Another O scale locomotive build

Bob Sobol dropped an email at the end of May 2019; it seems he found some new etched metal details on the market for the Atlas SW8/9/1200. For a while Scott Lupia of KV Models out of Denville, NJ has been making some very nice etched metal details for HO and N scale end cab switchers. He has decided to bless O scale with twelve different etching sets designed to fit the Atlas O scale SW models. These sets upgrade the radiator/fan/screens, end steps, and pilots. It looks like it’s time to dig out my stash of Atlas switchers and start a new project!

Bob has spearheaded a couple posts on the Appalachian & Ohio forum pertaining to his work on his model of A&O SW1200R #88. He has also been active on the O Gauge Railroad forums, explaining in detail, his decoder, sound, and lighting installation. I will be following his proven path in these areas!

First up; here is the painting guide from the Antioc & Dover roster book.

Over the years I have managed to acquire two Atlas SW1200 models. Both were used and cost about $50 each. One was missing its box and the other was missing some handrail parts. I am combining parts from both models to produce my model of Antioc & Dover #1503. 1503 will have full length handrails, non-MUed, and ride on AAR type A solid bearing trucks. (I am saving the second powertrain for a future SW1000 project!) I completely disassembled the model and separated the cast metal hood and frame from the plastic cab, exhaust stacks, and pilots. I stripped the thick paint form the metal parts using automotive gasket stripper. This is pretty fast and very effective and also dissolves any factory glue. I used an old toothbrush to clean the dissolved paint and after allowing everything to completely dry, I used a bead blaster to finish off any remaining paint. For the plastic parts, an overnight dip in 91% isopropyl alcohol and a quick toothbrush scrub made short work of the paint.

Atlas O Scale SW1200 pair await their destinies! A couple bins of parts; I hope I remember where everything goes! Look mom…no paint!

A KV Models montage of etchings for the radiator, grills, screens, and fan.

Here are factory shots of the step sets. Check out for the whole line!

Rick -

Nice job! How did you get those two SWs so cheap?

Did you use the same gasket stripper on the plastic cabs and mix of plastic and metal parts on the shells? Some of the Atlas SWs have a few flimsy plastic handrail “loops” but others like my 1200 are solid brass. All seem to have a plastic vent on the top of the hood and louvers for the battery boxes.

You give me way too much credit. Many years ago it was your HO RPM detailed D&RGW SW9(?) with a visible fan that inspired me to upgrade my 1200. And if I recall, you built two locomotives in different paint schemes.

Hey, there are some interesting developments in ACC glues for bonding to metal. Some of them have incorporated rubber in the mix and that is said to make them much tougher to debond, particularly to metal. Common ACC is brittle and can snap loose. Both Loctite and Microscale have primers to help ACC adhere to slippery plastics such as polyethylene and Teflon (and presumably acetyl a/k/a Delrin handrails.) If one of the primers works, I’ll try it prior to painting.

Loctite has several interesting options including #430 for metal (recommended by Joe Fugate) and another (number momentarily lost due to a brain ahem) that actually has rubber in the mix.

There is currently a Youtube “infomercial” for a product “Flexy 5K” that is flexible and holds brass wire to styrene sheet with incredible tenacity compared to a “whatever” ACC. Today there is an unopened bottle of 5K sitting in my refrigerator. It was $9 plus shipping instead of ~$26 plus shipping for Loctite.

We will see which is the better value after I order a bottle of the Loctite…

I’m eager to see how the KV Models parts work out for you.

FYI, Jay Criswell ( sells replacement brass retainer plates, in case you need to replace the plastic Atlas ones. Unfortuantely, Jay’s parts cost almost as much as you paid for each locomotive!

Chooch also made laser-cut replacement glass for the cab windows, but I don’t know i that part is still available - it is not listed on their website.

I haven’t seen the Chooch windows listed in years. On a 1200 I rebuilt years ago, I did a somewhat unsafe hand-hold of the cab in my Sherline mill, using a cylindrical Dremel burr to ream a rabbet all around the inside of each window. In one spot I got too aggressive thinning the 0.1" thick plastic and ended up calling Mr. Orange Bondo.

If I recall Jay’s gearbox covers (or retainer plates) also move the truck side frames inboard a bit, to remove extra clearance needed for 3R wheels.

Bob, I think word is getting around about the inexpensive Atlas SWs! I haven’t seen one that low in a while. A big secret is to look for missing parts or boxes!

I have one with brass handrail fittings and one with plastic fittings. I’m using the brass fitting shell. As for the battery box vents, I don’t like the look of the plastic insert so I’m going to fill the opening and figure out how to add new vents; maybe some Archer decals. Before I applied the gasket remover, I removed all the plastic parts, but the shell with the brass handrail fittings wasn’t removed and stripped as easily as the cast metal shell. All the plastic parts were stripped with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Everything came out very clean and didn’t require a lot of effort!

I did some looking into ACC and am going to try a rubberized ACC from Loctite. I have been studying the pictures on KV’s website and at least for the pilot foot boards, I think in gong to also drill and pin the etchings to help. I’m worried that gluing alone will not hold up as this area is prone to impacts from miss-aligned couplers and uncoupling sticks as well as possibly being able to strike the rail head in a derailment. I think I can disguise the pins by using brass NBW castings and they won’t look out of place.

Chris, I do have the Criswell plates on my shopping list, but may hold out for a while as one of my pair is not damaged. They do close up the gap between the wheel and the side frame. As for windows, I haven’t managed to track down a set of the Chooch windows yet. I seem to remember some talk back in the day that they don’t fit well, but I’d like to see that for myself! I have put a lot of thought into the window problem. The ultimate answer is to scratch build a new cab, but I’m not ready to commit to that yet! I am thinking about a partial cab wall replacement or maybe opening up the cab (read cut it apart and glue it back together) and milling the walls down. There are several options, all with pros and cons! I just need to find the balance that works for me!

The etchings arrived in the mail. Bob, you are going to love the detail on the top screen. It is a multi-depth etching that looks very “to scale” and looks very much like the prototype weaved screens. These will really pop with a good dry brush finish! All of the etching look very well done; sharp corners, crisp depth, and straight lines. These should build out well. These are on par with some of the high end etchings I’ve seen in the armor modeling world.

I will be using a miniature bending tool from Mission Models. It is designed for etched details and was recommended by Gene Fusco back when he was still running Railyard Models. I used it on several of his kits and it works well; nice sharp “z” bends!

Here is a cheap shot of the Etch Mate by Mission Models. Part number EM-001.

Rick -

I really like the radiator etchings but they would block sound from firing up through the radiator. I plan to make thin styrene frames with gray or dark brown silk for the cores themselves. New ones would be gray; old ones a chocolate brown giving a dark background to contrast against A&O gray on the chicken wire. Here’s the rear radiator core set of Great Western GP7 #2233 during scrapping in 2007. That’s an SW8 radiator in the background with cores clogged by orange paint. There really should be a 1" tall lip all the way around the SW chicken wire.

Which of the rubberized Loctite adhesives do you plan to use? McMaster-Carr shows 6 different products suitable for bonding to stainless steel and plastic.

Here’s a “cheap shot” of a Small Shop 4 inch bending brake. That’s a scraper blade inside the plastic tube.

If anyone is interested, I have the remains of an Atlas switcher that I pinched the trucks and motor from for my sw1500 project. While the original motor and trucks are gone, I have since purchased additional gearboxes and motors from Atlas. So the unit could be made essentially whole again. I even have the 3-rail electronics to sweeten the deal!!!:roll_eyes::thinking::face_with_raised_eyebrow::crazy_face:

I’d be happy to move it on for $50 plus shipping. I tried for a while, but I can’t think of anything in particular I would use the parts for.

If anybody really wants it, I’ll dig out everything and make sure I have all the parts I claim to have.


Thanks for contacting me. I only withdrew the post because I had the picture and I wasn’t sure if I broke forum protocol. Although I’ve been reading the forum for years I just recently signed up.

Yes, if you have something with the correct handrails, I would be grateful. I do want them. I moved a couple of years ago and just opened the SW9 box to find half the handrails missing. My prototype only had the front and rear handrails, plus the little handrail at the front steps on the side.

I appreciate you checking it out. Let me know.

A sincere thanks,


I will take a look and see which type of handrails I have with this model. If nobody expresses interest in the whole thing within a short while, I will be glad to part out the remains. I’ll be in touch.


I need to rescind my offer above for my leftover Atlas sw8/9 . After a search through my many tubs of parts, I now see that I’m missing many of the necessary drive train parts to make the model whole again. I do have spare gear boxes and motors. However, I do not have any of the worms, worm gears, universals, gear box covers, or wheelsets! Some of that makes sense, since I was going to use NWSL p48 wheelsets and Jay’s replacement p48 covers. But I’m trying and failing to understand now why I wouldn’t have purchased the gearing and universals at the time I bought the boxes and motors.

So really at this point, I think the only real value is as parts. I’m still hunting for handrail parts for Howard, but anything else is available. If you want something, let me know and I will see if I have it.

I apologize for misrepresenting what was available in my earlier post. Clearly I did not remember things as they actually were :flushed: