These are always popular with railfans and modelers. CN scooped up a bunch of ex-EMD/Oakway leasing SD60’s (formerly leased to Burlington Northern) a number of years ago. All were renumbered into the 5400 series (previously occupied by now-retired GMD SD50F’s). Many were repainted over time, but initially most were pressed into service in their old colours, but patched with new numbers. They made for a nice change from the standard red and black CN units both trackside and layout-side.
These models started off as Life-Like Proto 2000 SD60’s, released on the market in the early-mid 2000’s or so (Athearn has since also released an SD60). CN 5425 was a complete strip and repaint from an old SOO unit I had (no big loss – the factory painted white & red units sucked), while 5479 started off as a factory-painted Oakway unit that had all the blue masked off and repainted to match the 5425 (they were both going to the same owner). CN 5476 and 5484 were both patch-jobs on factory painted units, with other mods (including adding working ditch lights and LED upgrades) done for others.
It’s not too difficult to patch a factory-painted model – a lot of the paint-up work is already done for you (assuming it’s correct and accurate). For this particular project, you’ll need the numbers from Microscale’s CN HO-scale loco decals (87-567) for the cab and numberboard numbers. I used “CN” letters from a custom set for earlier units (some from a freight car set might work), and CN noodles from the Microscale CN N-scale loco decals (60-567), which are reasonable stand-ins. The paint used to patch was True-Line-Train’s Stencil White, Warm Black, Gloss/Flat Glazes (clear) and VIA Blue, although any blue close enough would probably suffice. Good painter’s tape like Tamiya’s 5mm and 10mm model masking tape is highly recommended, along with all the usual modeling supplies (airbrush, etc).
While I simply painted them up or patched them, in real life most have a good few decades of weathering, and much more ratty and faded blue paint – something to keep in mind if you’re planning a full repaint and considering your blues and weathering options.
That said, some of the build modifications and details are outlined below:
- Twin sunshades over both cab windows.
- One firecracker style antenna and one shorter cylinder antenna on the roof (placement varied, check photos).
- Some have an angled beacon support on the front right angled part of the cab (painted white, beacons removed).
- Rear cab door and wall masked and white stripe extended over (factory painted LL P2K units missed this).
- Cab numberboards redecaled.
- Sides of cab patched over blue with airbrush (TLT VIA blue is a decent match), and renumbered with Microscale CN decals (patch jobs varied from unit to unit). Everything clear-coated after, as usual.
- Access doors under cab had blue patching applied, and CN lettering or logo applied (early units had “CN” letters applied, later units had a CN noodle logo here. I had some custom “CN” letters I used, and for later units I used CN noodles applied from an Microscale N-scale CN loco set – not entirely accurate as the prototype noodles were much more “squished” than standard, but a decent option).
- Frame striping applied according to the prototype.
- Two small round logos applied at each stepwell (the Microscale LLPX decal sheet has similar ones).
- Holes drilled from inside of pilot ends, and down into the anticlimber above the pilot, to install the stock P2K ditch lights and run magnet wire inside for lighting (some units had ditch lights at both ends, others only the front – CN had retrofitted rear ones on some).
- Install plow at front only.
- The stock plastic P2K ditch light castings were drilled out and SMD 0402 LED’s were installed in the housings, with magnet wire running into the anticlimber. I wired each set in series, along with roughly a ~580ohm resistor in the circuit.
Nose (Short Hood) Details:
- Class lights were patched over, sanded smooth to simulate punch-out plates installed in place (some units like 5425 had the class light and housings fully removed from the nose).
- EMD logo patched over (how much varied from unit to unit, some just had the logo painted out, some the whole area. There may have been one that kept its front logo).
- Top of nose masked off and painted black for anti-glare coating (with white sand filler cap)
Long Hood Details:
- Class lights were patched over, sanded smooth to simulate punch-out plates installed in place.
- Early patch jobs had all the EMD lettering and logos painted over, later patch jobs that entered service had the lettering left in place, but the EMD logos painted out.
- Rear numberboards redecalled.
Some Work-In-Progress Shots:
- Milling/cutting/channeling was required to the frame and weight, mostly at the ends, to cut channels to run wiring inside the shell for ditch lights (a lot of work here, as these P2K chassis are packed with weight and were not designed for installing ditch light wiring, or sound for that matter).
- Truck sideframes either painted or left black, or weathered as desired (on the factory painted units they come silver).
- The stock lighting system was discarded in favour of 3mm sunny white LEDs, and everything wired to the 8-pin plugs for plugging into decoders.
- One unit was already equipped with a TCS LL8 DCC decoder. Two units got Digitrax DH165LO’s, while one got a small DH165IP (a tight fit, some additional frame milling may be required – AND be sure to wire the ditch light leads RIGHT TO THE PADS on the IP, as the decoder doesn’t send any power to the spare pin (P3) on the 8-pin plug – ask me how I know).
- Favourite recommended mod: remove the lousy double-stick tape under the fuel tank, and drill and tap the middle for a 2-56 screw to hold the plastic fuel tank to the chassis. A must-do mod on all the Proto 2000 units I do now.
- Couplers? No substitute for metal Kadee #58’s, #5’s, or Sergents.
Various Unit Photos and Angles:
A quick gallery of CN 5425, CN 5476 and CN 5479 from a few different angles (they were going to be picked up very soon, so cloudy day photos had to do). And later, CN 5484 was completed for another individual (looks much better on a sunny day, natch):
Now, let’s see your 5400…