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Great Northern F units in N Scale

Great Northern F's in N Scale

Custom Trains

One of my first purchases when re-entering the modeling world was a set of Bachmann F units, Two A units and one B unit. They're not the greatest runners. In fact, I had to send all three back to Bachmann to be replaced, which they were kind enough to do. They were cheap and I wasn't too worried about destrying them. SO, they were perfect models for my first detailing and weathering project! The two A units were left in the original GN orange/green with yellow striping. The B unit was painted in GN's Big Sky Blue scheme. I'll have details on that project up soon.

I then went to work on removing all the cast on details with an exacto #11 and chisel blade. I removed all grab irons and lift rings being careful not to scratch any of the factory paint. If you're careful you'll end up taking just enough plastic off to show the underlying plastic color. Once these items were removed I drilled all the holes for grabs, lift rings, and windshield wipers using a #80 drill and pin vise.  I used Gold Medal model grab irons on the first unit but found that they're just too thick for my taste. I then used .008" brass wire for grab irons on the second unit.  Gold Medal Models lift rings and windshield wipers were used on both units. The last step was to install a Sunrise Enterprises Winterization Hatch on the first unit.

On Unit 316 I cut off the stock pilot with my dremel tool to replace it with a Sunrise Enterprises snow plow pilot. Part of this installation requires grinding off the rear of the mechanism so it can be slid into the shell after the Pilot has been attached. I completely disassembled the mechanism so I wouldn't have any metal grindings in the gears. Then, using my dremel tool and a file, I took off the rear upper corner of the mechanism casting, testing my fit as I went. I used 5 minute epoxy to attach the new pilot so I would have time to make any minor adjustments. Well now, my F's were starting to look pretty good. On to weathering!

I used PollyScale GN Green to touch up the newly added details. I found that this was a good match and since I'd be weathering the units it didn't have to be perfect. The new pilot was painted with Polly Scale Engine Black. After adding microscale numbers to the numberboards of both units I gave each a coat of Dullcoat. 

I'd never weathered any of my own rolling stock before and decided to try my hand at using pastel chalks. I picked up some basic colors at a local art store. I found that a couple shades of brown and black were used the most. I scraped powder off of each stick using a razor and used a stiff brush to apply black to the sides and top of each unit. Then I applied brown to the lower area of the units. Trucks and fuel tanks were removed and weathered separately to avoid getting any chalk or paint in the mechanism.  After a coat of dullcoat I found that I had to reapply, as the dullcoat tends to hide the chalk a bit. This is definately NOT as hard as it seems! I wanted the A unit's to have a look of heavy use so they were given a few layers.

Finally, after reinstalling the fuel tanks, trucks, shells, and adding Micro Trains couplers, they were finished! Although bachmann unit's aren't the best runners in the world, after some details and weathering they can at least LOOK like they've been running. And you can't beat the price when the Kato and Atlas unit's are so #$@%!! expensive. I've been thinking of remotoring the F's with the mechanism from a GP unit... maybe a LifeLike GP18.. but that's down the road a bit. I've got a layout to build!  


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