The railroad hobby is one that allows a tremendous amount of latitude, an ebb and flow to the intensity with which we pursue it. In a lot of ways it mirrors life. In both life and the hobby, it's been a year of big things. For all of us, which is saying quite a bit. When there are so many big ideas about and on the forefront of so many conversations, the distractions only increase.
But, the fire is still burning, and oftentimes among family activity, time and energy spent on home projects amidst a pandemic, work, kids, and play, there is time to fit in a few small layout projects that help keep the ball rolling. The smaller projects can be satisfying, too! One of those popped into my head this past weekend and last night I was able to bring it to fruition.
Conrail's Dash-8 locomotives in the late 1980's were delivered like many road's with standard, conventional cabs and a boxy nose on the short hood. These noses came with a small grab iron in the middle of the nose. Atlas Model Railroad Company, a manufacturer of model trains that did some very nice Conrail GE's in HO scale about 20 years ago delivered their models in that manner.
Zooming in a bit, you can see it more clearly:
Around 1990, Conrail was changing. The railroad had gone through more than a decade of cost-cutting, route abandonment, layoffs, and service failures. The late 70's and early 80's were hard years for railroads and Conrail especially. Great leadership and willingness to persevere won out, though, and government bail-out money helped to improve track, infrastructure and equipment. But into the 1990's, Conrail was again an independent railroad company that was working to improve operations for shareholders and customers. The company, sometime around 1992, made a move to modify each and every conventional cab Dash-8 on the roster to eliminate the small grab seen above and install longer 'pecos bill' grab irons for crews and mechanical personnel. I am not sure if this was in response to injury or crew suggestion, but in either case the railroad followed through.
Since I am modeling 1994 or so, I needed up the updated grabs. The tiny wire hoops that came with the models are inserted into holes drilled in the shell. A quick pry with a needle nose pliers and they slide right out.
Removal of the small wire grab left two holes perfect for mounting the new railings, and to hold the bottoms I drilled new #74 bit holes. I then used 0.017" brass wire to model 1" metal railings.
I bent them to fit, secured them with Loctite CA gel, and painted them to match prototype photos.
It's a minor change but since it is on the front of the units, it makes a larger impact than I expected. Just another neat little way to tie the Onondaga Cutoff to Conrail in the middle 1990's!