Main.Modeling303 History

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(:menulocation Modeling:Locomotives:303:)
[!Modeling IAIS 303 in HO!]

More information on the prototype [[IAIS 303]]

Iowa Interstate GP9 303 has been a favorite of mine as long as I've been interested in the IAIS. Its C&O heritage, typified by the high nose bell, and its tattered and fading paint give it a lot of visual appeal, and I thought modeling it would be an interesting challenge.

While the Proto2000 Phase 2 GP9 has certainly made that task much easier, there are still a number of detail differences that must be dealt with if you wish to create an accurate representation of what I affectionately refer to as the "Green Bean".

My layout, based on the Iowa Interstate from Council Bluffs to Atlantic, is set in 1999-2000, so my representation of 303 is based on its appearance in that time period. As I describe my changes below, I'll attempt to point out those items that may differ should you choose to model 303 in an earlier time.

To get started, modify the side skirts. Trim the slotted portion of the side skirts away with a small razor saw and file, angling the ends slightly. See photo.

Remove the footboards and inner two MU hose pockets on each end, filing and sanding all the way down level with the surface of the bolted-on pilot plate. Retain the outer two MU hose pockets on each end, filing them down to represent the pockets that 303 retains. I thought it would be easier to represent them by filing down the existing brackets than starting from scratch. Not visible in the photo above, but readily apparent in a photo I took in the summer of 2000, so I'm not sure when they were added.

Modify the sand fill hatches. P2K's hatches are, I believe, a later style found on late Ph. 2 and Ph. 3 GP9s. On the rear hatch, I trimmed off the handle and added short styrene strips to represent the hinges, which belong on the side of the hatch located away from the end of the unit. On the front I again trimmed off the handle and also removed the mounting lug. I then filed the hatch base off, leaving only the flat lid, to represent the apparently homemade sand fill hatch that 303 has on the short hood. This front hatch sits almost flush with the roof.

Remove the two retainer clips for the battery box doors, located approximately 1/4 of the way up the first door and panel on the left side of the short hood. The clips on the right side were apparently retained.

Add glare hoods to the front headlight, or replace with a “late Pyle” type. I chose to fashion the glare hoods out of bits of the side screw brackets from a Kadee coupler box, and attached them with CA. Once they were dry, I gently filed the ends to a uniform length.

Add a grab iron about halfway up the left side of the nose. I used a leftover grab from an Atlas GP38, but you could also bend one of your own. Note that this grab iron is not the drop style like the one below it or those on the right side of the nose.

Remove the large louvers from the battery access door, immediately above the front truck on the left side. Replace with Detail Associates item #1905, EMD Louvers, cut down to represent those seen in the photo above, just under the walkway in front of the cab, and filed thinner.

P2K provides a wide variety of MU receptacle housings with the kit. Those currently on the prototype 303 are most similar to the short single-receptacle style. However, earlier photos make it appear as though 303 was at one time equipped with a tapered housing in which two receptacles were present, mounted vertically. Similar rectangular housings are also provided in the kit, simply requiring a few passes with a file to taper the sides appropriately.

Form U-shaped wire extensions for the ends of the rear coupler cut bar (see photo) and attach them with CA to the cut bar provided in the kit.

Notch the upper pilot corners on both ends. These notches were cut to allow easier access to the coupler cut bars from the steps, work that was probably done at the same time the U-shaped coupler cut bar extensions were added to the rear cut bar. To the best of my knowledge, this all would have been done long ago when the footboards were removed, so it's appropriate for modeling 303 at any time since it was acquired by IAIS. Cutting the notches is an easy change with a razor saw or sharp blade and a file, the vertical cut being just outboard of the outer handrail stanchion hole. Be careful here, though: The P2K pilot has so many holes (handrail stanchions, handrails, coupler cut bars, drop steps, footboard handrail) that they can be easily confused. It might be a good idea to test fit the handrails before making the cuts.

File off the slight mold release lines from Custom Finishing bell #246 and install. Form the bell activation line from wire stock. After exiting the top of the bell bracket, this line travels horizontally back to clear the rear of the bracket, angles downward at about 45 degrees and slightly to the fireman's side to clear the sand fill hatch, then runs parallel with the rooftop down the side of the hatch. At the back of the hatch, the line turns upward, then to the engineer's side, both 90 degree turns. It then travels across the hood and makes a final 90 degree turn downward, entering the top of the short hood directly in front of the horn.

The grab irons, either those provided in the kit or the aftermarket wire grabs that I chose, may be installed prior to painting, but if you're modeling 303 in modern times, the grab iron on top of the short hood should be mounted backward (bending toward the cab), while the second grab iron from the top on the right front of the short hood should be left off for now. At some point in its career with the IAIS, for reasons unknown to me, 303 apparently received a short hood from one of IAIS's ex-UP (xx-WP) Geeps, while retaining its own nose- mounted bell. That hood was painted a sort of aqua green, but in the passing years it has faded to reveal the red separation stripe of its prior owner. This stripe falls level with the second grab iron from the top, so it's best to install that item after painting. Don't ask me why the rooftop grab is mounted backward, but that’s how it is on 303.

As for lift rings, don't install them all exactly as P2K's pre-drilling might indicate you should. Like most all early Geeps, 303 only has two lift rings on each radiator hatch - front right and left rear. The other two holes on each hatch can be filled with CA. Also, P2K didn't account for the two lift rings just behind the rear radiator hatch. These need to be drilled and added as well. The only lift ring on the short hood on 303 is on the front left corner.

303 has a Nathan P-3 horn which, in modern times, has two chimes facing to the rear and one to the front. The Details West part # for that item is AH-175, which should be mounted in the hole provided by P2K. However, if you're modeling 303 in earlier times, it appears as though sometime between 1996 and 1998 the horn was turned 180 degrees. Prior to that time the single chime faced the rear and was missing the lower half of its "flare".

Install the 303's two antenna, both centered side-to-side on the cab roof. The first is a whip-style radio antenna, located just slightly rear of the center of the cab roof. This one is particularly interesting in that it's wired into 303's radios via a conduit instead of entering the cab roof directly. The conduit exits the front of the antenna base, rising slightly as it travels forward. Once past the front edge of the cab, the conduit immediately turns downward and enters the roof of the short hood at a 45 degree angle. The EOT antenna is located about halfway between the whip antenna base and the back of the cab roof. I used the Overland EOT antenna, though I've since found that Details West #275 (4 to a pack) is a much cheaper alternative.

Once the above is complete, 303 is ready for paint and decals...then a little more paint, and a few more decals. The three different shades of green this unit wears, as well as the visible lettering and striping from underlying Precision National and UP paint schemes, were a challenge to recreate, but I'm happy with the end result. Details on 303's paint and decals are available in the photo captions in this folder.

Once painting is complete, add the final grab iron and install ditch lights if appropriate for your era. Note that they were added to the prototype after the 1993 photo, above, was taken. Accurate Lighting components have been recommended, but I haven't yet located them.

''Contributed by Joe Atkinson''

[!Joe Atkinson's 303 Model!]
(:embedgallery Modeling303:)
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  Last modified on November 29, 2010, at 09:50 PM
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