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I've finally finished my personal build of a project that my friend and fellow Forumite Bob (@RSJB18) helped me to design several months ago: the unique, home-built "critters" used at the Long Island Railroad's Morris Shops to move things on and off their transfer tables. Bob has been working on a super-detailed, very prototypical build of this same kit for some time already, and I'm sure his build will be epic when it's finished in the likely near future. (Check out his post for updates HERE!) In the meantime, I'll show you how my bare-bones, semi-fantastical LNE build came out.


This project started off with the electronic guts out of a "Dinosaur Junction" type Lionchief starter set diesel. You do get RC control, sounds, headlights and a can motor drive in these very economical engines, so there's an awful lot here in a fairly compact space.


I made CAD drawings of the existing frame and electronics, then designed a new body around them. The conversion kit consists of 4 pieces: the body, the frame, and two frame ends. Most of these particular kits I've built this year also include a pair of 3d-printed couplers and the hardware to mount said couplers to the frame.

LIRR Battery Critter on Lionchief Jxn Chassis iso pic

While I was working on my custom GE 25-tonner a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to get this locomotive into the paint booth for a couple coats of glossy black Rustoleum 2x. It sat on the opposite side of my workbench while I finished up the GE.


At the beginning of the week, I jumped back onto this project, choosing the decals for the shop switcher. I didn't want to do the prototypical LIRR livery for the Morris shop switchers since yellow isn't my favorite color. I had a whole bunch of Lehigh and New England decals left over from another project (yet another Lionchief locomotive conversion as it would happen) and this seemed like a good opportunity to use them.


I quickly realized that the highly detailed sides of the body were a real pain to stick large stripes onto! After a little bit of warm water and a WHOLE lot of Micro-Sol, the decals were about as good as they could be.


After sealing the decals with a little Rustoleum Matte Clear, it was time to tape in the windows. As with all my projects, plastic cut from food packaging and silver ducting tape works just right.


With the windows in, I had to pack all of the electronics back in. Note to future builders: there's a black wire running to a brass strap across the axles; that's the ground. If that brass strap gets pulled out of position while you're bundling up the wires, you will loose the ground contact on one of the axles and hardly run at all. Took me an hour to figure that out!


After screwing the locomotive together using the original Lionchief body screws (they self-thread into the frame ends on either side of the couplers), I glued on a few grabirons. I couldn't find any bells in my parts bin, but I had a couple of these 3D-printed Kusan repro horns left over from a past project, so I stuck that right on the roof.


With that, my ex-LIRR shop switcher was ready for the track. There is a nice mounting spot for the diesel chug on/off switch, which is convenient because you can shut off the superfluous diesel chug and still use the bell and horn sounds via the remote.


Check out the inaugural run on the elevated section of my layout!


Images (10)
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  • LIRR Battery Critter on Lionchief Jxn Chassis iso pic
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