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Barry Bogs--The Gauge 3 Diesel Locomotives

Barry Bogs is a prolific model builder residing in the Houston, Texas area, whose work has appeared several times over in Model Railroader, Garden Railways, Finescale Railroader, and the LGB Telegraph. In real life Barry is a technician for Pitney-Bowes; but in his off time, He models the Denver & Rio Grande Western in 1:22.5 scale, with both standard gauge and narrow gauge operations, much like the prototype. Barry uses Gauge 3 (2.5" between the rails) to represent 4'-8" standard gauge and Gauge 1 to represent 3' narrow gauge (what some are dubbing G and Gn3). Barry's large scale indoor railroad, the Colorado & Western, is now in its second incarnation and covers nearly the entire second floor, including the open foyer, of his substantial home. On this page Barry's diesel locomotives are displayed. His Gauge 3 steam locomotives and rolling stock may be found elsewhere on this site. Please see the Colorado & Western site for pics of Barry's layout and his stable of D&RGW narrow gauge locomotives and cars. Barry may be contacted at blbogs@yahoo.com

Repowering the Magnus S1

Although at heart, Barry is a died-in-the-wool steam man, he has been dabbling with diesels for several years, mainly since he models the D&RGW in its late steam / early diesel years. First generation diesels have also become as rare as the steam giants which they replaced, so their appearance on Barry's Colorado & Western is not totally unfounded.

Barry's first diesel is in reality a rebuild of an imported Alco S1 switcher built by Magnus of Germany. In the past, Magnus has had a reputation for building good looking locomotives that ran poorly; and their Gauge 3 Alco S1 diesel switcher produced in the mid-1980s was not an exception to this unfortunate reputation. The Magnus S1 is equipped with a unique, at least in the world of large scale, truck contained drive system that might best be described as a poor man's motor block. The Magnus truck, with it clunky and somewhat brittle white metal side frames, at least looks the part of Alco's distinctive Blunt trucks, but the mechanism is the product of trying to make a motor block on the cheap, without going to the expense and precision of injection molding. Magnus essentially built a variation of the old 1950s era Athearn HO scale Hi-F rubber band drive, except they built it into a truck! But then Magnus went one step worse and mated this mechanism to some variety of aluminum alloy wheels which made for the added excitement of an electric light show as the dirty aluminum wheels arced their way down the track.

My solution to the electric light show for one customer was to change out the wheels with nickel plated steel ones--that eliminated the arcing problem. Barry's initial solution was to change out the Magnus O ring drive for a chain and sprocket one (see the pic on row #2 below), but this was unsatisfactory. His second solution was much more radical: The entire Magnus truck was discarded, save for the side frames, and a new motor block was fashioned using LGB 2063 motor blocks, themselves re-equipped with LGB Mogul drivers. After covering the face of the Mogul drivers to make them appear as disc wheels, and reattaching the Magnus pot-metal side frames to the new motor blocks, the conversion was complete. The Magnus S1 carbody now runs like a champ with low noise, plenty of power, and good low speed control.


Barry gave his Magnus Southern Pacific S1 a repaint in August of 2009 into D&RGW colors. Here is the result:

Regauging the Bachmann 45 Tonner

Unlike the Magnus Alco S1, Bachmann's 45 ton diesel switcher is a dream to operate right out of the box. It runs smoothly and quietly and gives every indication of offering many years of trouble free service; plus, it represent an accurate scale and gauge combination: 3' narrow gauge represented by 1:20.3 scale operating on 45 mm gauge (Fn3) track. Unlike the prototype, however, this little engine is not offered by Bachmann for operation on multiple gauges of track. The General Electric original could have been ordered with either standard gauge trucks or ones aligned for various permutations of narrow gauge, and with either external side-rod drive (as pictured at right) or an internal chain drive on its one traction motor trucks. So this little locomotive is just begging to be converted to standard gauge!

On behalf of my friends Don Niday and Doug Hemmeter, Barry took the bit between his teeth and did just this. First he regauged one of these locomotives to Gauge 3 (seen at right), using the existing external side-rods and needing little more than the application of longer screws and electrical contacts to the trucks. To regauge these same trucks to F Gauge (70.6mm between the rails) required a bit more ingenuity. Also, due to the way Bachmann constructed the units' die-cast trucks, it was not immediately possible to retain the external side rods. The F Gauge version is therefore representative of the more common chain driven 45 tonner used on standard 4'-8" gauge lines. Since the Bachmann engine is 1:20.3 scale--and Barry quite consistently sticks to 1:22.5 scale-he has reconverted his 45 tonner from Gauge 3 to F Gauge and sold it to Mr. Hemmeter. In the process, Barry did regauge several of these locomotives to F Gauge for Don Niday, who is offering them for sale on a first come, first served basis--with DCC, custom paint & sound.


D&RGW EMD F3A & B Phase I Units

With their bulldog snout and classic good looks, the EMD series of F-units became the ubiquitous symbol of dieselization. The first F units owned by the D&RGW were the FTs, first produced in 1939, and continued through the F9s. D&RGW was one of the last holdouts for the passenger hauling F units on a class I railroad, some of them lasting well past the Amtrak era on the D&RGW's Ski Train. Unlike the L-131 2-8-8-2s and M-68 4-8-4s that they replaced, the F units live on in museums and on tourist railroads throughout the country. A few sojourn on in shortline service.

Barry's F unit is not the first to be built in Gauge 3. Both the Fairplex Railroad and Mr. George Brown had them as part of their extensive Gauge 3 empires (see the Gauge 3 History page). Barry's, however, weil be the first plastic Gauge 3 F unit, more precisely an F3, and it is powered by his own motor blocks using LGB motors, gears and wheels. That work has already begun, and a completed set of motor blocks for his A & B units can be seen below. Barry has had the assistance of Ward Hammond and his laser cutter in working up the initial set of motor blocks and patterns for the Blomberg type B truck side frames. And since LGB parts are getting very hard to come by, Barry commissioned Dennis Mashburn of KD Castings in Abilene, Texas to reproduce the metal tyres in white bronze which LGB applies to their locomotive drivers (see pic, second row, left, below).

Blomberg Type B Trucks


Making That Bull Dog Snout

Like the freight cars he builds, Barry is relying heavily upon urethane castings for his carbody sides, roof and ends. The most ambitious aspect of this work is making a pattern for the ubiquitous EMB bull dog nose that makes the F units, and most of the later six axle E units, so very distinct. After exploring more exact 3D CAD and rapid prototyping methods for arriving at a casting pattern for the F unit nose, Barry settled upon the old-fashioned method of building up styrene shapes, cutting, carving, and sanding, based upon both drawings published in the Kalmbach Locomotive Cyclopedia, Vol. II: Diesels and an O scale P & D Hobbies model lent him by fellow Houston modeler Craig Brantley. Barry writes about the nose:

"Ward Hammond helped me with the sizes and shapes of the base plates that are the general shape of the nose. I add blocks between the three plates to space them out and then wrapped the plates with a 40 thou sheet to form the nose. I then added the top couture arches and bent the 40 thou sheet over the top and glued them together. Over the top of the 40 thou, I added a 20 thou sheet to make it smooth. Once all trimmed up, I started adding solid blocks of plastic strip 1/4" thick, around the 1" tube for the head light, to build up the area where the shaping was to be done. Once I roughed it in, I scrapped it with a #11 Exacto blade to take off the material. It made a big mess, but worked ok. I have to putty up some holes and re-sand the entire nose next. . .This has been one of the most difficult projects that I have attempted to build. There are just so few square corners to work off of. Once I get the master done, I will fill the back of it solid with plaster or clay and then build a box for it to rest in. O course the pilot will be off of it and all the holes will be filled when I pour rubber over it. Once the outside mold is done, I will remove the master and turn the mold over. A little at a time, and at different angles I will pour resin in the mold to make the casting about 3/16" thick. I will then fill the interior with rubber and a plug to make the outside mold. I will use plastic strips to hold the two molds apart when I pour the keeper castings. I will cut a few sprus off the casting and glue it to the rest of the sides and roof, to make the body from there. You get the idea, very labor intensive. This thing makes any steam loco project, a piece of cake! Why did the Rio Grande have to buy those diesels anyway? I would have been easier to just stay steam..."

And here's the pattern.

Next, Barry made the rubber mold and insert for the bulldog snout. He writes,

"The mold cost well over $100 to make! I used a piece of 8" stove pipe, so that it would fit in my pressure pot. I filled the master up with plaster on the back side of it and placed it in the bottom of the pipe, with a piece of plastic glued to the bottom of the pipe, to seal it off. I then poured the rubber over the top of the master and added some old, cut up molds, to it so that I did not have to use up as much new rubber.  Once it set up, I pulled the master out and reassembled the pipe, less the bottom around the mold. I poured a small amount of urethane on every face of the mold and so to build up the thickness of what I wanted the castings to be. It took about 10 pours to get everything covered at the right thickness. I had to make a make shift dam in the mold out of tape, to build up the front window areas. Once finished, I poured the inner mold, with a box in the center. This box comes out and then I can collapse the inner mold and pull it out from the finished casting. I did not vacuum the inner mold and it is filled with air pockets on the surface. I did not want to collapse the box in the middle and since it is on the inside of the casting, it is no big deal if the casting is rough in that area.  I am please with how the nose casting turned out. It just took a long path to get there. Well, now that the boys in the fabrication shop have done their best, it's time for the nose to go to the erection shop and let those guys do their job. Stay tuned, same time, same station..."

Carbody Sides & Ends

Barry is able to cast car sides up to 24" in length using a custom-modified painter's pressure pot. The F3 A and B units are pushing the limits of Barry's equipment, as one can imagine! At left are a few pics of his pressure pot, used to remove the bubbles which inevitability get mixed into one's silicon rubber used for the molds. Below are pics of the car side patterns and the first assembled B unit. Also pictured are several smaller detail parts. Barry has this to say about the B unit:

"There is still much more to do, and the roof sections are just laying on the top of the body. The roof will have to be milled off to accept the fan assembles. I worked on the B unit first, because I ran out of rubber while making the nose casting for the A unit. Hope to have the materials soon, so that I can get the A unit together by early next week. This project has really tested my skills as a caster and model builder. It has not been easy, but I am pleased with how it is shaping up. The nose casting will be the ultimate test of this project, if it comes out well. When it is all said and done, I will have spent over $400 in rubber alone for this project, not to mention the urethane for the castings. I sometimes wonder if it is worth it! "

Putting It All Together

And now the first F3 A and B units have come together. Barry writes,

"I am pleased how well the castings came together to form the body. Through the magic of Super Glue, urethane, and Bondo, (the stuff that dreams are made of) the A and B units rolled down the track today. Of course there is much more to do, including making the masters for the cab interior, the 567 engine inside and the tanks & battery boxes below. I was asked a question, as to why I did not just use an USA Trains F3, instead of making my own. A couple of the pictures show a USA Trains model next to mine. Mine is 1:22.5 and the USA Trains F3 is 1:29 scale. Big difference!"

The 567B Prime Movers

Very few model builders in large scale recreate the interior of a locomotive. Barry does, and I think this is a first: A 1:22.5 scale replica of a General Motors 567B, 16 cylinder diesel prime mover. The prototype was rated at 1500 horsepower. We're not sure about the urethane miniature. Barry writes:

"I decided that the engines needed to have a prime mover inside the body, because the port holes are one inch in diameter, and if it is lighted inside, you should be able to see it through the holes. I used a Walther's HO model and pictures of the real thing to make the masters from. I used a 1.5" PVC end cap to model the generator, the rest is a solid casting with two pieces of wood in the main block to take up space and reduce the amount of casting resin. I added some I beams to the bottom of three of them, to use as flat car loads. I have made eleven of the engines so far, and will sell some on E-Bay later.I am pleased with how they turned out and they add weight to the F units (not that they need it)."

The Completed Locomotives

Barry has built a total of 6 EMD F3A and B units. As of May 2009 the first two D&RGW units were complete:

And here are pics of the largest power on the Colorado & Western. Note how the K-37, the largest locomotive on the narrow gauge, is utterly dwarfed by the F units and the L-131 2-8-8-2:

Barry painted two of the F units in the original D&RGW paint scheme as well:

The F units even made an appearance at the Lone Star Regional NMRA convention in mid-2009. And there is another A-B set in the works for a customer, Mr. Ron Thomas of Columbus, Ohio, who prefers the classic Santa Fe warbonnet paint scheme! Barry says, "The units are strictly DC powered, but have a two amp battery to power the 20+ lights in them at full brightness all the time. A mars light shines bright in the upper headlight. The Phoenix sound is strong and they pull the walls down! What more could you ask for?" These units were completed in October of 2009.

Barry concludes with a bit of reverie:

There was many happy faces at BLW when the boys in the shop rolled out the first completed F unit A, B set to the Colorado and Western Railroad. After so many months of labor and exceeded budget cost, the first multi-stripe engines are a reality. The engines are the most extensive casting engine of any BLW to date. They feature lighted interior, so that the prime mover is exposed through the port holes. The side steps and trucks are also lighted. The top light on the nose is a Mars light, while the headlight has dual bulbs. The number boards have lights behind them, and the LED's above them turn red while the engine backs up. There is a light in the cab to see the look on the engineer's face. The Phoenix sound comes out of both A and B units, and brings the units to life. These engines are painted as released to D&RGW, with only light weathering on the roofs and trucks.

These pictures document it's maiden voyage on the C&WRR. The diesel salesman hid from the towns folk, because they were not happy that a main line diesel, is now around. Steam still rules on the C&WRR. Always has and always will, but once in a while a little rain must fall....

I want to thank my friends once again for all of their support with this project. Craig Brantley for loaning me his O scale engines and blowing up the plans for me. Ward Hammond for the many hours of bouncing ideas around with him, as well as the development of the motor blocks used to power the engines. James Engle for working with me to make the decals that grace the engine, and ideas on how to paint it. With out these key people, my dreams would still be just my dreams, not the engine you see here. It is my hope that I can get the next two sets of engines finished by the end of summer, but it is so much work, it may not happen. Hope you have enjoyed this "labor of love" project. I will keep you posted on the progress of the other engines, as they will have different paint jobs. Enough slacking, back to work... Thanks, Barry

Last update: 26 October 2009

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