N-Scale Burlington Northern B30-7A 4045

 
 





Background
In 1982 the Burlington Northern ordered 53 B30-7A's from General Electric. In an effort to reduce costs the units were ordered without cabs saving the BN $40,000 each.1 The units were numbered 4000 - 4052. In 1983 the BN ordered 67 more B30-7A's numbered 4053 - 4119. This second batch had the dynamic brake blowers moved to a box on top of the hood just behind where the cab normally would be. Both orders were delivered with GE's 12-cylinder turbocharged GE-FDL12 diesel engine generating 3000hp at 1050 rpm driving a 5GTA24 alternator. The four 5GE752AF DC traction motors are connected permanently in parallel and drive a pair of wheels with a gear ratio of 83/20 for a maximum speed of 70 mph.2 There is no hostler station or air brake controls like on older EMD F-units so to move the units need to be MU'ed to an engine with a cab.

Wheel Diameter

40 in.

Length

61 ft., 2 in.

Width

119 in.

Height

14 ft., 11 in.

Bolster Centers

37ft, 2 in.

Truck Wheel Base

108 in.

Maximum Weight

280,00 lbs.

Fuel Capacity

3250 gal.

Model
I chose to model BN4045 because it is one of the few B30-7As that seems to have made it though the rebuild and retain it's phase I grill configuration. This allows me to use a pretty much stock Atlas highnose B30-7A shell. The only major modifications I had to make are removal of the lower engineer's side grill and changing the front left battery box from short to long.

Steps

Scrape grabs, MU-hoses, Cut levers

Drill holes

Sand

Remove engineers side grill

Front number boards

Sand filler and Horn cap

Install door inset filler

Install cab filler

Install cab door, scribe lines

Carve in steps

fill cab notches

Long battery box

Glue sill to shell, radiator, exhaust

Install grabs

Install MU hoses

Bend cut levers

Install cut levers

Install MU cable

Trucks

Fuel tank

Paint

Decal

Hand rails

Hand paint

Seal and weather

Parts List

Atlas B30-7A

Atlas high nose B23-7 shell

BLMA 0.007" Drop Grabs

BLMA 0.007" Straight Grabs

BLMA MU hoses

Sunrise MU cable

Sunrise spare knuckle

Detail Associates 0.006" brass wire - cut levers, brake lines

Detail Associates 0.010" brass wire - hand rails

Detail Associates HO fuel fillers - sand filler

Details West HO EMD Switcher fuel filler - fuel filter

Gold Medal Models stanchions

Gold Medal Models lift rings - cut levers

Evergreen 0.015 sheet styrene - cab filler

Evergreen 0.015 x 0.060 styrene - door inset filler

Evergreen 0.010 x 0.040 styrene - front number boards

0.020" brass rod - hand brake guide to truck

0.010" x 0.020" bar stock - hand brake guide support

Scrape grabs, MU-hoses, Cut levers

Using an x-acto #11 blade scrape the molded grab irons off. It's not important to get them perfectly flush, just be certain not to nick the shell. If you do it can be puttied at a later time. The grabs on the ends of the body are fairly easy. Be careful of the ones on the sill to maintain the step in the angled plate. The one in the grill on the top is rather difficult to get at because it sunk. A small chisel works best but if you can't get it too clean, it probably won't show once the grab is installed. Remove the MU hoses and cut levers.

Drill holes

Using the existing markings from the grabs that were scraped off, drill holes for the grabs using a #80 drill and pin vice. If you have a BLMA drill template it makes alignment easer, but using the leftover mark from the scraped off grab is probably good enough. A #80 hole is 0.014" and the BLMA grabs are 0.007" so there is some room for alignment. In addition you'll need to drill holes for extra grabs on the ends. One below the numberboards and one at the bottom. Drill a hole in the middle of each MU hose bracket for the new brass hoses.

Sand

After you have all the holes drilled, sand the shell lightly to remove the remaining cast on grabs. I like to use 320 grit sanding sticks. These are available at hobby shops or you can make them by gluing sandpaper to popsicle sticks. After you have the cast on grabs smooth, flatten the classification lights if you are modeling an engine after rebuild.

Remove engineers side grill

The Atlas model has a grill on the long hood that doesn't exist on the BN B30-7A's. I removed it and replaced it with the blanked panel from the other side of a spare B23-7. I did this after I had glued the shell to the sill so I just drilled out the grill, connected the holes with an x-acto knife and kept shaving until I had a square opening. Cut the blank plate and send it to fit. I left it with a little bevel on the edge to allow for an imperfect fit. After gluing the plate in place the dimple on the inside will need reinforces on the bottom to allow the bump on the frame to have something to grab onto. I added a piece of 0.080" x 0.010" styrene strip on the inside for this.



Front number boards


The Atlas shell has the front number board too low. They should line up with the top of the light. Scrape the number boards off using a sharp #11 x-acto knife flush with the body. Fill the hole with scrap styrene and glue it in. Scrape that flush after the glue has dried and putty and sand it smooth. Next make replacement plates from 0.060" x 0.010" styrene strip. They should be just long enough to come from the edge of the light to the edge of where the body starts to bend around the corner. Glue them in place flush with the top of the light on the round corner. Adding the bezel is rather delicate but I think worth while as it gives the number boards to look of the prototype. I very carefully scraped the number boards off the back of a spare shell. They tend to curl up a little bit but the glue will soften them when you reinstall them. The most important thing to keep them even and not to break them. After you have them off, Install them by tacking the inside down with glue and working to the outside. Take care to straighten them and align them square with the plates.

Rear number boards

I just cut the rear number boards from the atlas light pipe and CA'ed them in place. I am a little disappointed in that when the light is on, it leaks through the number boards. But how often are you going to have a light on on a B-unit? I'd recommend filling the holes with styrene as it will look better to. The light pipe number boards are a little rounded on the edges.

Sand filler and Horn cap

The sand filler is no longer available from Atlas. I made mine by using some round styrene and gluing it into the hole. On the next one I do I will make the cap stand up like I did on the fuel filler by cutting a disk from the styrene and attaching it to the end of some 0.020" brass wire with CA and then cementing the whole thing in the hole.

Apparently GE ran the plumbing for the horn but BN decided that a horn wasn't necessary on a unit without a cab. I tend to agree. In any case, they simply bolted a flat round plate to the end of the pipe where the air horn would have attached. I made mine similar to the sand filler hatch but with smaller diameter styrene. Afterwards I found some HO scale air horn kits (from details west?) that have separate back plates. that I think would be small enough to fit over this and look right, including the attach bolts.

Install door inset filler

The long hood right next to the cab is inset to allow the door to open. I'm not sure why it's on both sides because I thought there was only a door on the engineers side on a standard B30-7A. Obviously on an engine without a cab this isn't needed. I filled it in using 0.010" x 0.080" styrene strip.

Install cab filler

This is where your shell starts to look uniquely BN. I cut mine from 0.010" sheet a scale 7ft wide. I then bent it over the edge of the my work surface with a stainless steel ruler to get a really sharp edge. The first bend is easy. The second bend you need to get the proper width. I measure off the shell making sure to have the proper arch in the roof. The good news is is that it's rather forgiving and if you mess up, throw it out and start over. In fact I cut a log strip 7ft wide and did throw out the first one. Leave the sides a little long. After you have it sized correctly, put the shell on the sill and trim the cab fill the correct length. Do this in a couple of steps to avoid taking too much (note that I have to putty).

Glue the filler to the shell taking care to line up the edges and making sure to leave the inset for the front left door visible. You'll also want to support the top using some scrap pieces of styrene. Be careful not to use too much glue. I had a pool and distorted the relatively thin 0.010" styrene on the roof. It took a fair amount of sanding to straighten it out and I'm still not quite satisfied with it.

Install cab door, scribe lines

There is an access door on the engineers side to get at the controls to start the engine and set it up for the consist. Cut the door from a spare shell from the long hood just behind the cab. Sand it flush with the edges and sand it to about 0.010" thick.


Carve in steps

As a b-unit, crews could walk down both sides the length of the engine so GE put steps on the engineers side. Cut the steps in the front and back of the air brake compartment on the engineer's side using an x-acto knife. Start by cutting the vertical sides and then remove the step at 45°. Keep carving and cleaning up to step to make it square. eventually you will break through the sill and this helps finish up. Then fill in the bottom with some spar styrene.

Long battery box

The first battery box on the Fireman's side on the Atlas model is short. The BN B30-7A's had a long batter box door here. I removed a long one from a spare sill and sanded it flush with front, back and side edges leaving the slightly beveled. I then removed the short battery box all the way forward making sure to keep the hole for the stanchion. The step on the fireman's side is particularly difficult as you end up cutting three corners of a blind square. I removed as much as I could without breaking through and then thinned the new long battery box door up with sand paper. Go slow and test fit by lining up the bottom of the sill and hinge line. When everything fits good glue the new door in place. When the glue is dried, putty and sand the bottom of the sill if necessary.


Grabs

Now is a good time to install the grabs. I used to bend grabs from 0.006" brass wire. Now that BLMA has 0.007" stainless drop grabs I'll never have to do that again. Not that I minded too much but it was rather tedious to bend all those grabs by hand and I never could quite get a jig to work. I usually bent 10 or so extras and picked the most uniform ones. Install the grabs one at a time by inserting them in the holes previously drilled and applying gap filling CA to the back side. Then pull the grab out until the CA fills the hole and position the grab taking care to line them up as the #80 hole is about 0.014" and the grab is 0.007" so there is room to adjust. Leave out the grabs that are at the spot where the green and black meet to aid in masking. I didn't and it makes it very difficult to mask for painting.

Glue sill to shell, radiator, exhaust

Now it's time to glue the shell and sill together. While you don't strictly have to, I see no reason not to. On an engine with a cab, it's almost required if you bend your own hand rails. Test fit everything and glue from the inside.

Install MU hoses

The MU hoses on the front and back go on next. You could even wait until just before painting as the gladhands are delicate and if they hang below the striker plate they get bent under. I didn't break any of mine but they sure seemed like they could at any time. Drill a hole just above the cast on MU attach bracket so the glad hand lines up with the very bottom of the striker plate. Install the 3 hose version of the BLMA hoses with CA apples from behind. I did need to add a touch of CA to keep them from wanting to spin. I wish BLMA had put two tabs on each one.

Cut levers

I like to bend my own cut levers from 0.006" brass wire. I think they look a little better. It is however time consuming and difficult to get them to look correct. And the BLMA ones are quite nice. If you want to bend your own, start with a good flat tweezer. Grab the wire where you want to make the bend and push it over the top of the tweezer. Work from one end to the other. The only exception is for the round top of the GE cut lever I had to roll it around a jewelers screwdriver shank. You can also use an appropriate sized drill bit. I started by making that bend first and then bending the rest of the handle keeping everything flat. Then work toward the other end making the link pin lever in the middle using the shell to gauge where to make the bends. If things aren't quite square at this point don't worry about it too much as you can go back and tweak things later. The only thing that's hard to fix is trying to twist the axis of the wire so make sure your bends are going the right direction. when you get to the other end and have the wire pointing straight up as shown in the picture, make the other bend around the screwdriver/drill bit. Then finish up the handle. The last thing to do is to bend the top of the handle forward about 45°


Install cut levers

I install my cut levers using lift rings from Gold Medal Models. I tried using four per cut lever with two on each side and about drove myself bonkers. After a couple of frustrating hours I decided to install just one on each side ad was done in fifteen minutes. CA the lift rings in from the back side and then CA the cut lever in place applying the glue with a small piece of scrap 0.010" brass wire. There are also two grab irons on each end that should be installed now.

Install MU cable

This step is optional. I usually put one on the front of my locomotives so when their in the lead, they show off this added detail. However, the B30-7A will probably never been in the lead (although BN apparently had a B30-7A in the lead on at least one train). Trim up a Sunrise MU cable to remove any flash, drill two hole in the front plate for the cable and install with CA.

Trucks

There isn't a whole lot to do to the trucks. In fact the Atlas truck are so nicely detailed, I questioned whether or not I needed to do anything at all. I decided to replace the air line to the break cylinder. If I were to do anything else, I probably would have replaced the sand lines. Start by scraping off the cast on air lines and drilling a #80 hole in the end of the brake cylinder. I then drilled another #80 hole in the plate just to the left of center. There is a valve (?) to scrape off right on the corner. Then bend the wire using a flat tweezer and techniques described for cut levers above. Once bent, the airline will keep its self in place if you bend the inside over 90° after you bend it, cut it with an x-acto knife as short as necessary to keep it from coming back out and touch it with a small drop of CA for good measure.


Fuel tank

I really don't like shallow relief on fuel tanks and it's not too hard to get more depth. In this case, remove the existing fuel fittings, trim the top with an x-acto knife, and sand the top flush. Put the left fuel cutoff back on and the fuel gage next to the fuel filler on the right. I choose to make a new fuel filler from 0.020" brass wire with a styrene cap. Cut the styrene cap from from round 0.030" rod as thin as you can with out loosing it. Drill a vertical 0.020" hole as far back on the fuel tank where the filler was. Bend and cut the brass wire to fit so the front is flush with the fuel tank. Dip the front of the fuel filler in CA and then touch it to your styrene cap and square it up. Install the fuel filler with CA. I then created a hose from the fuel filler to the gage from 0.006" brass wire, drilled holes and installed it with CA.

Air tanks

The stock Atlas air tanks are also lacking detail. Remove the air lines using an x-acto knife. Fill in the top of the air tanks with a piece of 0.10" styrene tube that has been quartered with a razor saw. Test fit it just after you glue it in to make sure it clears the frame. Drill holes in the ends of the air tanks to accommodate 0.020" air lines. The fireman's side air lines make a loop and go right back into something. I bent these around a drill bit and installed them with CA. The front engineer's side air line is bent up and goes right up to the walk way. This pipe is angled a little out and a little aft. The rear engineer's side air line needs to be bent around the fuel filter. So it come out, a little forward, up, and the back in. These are all right angles bent with a needle nose pliers.

Fuel Filter

I actually forgot to add this before I painted but it was easy enough to add and brush paint. I used a Details West HO scale fuel filler for a EMD SW switcher. The only thing I did was add the spirals for the centrifugal filter using an x-actor knife. I couldn't decide if this should be part of the frame or part of the fuel tank. I choose to make to part of the frame and haven't had any problems.

Paint

That's a lot of work. Now the reward. Start by doing the dishes, literally. Gently wash the shells in the sink in warm water with dish soap. This is to remove any mold release, finger oil, and dirt from detailing the unit. Use a tooth brush to get in all the details. Start painting by applying a coat of Cascade Green to the sides and sills. I used polly scale paints, but use what works best for you. I'm not sure I like the color of polly scale BN green, but it's pretty close. It did take me seven coats until I was satisfied with the coverage. I mixed my pint about 50% paint, 10% polly scale gloss coat, 40% polly scale airbrush thinner. After the green has dried 24 hours mask for the black. I like to use scotch tape. cut off a piece 6" long or so and stick it to a glass work surface. Cut all the edges with a stainless steel ruler. I started by masking the black line with a piece about a 1/4" wide lining it up with the rear radiator and sighting it level. I did one side wrapping both ends and then the other side wrapping both ends. Then I masked the bottom at the walkway. Next the sill. The ends the B30-7A were originally green for about a foot but even after limited use the ends pretty much turned black. I chose to pint the whole end black. If you're modeling something right out of the factory you might need to rethink the order you install the cut levers. Burnish the tape into the cracks using the tip of a toothpick. This is where using regular masking tape would work better as it's hard to keep the scotch tape in the cracks. To help prevent any bleed under first paint a coat of Cascade Green to seal the tape. After the paint has dried (15 minutes or so for polly scale) apply Engine Black to everything including the trucks and fuel tank. After the black has dried (about a half hour for polly scale) remove masking tape using tweezers.


Decal

Decalling took me about 4 hours using Microscale 60-xxxx, 60-xxxx, and 60-xxxx sets. I usually try to model from pictures I've taken. If you can get close ups of both sides that's the best. Of course you already knew that. The reality is you probably have one 3/4 shot of the engine you want to model that you snapped as it went by your car at 70 mph. What ever you have for reference, the more pictures you have around when decalling the better. Start with the big easy ones like the numbers and BN logo and work from what pictures you you can recognizing that every engine can be different. Specific to the B30-7A's everyone I've seen is different relative to the high voltage stickers on the tall doors. Some are on the black, some are on the green. It seems that after the rebuild, the number of stickers grew. Cut the decals using an x-acto knife working on a hard surface like glass. For some of the small stickers, I cut some warning decals in half. Use a new knife blade to prevent dragging the edge of the decal. I use an old lid off a peanut butter jar filled with water to drop the decals in. Let them soak for about 10 seconds and then take them out of the water using tweezers and a fine paint brush. Put the decal on a paper towel to remove most of the water. Wet the area where the decal is to go using a fine paint brush and Micro-sol. Position the decal on the engine and slide it off using the paint brush. Carefully aline the decal to ensure it square and inline. Keep adding more Micro-sol as needed to position the decal. The Micro-sol evaporates fairly quickly, just watch that the decal doesn't move. Then move on to the next decal, cut, wet, apply, set. It's a task that seems like it should go a lot faster than it does, but it's worth it and the unit really starts to look real. After all the decals have been applied go back and apply Micro-set to all the decals to get them to snug down to the shell. For difficult areas like door hinges, you may need to apply Micro-set multiply times just be sure to let it dry completely in between applications.


Hand rails

I really like the look of near scale 0.010" hand rails and Gold Medal Models stanchions. They are a little more fragile than stock hand rails but, in my mind, worth the effort. They do hold up fairly well with moderate handling and if they get bent (usually into the shell) they can be straightened. I did decide to use the stock Atlas hand rails on the ends. They are 0.015" but look very good and I couldn't drill a #80 hole in the inner stanchion like I have done on previous models. Start by painting the stanchions still on the sprue leaving the tab on the bottom and top bare for better glue adhesion. Trim all the stanchions using an x-acto knife. Bend the tab 90° using tweezers. Install the stanchions in the Atlas holes using a drop of CA on the tab insuring they are vertical. For the stanchions on the engineer's side where the cab would normally be, drill a #76 holes on either side of the airbrake compartment door. On the fireman's side the stanchions are equally spaced and mounted to the top of the walk. I drilled a #76 hole in the edge at about a 45° angle and then straightened them to vertical. I bend the hand rails just like bending the cut levers above. Start with 0.010" brass wire and a pair of flat tweezers. Start at one end and work to the other using the stock handrails and pictures as a guide. The most important point is to keep things square. Test fit often. After everything is bent and fits good, paint the ends white. I glue my handrails to the stanchions using CA. I remember and article some time ago that talked about soldering handrails to stanchions using a resistance soldering iron. It sounds like it would be a more secure and better looking joint, but I've never had any problem with CA. CA one end and work to the other applying CA with a small piece of scrap wire taking care to keep stanchions vertical and the handrail straight. If there are any stanchions that stand too tall, trim them carefully with a pair of flush cutting dikes.


Hand paint

Final paint touch up starts with the handrails. Using at least a 0000 brush, paint the handrails green and touch up any stanchions that need it. Be sure to clean out any paint that gets in the channels on the stanchions. Paint the stock end rails green along with the sides of the drop step. Paint the ends of the handrails white. Paint the grabs on the pilots and the handles on the cut levers white. Paint the fuel filler and gage red. Paint the brake cylinder and ends of the MU hoses silver. Add some depth to the grills on the long hood using very diluted black. I basically cleaned my brush until it almost left no black on a paper towel, dipped it in water one more time and touched it to the grill letting capillary action wick the paint into the groves.


Seal and weather

Start by masking the wheels and contacts to prevent getting any paint on them. I cut strips of tape to wrap on the wheel tread prior to reassembly. I prefer to weather the model completely assembled to give it a uniform look. The down side is it's tough to get into small spaces like just above the fuel tank. I still haven't found a good way to hold the model while painting it. I set it on a shoe box lid to shoot it with an air brush. My prototype photo was fairly clean with just some road grim on the underframe. If need be brush on chalks using a stiff brush and dry brush paint as necessary. However dirty you want to make your model, apply a coat of paint to seal the decals to prevent them from coming off during handling. I used a mix of polly scale dirt, rail brown, and mud along with flat finish and thinner to seal and weather you model. Just remember, as I so painfully learned on the first model I super detailed (a Kato BN Phase II GP50 #3139), you can always add more weathering, but you can't take it off. After the paint dries, remove the tape, put it on your layout, MU it to another unit, and smile as B30-7A adds the necessary horsepower to get that hot shot pig train to the west coast on time.

Drop me a line if this was helpful or if there is something that needs clarified. And above all else, have fun!


1Burlington Northern 1980-1991 Annual, Robert C. Del Grosso, 1991 Hyrail Productions, Denver, CO.

2New series Diesel-Electric Locomotive Model B30-7A (Cabless), GEJ-6357A, General Electric Transportation Systems Business Operations, Erie, PA.


 

 

©2006 John Raid