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MPC steam locomotive "The General" 1:25 scale by Popeye the Sailor

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I think this will interest a lot of train enthusiasts.......even I was a bit surprised,  when I opened this present on Christmas morning.  this is a 2015 reissue by Round 2 models,  of the 1980's MPC kit.

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I had always marveled at these kits......at the time,  there were a few on the market......but I shied away from { as I did with wooden kits},  thinking that I couldn't give them the quality job they deserved.   trains in the early 1800's were inadequate to the rough terrain,  as miles of railroad track were laid down during the fast paced railroad expansion period.the biggest Achilles heel of the American locomotive,  was that the driver and idler wheels were all in a fixed position on the train's frame.  it wasn't until 1836,  that a fellow named Henry Campbell invented the swivel truck for the idler wheels,  giving the suspension more maneuverability,  so the train could better navigate curves in laid track.  this meant,  the tighter the radius of the turn,  the wheel could flex to accept the curvature..........with the earlier suspension set up,  most trains would derail,  if the forces were too great for the wheels to stay on the track.   this wheel arrangement was so named the 4-4-0 arrangement.  by 1885,  around 85% of all locomotives were set up with this arrangement.

   this particular locomotive played a roll in the civil war........comical as it may have looked.   the Andrew's raid or also known as The Great Locomotive Chase,  happened in 1862,  by a fellow named James Andrews.   he was a Union raider and came up with the idea to steal a train,  cutting rail communications between Atlanta and Chattanooga,  and burning a few bridges while they were in the neighborhood.   the keen thing here,  is that they weren't able to make a clean get-away.....all because of an early security system........a rope tied to the bell cord,  attached to a gong at the station.   a conductor named William Fuller gave chase on foot...........then by hand cart........and later by commandeering various engines along the chase route..........    in spite of traps to slow the pursuer down along the way failed,  Andrews and his group was forced to abandon the train and disperse.......they never were able to complete their mission.   they were all eventually captured....eight of them were hanged.

   I started to tinker with the model about a week ago....figured I'd assemble the the basic parts and paint afterwards.  there is also going to be some challenging paint work.....things I don't normally do  ;)    the kit doesn't give that much of a paint scheme either.........I've been looking online to find any info on it.

 

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The original is (still?) on display in a dedicated museum in Kennesaw GA. Tennessee and Georgia fought over ownership of the General for ages.

Be aware, the running gear is not period correct for the Civil War, it is a later modification and the kit represents the modication.

 

Bruce

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I'v got time before I take the admiral out to dinner for Valentine's day,  so I can walk you through the kit contents.   this is not the cleanest kit......it has some flash and mold edge issues.  I will need to do quite a bit of sanding and trimming,  to get parts to fit snugly.  the kit is molded in two colors,  black and a grayish white.   the plastic is much softer than the funny car...I will need to be careful not to gouge as I clean up the parts.  first the white parts......

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then,  a small sprue of clear parts...

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I keep them in the bag til I need them,  so they don't get scratched.   part of the Locomotive is red,  so there are a couple of sprues of red parts...

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the majority of the parts are in black......the locomotive and tender car

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there is two other sprues of black parts,  but apparently the picture won't upload {doesn't happen too often for me}.   the instructions are pretty straight forward and the decal sheet is really nice.   apparently......that one won't up load either.   here are the chrome parts.......or should I say brass

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well.....here's one of them anyway........I believe I saw a thread on this apparently problem earlier.  hardly ever happens to me........    the last picture is a section of track I need to assemble and paint.......that should be interesting  ;) 

 

..........ah....hem...........doesn't want to up load that one either.  guess I need to see what's going on,  before I continue.  I'll be back

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So now it makes sense! When you told me about this model I thought that you were talking about another car model build! The "Dukes Of Hazard General". Now I know it is a locomotive.

 

Time for me to stock up on some hot chocolate and enjoy the ride.   

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hello Bruce.......you are correct.   it mentions that here in the small informational story on it........but it doesn't cover the ensuing argument between the two states.  I say give it back to New Jersey.....they're the state that built it!  :) 

 

they do give two versions for the couplings,  but not being that up to speed with trains,  was unaware of this.  I could look into it,  but I don't think there is much I can do about it........I'm stuck with it  >shrug<

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Locomotives evolved, the kit shows a later stage. If I recall correctly, there is no definitive record of the original valve gear, just a generic description. It would be a big job to convert anyway since it probably would mean fabricationg new wheels as well.

It looks good straight from the box.

The struggle for possesion of General got nasty. You might say it was ... a war between the states.

 

Bruce

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I think it's strange that the kit would have two different couplers.....early Civil war,  and then the post Civil war improvement.    too bad the kit didn't go the extra mile for the drive wheels,  especially if the modification didn't occur early Civil war as well........a sad mistake for the concept of this kit.  the only real remedy for this model would be to use the post Civil war coupler,  and look up a generic steam loco for the markings.  the decal sheet comes with a complete number set,  something I have plenty of in my stash of spare decals.  another interesting thing about the model,  is that they show a wood load in the tender.....later steam locos converted to coal.  is there ONE kit out there that is authentically correct?  :ph34r:

 

I built the Duke's of Hazard Lou.......a very nice model.....actually I've built both scale kits.  the 1:16 kit is just like the Revellution....it has hose detailing,  and I think it even had rubber bands for the drive belts.  was kinda misleading.........wasn't it  :D  :D   I want to get another car though  ;) 

 

thanks J......glad to have you aboard!  no ticket needed  ;)    I did do a small search for info on her...

https://www.american-rails.com/general.html

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I'll try now to post the missing content pictures.  I had the folders in a master folder,  instead of separate in my 'pictures' file,  as I normally do.  it may be causing a problem.......we'll see ;) 

 

after trying to post two of them, I see that this isn't the case........so I will move on.   the kit starts with assembling the tender....a lot of clean up had to be done on these parts.   the edges are slightly flared,  along with flashing......a tell tale sign that the molds are not as crisp as they used to be.  one thing I notice here,  is that this tender isn't shaping up the way I thought it would.

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the inner walls are cemented in place here.........I would imagine that since wood is the primary fuel for the engine,  that the tender would build in the form of a box.........these inner walls give the appearance that this tender is a tank of sorts.   I stopped assembly at this time for other things.  I got back to it on another occasion and continued to assemble it.........the outer walls.   one picture wouldn't upload,  but this one did.  it shows that I assembled the outer walls and cemented the top inside,  creating a tank.   in the later years of the General, ........it had been converted to burn coal,  as this gives the notion that it had also been converted to burn oil {so sayth the link}.   the link also mentioned another attempt to destroy the locomotive.  this could also be a tank for water reserve too....but I will still continue to wonder about it.

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heavy molding issues......quite a bit of sanding was needed here,  to get the edges squared up and clean up the mating lines of the parts.  I can see that before painting,  I will have to give her a damp cloth bath.   I'm still looking for a more comprehensive paint chart to go by.   giving the new assembly time to dry,  I had stopped here,  and started back up when I had a bit more free time.   during this session with the tender,  I added the framework under the car.

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then I pulled out the parts for the trucks.......

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the large frames are warped badly....I hope that when assembled,  the combined parts will straighten them out enough,  the weight of the model will do the rest of the task.   cleaning these parts up was time consuming.......every edge had some form of molding marks......from mal-mated corners,  flared edges and flash.   left uncleaned,  these unruly edgings would pose a real problem when it comes time to paint.  weathering looks very apparent here  ;)    the truck equalizers and axles are all in two pieces,  and need to be assembled first.......I decided to assemble them,  and then clean them up as a unit.

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something was bugging me about this assembly..........I will consult the bones...........

 

 

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Nice start Denis

 

I am not all that knowledgeable about locomotives but I do know a little about steam so if you don't mind I would like to add a little here.

 

Unlike ships, steam locomotives didn't have condensers to turn the used steam back into water after it left the pistons. So they used it to vent the expended steam up the stack, (Hence the large amount of white smoke one associates with locomotives of this type coming from the stack). This system also in conjunction with the shape of the stack caused a draft to be formed and caused the fuel to burn hotter in the firebox and produce more steam with less fuel usage. The problem was that it is an open system and water in was steam out and needed to be replaced or the boiler would run dry fairly quickly. This was why the tender had the large tank built in. It was to carry water for the boiler. As a rule these locomotives could go quite far with the fuel they could carry but had to stop frequently to fill the water tank from towers located along the track. Destroy the towers and no train of the time would have gotten very far.

Edited by lmagna

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I'm not that familiar  with them either.........I was a bit confused at first,  but a bit of digging answered a few questions.   you see some tender in movies and they appear to be box like..........but then one has to think what the time line is,  depicted in the movie.   the invention of a reserve tank probably came later ;)    you see in movies,  where along the trip,  they stop at a water tank in the middle of nowhere.   this tank is likely self servicing,  since it is filled with rain water..........this was a necessity,  as train travel began branching out across the country.

 

I just did a bone head move.........I have more to show,  but the last picture wouldn't load....so I hit the reload button.  it wiped out everything!  now I have to redo all that I have done!   I'll do this as a condensed post......pointing out what needs to be pointed out.  assembly began on the trucks.......I consulted the bones,  and they tell me that the trucks won't pivot due to the assembly process.  I will need to figure out how to allow them to pivot.

      I have a couple of ideas in mind........I have a spare parts box :ph34r:  I should also mention that the frames for these trucks are warped....a lot of cleaning had to be done to these parts as well.  as I assemble the trucks,  I will set them up in ways to allow the drying parts to work toward curing the warpage.   I hope it works  ;) 

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the boiler tank,  which makes up most of the locomotive body,  was a pain to assemble.  the box at the boiler head end was warped....bowed inward, so adding the boiler head fascia would be out of whack along the sides.  I found that squeezing the tank near the box,  caused the box to bow outward.......so that was me for about 45 mins.  I tried clamps,  but was afraid that it might cause the mating joints to pull apart,  causing gaps.

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the smoke box front fascia was added later,  after the rear issue was somewhat alleviated.  there is a small issue still,  but it doesn't look too bad.  for anyone who buys this kit,  make it a point to add tabs to the inner lips along the sides of the back head {G5},  and this issue should be cured by this fix.  so far........what I've seen is a downer....this kit is in tough shape.   the trucks are assembled by this time..........I found that the axles can be added after the equalizers are cemented in place.  my intent here is to paint them as a complete unit.   I had two pictures to better show the warpage,  but one of them would not upload......I hope you can glean it from this single photo.

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here is the boiler tank after some sanding......it looks rather messy.   I've also started to assemble the smoke stack.  to be honest,  I'm not a big fan of multi colored plastic.......in some cases,  it can complicate painting.   I'm thinking of using a different color primer......even a flat black primer.

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knowing now about adding the axles and wheels at a later step,  I think I can use the axles to cure the truck frame warpage.  I can leave the wheels free to move,  and cement the axles into the equalizers.   with a little bit of pressure to level them out,  I believe the issue can be sorted out with better results.  we'll see what happens.  I added the axles to the truck assemblies.

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the smoke stack received the bottom,  the ash dump,  and the top......

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turning back to the tender,  the front rail fenders were added to the body.  there is a floor that is to be cemented inside the recess........I want to paint it before it is added,  but I may say the heck with it.  it won't be seen much anyway.   the part is warped too......I might add.

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there will be more sanding before this sees paint.........you might note the excessive flash on the right side fender.   a lot of this detail on the top won't be seen........there is a large part called the 'wood load' that covers the top and in the open area of the front.   I will try and upload the picture again....

 

no........it won't upload.   I really need to show you the display base,  this 'wood load',  and a couple other of these failed pictures.......they are key to the detail factor of this model.   thinking about weathering and paint....this might be the most challenging project yet ;) 

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cross your fingers..............

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PRESTO!!!!!!  the wood load.......gonna take some painting magic to get this look'in good ;)   there is a smaller piece that goes in the front.  we cross our fingers again.......

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and there it is.......the display base :)   this is another challenge.   I've even though of using sand.....possibly even some HO train scenery.....small bits here and there.   it could look rather cool.......we'll see. 

    it reminds me of my project in the closet........the B&M snow plow.   I've had it since 2011,  when a co worker's wife's grandfather died and they were going through his effects.  he saw it and thought of me.....and that's how I got it.  it's an old Ambroid kit.......I forget,  but I think it was sold around 1950 or so.

 

http://seymore-thebmsnowplow.blogspot.com/

http://seymore-thebmsnowplowplans.blogspot.com/

http://seymore-thebmsnowplowpart1.blogspot.com/

 

these are the beginnings of the log I have so far on it.   the concept I have for it is much like this one.......a section of track,  some scenery,  maybe a building or two.  a friend even suggested adding a dummy loco in the diorama.   when Blogger was taken over by Google,  they moved in and installed their security to the site.   this deleted hundreds of blogs and numerous accounts.  I lost a few of my blogs,  which led me to begin using Word Press.  I looked there.........I was sure I had written six logs on the snow plow.......can't find it.   I have the pictures though....here is what the proposed diorama is to look like

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I hope to get it out one day and finish it.   the General base is 26 inches long.  the parts for the base are:  

the two section base

the four sections of track rails

two pairs of fish plates {to tie the rail sections together

name plate - sign your name on it in permanent marker

hopefully,  I can do something nice with it :) 

 

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Looks like they could go together quite nicely if they are in the same scale. Could make a nice diorama.

 

Have you considered making the wood stock from real wood? Just go out to a tree and cut what you need then split and pile them in the tender. No painting needed.

 

I thought you were planing on replacing the wood with coal anyway, but I guess I just misread.

 

We need to get some of the real train people over here like Ken and Ron!  

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the B&M snow plow is HO scale.......small.......the fact that the kit is old,  is what draws me to it.   I found the trucks for it,  since they and the couplers aren't supplied in the kit.  I haven't seen too many of these kits around.......mostly Varney and Rio Grande.  as a matter of fact.  R.G. has a snow plow too.

 

I don't want to go too crazy......painting the fake wood will suffice.   I did mention that later in years,  these locos were converted to burn coal.....I won't be going that route either  ;)     I was looking on old model kits,  and they have a kit of the General for sale......I don't think that the admiral paid $145.00 for this kit.......a bit too expensive,  so they can hang on to it for a while ;)   the box art is different though,  so it may be a real MPC kit.  mine is a reissue from Round 2 models.

 

I'm kinda hoping that some train folks visit....I look forward to any suggestions on weathering and paint.

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Fantastic thread, Denis! I love the old locomotives. You've made a lightning quick start. 

I remember seeing this kit on the shelf in hobby stores and discount stores many moons ago, but I never owned one. 

Looking forward to your further installments of this build.

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Dennis;

I have the 80s version of this kit. I started it back then, but it got put away. I plan to restart construction, after I finish my present round of half finished ship models.

 

For the based/track, paint the ground gray. as it represents gravel ballast. The gravel held the track and ties in place, as well as spreading the load across the ground. By the way, NASA's giant crawler used to move rockets from the assembly building to the launch pad, also runs on a crushed gravel road, for the same load spreading reason. During a tour, they said that there is no paved road in the engineering world, that could support that load, only crushed gravel.

 

The ties would be a dark brown to a weathered gray, depending on how long they have been in place. The ties were Creasote(sp) treated, like telephone poles, only with a heavier treatment. Many lumber yards sell used ties as landscaping timbers. You can go to one to see the proper color. If you are going to weather the loco, paint the individual ties slightly different shades, to represent variations in treated color, and different ages of ties.

The rail would be a light to heavy rust color on the sides, with a lighter rust color on the top, with a bright steel color on the inside top of the rail, where the wheels run along that edge. The plates on the ties that the rail slots into, are also steel, so should be a rust color also.

 

I second the idea to find some sticks to make a real wood load for the tender. It would look much better, and probably be easier than painting the plastic part to look like real wood.

 

For the snow plow base, remove the large switch machine "motor", and buy a HO scale hand throw turnout stand. The throwout/switch you show in the picture is an Atlas product, and the switch machine supplied is sized for mechanical function/durability, not a scale assembly. You can find some at Walthers, a model train supplier, or at you local Hobby Shop (but not at Hobby Lobby, Micheals, etc.). For your usage, get a non working scale throw. This type of throw would be the most likely type for a railroad that had this plow to use anyway.

 

Here are some pictures of some from the Walthers site.

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Another way that both sides would use to destroy track was to remove the rail, heat the center red hot, and bend it around a tree, in a complete loop, trapping it in place. This made the rail completely useless. This worked especially well in the South, as they had quite limited industry to manufacture new rail.

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33 minutes ago, thibaultron said:

During a tour, they said that there is no paved road in the engineering world, that could support that load, only crushed gravel.

Not mere gravel, but a gravel of specific hardness and gradation. Not sure about today's, but we used the L.A. Abrasion Test as a standard for specific hardness requirements years ago. Stability is a specific standard as well, and it greatly depends on the exact gradation requirements set forth by the project design engineer. Any road designed for typical vehicular traffic could in no way match the requirements for a rail road, period.

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Denis, the wood is appropriate fuel for the Civil War, especially in the South. That pile on the tender is pretty close to what it might look like. Steam engines might only run 100 miles between water fillups and if in hilly country maybe water up even more frequently. And wood could be an issue if it burned up too fast. Soft woods also weren't as hot burning as oak. For modeling purposes, I second everybody else. If you have some dead azalea branches use them for the load. Colors then were pretty bright with reds and yellows. Boilers might be what they called Russia Iron (a blue tinged iron) or green. The General in the museum in Kennesaw is supposedly in period colors, but the brake gear my be a newer system. The Russia Iron blue is sort of like a deep blue chimney color on a wood burning stove. Best google it.

 

Can you take a picture of the couplers? In the early days of railroading, they used a link and pin device. There was a slot in the end of each car and two holes above and below the slot. The pin (think of a long belaying pin) was pushed from top to bottom in the holes, trapping a link (think paperclip shape) between the pins in each car. Back then, the brakeman, whose job it was to insert said pins into the end beams, often had nicknames like "Three fingers", since they could get fingers pinched while coupling up. After the Civil War, railroads got more safety conscious and developed knuckle couplers and air brakes.  Also pushed for standard time zones across the country, instead of every station/town having it's own "local" noon.

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Denis, in your yard find a birch, maple or oak with thin branches, prune them off, bring in house to dry. Then use any sharp knife to cut/split them into scale fire logs. I've used the method to make firewood for woodcarving figures to carry.  See photos for an example.

 

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Edited by Jack12477
add photos

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wow.........thanks for the suggestions Ron.   I have Walther's and a few other train sites bookmarked......I haven't ordered anything yet for the snow plow diorama.  the box alongside the track {I really should do a log for it here}  has been gutted......hence all the screws off to the right of the picture.  on it,  I was going to scratch build a small building,  to hide it.  a manual switch sounds like a very good idea.  when I finally pull it back out,  I'll do a small log so you folks can see it ;)   thanks for the paint tips too........the instructions say to paint the gravel a light gray.......they must mean crushed rock.  primer red for the ties.....touched with perhaps a brown and black wash?  that was my thought.

 

thanks Ken......they show both types of couplers in this kit......the pin and the knuckle,  which was a later modification.  and yes.....apparently the kit doesn't show the period drive gear either.......the model is aimed at the later years of the loco it seems.  I'll post a picture for you or the couplers...at least they got that right ;)   thanks for the ideas about the wood load.......I'm sure I can scrounge up a cord or two...of something.   something about the size of my little finger should do it......after all,  I gotta split it too.  I'll take a poke and see what it looks like

 

one more day and I should get back to it ;)   thanks to you as well Jack........mebbie I kin borra yer 'lil friend there ta hep me split tha wood  :)   thanks CDW and J...........and thanks for the likes  :) 

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A Tamiya hull red color with a black wash would get you well on your way to recreating the color of RR ties. Lots of creosote on those things and they almost look black in color, only a tinge of brown.

 

When I was a young man, a fellow had what looked like a mountain of railroad trestle timbers all piled up on his property. They were pinned together with 1" diameter steel threaded bolts, nuts, and washers. He gave me the job of sorting out all the timbers and building him a floor in his barn where he stabled his Belgian Work Horses. What a job. I handled those creosote timbers so much I don't even like looking at them anymore. Nasty job that was, but hey...it helped pay the bills.

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I'll have to get more flat black.......the stuff I got is so saturated with thinner,  that if I were to do a wash with it,  I'd be afraid that it would orange peel the base color.    sounds like some testing is in order......I'm beginning to wish the ties were a separate part.  I'd sub them with wood  ;) 

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I didn't do much yesterday...concentrated on putting some of the basic assemblies together.   I also did more sanding to the joints on the boiler,  getting them to the point that they aren't so noticeable.   firstly......for you Ken,  the options for the couplers the civil war and the post civil war styles.

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the cylinder & valve chests could be assembled and painted as a unit.   the front covers are a different color,  but I can easily mask them off.  there is a left and right.........not too tough to do.

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again.......as will be the case for the entire build,  there was a lot of sanding to get rid of the flash and flared edges....there is some mold puckering too,  but unless I want to go nutz with the filler,  they shouldn't impact the model too much if brought down with sanding.  I was browsing through pictures of the actual loco,  and of the model online.   amazed with the different takes of her.......some looked as if there wasn't a lot of painting {just detailing},  and some that went with an entirely different look.   I saw one as a Christmas train that really looked nice  ;)   some left the gray/white plastics show......some blacks and greens.....especially concerning the truck frames and equalizers { I liked that}.  there was another that was done in what looked like a metal flake blue and gold,  that looked really nice too.  I was going to add more to the boiler and noticed that the side boards on the boiler has wood grain detail to them....so does the floor in the cab.   dark brown appears to be the answer here,  but I'll see how others painted these parts.  the parts for the front pony frame was brought together,  and cleaned up for the next bit of assembly.   I'll try to keep the wheels ability to turn in mind.   I did make one mistake with this assembly,  and that pertained with the springs and shackles.   I cemented the inner half to the outer side of the equalizers,  without thinking that they also need to wrap around the frame too.   the equalizers are a two part assembly,  and they need to wrap around the frame

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when I realized the problem I created,  I cut between the shackle and frame it was cemented to.........thankfully,  they hadn't fully cured.   this might not be seen on the finished model,  but I think if I were to cut thin slivers of sprue to fit between the shackles,  it will solve the problem.   unlike the tender trucks,  the axles must be put in place when adding the equalizers.......the opposite side must be done in it's two piece form,  since the equalizer shackles must wrap around the frame.

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the outer side was added to the opposite side,  making sure that cement doesn't touch the axles.

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....and unlike the tender trucks,  this one was designed to pivot {note the stem in the middle}.

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the wheels are to be cemented on the outside of the truck,  rather than trapped inside,  like the tender trucks.  I looked into making the tender trucks pivot....sad to say I may not be able to do it.  dummy me cemented in the top plates and king pin plates.......and of course I had to make them nigh impossible to remove without damaging them.  it doesn't look good for the pivot. :(    I did make one small contribution so far though on the fire box door.  the handle for the door looked thick and squared when placed in the opening.  I sculpted out the handle so it has is thinner and has sort of a hook to it.  it looks like a handle now,  rather than a thick plastic appendage.

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gett'in ready to do some painting  :) 

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thanks Ken........I had to do something to repent for my Pho-Par with the tender.   yep...he will be The General.......even though the drive set up will be different,  I'll use the civil war coupler.   I'm a bit slow today,  with the cold......but I did get a little done.   I mentioned paint.......I painted the trucks last night.  I also painted the underside of the tender and the boiler.  I did the trucks in the flat black,  as well as the underside of the tender.

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I was surprised with the coverage.......there was a lot of nooks and crannies.   but,  I moved them around to get all of the upper areas,  and later flipped them over to get the rest.

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I kinda like the sheen........I will have to look up when gloss paint was invented,  'cuz I really find it hard to envision a shiny train back in the day.

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a coat of paint really does well in getting rid of all the sanding marks.......for all the cleaning up I did,  this looks much better now :)    I got even more curious..........

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I still need to do the underside of the boiler,  but this looks so much better!   while I was waiting for these parts to dry,  I started to clean up the lower frame and reverse gear parts.   this morning,  while I was putz'in around on the site here,  I began to assemble it.  I'm not totally done with the clean up,  but I do some as I go along.

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it's a bit flimsy right now......the only things holding it together are the clothes pins.  there are three cross members I need to add,  as well as connect the reverse arms.

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the cross members are now added, and I'm one pivot away from having everything connected

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there isn't much more to add here.......it will go to the paint booth after I've done the rest of the clean up.   I've flipped over the boiler and painted the bottom.  I've also painted the smoke stack.  with a lot of the mechanical aspects assembled.  it's time to move on to some of the parts that will be added to the boiler and tender.

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Coming along nicely, Denis. Running gear looks appropriately spindly.

 

The engineer and fireman took a lot of pride in the appearance of their loco. Lots of brass and polish. Had to keep after any unsightly soot buildup. The tender underframe would be pretty grungy, as you'd expect. And the bottom of the engine, between the wheels. Floquil even made a Grimy Black color, kind of a charcoal grey with brown tinges.

 

Hope the cold goes away soon and you feel better.

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