I had been eyeing a couple of the new MTH Rio Grande F3s for a while (this one and this one, to be exact). After seeing the real thing again earlier this year at the Colorado Railroad Museum, I figured I really did need them! Unlike some of my previous engines, though, this time I decided to take the (mostly) easy way out and just order the 2-rail version with the fixed pilots.
I have to say, I think MTH really did a fantastic job with these things. For starters, the bodies and trucks are both very nicely detailed, and the paint job is sharp:
The way the front pilots are implemented is slick. Here is one of them removed from the chassis, with the kadee installed:
The coupler looks great installed, and just nicely clears all the detail parts on the pilot:
Awesome so far. But, they wouldn't really be mine without a little tweaking, so...
The most important mod I wanted was kadees on the rear of the engines as well as the front. I want to be able to couple/uncouple the engines in real time, so I can run them individually, double headed, push pull, or whatever weird things strikes me. Props again to MTH for making this part a lot easier than on some engines - the mounting boss for the dummy coupler just unscrews from the truck:
So this was trivial to do while I was swapping in the three rail wheelset.
At this point though, the easy part was over. Now they each needed a really nice 3d printed rear coupler mount:
Due to the limited clearance between the truck and the end of the chassis, I designed this mount to use the 743, rather than the 740, to maximize the rotation of the truck. (The 740 actually fits as well, but the wheel flanges hit it, so the truck rotation is reduced.) Just for a change of pace, I used Shapeways new black nylon "professional plastic" material, which they bill as a good material for structural parts. It doesn't have the finish quality of the frosted acrylic, and it's a little more expensive, but it is pretty rugged. The only additional steps required were to tap the holes for the screws and bond it on.
Here's a pic of the two units back to back:
Finally, I really like the new cab detail, which hides the motor from view through the windows. But... lime green? really?? lol.
Anyway, I took care of that while I had the lids off, and painted the chairs and instrument panels as well.
Nobody else will ever notice, but I know it's there.