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In my earliest days as a rail fan, I was around a lot of C&O power in Huntington, WV. It was predestined as I was born in the C&O Hospital there. Huntington also afforded the opportunity was watch trains from the B&O and NW as they also came into town or nearby Ceredo Kenova. The N&W was mainly coal drags out of southern WV going to the barge loading docks of the Ohio River. Of note was the use of steam to switch the cars into the mid-late 50s. They could sometimes block access to the Dreamland Pool from the parking “field”. What a shame, right? More to follow.
Just after college, there was an explosion of color on numerous railroads. The C&O already controlled the B&O and so both company’s locos started showing up in the new Chessie System colors of yellow, blue, and vermillion. Wow. The west side of the Huntington shops exploded with repainted units.
As I had only one Chessie loco, a vintage Athearn RTR SD40-2, why not acquire more? Enough of this “bright future” nonsense. I found a pristine P2K SD9 in Chessie; then I found a never-out-of-the-box brother. Wonder if there is another? Yep, to round out my coal drag lash up, and to add variety, another new SD9 in pre-Chessie B&O blue.
And the update begins. Fairly straight forward; old motor, drive shafts, worm gear, and weights out and updated versions in.
In the past upgrades, I have used the Kato motor incorporating hex drive flywheels in all my P2K Es. This required removing obstructions in the frame’s fuel tank area. While the SD9 motor has a smaller footprint, the needed machining in the fuel tank area looked time consuming. Fortunately, late run Athearn RTR motors with hex drive fit like a glove with no machining. All that was needed was to apply a strip of Kapton tape to insure isolation of the motor from the frame.
I also used the newer Athearn worm gears, and on the first SD9, Athearn 90120 hex drive shafts which fit perfectly. The last 2 SD9s incorporate the A-line shafts.
The difference in dimensions between the factory motor and the Athearn requires removal of portions of the weight. And as theses 3 locos will be consisted, tractive effort is still more than adequate. Retain the light mounting end pieces which screw into the frame as they make positioning and securing the lights easier. These are the trimmed weight pieces and the factory motor to be discarded.
I cut slots in the frame with a Dremel blade for 0603 smd LED ground lights with copper wire leads. I secured the ground lights with a dab of siliconized acrylic caulk as the thicker modulus captures and holds the light into position more quickly than Kristal Klear (KK).
I used 1206 smd LEDs in warm white and 30 gauge wire for the connections for the front and rear lights secured in place with KK. When the KK is dry, paint the back of the LEDs with black paint to prevent light bleed.
Shown is the Econami PNP board with attached feeds and lights for testing on the first unit. As the speaker will be mounted in the rear, I added length to the light wires to accommodate routing around the speaker. Once satisfied with the positioning, final trims to the wires will clean up the install. The speakers are next.
Space is tight in the rear portion of the frame. While there is more room in the cab area, it produces a sound locality issue. So, rear it is.
I chose a Scale Sound Systems UFIT-MEGA speaker from the Coeval family. The dimensions are 15mm H, 18mm W, and 30mm L. To clear the drive shaft, I added 11mm tall legs from thin sheet styrene. As on other projects, I secured the legs to the speaker with KK. Due to the design of the worm gear retainers, I trimmed the length of the speaker legs to avoid interfering with the truck rotation in curves.
On the SD9 loco shells, there is an itsy bitsy tab in front of the fans projecting down from the roof. Just enough to interfere with the speaker so trim it with a hobby knife (slowly and carefully). I also removed the fans and trimmed the center sprue from each fan to eliminate any contact.
Weathering and Details
I researched Chessie SD9s on several web sites and printed 4 x 6 photos to use as a reference in weathering. Quite a choice available from spic and span clean to grungy and everything in between.
I replaced the rather clunky LL era wipers with etched versions from KV and added cab shades from A-line. Some of the lift rings and been broken as was the antennae so those were replaced, too.
Now if I can just find the little plastic salsa container where I put the couplers and pilots before I moved, I can complete it.
This article first appeared on model-railroad-hobbyist.com
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