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How to model the Bicentennial #156

How I Built My Milwaukee #156
By Keith Fink

My model was made from a Kato undecorated SD 40-2. Before you actually start the paint job , there are a few things that you should do to the Kato model to make it fit the Milwaukee prototype.

The fuel tanks on the Milwaukee's SD 40-2's were only 3200 gallons. On a model , this means that you have to make your fuel tank a scale 16' long. To do this , first completely disassemble the model and using a hack saw and a file cut the tank casting on the frame short enough to fit the plastic 16' fuel tank over it. Next, take that plastic fuel tank and cut it to a scale 16'. I did mine by cutting off the back end, trimming the actual tank and then glueing the back end of the tank back on.

The next little project involves fixing some design flaws in the Kato model that will help it operate better on a model railroad.

The first operational problem that I encountered was derailing. I found this to be caused by a very stiff truck that did not float up and down over track. To fix this I did two things.
I took the worm gear cover that holds the truck to the frame and trimmed a small amount of plastic from the bottom part that contacts the frame. This allows the trucks to move up and down rather than just side-to-side.
I took the plastic side frames off both trucks. Doing this exposes the metal plates that serve as the bearings for the axles. I removed these plates and drilled the hole for the center axle just a bit oversize. This allows the center axle to float up and down just like the prototype.

The other problem that people have experienced from these Kato models has to do with the metal strips and contacts that transfer track power to the motor. On my model, I removed these altogether and soldered wires from the trucks to the motor. These models also had trouble with electronic components in the circuit board burning out. I use digital command control so I remove these boards and replace them with the decoders, so needless to say, I did not have any problems with that particular Kato ailment.

Now to the painting.  I used Accu-Flex Reefer White, Amtrak Red and Amtrak Blue. First wash the body shell in warm ,soapy water to remove any grease or oil that would cause the paint not to adhere. I put the white on first because I figured that it would take a lot of white paint to cover the blue had I applied that color first. After I had a good even white coat, I took the instruction sheet that came with the WALTHERS decals and used the template to cut the masking tape to the correct curve for the stripes. Take your time and everything will work out well. Next I cut the tape and masked the model for the red stripe. The Kato shell comes apart in 4 parts. It is best to mask the whole shell as 1 part then disassemble and paint it as 4 parts. This helps you to paint the corners and crevices without spraying too much paint in one place. Next, I sprayed the red stripe and started cutting the mask for the blue coat. Next, I masked for, and sprayed the blue coat. When the paint is dry, apply the decals in the usual manner.

Detailing.  Kato supplies you with grab irons but I thought that they looked too fat so I used wire ones from A-Line instead. I also added a train air line hose as well as M.U. hoses. These were painted grimy black with silver tips. On the roof I added brass horns and a beacon. When the Milwaukee painted this locomotive in the bicentennial scheme in late 1974 it did not have a beacon. The beacon does show up however; in a photo taken in the spring of '75 so I added that to my model as well. Also on the roof is a "whip" style antenna. I made mine from parts from my scrap box. Under frame details consist of traction motor cables and a speed recorder cable on the first axle on the fireman's side.

After the model was painted and detailed in a way that pleased me, I gave it some weathering. I started by spraying a light coat of Floquil Grimy Black around the exhaust stack and the radiator fans. Then I sprayed the radiator grills and dynamic brake grids with the same color. I lightly dusted the trucks with Grimy Black as well as Floquil Earth. Weathering really helps to make this model look real but don't over do it. Most of the photos that I have seen of this locomotive show it looking fairly clean.

I know that I have really breezed through this explanation of how I did my model. If you have any futher questions or comments feel free to contact me at : Keith Fink
Keith Fink
Fort Atkinson, WI