Southern Pacific EMD SW8 #4618

Paul Washburn tells us about the Southern Pacific SW8 model he created. Model photos are copyright © Paul Washburn; used by permission.

The Prototype

Southern Pacific's EMD SW8 locomotive #4618 was one of two SW8 engines ordered for service on the Southern Pacific's subsidiary the Pacific Electric Railway. They were used in freight operations in southern and western districts. The units were delivered from EMD with dynamic brakes, multiple unit controls, horizontal lights, large drum-like signal lights on top of the hood and cab, and train indicator boards. At some point in time #4618 also worked on the Northwestern Pacific (another SP subsidiary). It sported a screen spark arrestor on the stack; a must on the NWP.

The Model

The model is a kit-bashed S-Helper Service undecorated SW8. I began by removing the existing lights on the front hood and the cab. I also removed the slope at the cab end of the hood, making space for the dynamic brake area in front of the cab. After filing and sanding the areas where parts were removed, I started building up the dynamic brake section of the hood using styrene. It was a matter of using the best modeling techniques by cutting, fitting, filing, filling gaps, and sanding until you get result you want. Be aware that the top of the hood is at the same level from the front to almost a foot in front of the cab and then drops (see photo below).

Next, I fabricated the horizontal lights. After getting to the overall size I needed for the light bars, I sanded a wedge on each end of the light bar for the number boards to sit on. Using a small chisel knife, I made four rectangular boxes, two for each light set. After gluing them in place, I centered and glued an S-scale dual-headlight, Detail Associates part #5652, on each light bar. After gluing the completed light assemblies to the locomotive body, I drilled holes for micro lights.

I then installed the large signal lights, B.T.S. #02028 Barrel Headlight, mounted over the front and rear lights.

To complete the dynamic brake area, I glued a small cooling fan on top of the hood, Details West #CF-143. I cut out two etched stainless steel grills, one for each hood side (below the fan), and framed them with styrene strips.

The train indicator boards were made basically the same as the light, cutting styrene to size, then shaping a wedge at their ends using a small chisel knife. A small drill was used in the lower corner of the indicator board's shaped wedge for an MV Products lens. Then I installed the boards on the hood. Because of the train indicator boards on each side of the hood, grab irons are needed on both sides (see close-up photo below).

After drilling holes and adding grab irons on the right side of the hood, I added cab awnings. The horn is a B.T.S. three-chime one, part #02002. The stack I turned from aluminum stock. I removed the pilot steps and backing plates from the existing pilots and fabricated new ones, and installed them on beams. Other details added to the frame are B.T.S. M.U. stand #02050 and B.T.S. re-rail frogs #02037.

To paint the model, I used Krylon Gray Primer, for the primer coat, and P-B-L Star Brand paint #1-STR-05 D&RGW Black and 1-STR-20 Silver. Decals are Micro Scale #64-46 SP Tiger stripe switcher decals available from Des Plaines Hobbies.

The photo below is of a stock S-Helper Service SW8 model, so that you can see the extend to which Paul modified his model.

S-Helper Service stock photo

Additional References

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