Updated December 29, 2006

Rolling Stock

I've always had a fondness for F-unit diesels so I figured I'd be modelling the transition era. The tight turns (9 ¾") would prohibit the large steamers of this time but I didn't mind that. I started building my roster with several diesels.

Of course, then I recently visited one of my local hobby shops (The Train Shop in Santa Clara) and spotted a Model Power Pacific 4-6-2 lettered for Great Northern #1384. Being a sucker for anything GN, I bought it! Yes, it has some problems on the tight turns, I've mitigated most of the problems narrowing the gauge of the wheels. It's not perfect and the narrow set of the wheels makes it less than smooth through my Atlas turnouts, but it's a great running loco and looks great!

  • Atlas VO-1000, Great Northern #140
  • Intermountain FT-A & B, Great Northern #428
  • Atlas U25B, Great Northern Big Sky Blue #2503 and #2508, MU'd
  • Model Power Pacific 4-6-2, Great Northern #1384
  • I had an old Atlas GP-30, Rio Grande #3027, from a previous layout which I've pressed into service as well
  • My 2006 Christmas present to myself, a Precision Craft Models E7A with DCC and sound
  • An early 2008 Christmas present, an Athearn F45

I converted all of them to DCC myself (except the PCM-E7A which came with DCC and sound). I obtained drop-in decoders for the U25Bs and FTs from my local hobby shops (D&J Hobby and The Train Shop) and installed them easily enough (although getting the U25B's motor aligned correctly inside the frame again was challenging in each of these units).

Although a drop-in decoder was made for the VO-1000, I could not find any in stock either locally or on the web, so I installed a generic Digitrax DZ143 decoder with some minor modifications to the loco's frame and circuit board. Unfortunately, the stock LED headlight drew too much current for the stock 1/8 watt resistor on the circuit board, causing it to overheat and melt the shell. I've replaced that LED with a bright white LED that draws much less current, and a ¼ watt resistor. But I'm stuck with a warped shell now.

The most challenging decoder install was the old GP-30 which required milling the frame to fit the Digitrax DZ123 decoder. I accomplished it all with my Dremel without breaking anything!

The easiest install was the Model Power Pacific 4-6-2. It is DCC "ready" in the sense that all four wires needed are run into the tender, and the tender shell just pops off the body revealing lots of space for a DZ123 decoder. Just pop off the shell, cut the exisiting wires, connect the wires from the decoder and button it up!

Click small image to enter that gallery.

Atlas VO-1000

Model Power Pacific 4-6-2

Atlas U25B

InterMountain FT-A/B

Precision Craft Models E7A

Atlas GP30

Athearn F45