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Ground Throw installation
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Wed. October 29, 1997
The workhorse of my railroad is a seventeen year old Athearn GP9(7). It has done Yeoman's duty as a demonstrator when I owned my hobby shop and then on my railroad as a General Purpose road and yard switcher. An interesting point here is that it actually belongs to one of my sons. :-)
Ok, I decided that the unit really needed to ride on the newer Athearn trucks rather than the cast metal side frame trucks that it came with, so, I began looking for a pair when I visited shops or went to NMRA Meet/Shows. At the same time I went through my boxes until I located the original shell, a Santa Fe, and laid it out on my workbench.
Having located a new set of power trucks, I installed them on the loco and then turned my attention to the body. Well, the handrails could use a coat of yellow paint to match the prototype pictures and I really do need lighted number boards like I had installed in the other shell. So, I visited my junk boxes and came up with a nice set of number board lenses that would work well. It was drill and file and fit and glue and then touch up the paint and it looked pretty good.
Ah, well, perhaps a 'Weed-cutter' snow plow and maybe a radio antenna and perhaps MU hoses and the windows really do need glazing and, of course, shades over the windows. An engineer wouldn't go amiss either and I was looking over my supply of parts that I have accumulated over the years and found everything that I needed in stock including matching Floquil paints. Oh, and then there is the matter of reversing headlights and a new coupler mount for the front with the snow plow (I use Kadees).
I spent a little time each evening making modifications. I tend to push too hard and screw things up. So, I have been taking my time with this and the results have been worth it. Last night, I saw the engineer getting the feel of his new cab, while the maintenance crew
has tested the new wiring and lighting systems and they just await the final connections with the new clips and wire that replace the metal strip that Athearn used.
Within a day or two, the engineer will be able to ring the new frame mounted bell and do his work sheltered from the rain and wind as the old workhorse gets new life for the next seventeen years and my son will be well pleased to see the updating of his loco.
Now, why would I want to rehab an old Athearn instead of buying one of new super-detail GP7/9 locos that are available? I like it. It runs well. It's been in the family for years and because I simply wanted to. It had earned it. :-)
Thurs. October 30, 1997
"ECI 2685 to Trainmaster, do I have permission to depart?"
"Blow your whistle and ring your bell."
And with that, ECI number 2685, an ex-Santa Fe GP9 turned on its
headlight, began ringing its bell and with a short blast on the horn
cracked open the throttle and began pulling its consist out of South
Anderson Yards on the HO scale East Central Indiana Railroad. And
another ECI rebuild hits the rails. :-)
Copyright 1997 Roger P. Hensley
Published, Rusty Spike Vol. 28, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1998
Central Indiana Division, MWR, NMRA
Photos by Roger Hensley