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I recently bought a custom run Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-2 from Pat's Trains to convert to 2-rail with scale wheels, scale couplers, fixed pilots and full-length handrails. The plan is to run this locomotive under DCC on 2-rail track. I have other MTH locomotives that I run on DCC but they were already equipped with scale wheels.

The pilots are from a Lionel Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-2, I didn't like the MTH pilots. Lionel did not have pilots with a plow so at some point I may modify the MTH plow to fit. To secure the pilots to the underside, the notches on top of the pilots needed to be ground off. I accomplished this with a diamond chip cutting disk on the end of a rotary tool and a metal file. Each pilot took about 2 hours to prep. The pilots are secured to the shell, not the frame, with 3M very high bond double-sided tape. The frame is slightly recessed in the shell so the shell was the best option. No spacer was needed since the pilot fits perfect once it's smoothed over. Lionel scale coupler mounts were used along with Kadee 745's. No shimming was needed.

The handrails going to the pilots are from a 2-rail Atlas SD40 that I had laying around for other projects. I wasn't thrilled with the look of the long handrails going to the front pilot near the steps so I formed my own from wire. The wheels are MTH scale wheels.

There wasn't much I could do about the noticeable gap between the trucks and pilots. This is a by-product of old Weaver tooling that MTH really hasn't changed in 25 years. If I was 100% committed I would have cut the frame in half and pushed the ends about 1/4" to close the gap. There is about a 1/4" gap between the frame and shell so a 1/2" filler strip would be required to hold the 2 halves together. New holes would have to be drilled for the smoke unit and shell but a little ambition and patience could see this through.IMG_0632IMG_0631IMG_0630IMG_0621IMG_0626IMG_0627IMG_0625IMG_0620IMG_0628IMG_0629IMG_0619

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Those are safety placards.

I have 2 3rd Rail Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-2’s reserved but that project never received sufficient reservations. I ordered 3 Atlas W&LE SD40’s when they were announced over 4 years ago but they were subsequently canceled along with the entire run. I asked Erik Stott of Midwestern Model Works if there was any interest in any W&LE SD40-2’s and he said there wasn’t so I made a $950 down payment on a B&O (Chessie System) SD40-2. There hasn’t been anything new to report from MMW in close to a year so my last shot at a 2-rail O scale SD40-2 was this one from MTH.

did you consider trying Thor's pilots? Maybe the SD45 pilots that he offers would be better?

I'm just thinking that the steps are not aligned and the gap is bigger for that reason. I do realize that MTH doesn't do everything perfect. Sometimes you have to make due.

I might have centered the narrower pilot steps to the shell's steps if I were trying to close the gap?

I did this on another model (a GE?) and the gap was so close that the metal brake air lines gave me issues. They would flop around and hit the pilot steps at times. So the gap when perfect, doesn't allow any room for error.

Hard to see what pilots Jeff used below?

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...-sd40-2-fixed-pilots

@Strummer posted:

Very nice indeed; never realized how similar that paint scheme is to the Rio Grande's...

Question: are those couplers the newer, "scale" type Kadees, as opposed to the #805/6?

Mark in Oregon

Thank you.

When the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway was restarted in the early ‘90s I believe it was by somebody who worked as an executive for the Denver & Rio Grande Western so the colors and herald followed suit. Actually, the W&LE uses a pumpkin orange where the D&RGW was more of an amber hue. There are 4 W&LE locomotives today that still wear the D&RGW heralds, 2 GP40’s and 2 SD40T-2’s. They acquired most of their GP40’s from the D&RGW along with a few GP35’s.

The Kadee 745’s have a medium centerset and a more prototypical knuckle without a spring visible. The couplers are metal and the gearboxes are plastic.

did you consider trying Thor's pilots? Maybe the SD45 pilots that he offers would be better?

I'm just thinking that the steps are not aligned and the gap is bigger for that reason. I do realize that MTH doesn't do everything perfect. Sometimes you have to make due.

I might have centered the narrower pilot steps to the shell's steps if I were trying to close the gap?

I did this on another model (a GE?) and the gap was so close that the metal brake air lines gave me issues. They would flop around and hit the pilot steps at times. So the gap when perfect, doesn't allow any room for error.

Hard to see what pilots Jeff used below?

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...-sd40-2-fixed-pilots

I’m not familiar with Thor’s pilots. I have pilots from a 2-rail MTH SD45 that I was considering but ultimately decided on the Lionel pilots since they looked the best and required the least amount of modifications other than some grinding, cutting and filing.

I decided to align the steps with the edges, not the steps that are cast into the shell. The Lionel pilots have narrower steps than the MTH pilots but the Lionel pilots have better detail, no cast-in footboards and the coupler opening is much smaller. Lining up the pilots with the shell’s steps would reduce the gap between the trucks and pilots but at the expense of a flush look with the edges of the shell. I decided that, aesthetically, the pilots looked better this way. Too far inset would distort the look.

@jini5 posted:

Beautiful work...A few questions.....You said you didnt like the MTH pilots,Why? Could you have simply attached them to the shell using a plastic shim between the shell and pilot. If you still have the MTH pilots, can you post a pic. And, is this the custom run from Pats?  Thanks....Again....Awesome

Thank you.

The MTH pilots have cast-in footboards that would need to be cut/ground off to look right. The coupler opening is very large to allow for coupler swing around tight, hi-rail curves. The MU hoses are a little chunky too. And, the cut bar would need replaced to look more like the prototype.

I cut up the MTH pilots to use for this model. I had already mounted spacers but when the Lionel pilots arrived it was obvious to me that the Lionel pilots provided a better fit/look. Once I received my Lionel pilots I pitched the MTH ones.

Yes, this is a custom run from Pat’s that arrived about a month ago. MTH did a catalog run about 7 years ago.

@catnap posted:

Thank you.

The MTH pilots have cast-in footboards that would need to be cut/ground off to look right. The coupler opening is very large to allow for coupler swing around tight, hi-rail curves. The MU hoses are a little chunky too. And, the cut bar would need replaced to look more like the prototype.

I cut up the MTH pilots to use for this model. I had already mounted spacers but when the Lionel pilots arrived it was obvious to me that the Lionel pilots provided a better fit/look. Once I received my Lionel pilots I pitched the MTH ones.

Yes, this is a custom run from Pat’s that arrived about a month ago. MTH did a catalog run about 7 years ago.

Catnap, can yo provide a Lionel part # for front and rear pilots? Also, does Lionel provide a snowplow?  Thanks for the info.

@jini5 posted:

Catnap, can yo provide a Lionel part # for front and rear pilots? Also, does Lionel provide a snowplow?  Thanks for the info.

I don’t have the part # in front of me but if you go to Lionel’s website and click on “Support” you’ll get redirected to another site. From there you click on “Replacement Parts” then enter “SD40” or “SD40-2” in the search field. This brings up every SD40/SD40-2 that Lionel has made with actual pictures of each part. Lionel’s website is the easiest to navigate and find parts.

Unfortunately, no plows are available for SD40-2’s otherwise I would’ve ordered one for the front pilot.

@AGHRMatt posted:

Very nice conversion.

Thank you.

It was a fairly simple conversion. I think it took about 10 days from the time that I received the locomotive until the finished product. I would work on it here and there, maybe take a couple of days off then get back to it.

I wasn’t going to go overboard with it, like cutting the frame and pushing the 2 halves out to the edge of the shell to narrow the gap between the trucks and pilots. The motor shield would have to be removed and even that would make for a tight fit for the front can motor and cab windshield.

The number font is incorrect, the horn should be on the other side and 6347 had a ratcheting nose brake. These aren’t too difficult to fix but more work than I’m willing to put into it. Overall, I’m pleased with the results but won’t be doing another anytime soon. It was a nice model out of the box that happens to look better after a few mods. 😉

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