LOUIS MARX GETS AN EMPIRE BUILDER.
As a Marx collector and operator, I have often wondered why
more Western railroads were not represented in the numerous assortment
of rolling stock and locomotives. I suppose that roads like the
New York Central and the Pennsylvania were prominent in the population
centers where most of the train sets were sold.
One such railroad that has little representation the Marx product
line is the Great Northern. To my knowledge, only two plastic
boxcars in the GN paint scheme were ever available. Note the
lime green or dark green boxcar with fixed doors and the deluxe
brown boxcar with opening door.
(Authors Note: Since the writing of this article, Ameritrains
has produced a beautiful scale boxcar in green and orange.)
There were definitely no locomotives. How about repainting a
Marx diesel? The Great Northern's colorful Omaha Orange and Pullman
Green would make a striking model. What follows are the steps
I took in repainting two Marx 1095 diesels.
I am certainly not a professional painter, but I can get the
job done. The purpose of this article is not to instruct you
in proper painting and decal techniques, but to inspire you to
take on your own project. I prefer to keep things inexpensive
and simple. It makes sense to use spray paint where possible
and save the harder to find colors for the airbrush. I prefer
Krylon for the quality, fast dry time, and wide variety of colors,
but other brands will do. Primer is essential on bare plastic
or metal. Preparation for the project involved research of prototypical
paint schemes, color choices, and the availability of appropriate
decals. It is important to think the project through before you
begin. For example, decal placement should be considered before
even spraying the first coat of primer.
The two Great Northern Alcos began as a pair of cracked shell
junkers at a swap meet. Both were A units and only one was powered.
All cracks were repaired with Tenax-7R, a high quality plastic
welding cement available through hobby shops. Broken steps were
replaced with reproductions purchased from Robert Grossman, a
company that specialized in parts for Marx. All voids were filled
with spot putty and sanded smooth with 320 sandpaper.
The red war bonnet paint was feathered with sandpaper to hide
any paint lines. Sandpaper was also used to rub out the "SANTA
FE" on the sides of the locos. In order to provide a flat
place to install the "goat" heralds, I decided to remove
the lower headlight on the diesels using a motor tool and file.
It is important at this step, to make sure that all trucks and
couplers are complete and working. In addition, it is a good
time to clean up the motor, ensuring that the powered unit operates
smoothly in forward and reverse.
Remove the headlight lens as well as the screw that holds the
headlight assembly. After masking off the trucks, I applied a
coat of Krylon 1318 gray primer. Carefully examine the shell
for smoothness and use more spot putty if necessary.
When I was convinced that the shells were smooth enough for
paint, I sprayed orange on the shell for a base coat, concentrating
on the nose and the middle strip. It is not important to get
too much orange on the roof. Krylon 2410 Safety Orange turned
out to be a great match for Omaha Orange. Making sure that the
orange was dry, it was time to mask the loco for the green stripe,
back, and roof. I found a ¼" masking tape at a local
auto parts store that did a nice job of making the curve around
The idea here is to mask off everything that you want to remain
orange. The rest of the shell gets a coat of Krylon 8143 Olive
Drab, a good match for Pullman Green. Since Olive Drab is a camouflage
color, it has a flat sheen, so remember to use a layer of Testor's
Glosscote under the areas where there are decals.
I chose two sets of Microscale O scale decals to finish the
locomotives. Great Northern 48-370 was exactly what I was looking
for. I carefully cut out the "goat" herald and two "GREAT
NORTHERN" strips and applied them to the shells using Microscale's
Micro Set decal setting solution. After the decals were dry,
I coated both locos with Testor's Glosscote to protect the decals
and provide a uniform sheen. At this point, I unmasked the trucks
and put the diesels into service. To my satisfaction, the project
was finished. There was a temptation to super detail the locos
as I would have done in my scale days. Sure, one could add antennas,
grab irons, and the like, but to do so would take away from the
look of Marx. My desire was to create a pair of diesels that
Marx might have made and I believe that it has been achieved.
Some times less is more! Give it a try!