565 and 571 largely complete, awaiting a few final details

The last couple of weeks have seen completion of the decal application for 565 and 571.  The Microscale decal set (60-783 British Columbia Diesels 1972-1984) was used.  I applied a Tamiya gloss coat before and after the decals and then sealed the completed shells with a spray can Tamiya flat coat before weathering.

The white lining was quite challenging to apply and needed to be cut and positioned carefully using a small paint brush, but the final result is very pleasing.

Weathering was done by applying an initial wash of Tamiya German grey which was then repeated several times on the yellow handrails and pilots.   A secondary wash of thinned acrylic black was then applied with a focus on the roof, carbody filters and underframes.   Bragdon black weathering powders were then used heavily on the roof and underframe with a lighter overall application to the rest of the models.  A final application of Tamiya flat coat from a spray can seals the weathering.

I went heavy with the weathering to match prototype photos from the late 1970s which show many RS-3s in quite a dirty condition with the yellow handrails and pilots being almost completely obscured by grime.

Next steps are a bit more targeted weathering of the fuel tank and trucks and the installation of a few small detail parts coming in from overseas.    Cab glazing needs to be added also, but for now they are largely complete.


The distinctive two-tone green colour scheme was finalized this week.   Careful masking was needed in preparation for painting the dark green which forms the lower half of the hood and the cab sides and roof.

True Line Trains BCR / PGE Dark Green #7 (TLT 010037) was used and brush painted on in 4 coats over a weekend.   Removal of masking tape revealed nice crisp paint lines which was very pleasing.   Next steps are decals.

Road numbers selected are 565 and 571 both in British Columbia Railway lettering.  These units were seen at Fort St John in the late 1970s.

Initial paint.  The yellow handrails will be blackened with grime and dirt soon!

The two RS-3s are progressing nicely and this week saw the initial paint application.    A base coat of  PGR/BCR light green was applied to all the bodyshell parts, while handrails were finished in yellow and the underframe in a dark grey.   Specific paints used were:

True Light Trains BCR/PGE light green #6 (TLT010036) acrylic for the body (4 coats applied over several days)

Tamiya XF-63 German Grey for the underframe.   This my go-to ‘N scale black’ colour as I very rarely use a true black due to the scaling effect of colour with distance

Humbrol Matt 154 yellow was used for the handrails.   This is an enamel paint which isn’t my preference, but it is the right shade (yellow with a slight orange tint) and was available.  In New Zealand you learn to make do with whatever is available.

Purists may be horrified to learn that I still brush paint ….in 2019.   There are various reasons for this, mostly to do with the mess and annoyance and expense of airbrush painting and the fact that I actually enjoy brush painting.  In my opinion a spray can finish of dullcote (which I always use) produces a smooth airbrushed look anyway.

The Kiwi ‘make do approach’  Only the BCR green is prototype specific.  The others are hobby shop finds

Some additional details applied before painting were strip styrene under the pilots to simulate the distinctive BCR pilot style.  This was chosen over replacing the entire pilot with detail parts.    Horizontal railings along the side of the long hood air intake were added from the very thinnest strip styrene I could find (Evergreen #100 0.25 x 0.5mm strip)


I am not overly concerned with how ‘chunky’ and over-scale the handrails currently appear.  I plan to heavily weather these units as per the prototype, so only a hint of yellow will be visible when the units are completed as prototype photos often show the handrails being virtually black from grime and dirt.

Next step is to mask the body shells and apply BCR dark green along the lower half to complete the distinctive and very attractive BCR two tone green scheme.

Work on the RS-3 conversion project is continuing with the addition of a second unit.  As mentioned in Part 1, I am following an excellent build thread on the Railwire forum during my conversion project.


There are some steps I have modified and other steps I am skipping over.    After a few attempts at trying to create hand grabs out of fine wire I have elected to skip that step.  They are just too small and frustrating to create and install.  I have nothing but admiration for the people who can install such tiny detail parts on N scale models, but I’ll pass for now!

For the large circular radiator fan I also used an old trick of using self-adhesive textured fabric repair material to get the appearance of a fine mesh.  I had previously used it on rectangular fans on the side of a CRS-20 conversion but it works just as well on the circular fan.  It just needs to be trimmed very precisely with a new sharp blade.

Primary body shell modifications underway 

I still have a few fit issues with the shells.   On one unit the long hood was sitting too high so I created a thin strip styrene skirt to fill the gap between the bottom of the shell and the top of the walkway section.  The second unit needs a bit of attention on the short hood end, probably including filing some material of the metal frame to get a better fit of the short hood and cab.  I’ll do any frame filing when I get to the decoder installation stage of the project.

Detail variations in horn arrangement and long hood headlight housing will make for fun when choosing the correct prototype road numbers

Side window shades were installed using etched parts from a suitably generic locomotive detail parts set.     Horns are Minatures by Eric parts that (fortunately) I had lying around in my parts box.   As is noted in the Railwire build thread and in other sources, the RS-3s had a bewildering array of minor variations between units with the horn cluster being one of them.   I elected to install a 3-forward horn arrangement on one unit and a 2-forward-one-back horn arrangement on the other.

The core of a good 1970s BCR fleet – 2 RS-11s and 2-RS-3s

The Railwire build thread describes a process to remove the Atlas pilots (by very careful sanding) and installing BCR correct parts.   I haven’t decided whether or not to do this step as I feel a simple styrene ‘shelf’ along the bottom of the Atlas pilot would give the same appearance with considerably less work.   Other than that the basic conversion is largely complete.

Not sure if I will proceed to the decoder installation and painting stage right away or switch to building some freight car kits.    As the New Zealand spring approaches I am more in the mood for small kit building projects that can be done over a few hours each week.

I have several building projects on the go at this point.   I find it more fun to have several projects on the go at once.  Often you can hit a sticking point on a model and it is good to step away and work on something else for a while.

While waiting for some additional parts to complete the RS-18  project i made a start on one of two RS-3 conversions.    These also use Briggs Models parts.   The Briggs parts represent the correct style of short and long hood that would have been seen on PGE/BCR RS-3s in the late 1970s era.    The conversion retains the stock Atlas Cab piece, handrail and chassis assembly.   Fuel tank modification is also required.

There is an excellent step-by-step build thread by Tim Horton on the Railwire forum.


I have been following the build thread closely so I won’t got into a step-by-step instructional article here.

Here are the first set of my progress pictures.  So far I have made the required modifications to the bodyshell parts to get an initial fit.  An initial coat of primer was then applied to all the parts.   The original RS-3 I used was an Atlas Classic model in Canadian National green.

With tracklaying and wiring complete it is time to turn attention to some model building.  The RS 18 was a common sight on the BCR north end during the 1970s so it is important to have a couple on the roster.  Fortunately, Briggs Models now makes bodyshell replacement parts that can be used on the old Atlas Classic Alco RS-11


The hard part is modifying the chassis to make room for the low nosed short hood.  Fortunately I did this several years ago when I did a major kitbash job to create a CRS-20 (which is essentially a later era version of the RS-11)

You can read about the CRS-20 conversion in the May 2016 Model Railroad Hobbyist which is linked below.


This first stage of the project involved fitting the major parts and making modifications to the stock Atlas RS-11 handrails to fit the new body shell profiles.

Next steps will involve fitting the various detail parts and giving the models an initial coat of primer.


Update. July 28, 2019.  A coat of primer added which makes the detail so much easier to see and photograph.,

Golden Spike Ceremony

June 1, 2019


Today marked the final joining of the staging yard to the main layout.   This was commemorated with two RS-3s meeting and a comedy oversized golden spike being placed at the final rail connection between the two layout sections.

Progress has been a bit slow over the last few months but a few hours per week were enough to get staging benchwork constructed and track laid and wired.

The staging yard represents points south of Fort St. John including Taylor, Teko and Septimus.    Currently it is just a 2 track stub ended yard but this will eventually be expanded to 3 tracks (I simply ran out of flex track).   There are plans to add a low sky board and some basic scenery which will make it a good place to take some photos of motive power and rolling stock items as they are completed

It is rewarding to know that it has only been 17 months from the painting of the railway room to the golden spike ceremony.   Much as I would prefer a larger space for more railway, this small layout has been able to progress very quickly.

As the New Zealand winter has firmly arrived now, it is time to turn attention to the large quantity of kits that have been accumulated over the years.