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X996 Demonstrator

X996 Demonstrator

These photos were sent to me by Michael Kreiser of Dresden, Germany. Michael has cleverly modified a Lima model of a French class C15000 six-axle electric to represent the engine that was leased to Amtrak in the late 1970s and numbered X996. Along with a Swedish four-axle Rc4 numbered X995, this engine underwent testing on the Northeast Corridor as Amtrak was searching for features to incorporate into its new electric locomotive design. The resulting AEM-7 ended up being strongly influenced by the Swedish Rc5 demonstrator. Therefore, the X996 is like a lost story that many modelers and railfans are not aware of. I was excited to see that Michael had not only been interested in this engine, but had also built a very nice-looking model of it. Following is Michael's short description of how he built the model, edited by me.

"As an Amtrak fan from Germany, it is often difficult for me to obtain the models I want, because there are not very many dealers for American model trains in Germany. But since 1997, when I started collecting Amtrak and other American HO scale models at the age of 15, my collection has been constantly growing. I have models of nearly all the Amtrak electric locomotives, but two are not available at the moment: the HHP-8 and the X996 demonstrator. Therefore I considered kitbashing the X996. This seemed like it would not to be too difficult, because this engine is based on the French C15000 six-axle loco. A model of this loco was available from Lima and Jouef, and at a model exchange market here in Dresden, I bought one in 2001. Because of my job as an aircraft mechanic, I had all the necessary tools and materials that I needed for this kitbash.

"I started with the body shell. First, I cut away the buffers and milled the buffer plank smooth. Then, I closed the buffer holes and the main lights with plastic putty. The new front light and the front steps were made of aluminum. The next step was to fill in the old fans on the side of the model. I also used putty for that. After it was dry, I ground the sides smooth and made the new fan grilles with more aluminum. The vertical grooves I was able to make with a special groove file, also available at work. The next step was to fill all gaps and cracks.

"After that was done, I painted the model with Amtrak silver and black. The red and blue Amtrak stripes were made with Microscale Amtrak Phase 2 decal stripes. It was a little bit difficult to wrap them around the end corners, but I managed to do it. The biggest problem is that I donít know how the parts on the roof should be installed, because I didnít find a roof view of the prototype. The model is not yet complete at this time. I need some new air horns and some new snowplows. These are at the moment made of sheet brass - an etched version would look better, but I have no way to etch such small parts. I think that for my first complete rebuild I can be very satisfied with this nice model."

Click photos to enlarge
Partial side view of Michael Kreiser's kitbashed X996 demonstrator. -
Front view of the X996, showing the remodeled details. -
The opposite end of the model. Note the impressive job Michael did with the decal stripes! -
Another angle, showing some of the roof detail. -