This morning I had a small opportunity to work on my Athearn BB switcher (sold as SW1500 but more closely matches SW1200). I had bought it for other purposes but discovered it very closely matched this: (Original Link)
A few weeks ago I took the shell off and got it running (fairly well) as a DC locomotive, obviously that won’t do so I’m contemplating my DCC strategy. I’m thinking of either trying a TCS M1 super tiny decoder or go with something like the NWSL Stanton drive (motor in the truck) and take the space freed up by the old motor and drive shafts and go with a bigger sound decoder.
For now I’m just taking baby steps to get it closer to something more manageable. Today I dissasembled the shell and all the detail pieces:
Back in December my oldest son, 5 years old, bought a Athearn Blue Box SW1500 (it was the first locomotive he bought with his own saved up money). At about the same time I found a cheap SW1500 on Ebay for parts just in case… or at least that’s what I thought. When it arrived it definitely had different details but not being much an expert on locomotive spotting I just assumed it was because it was from an earlier run and maybe the details weren’t as correct as the one he got. I ended up not needing it for parts so I hadn’t done much with it.
Fast forward to last week I was browsing through different rail road pictures websites looking for pictures of the DM&IR and I found this picture of DM&IR 11 from 2004: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=84603&nseq=0. It really got me intrigued because I had misinterpreted the Missabe Railroad Historical Societies all time diesel roster as having retired all EMD switchers by the mid 1960’s. What I had missed was that all the SW9s were gone by then but they acquired an NW2 rebuilt to SW1200 specs in 1998 as a shop switcher. This itself was fairly serendipitous as I am a fan of the EMD switchers and just finished scratch building a flat car used by the Missabe shops so It stood to reason I needed a shop switcher!
This brings me back to my odd Athearn switcher as I was looking to see what it would take to turn it into this NW2 switcher or at least pass-able as it. When I started comparing the details to photo I quickly realized that it was actually an NW2. Further research of photos I’ve found of DM&IR 11 and it became clear that all I really need to do to it is build platforms for the rotary beacons on the cab, replace the missing handrail, and finally paint the simple scheme on it. (Of course in addition to re-powering and putting a decoder in it).
So in the end I’d say it was pretty good luck to accidentally buy a cheap NW2 and later find it’s a near perfect match to model something I’d never be able to find (let’s face it, no one is going to mass produce a locomotive in a paint scheme where there is only one number!).
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