J. Alex Lang

Kitbashed Conrail B36-7

CR 5013

I’ve (finally) finished my pair of Atlas-kitbashed Conrail B36-7’s. I started these out in January, with parts that I’d accumulated over the prior year.  This project was aided and inspired by the Dave Abeles’ B36-7 fleet plying the rails of his HO scale Onondaga Cutoff (e.g. https://onondagacutoff.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-coat-of-paint.html) 

You should know that there is a Murphy’s Law of Model Railroading – starting a custom project guarantees that a manufacturer will come out with a factory model of your project. So naturally, of course, Jason Shron **had** to announce Rapido’s forthcoming B36-7’s over the summer, but, I took that as a good thing…

I’m modeling 1994 Conrail in Eastern PA, and easily need 4 of these things to cover the multiple Mail & TV trains that ran thru the area; not to mention that the B36’s also found themselves leading RoadRailer trains or as the cab-signal leader for numerous (and interesting) western road lashups that worked their way into the Keystone State. Needless to say, I’ve preordered two Rapido B36-7’s as well!

Anyway, these two units started out as Atlas B30-7A Phase II undecorated units. I replaced the cabs with 2-window cabs from Atlas. I had to swap out the trucks with GE Floating Bolster trucks, order later model handrails, and I installed Loksound decoders and LED’s (including working marker lights. That was a pain.) I relied on Hi-Tech Details for new turbo stacks, anticlimbers, and the various grills necessary to make this into a B36-7. Also, (and with many thanks to RGDave here for tips & reference photos), I made the necessary modifications to the conductor’s side battery box latches, hinges, and I added the early’90’s Conrail touch of battery box door locks at the top of each door. I also put brass horns up top, and bits of brass wire to represent the details on the cab roof. Let me think… I added the Shapeways Conrail GE marker lights, and had to do a lot of sanding and contouring of the nose to remove the old nose headlight pad and give it the more modern look. (I hate sanding). The nose handrails were modified to accommodate the anticlimber; the safety chain is on separate stanchions on these. I used a leftover pair of stanchions from a Conrail SD60M for this. Other details include hand-bent uncoupling levers for the front (a giant pain), MU connectors, hoses, spare coupler knuckle, radiator lift tabs (these will surely break off in the first operating session), etc.

Decals were from various Microscale sets, and I used Scalecoat II Conrail Blue in a spray can (love the stuff) and Scalecoat’s flat overcoat. Weathering was a combination of MIG pigments for the first layer, PanPastels, some acrylics (the burn marks on the 5040 roof) and more PanPastels.

The 5013 has some sort of crap on the inside of the cab windows. Could have been drillings from the pin vise, or some sort of contamination from not-quite-dry paint. Either way I’m going to have to live with that as it’s too tricky to try to disassemble all that. Also, I never fully understood the “gloss coat before decals” step until these 2 units… Meaning, I got some silvering on some of the older decals that I dealt with using small dabs of paint. Next time around, I’ll gloss coat first especially if I’m using older decals.

Other than those small items, I’m glad I took my time & I’m very happy how these came out. Looking forward to seeing Rapido’s in person, too!

  • Hi Tech 6004 Anticlimber C30-7
  • Hi Tech 6005 C30-7 Rear Intake Grills Late Model C30-7’s
  • DA 1803 Sinclair Antenna
  • Hi Tech 6001 GE Exhaust Stack Dash 7 thru Dash 8
  • DW AH-190 Leslie RSL-3L-R3
  • Shapeways CR GE Marker Lights
  • DW CB-170 ATC Box
  • DA 1024 Dual Headlight Pyle Vertical w/ Shield (front HL)
  • DW PL-155 Snowplow 2nd Gen Hood Units
  • Soundtraxx 810113 35mm x 16mm speaker – fits perfect (almost) 
  • ESU 75413 decoder
  • DW DL-229 ditch lights
  • DA MU-1509 MU Receptacle Set
  • DA LR1108 lift rings (radiator section-roof)
  • DW RM-357 Rear View Mirror Set
  • DW SK-196 Spare knuckle & bracket
  • DA 1101 Lift Ring – for custom front uncoupling levers
  • Miniatronics SMD LED 12-621-04 Red