One of the things I dislike about modeling real locomotives and rolling stock is how dull and monochromatic the colors tend to be. I’m always on the lookout for bright and colorful things to build and when I came across these Union Pacific heritage units last year, I knew what I had to build next. Union Pacific had these SD70ACe’s painted special to commemorate 6 different rail lines that they acquired throughout the years. Missouri Pacific in 1982, Missouri-Kansas-Texas in 1988, Denver and Rio Grande in 1989, Southern Pacific in 1986, Western Pacific in 1983, and Chicago & North Western in 1995. I built the Missouri Pacific right away and held off on building the remaining 5 pending the construction of some other projects.
I never actually planned on making all 6 but had several people ask me when I was going to complete the set. I mentally scoffed at the idea of making 5 more of the same locomotive. Well, here we are today and all 6 are now complete. I think it was my friends Cale and Nick that finally convinced me to do it. Nick was also very generous with sharing brick in rare colors to help me. I did all the vinyl stickers myself on my vinyl printer/cutter Roland BN-20. I take custom orders and enjoy doing stickers for other Lego train fans. I can print full CMYK + white ink and cut on any color vinyl including metallic colors and clear. Just shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, here’s the first one I did, the Missouri Pacific aka MoPac.
This one was a little tricky because it’s powered and the rarity/lack of selection in medium blue and dark blue. Because it was my first Lego SD70ACe, I wanted to get the dimensions as close to perfect in 0.7 studs/ft scale, aka 7 wide, as possible. To accomplish this, I printed off a scale drawing of the prototype and marked how large each feature needed to be. I went through several iterations on many of the features to get them just right. For example the fuel tank; which I had to raise half a plate to prevent it from dragging on uneven track. Additionally, I spent a lot of time getting the nose and cab windows just right. Custom steel wheels pick up 24V DC track power that charges an on-board 10F 24V super capacitor bank. A homemade bluetooth motor controller powers 2 PF L motors. It was tough fitting all of the electronics inside. For a more thorough description of my electronic wizardry, read my other BMR articles here & here.
After I was finally convinced to build the other 5, I started with the Missouri Kansas Texas aka Katy. The only reason I chose this one first was because it’s pretty.
I regret that I had to resort to red vinyl to do the diagonal striping, but there was no other way to achieve the effect I wanted. Surprisingly, the graphics on the side of the locomotive don’t seem to be available anywhere on-line in high resolution so I had to trace a low resolution image with my finger on my wife’s touch-screen laptop. Another challenge was that dark red was missing a few pieces that I wanted to use, so I resorted to reddish-brown a few times, and red for others.
The third was the Rio Grande.
I debated whether or not to use bright light orange, medium orange, or yellow. Fortunately, my wife picked bright light orange (chima yellow), which turned out to be the perfect color as well as a decent selection of parts. A few tricky bits as a result of the color, no 1×2 grille tile, so I had to creative with the grilles on the rear of the body. Luckily, the ladder is available in bright light orange so I was able achieve a similar effect. Getting the mountain silhouettes to line up across “elevation” changes was difficult. I tried to precut everything perfect, but my mental model was wrong, so I had to do a little slicing and dicing to get it all to line up.
Fourth, I built the Western Pacific.
I just realized my photos were taken one BrickLink order prior to completion, but I think the only thing missing is several 1×2 dark green grille tile. Anyway, getting the artwork for this one was the hardest part. I ended up downloading an addon pack for a train sim that I dont play, extracting the texture files from it, and vectorizing them. It was a lot of work! Also, the 2 x 2 weird slopey piece I like to use for the angles on the nose is not available in dark green so I had to get creative with cheese slopes. Someone tell Lego that they’re allowed to make a 2×2 plate in dark green, why it doesn’t exist yet is beyond me.
Fifth, I made the Chicago North Western, aka CNW.
After using up all of my own dark green tile and small plate to make the Western Pacific, I had to buy a bunch to build the CNW and borrow a ton from Nick. I was glad that I was able to brick-build the dark green to yellow transition. It was kind of tricky to get all the snot to work out, but the result speaks for itself. The ribbing on the top of the roof behind the cab on the Western Pacific and the CNW was impossible to build in dark green the same way I had built the other colors, 2×2 jumpers don’t exist in dark green. I compromised by putting a few tiles down to mimic the effect. Sharp eyed readers might notice another piece that doesn’t exist in dark green that I had manufacture with a razor blade and some glue. I won’t tell anyone what it is though.
Lastly, I built the Southern Pacific.
I was dreading this build the most; I almost didn’t bother with it because I thought the prototype was so ugly. But seeing as how I had already completed the previous 5, and after much hassling by Cale and other Lego train fans, I decided to go through with it. I’m glad I did. Once I got building, it started to grow on me. I tried brick-building the orange/black/red color transition on the front under the cab, but decided it was impossible and used a few small pieces of orange vinyl. Lego doesn’t make any pieces to do the inverse of a curved slope and I wanted it to look correct. Those white pin stripes were a lot of work too. I printed/cut them pre-spaced, so all I had to do was lift up all 4 at once with transfer tape and put them on the model, but it was still very time consuming getting all the curved and angled bits right.
It sure was satisfying to see all 6 displayed at Brickfair rolling down the track. I was also gratified by a Brickee nomination for Best Train but ended up losing to Cale (again!). Next year maybe I’ll build a steam engine or something. Steam always wins….
Anyway, that’s all for today. Thanks for looking.