The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Finishing up the Shapeways FA, and looking back briefly at The Orient

Among many projects of the summer was this American OO scale FA1, built using a body from Shapeways and riding on Schorr RS-2 trucks. The model is first seen in this post, then later just prior to painting here, and now it is done.

It took quite a while to decide how to letter it. Originally my plan was to letter it for the MKT, their red scheme was the inspiration for the scheme I developed for my Orient and I had some decals. Eventually, running it on the layout paired with the best of my Schorr F3 models brought me around to I should just use one of my two remaining sets of Orient decals on the model.

It is not powered and operates very well as a dummy locomotive. In terms of detail level, it ultimately came out similar to a sand-cast model like the Schorr F3. Sanding the 3D printed model was difficult and did little to improve the rough surface. I did what I could to improve it with the paint job, using a heavy coat of Mr. Surfacer as primer, followed by a heavy coat of the rattle can Testors red paint I’ve used since high school for my Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Diesels. It took a while to really cure hard and I ended up setting the model aside for several months. The decals in the number boards I think help the look a lot. Someday I may get motivated and add windows, but for now I’m enjoying this model.

Back a few years ago I posted an article “Why the Orient? Why in American OO Scale?” I came up with several freelance road ideas when I was in high school. In terms of working in OO, the concept of taking a road absorbed by the Santa Fe in 1928 and projecting it forward in time as an independent in a world that was a little more prosperous/profitable (so that the road could survive!) has worked well.

My initial interest was sparked by reading the 1968 book Destination Topolobampo by John Leeds Kerr and Frank Donavan, a book on the history of the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Railway. They broke ground in my home town and operated in the USA from Wichita, Kansas, to the Mexican border (with additional lines in Mexico, aiming toward the Pacific port of Topolobampo).

These models seen with the FA all date from my high school days and early college. I’ve always liked the look of the Alco FA running paired with an F unit. The HO FA, under the paint I can see a faint remnant of a prior paint scheme, prior to settling on the Madison-Quincy-Southern as another of my roads I called that line the Verdigris Valley, and that FA was the only model receiving that lettering. Changing it to the Orient was a good move.

I knew there was another more recent book on the real Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Ry., and a tip (thank you out there!) reminded me that with just a little searching, I could find and buy a copy. I located one pretty quickly, and have been hugely enjoying reading The Orient by Robert Pounds and John McCall. Published in 2011, this book fills in a lot of details I had been curious about, with more photos and also rosters of equipment which I had only been guessing about. It confirmed that I made some good decisions in my proto-freelancing world, and likely will inspire me to scrathbuild a few models of actual Orient equipment, in particular their most common caboose type.