Wow, I've been a member since 2001, so this has been a long time coming.
Almost from the beginning of getting back into trains, I've been doing repaints, kit-bashing and some scratch-building. A year ago I was forced to move and had to downsize substantially. The layout I have now is the smallest I've ever had, but it's forced me to be even more creative.
So with the trains that are left, I thought I'd post some photos as inspiration to you other traditional/027 guys out there. I do find the smaller proportioned trains do look better on a smaller layout. To me, this is the "magic" of Lionel: Some simple suggested details that allow your imagination to do the rest. Like with the air-whistle, I know it's not real. But when I hear that air whistle, in my mind it becomes the real thing.
And, as I hope these photos show, it doesn't take much to make these simpler, affordable train cars appear more detailed than they actually are. Many of the paint schemes you'll see on my cars were never offered by the manufacturer. I like modern road names too!
For me, this is a fun way to enjoy the hobby. And affordable, as I'm usually buying well-worn or beat up cars that have no real collector value. Enjoy and I'll post more photos later.
So first one below, is of a short 027 plug door box cars done in BNSF. It's easy to want to overdo it with these small cars, but I do find that tastefully adding some additional decals can make these cars to appear more detailed than they actually are.
Next below is a Norfolk Southern MOW dump car. If you look carefully on each side of the black dump frame, you can see I have reinforced the molded tabs that secure the dump tray in place. If the tabs on the tray itself break, those trays are easily replaced. If the tabs on the car break, then you have a bigger problem, so I reinforce them with basswood.
I also put a stripe along the lower part of the dump bin to indicate which side has the opening door. The other side of the dump tray has no stripe.
Next is a "027" coil car that started off with a K-Line 6000-series flat car as a base. The covers are the traditionally sized Lionel ones. In order to get the paint to adhere to those Delrin type plastic handles, I brushed on wood glue to them first. That's a trick I learned from someone here on painting the little blue and grey rubber men that come with some Lionel cars.
I'm very happy with how this turned out, but I don't think I'll do this again. It was some work to remove all the ribs on each side of the cab that suggest the engine access doors. I also made a new frame for the engine in order to lower the overall height by about 1/8 inch. Not happy with those soft plastic railings that come with the engine, I filled in the holes and used window screen to mimic a treadplate walkway. I know Lionel called these a 44-ton switcher, which everyone justifiably makes jokes about. I call it simply a centercab switcher.
I've gotten a few junker dump cars with broken tabs, so I turn them into a representation of a TTUX car, that once again, looks good on a smaller layout and clears 027 switches. On others, I've made some more modifications so that I can place a pair of the shorter 027 trailers on the car. If you look on the right side of the car, I've cut away part of the car frame, so that I could put one of these long trailers on its trailer frame on the car.
I was happy when K-Line reissued the former MARX based bay window caboose. Unfortunately, the end handrails K-Line used were plastic and flimsy at best. And easily broken. So when I also broke off the roof antenna, I decided to redo it and after some modifications, mounted it to a Lionel SP caboose frame. I don't know if you can see it, but I drill a hole thru the chimney and run some discarded pillow batting through it. I do this to all my cabooses. I've read how some folks use cotton for this, but I think the pillow batting looks better.
In all my years on the forum, I've never read of anyone else doing this trick. The load in this repainted 027 scout-type gondola is made from foam pipe insulation. I use a metal brush to roughen up the surface of the foam insulation. And I have to make some angular cuts to the underside for it to sit in the car the way it does.
Huge advantage to these foam loads is that there light weight, cost effective to make, easily removed and don't damage (scratch) the paint.