Thursday, November 13, 2014

Completed Bachmann CN GP9s


Last week end, I completed detailing and painting my pair of CN GP9. Small details, but mainly weathering had to be done before putting the models back on track.

Weathering was done according to prototype pictures from website. I tried to reproduce a relatively dirty and faded early 80s look. I didn't want rust buckets!

As always, the end result is a combination of many technics, including thinned acrylic washes to fade the paint, oil painting streaking effects and pastel chalk.

On the trucks, I tried something new to reproduce oily axle bearings. I brushed full-strength black oil paint on the bearing then dabbed black pastel chalk and let it dry. The effect is just like the real thing:  a mix of greasy and dirty oil. I've seen too many people trying to achieve this look with glossy paint and feel it's not true to the real thing.

Unfortunately for us, when we tested the locomotives on the layout that evening, we found out electrical pickups were inefficient and plagued the model. The guy who installed the sound decoders had told us about it. Seems he was right and this will have to be addressed before they can be used.

When looking back, I'm not sure bashing those 2 locomotives was a deal, even if I bought them at cheap price. If you add brass detail parts, paint, decals, sound decoders, other bits and shipping, the total cost really piles up and the locomotive is just another stand in with lots of discrepancies. Worst, meanwhile Athearn announced a prototypically correct canadian GP9. If I had made a few more modifications to get the model right (correct stanchions, etc.), the end price could have been higher than a brand new Athearn with sound at full MRSP. So no, we may think we can get an "economic alternative" by adding a few details and better decoders, but it isn't. If you are not looking for prototypicalness or sound, that's fine, but if you want more realistic stuff save your bucks and wait.

In the end, I have no regrets, when I started the project, no canadian GP9 was available. Also, I bought those locomotives for a previous iteration of the layout. It would have been a waste to not use them to further improve my skills. I learned a lot in the process and must say I'm better than when I started. Also, I prefer to have upgraded a Bachmann GP9 than an old Athearn BB kit which is just plain wrong (I know, I did in the past). Details are still good for the price and it works fine. They should do the job until I can get my hand on M420 some day. It's just sad the amazing Rapido GMD1 are actually becoming the starsr on the layout. I'm not sure my pair of GP9 will have any chance to shine against such beautiful models. I can only hope Rapido will give serious thoughts about making a M420. No offence intended to American manufacturers, but I feel only a canadian company can do justice to this great prototype. I've been too much disappointed by recent wide cab releases... except Athearn that seems to have got things quite right...

That said, while my weathering work was drying, I also decided to rebuild my Pointe Saint-Charles caboose. It is an old Sylvan scale model I bought back in 2000 or 2001 with a long lost good friend. it was my first ever resin kit and I made a lot of mistakes when building it. As expected, it badly warped and I never completed it until a few years ago. I did my best during the second rebuild but didn't address the warping issue and weight wasn't enough to keep the caboose on track. A year ago, it broke in pieces during operation.

So, I decided to remove the weights and ill-conceived structural members. I remplaced them with a large 1/4" MDF beam painted in black and some styrene strips to straight up the underframe. Then I added lead wheel weights. CA fog on windows was cleaned with acetone and a coat of Future floor finish applied to bring back some cleanliness to the plastic material. I wasn't miraculous, but it made the model more acceptable and got rid or annoying fingerprints!

I didn't repainted the model, but added ACI labels and consolidated lube stencils. I also improved the weathering a little bit. This model won't win me a prize, but at least can do the job waiting for something better.

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