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NPCU #90213

NPCU #90213

Here's the latest update from Michael Kreiser, an Amtrak fan from Dresden, Germany. According to Michael, he had gone for some time without making an Amtrak models, and felt it was time for another project. This time, he chose to pattern his kitbash after an actual prototype kitbash - the 90200-series "Cabbage" cab-baggage control units that were rebuilt from old F40PHs with their power trains removed. Their official designation is NPCU, for Non-Powered Control Unit. In particular, Michael chose 90213, which along with sister unit 90214 is used regularly on the Downeaster between Boston, MA and Portland, ME. I'll let Michael explain his conversion:

"The first step was to choose an accurate base model. But what should I use? The Walthers F40 is an accurate model, but is too expensive for me to rebuild it. The Spectrum version does not have the correct height, so this was also not good for me. The last choice was the Life-Like model. It has the correct height but runs horribly, however this is no problem, since the NPCU is unpowered. On eBay, I got one for $5, so now the work could be started.

"After removing the mechanism, the body was stripped with 100% isopropyl alcohol - a good way to remove the paint, because the shell is not damaged by the alcohol. After that, the mechanical work began. With a hobby mill, many sheets of sandpaper, and a hobby knife, I removed all the fans and grilles from the top and the sides. I also removed some other parts of the sides - the prototype has a very clean shell. Holes and other imperfections were filled with cement. Then, with a Dremel tool, I cut open the shell sides where the baggage doors are located. The actual doors were made of styrene. I scribed the horizontal lines in the doors with the hobby knife. Also with the knife, I simulated the second door on one side of the cab. Normally, the F40PH has 3 doors on the shell sides, while the NPCU has 4, two on each side. I used a little piece of styrene to make the step for this new door. With a bigger drill, I then made the round windows in the side doors, like the prototype has.

After the shell was smooth, I used an 0.5 mm bit (0.020", #76) to drill holes for handrails. I used the handrails from the Walthers F7 super detailing kit, they match the F40 very well. After that was done, painting was the next step. I used primer and colors from Revell. This paint covers very well and dries fast and consistently. After the paint was dry, I added the decals. They were made by Highball Graphics (, and were printed very well. The only problem I had with them was that they are a little bit thicker than the ones from Microscale, so although I used Micro Sol, they didn't settle down as closely as Microscale decals do. After decaling was done, I added an air conditioning unit on the cab roof. Now the model is nearly complete, I just need some air horns, wipers and other small parts."

Michael says he has more models on the way. They'll be documented as soon as they're done!

Click photos to enlarge
Partial side view of Michael Kreiser's kitbashed NPCU. Note the many fine details he has added. -
Right side view of the NPCU, showing how much detail was removed from the sides. Note the extra door that Micheal added. -
Another view of the model. Michael still has a bit of work to do, but it looks very good at this point! -