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This thread takes me back to another lifetime!  I guess you could say I was 3RS before there was 3RS...  I was into 3 rail back in the late 90's not long after 3rd rail started coming out with PRR steam engines.  I didn't have space for 2 rail, and I was in a 3 rail operating group.  I remember a lot of people being surprised when I showed up to an operating session with my first fully weathered and Kadee'd consist...  and a lot cringed too!  I changed my wheelsets to the flatter plastic wheelsets that looked more scale.  I even went on to run a lot of brass scale cars - they ran fine on Gargraves/Ross track.  I had to downsize and move to a smaller place, so everything was sold.  I have some pics from back then I will post below (forgive the quality - no digital back then, I scanned them in at some point).  Thanks for taking me down memory lane!  Y'all are doing some great work!


2-8-2Lgcaboose-weatheredLgdust all appliedhopper-grey-weatheredLghopper-red-weatheredLgPRR boxcarQ2 engine & tendersteam 1 


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Luckily I snapped a bunch of pics just in case: 

start by adding a plate onto the wood, this needs to be brought to the same height as the die cast framing. This is styrene attached with gel super glue. 


Next make another styrene plate to raise the height to be even with the end sill. 


Next drill 2 holes in the small area by the stake pockets and tap them to your desired screw preference. I use 2-56. Be careful when drilling and tapping to not go thru the basswood deck.


Now you’ll need to cut down some screws to attach the plate. I also put some plastic solvent glue between the plates. 


now reattach trucks, check against the height gauge, and make a shim for correct mounting. Again carefully drill thru shim and the 2 installed plates, then I just threaded the screws in the hole, no tapping, as it’s only plastic. Cut down some more screws and mount your couplers. I also superglued the shim to the underlying plates.


Doublecheck your work and call it done. I pulled on these pretty hard by hand and they are strong, so I’m positive you could put quite the train behind one of these without incident. 


just exercise patience when drilling and tapping so as to not go thru the deck. I kept removing the drill and checking to see if I’d hit wood. I also use a Kadee tap that I cut the end off so it threads all the way to the bottom of the hole. Not a hard job  

Good luck!


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  The Atlas trucks are modified to mount with E ring like the Lionel.   Lionel trucks are such a bear to work with I decided to just replace them for 3RS.   The brass wipers are an experiment to cut down on flickering lights.  Works great so far.IMG_0535


This next I-12 has an ERR Mini Commander inside for the soul purpose of operating my coil Kadee coupler.

Can be remotely uncoupled anyplace on the layout for picking up or dropping off freight cars.


Next is the last planned conversion of a Lionel flat car.   Used my last cast frame extensions.IMG_0601IMG_0602104_5786102_2962IMG_0588


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When I started out I intended to do something like what Ben did and just change couplers.   But so many of my Lionel 50' flats didn't like The Atlas switches and shorted out.   Wheels out of gauge.  Lionel sheet metal couplers are just a pain to work on.   Decided to replace with Atlas trucks which required a bolster spacer.   Came up with a one piece frame extension that extended the frame, spaced the truck, held the coupler and filled the gaps in the end frame.   A lip at the top held it in place with the end of the main frame between the frame and wood floor.   Super glued the coupler end  and fillers to the end frame.  Truck mount screw held it together in the middle.  Just had to use longer screws.   Break the super glue bond at the end and the car can be restored to 3 rail with little damage.   A little scraping of super glue and paint touch up.

Made 2 masters out of plastic.  One for 40' and one for 50' flats.  Made silicone rubber molds of them.  Cast a bunch in resin.   Did all this sometime before 2012 when I shelved the hobby.   Won't be anymore.   Just used the last 2  50 footers  on the Lackawana piggyback.   One of them may have been the master.   Did find the master and last 2 of the 4 footers to take a pic of.  IMG_0712



The 50' piggybacks were harder to do.   The frame opening was narrowed on one end.   This required modifying the extension to fit properly between the narrowed frame rails.

Lionel 50' flat car



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  • Lionel 50' flat car

Pulled this K-Line B&O reefer off the shelf to 3RS it over the weekend.   Wasn't going to convert it because of the difficulty in converting K-Line box car frames but really like this car.  



Had to raise the body to proper coupler height by .10" using washers and plastic sheet.  At this point the car appears to be a little low.   To fix this I'll shim the truck to raise the body then shim the coupler box to lower the coupler.   When I get the new trucks.  Trucks I used are temporary.

Had to use the Kadee short box coupler because the standard coupler hit the big K-Line frame bolster "dome".

Used a cut down Kadee spacer super glued to the frame as a template to drill and tap the coupler mounting holes.  Added 3 more spacers so the coupler box clears the body.

For now I cut off the frame mounted ladders and applied them separately.  To be replaced with body mounted ladder when I find the brass strips.  



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My first project in a while. This Atlas Dash 8-40B dates to about 2001. I finally fixed the pilots. I also scratch built the AC  unit and other rooftop equipment.



Handrails are full length and bent from .40 wire reusing the factory stanchions. (Mario I’m with you on the tediousness of this step, but it makes a big difference). I still need to do the forward rails at the rear step well.  Those will be a cut and splice job.

I didn’t like the grossly oversized ditch light housings, which were wrong for ATSF in any event and so I simply removed the ditch lights and used some Scale diamond tread plate to fill the mount holes. Santa Fe took delivery of these engines without ditch lights and only later mounted them on the pilot, so the alteration is prototypical albeit backdating. Removing the ditch lights opens up the front deck and gives the model more of the brutish big-nosed look of the prototype.  I had wanted to move the headlight to the nose but had no luck loosening it inside the shell, so it stays for now. Nose grab irons are repainted yellow.

It still needs a few touches and some weathering. Unlike my other Atlas engines, this one doesn’t have speed control. Rather than upgrade, I disconnected the motors and removed the spur gears to make a “smart” dummy. It will run exclusively in MU consists anyway.  Happy New Year!



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Sort of finished this MTH GP35. Still need to super detail the pilots, but currently I’m out of PSC glad hand assemblies. I made spacers to go between the shell and stock pilot, cut off the footboards and extended the railings. I also added some styrene strips to the chassis plate to take up some of the gap. After I finish the pilots it will get weathered. This was originally a non powered unit that I bought at the same time as a sunburst GP30, so I just pulled the guts from it to power this one as I already had a powered GP30. 



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