Center-Cab Bash

Kitbasher's Delight -- Cab Conversion for Bachmann 44-ton Loco
You can bash a Bachmann HO 44-ton loco into a rugged On30 Center-Cab diesel for your railroad!You can convert an ordinary HO scale locomotive into a handsome On30 loco using our Kitbasher's Delight parts.  Choose the items that are right for you & review our kitbashing ideas ... or create your own!
 Start with a Bachmann HO 44-ton loco like this
You'll need a Bachmann HO scale 44-ton diesel like this one (preferably undecorated).  We recommend the current "DCC ready" version, which has a single motor.
Add one of these BVM kits
If this is your first kitbash, we suggest using the KD-01 kit!  Kits include items indicated -- this article and the instructions included with the kit suggest additional materials that you might use to customize your model.  Since this article was originally written in 2003, we have added a variety of great Detail Parts that will make your project even easier -- we've updated the text to suggest these where appropriate!  (But we've retained the original text to give you all the great kitbashing and scratchbuilding tips originally included.)
If this is your first bash, start with the KD-01 kit!
KD-01 Center-Cab Bash
Kit includes complete cab, pilots, corner steps and material to widen the deck as shown.  Cab includes:  four walls, removable roof, false floor and window stock.  Includes material to widen the deck as described in this article.  You'll need:  44-ton loco, Kadee #5 couplers and additional materials or detail parts as suggested below.
Suggested BVM detail parts:  #404 Wood Toolboxes, (2) #409 Electric Headlight, #411 Bell, #412 Air Horn, #417 Chain, GC-1 Tools and/or GC-2 Loco Tools.
KD-02 Cab, Pilots & Steps
Basically the same as the KD-01, but you provide the material to widen the deck and frame as shown in the article below.  Ideal for modelers who keep styrene strip and sheet on hand for various projects ... and for those who wish to use this cab and pilots on a different mechanism.  You'll need:  44-ton loco (or other project loco), Kadee #5 couplers and additional materials / details as suggested in this article.
KD-03 Conversion Cab
Includes the complete conversion cab ... with cab walls, removable roof, false floor and window stock.  Ideal for those who want to design their own frame and deck modifications ... or bash a loco on a different mechanism.  44-ton loco (or other project loco), Kadee #5 couplers and additional materials / details as suggested in this article.
Pilots also available separately -- useful on many bashing projects!KD-04 Pilots & Steps
These items are included in KD-01 and KD-02 kits, but you might also find them useful for other projects.  Includes (2) pilots and (4) corner steps.  Pilots measure 7' wide scale.
Bashing ideas ... now the fun begins!
Here's an overview of how I used the components of the KD-01 Center-Cab Bash, some extra materials and details to build PC&L #16 for my Phaedrus Coke & Lumber Railroad. These ideas are presented to help kick-start your kitbashing project.  You may want to copy some of the modifications and ignore others -- and note that we've added some great new Detail Parts since this article was first written. Variety is the spice of kitbashing!  The photo of Sam Barbose's bash (further on) shows how much variation there can be.  Sam's treatment of radiator and headlight details is quite different from mine but equally effective.  Have fun!  -- Dallas Mallerich
Remove the stock pilots ...
Pry off the lift bar assembly as shown.  Use a razor saw (like the Atlas Snap Saw or Zona saw) to cut away the pilots, steps and coupler mounting pins from the underside of the Bachmann shell.  This is the closest you'll get to "major surgery" on this project!  Also cut away the fuel tank skirts flush with the bottom of sill.  The cut is made flush with the bottom of the side sills and sanded smooth.  If it's slightly uneven, that will be covered by the materials added to widen the deck.  Remove the various add-on pieces on the Bachmann shell (grab-irons, etc.)
Widen the frame / deck ...
The materials shown here are included in kit KD-01, along with a more detailed description of their placement.  Note that the dimensions for styrene strip are abbreviated:  .010" x .100" strip is shown as 010x100.  The kit also includes .005" styrene sheet to make an overaly for the deck -- this hides the rounded corners of the original frame and the joints between the original frame and the added materials. If you're using kit KD-02 or KD-03, you'll need the materials shown in photo and .005" styrene sheet (vary to suite your tastes/project)  The deck was widened to approximately 7' scale.
Idea #1 -- Replacing the hood latches ...
I used a chisel blade in a hobby knife to remove the cast-on latches from teh stock hoods.  If you haven't done this before, practice on the original cab or scrapbox items.  (Tip:  Use an emery board or file to round off the corners of your chisel blade -- this reduces the chance of gougin the surface of your model while shaving off details!)  Latches were formed from .020" wire -- bent 4" scale from end and cut 4" from bend.  Install in #75 holes and glue from inside.  This adds a nice free-standing detail suitable for On30 modeling.  Suggested materials:  .020" wire, #75 drill.
Idea #2 -- "Beef up" the radiator ...
The radiator detail on the original hoods is good, but I wanted a chunkier appearance.  I cut lengths of 010x080 strip to match the length of the original louvers and glued one of these over every other oginal louver, starting from the top.  Then I added 030x040 strip (on edge) over the original frame.  Holes from the small metal grab-irons removed from the shell were filled with Squadron white putty and sanded smooth.  Suggested materials:  010x080 and 030x040 styrene strip.
Try a different approach ...
Sam Barbose is a very creative kitbasher ... he used the KD-02 cab & pilots, half a 44-ton shell and parts from other BVM kits to make his "Anabolic Midget".  Sam used a different approach on the radiator.  He cut out the louvers, placed a piece of brass mesh behind the opening and added grille guards made from heavy wire.  He also filled in the headlight opening in the orignal shell and added a casting from his parts box [check out our #409 Electric Headlight for an easy option!].  We also like Sam's simple but effective placement of grab-irons.
Idea #3 -- Alter or replace the headlights ...
You can simply remove the visors from the originals and keep those ... fill them in like Sam did ... or check through your parts bin for suitable castings [like the BVM #409 Electric Headlight!]  Headlights can be omitted on industrial locos or moved to various locations.  I didn't have any suitable castings on hand [when this was written!] so I decided to see if I could scratchbuild new headlights and brackets from materials on hand.  Headlight tubes are 15" scale lengths of 1/4" styrene tube.  Suggested materials:  015x020, 020x156 and 020x250 styrene strip; 040 styrene triangle (Platruct); 010 sheet scrap; 1/4" styrene tube; MV L-199 lenses.
Idea #4 -- Exhaust and top louvers ...
If you're building a GE-style loco, you'll want to keep the exhaust stacks centered -- keep or enlarge the stubby stacks on the original shell.  I chose to freelance a tall, offset style exhaust stack.  Lengths of 3/32" styrene tube were cut, then held near (not in!) a candle flame until slightly softened ... then pressed against the workbench to form the flare.  (It took 2 or 3 attempts to make each one.)  I also decided to cover the exhaust grilles on the top by adding 030x040 filler and an 010x250 cover -- purely a cosmetic change based on my preferences.  Suggested materials:  3/32" styrene tube; 010x250 and 030x040 styrene strip.
Idea #5 -- Get some fresh air ...
I decided to "open" one of the cab windows by removing some of the frame work -- the resin used in BVM kits is easy to trim & sand, so I removed the top, bottom and back frames of the open window to suggest a sliding window pushed forward.
Kits KD-01 thru KD-03 include a "false floor" to hide the mechansim which would otherwise show between the hoods.  I opted to keep the interior of PC&L #16 simple, and focus attention on the exterior by adding lots of junk and clutter.  The engineer is Arttista #1175 Another Engineer -- cut in half to clear the false floor.  (Figure not included.)
Idea #6 -- Paint masking ...
To get the two-tone paint scheme on PC&L #16, I used some simple masking techniques as shown here.  After the hoods and cab were sprayed, I masked the hoods and sprayed the frame and decks gray.  (The yellow was mixed from Polly S BAR Yellow and Earth -- blended to warm up and slightly dull the yellow.)
Idea #7 -- Poling rods & pockets ...
See photo of finished model for reference ...Poling poling rods were used when a loco on one track was used to push a car on an adjacent track.  I whittled the poles from 4x4" scale lumber and added woodgrain by drawing the edge of a razor saw down the length.  Brackets were cut & bent from 015x060 flat brass.  The poles are approximately 12' scale length.  Suggested materials:  scrap stripwood or dowel; 015x060 or similar flat brass strip.  [Also consider BVM #405 Air Tanks as an easy under-deck detail!]
Idea #8 -- Handrails or grab-irons ...
The railings on PC&L #16 are somewhat elaborate for a loco of this size.  "Originally" the loco was delivered with a simple grab-rail along the side of the hoods ... but the crew requested some new railings that would be a little less nerve-shattering to use while the loco is moving!  (Sam's loco above illustrates a simpler approach.)  Railings are set at a height of 36" scale from the deck.  They were bent from .020" wire, with the ends glued into #75 holes.  The "unions" (welds) between the uprights and railings are simply small fillets of gap-filling ACC.  Suggested materials:  .020" wire, #75 drill.
(This photo illustrates the loco assembled with the KD-01 kit components and the changes described in these pages.)
The grande finale ... add "junque", clutter and detail to taste!
Obviously, I decided to go "full tilt" on this one!  The PC&L crew has a theory that it makes them look busy and somehow pleases the boss.  I've included some close-up photos showing the detail added to my loco ... but don't go nuts trying to find the exact same parts.  There are plenty of great O scale detail items out there!
Suggested BVM Detail Parts:  404 Wood Toolbox, 407 Toolbox & Air Tank Combo, (2) 409 Headlight, 411 Bell, 419 Chain, GC-1 Tools and/or GC-2 Loco Tools.
Figures shown:  Arttista #1175 Another Engineer and #1306 Brakeman Holding On.  Arttista #1131 Two Dogs.
See your dealer for various O scale parts by Evergreen Hill Designs (bucksaws shown), Berkshire Valley, Mile Post Model Works and whatever treasures you might find!
Check out photos of Center-Cab bashes built by your fellow On30 modelers in the KD-01 product listing in the Diesel / Critters section ... and order a kit today!  (Hey, we've gotta give a plug to our sponsor ...chuckle, chuckle)
Kitbashing is fun!  Build a locomotive that's uniquely yours ... and share your photos to inspire others!

Click here to check out the KD-01 Center-Cab Bash (kit)

(c) Copyright 2003 & 2008 Dallas J. Mallerich III.  You may save/print a copy of this article for your personal reference.  All other rights reserved.  Written permission required for any other use.

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