HO Scale Santa Fe SDF40-2 #5255
Constructed by Gregg Fuhriman

Bill of Materials

Body Shell

Athearn FP45: Use as the "core" of the shell.  Contributes nose, cab, dustbin and dynamic roof areas, assorted side panels, rear passenger equipment section, side ladders.

Athearn F45: Contributes various side panels, side latters, front sander access doors (narrowed), handle for front nose door, and roof section to fill behind reworked radiator section.

Athearn GP40-2: Contributes "core" of front pilot and steps, radiator fan housings and roof plate.

Athearn SD40T-2: Contributes rear pilot and steps, cab number boards.

Life-Like F40PH (two shells): Contributes central air intake and dynamic brake intake grilles, small hood-side vents, "frame" for radiator section, part of exhaust silencer box.


Frame: Athearn FP45 frame.  Shorten both ends of fuel tank 1 scale foot and make surfaces vertical.  Hog out inset steps and "line" with Plastruct styrene rectangular tubing.

Trucks: Athearn FP45.  Discard the Flexicoil sideframes and replace with modified HT-C (see below).

Sideframes: Athearn HT-C p/n 45036.  Reposition mounting lugs to allow installation on the FP45 trucks.

Power Train: your choice (the model has the Athearn FP45 drive, but may get a Sagami can motor in the future)


    29200 windshield wipers
    29237 step treads, GP50 (modified)

    56615 truck-tractor wheel hubs, used for fan motor detail (blades made from .010 strip styrene)
    40006 radiator grilles from SD45, used for radiator core detail (vertical ribs made from .005" sheet styrene)

    256 chain, weathered (for pilot handrail manways)

    1203 SP split equipment doors, use 1/2 of dual door piece behind nose notches

Detail Associates:
    1202 bell, underframe mount
    3203 air tanks
    2012 fan grilles
    3001 sand fillers
    2807 speed recorder
    1803 radio voice antenna, Sinclair
    2202 grabs, drop type
    2206 lift rings, wire eylet
    1104 lift tabs, cut at angle and mounted near radiators
    2312 cab wind deflectors/mirrors
    1020 class light blanks
    3102 fuel fillers/guages
    2213 coupler cut bar brackets
    1508 MU hoses
    1003 headlight housing, mounted in nose door
    1903 cab vent, mounted on cab roof
    1904 dynamic brake vent
    2303 cab armrests, used as step treads in fuel tank step insets

Details West:
    158 air conditioner
    214 radio EOT antenna
    196 spare coupler knuckles, truck mount
    220 MU cables
    155 snow plow, modify central area and notch outboard lower corners
    186 horn
    195 coupler buffers
    226 air filter set
    224 traction motor cable set
    197 fuel tank brackets

MV Products:
    25 headlight lenses

Precision Scale:
    3978 exhaust stack, open, modify and splice into Life-Like F40PH exhaust silencer
    3935 handrail stanchions, side mount
    3937 handrail stanchions, top mount

Scratch-built and other:
    notch nose: Plastruct styrene L-shape, file edges to rounded contour
    upper headlight housing: .040" styrene shaped to oblong profile, angle to conform to FP45 cab front
    upper headlight cover plate: .005" styrene with sewing needle punched rivets
    radio antenna platform: .010" styrene, supported by .020" square strip styrene
    rooftop conduits (radio and horn): .012" brass wire
    round access plates on rear hood: .005" styrene with sewing needle punched rivets
    handrails (pilots and side doors): .012" brass wire
    coupler cut bars: .012" brass wire
    nose grabs near sand fills: .006" brass wire
    window glazing: .015" clear styrene, cut and fit into window openings for flush mount effect


Scalecoat 2020 maintenance of way gray: primer coat to create a uniform color that allows the yellow to cover evenly without excessive thickness.  The fan blade assemblies and radiator cores are painted this color to make them more visible behind their grilles.

Floquil 110033 Railbox yellow: chosen to closely match the Scalecoat decal color used for large "Santa Fe" lettering  on hood sides.  This yellow was mixed with Floquil Hi-Gloss and Glaze to give a smoother finish for applying decals.

Scalecoat 2024 Santa Fe blue: chosen for its glossy finish fo applying decals.  Applied over the masked yellow.

Floquil 110144 Platinum Mist silver: applied to truck sideframes and some details.

Floquil 110010 Engine black: applied to frame, fuel tank, and some details.  Mixed with Floquil Hi-Gloss and Glaze for smoother finish.

Floquil 110136 SP Scarlet red: brush-applied to some details.

Microscale 87-369 Santa Fe SD40-2 Snoot decals: chosen for its good yellow color for hood side lettering, and long-striped nose heralds for following notch nose contours.

Weathering was done with a combination of airbrushed beige (dust) and dark gray (smoke), and dry-brushed brown (rust) and black (oil, grease).

Paint Masking

Cellophane tape was laid down on waxed paper - the "invisible" type tape was used as it has a slightly roughened outer surface. This surface is required to draw the warbonnet on using pencil. Cellophane tape also has the advantage of having cleaner edges and a thinner profile than traditional masking tape.

Next, careful measurements were taken from the shell to determine the dimensions of the desired warbonnet outline, based on prototype photos. Carefully free-handed curves were next drawn on the tape-on-wax-paper using a mechanical pencil with a fine lead size in order to get a sharp, clean sketch. An Xacto blade was then used to cut out the warbonnet shape from the tape, which was then peeled off the waxed paper and applied to the model.

A small jeweler's screwdriver was used to work the edge of the tape down around the details on the shell to prevent paint leakage.

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