Went to a small train show I found some things along with this postwar Alco. It caught eye. It was a good price so I picked it up. The shell is in good shape but missing the horn an easy fix. It runs great. However, the shell needs work and looked like someone tried do a custom paint job in it's past. I'd like to give it a chance at  a new life. I need some ideas for a custom paint job.

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Well a number of roads had FA1s and FA2s.   Not sure which the Lionel shell represents, but since it is more in the toy train size it probably does not matter which prototype.

Three easy ones would be Pennsylvania,   Western Maryland (fireball), and New York Central.   The Pennsylvania would be very dark green which would go over the black well.   Both the WM and NYC were basic black.     The striping for all of these are in decal sets I tihnk from Microscale.    So one color paint job and decals.

The trucks frame and pilot on the PRR would be black so that is two colors.    The dark green is almost black.   I mix 4 parts black to one part Scalecoat PRR Brunswick green to it black enough for me.

My favorite paint scheme for an FA unit is the Grand Canyon's earlier one, dark green with gold side bands that meet at the nose, HOWEVER, the most brutish in my mind is the L&N second scheme, all black, especially when beat up and well weathered with dust. Which is almost what you already have!






Well for starters, most of those illustrations above won't work as is. True O scale decals will be far too large for a 027 Alco, especially those with nose decals like the Erie Lackawanna... I know for certain... I held a set up to an 027 Alco shell. Or the NYC scheme as another example that I've tried out: The HO ones are a tad small, but workable. The O scale ones are way too big.

First off, what road names do you like? Secondly, you're going to have to take some liberties and approximate or replicate the paint scheme you like. You're going to probably end up using larger herald HO decals (like from an HO locomotive or hi-cube box car set). Or if you can even find O scale or S scale decals in the road you want, you'll have to be selective about what you use: It's unlikely you'd use all the decals in one of those sets.

Here's a spattering of some of my own repainted Alco FA's. These here are all K-Line. And just remember as you look at these, O scale decals would be double the size, and in most cases, wouldn't work at all. But let these inspire your own creativity. Then you'll have to hunt around and see if you can find decals for what you wish to do.


First off below, a Conrail unit painted with Krylon Shortcuts Ocean Blue, with a paint mask for the second black color along the bottom. The decals are Microscale HO ones.

Conrail 4832 Alco FA

Next below was inspired by the actual prototype NS 999. But since NS has no Alco FA units, and since an O scale decal set would be too large (if this particular scheme is EVEN available in O) and the HO set too small, I took some liberties and did a simplified  "approximation" of the actual 999, numbering mine "9990" since the Norfolk Southern has zero Alco FA's. I do have to do the number board still for this one.

Norfolk Southern Enviro Scheme Alco

This CSX MOW paint scheme is one I actually made the decals for on a Xerox type copy machine.


I'm a huge fan of the Lehigh Valley. The LV never did this paint scheme on an Alco FA, so again, liberties taken. Decals are a mix from various Microscale HO sets.

Lehigh Valley Snowbird Alco FA

This next one is one of the very first engine repaints I ever did. Inspired by a question, what if the Penn Central hadn't been so cash-strapped, might they have done some different paint schemes other than straight black. Once again, Microscale HO decals.

Imaginary PC scheme Alco FA

More paint masking done on this one. I was really happy that there was zero bleed on this particular one. I do wish the grey had been a little darker in light of how poorly the particular yellow of the decals shows up. Had I had extra exact decals, I probably would have doubled them up with another exact one placed on top of the other. I've done that in the past a couple times and it worked great to get them darker. And once again, liberties taken as the LV Yellowjacket scheme was never applied to an Alco FA.

Lehigh Valley yellowjacket Alco

Here's an easy one to do if you want a single black color. Just make sure the paint has a gloss finish for the decals to adhere properly. I should note that one this one and the Enviro 999 scheme above, I used an S scale decal for the nose. Someone at one time was making NS engine decal sets in S (I think Shellscale), so I bought a bunch of them.

I've also used the HO Norfolk Southern nose decals, and sliced them to extend the 5 lines a little further.

Norfolk Southern Alco FA 5284 


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