Sand the back down on a piece of wet and dry paper until the blower housing will fit on the deck. It is also necessary to sand the bottom down a little so that the top will fit just below the panel detail on the RPP shell. Test fit the blower housing on the deck. You should find that in order for it to fit between the two holes for the handrail stanchions you will have to remove a small portion of the raised panel (with the bolt heads) in the bottom right corner of the main panel. It is essential that the blower housing fit exactly between the two handrail stanchions. Assemble the rest of the blower as per Cannon's instructions.

    From this point onwards, it is fairly straightforward, and it is largely a matter of applying the appropriate detail parts to match published photographs. It also depends on how far (i.e. to what level) you want to go with the detailing.

    Start out by drilling all of the pre-marked positions on the body for the grab-irons and handrail staunchions. You need to work from the parts which require the most physical effort to the more delicate parts so that you don't damage parts you fitted earlier. Fitting the snowplough and the handrail staunchions on the front and rear platforms should be done quite early during construction, the remaining staunchions can wait until a little later as they are quite flexible, and easily damaged.

    Drill the holes, but do not permanently fix the snowplough. You need to be able to remove the snowplough to fit the handrails, uncoupling bar, brake hoses and ditch lights. It will also make painting easier if the snowplough is removable.

    About 1990, the UP started fitting windows in the nose door of it's SD60Ms. I did not feel that I could do a neat enough job of cutting this window in the door, so I chose to leave it in its as-delivered condition. As of late 1999 / early 2000 the UP started plating over or blanking off the nose doors on many of it's locos, so this is an easy modification to make. Either leave the door flat for a "good" job, or apply a small panel over the former window location as appropriate.


    Click image for a larger version
    Click image for a larger version

    Fitting all of the handrails is probably the single most time consuming job, but getting it right can make all the difference.

    I chose to bend all of my handrails myself from 0.3mm diameter wire (smaller than the Smokey Valley supplied wire). This was very time consuming, and I had to remake several parts that I wasn't happy with. The one thing to make sure is that the straight parts of the handrails are straight, if there are any kinks in the wire, it will ruin the appearance of the whole model.

    On all SD60(M)s, there are a lot of visible cables running under the walkways on both sides. These show up in photographs, but whether you model them or not depends on how dedicated you are - they are a lot of work.

    It is necessary to file a small amount of plastic off of the front and rear of the trucks to clear the step assemblies. It is difficult to give accurate measurements of the amount to remove, but take off a small amount at a time and try to see if the trucks move freely.

    Additionally, on the left side of the front truck, there are two speed recorders, one fitted on the front and one on the rear journals. Check with photographs, and fit some of the flexible sleeving in the Details Associate pack to the truck sideframe. No two SD60Ms seem to have the cables in exactly the same location, so check with photographs.

    Fit the fuel tank details as one of the last steps as they are only glued on to the surface of the RPP tank casting and are easily damaged.


    Click image for a larger version
    Click image for a larger version It doesn't show well in this image, but there should be a length of chain (for the handbrake) going from the right-hand brake cylinder lever to the fitting to the right of the jacking pad. Again, check with photographs.
    Well, that about does it. Here are a couple of overall views of the finished model before painting. I have left the MU hoses off of the loco until after it is painted. Additionally, I have not yet installed the glazing or headlights. I intend to illuminate the head and ditch lights with a constant lighting circuit.
    Click image for a larger version Click image for a larger version


    no author listed. "EMD's SD60 Series", a 'Diesel Era' magazine special, Withers Publishing, 1996, ISBN 1-881411-08-7

    [ last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]