Little Big Critter

By Dave Wingrove

Dave Wingrove's at it again, this time with a beautiful bash of an HO IHC center cab diesel.

It all started with a trip to a local hobby shop. There in a glass case staring up at me was this little HO center-cab critter. It immediately appealed to me as bashing fodder; it was only $20, so I took it home. The side of the box labeled it as an International Hobbies Corporation M505 CANTERCAB MILWAULKEE (that IS how they spelled it). I was pleased to find it is a smooth and powerful runner and all four wheels are drive wheels. Unfortunately it seems that this engine is no longer in production so one would have to watch for one on E-Bay, at the LHS, or at train shows.

On to the bashing! First I disassembled the cab from the mechanism and the cab from the deck and undercarriage. I then carefully cut the cab out with a razor saw and a sharp hobby knife and cleaned up the edges with a fine file. I constructed cab walls from .020 think plain sheet styrene and cut openings for the doors and windows and removed the material in the front and back walls where the mechanism would pass through. I used Tichy Train Group HO scale work car windows #8068 inside-out with the sills filed off both on the doors and front and back windows. The side windows are Grandtline 2 pane windows from the #3772 attic window set.

Once the cab was complete I checked it for fit on the deck and then glued the front and back engine compartments to the cab. I checked for fit again and set that assembly aside.

It took a little thinking but I wanted to use steps on this critter. I assembled 4 sets of Grandtline #3818 21 passenger car steps. I then fabricated two new pilots plates to cover the existing ones and notched them out to clear the coupler pocket. I added L extensions to these plates and glued the steps into the resulting corner, flush with the top. I cut a new wider deck from Plastruct O scale diamond plate sheet and cut the opening in the middle to match the mechanism and cab and long enough so the corners of the new deck were cut out to match the steps. Then I glued the deck to the cab/motor housing assembly and glued the step/pilot plate assemblies to the bottom of the front and back of the deck. Then I added a strip of girder to the underside of the sides of the deck, between the two pilot ends. This whole assembly would now fit onto the undercarriage to which I added some plates on the sides of each end for additional support.

Then I built up 2 new pilots out of ..040 thick styrene sheet backed by .080x.156 rectangular stock, creating a new coupler pocket opening in the process. I sanded the pilots smooth and shaped them with rounded edges. These were glued to the front and back of the deck/step/cab assembly. Styrene material was added in the space between the pilots and inner plates to bring it flush with the coupler pockets and provide a base into which a hole for the coupler screw to be drilled. I assembled 2 Kadee #5 couplers, glued the coupler box covers on them with ACC, and trimmed the ears off with a knife. Now when the whole thing was assembled the couplers were inserted in the pilots and once screwed in, holds everything together.

Now I disassembled the two main components, the body and the undercarriage with the mechanism attached by removing the couplers again. I painted the undercarriage with POLY Scale Tarnished black (with a brush) and sprayed a couple coats of Krylon Gray Primer on the body. Then three coats of a blend of Blue and Green POLLY Scale paint were brushed onto the body.

Next I fashioned two headlights from Styrene tubing and after painting the insides silver, fitted them with YELO-GLO LEDs. Then glued them to the body over holes I drilled for the LED wires and painted them with the Blue/Green color and wired them to the mechanism with a watt, 1K-Ohm resistor. I fashioned an exhaust pipe which I later changed to include a horizontal muffler to move the exhaust to one side to be out of the way of the front mounted bell (PSC #40118.1) that I attached to the front wall of the cab. Clear plastic was installed inside the cab windows with Testors clear parts cement. I fashioned a cover for the guts inside the cab ala etched brass style by scoring and folding a piece of thin sheet styrene into a 3 sided cover. I painted and glued in the engineer. I then cut, pre-bent and glued on the roof, having painted the underside Tarnished black first. Then I painted the underside outside the cab the Blue/Green and the topside and edges Tarnished black.

The railings were constructed from .020 brass wire. I bent them and laid them out on a drawing and soldered the middle support rails to the railing, then finished the joints with small needle files. I broke one while installing it and put a new one together with an ACC joint that I found to work equally well. The railings ends are then all fitted with Grandtline #139 1 Nut w/ 4 cast iron washers-cored for .020 wire (slid up out of the way for now and pre-painted tarnished black). It is a neat way to install the railings because you can drill a slightly oversize hole, position the railings where you want them, fasten them with a tiny drop of ACC on a toothpick, and slide the casting down onto the glue.

I applied the numbers and B&W letters with dry transfer lettering. For the final finish of the critter I applied the Rustall 4 part weathering system using only a light application of the rust wash and a double application of the black wash. Then I applied touches of Bragdon weathering powders, rubbed in with a small stiff brush, to add some more rust around the steps and bolts on the pilots, and on the undercarriage as well as some black and gray powders over the lettering to take the whiteness down a bit.

This was a fun and satisfying kit-bash that was not overly complicated and employed techniques that I have learned mainly from observation and discussion on the On30Conspiracy group. To me the On30Conspiracy has become a place of many mentors all worthy of credit.

I would like to especially thank Allen Littlefield, who was perhaps the very first to teach me by example that the group was all about encouragement, sharing, and celebrating the fun of On30! Also my thanks goes to Larry Rickert, author of the On30 Model Railroading Page for indulging me in the opportunity to share this project with these words.

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This page updated January 17, 2005
Webpage © Larry Rickert
Photographs and text © David Wingrove