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Noel

How to make your own 121 class

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How to make your own CIE 121 class loco B121 from an Athearn SW1500 and Shapeways 3D body.

I takes a bit of time and is costs about the same if not a little more than a possible future RTR loco, but at least you are guaranteed to have a 121 model that is a very smooth running loco and won't be affected if there are any future delays in the market. I am planning on doing another pair myself and one for a friend. I run the one I have below B121 on its own or in consist with an GM 141.

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TIP: Do as much man handling, drilling and plastic work before painting or adding any detailing such as glazing, hand rails, etc

 

Get an Athearn SW1500 model on ebay. The later 3rdgeneration chassis which is DCC ready (8pin) quality motor drive + basic lighting board (directional head lamps)

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/15/2c/b0/152cb0c2b24eb639c7a4fb34873c7bad.jpg

 

 

2. Get 3d Body shell from shapeways €65

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https://www.shapeways.com/product/S3QTQFYCT/irish-railways-121-class?optionId=57420082&li=user-wishlist

 

3. Get 3d FUD (Frosted Ultra detail) detail parts for 121 class (Bogies, buffer beam + Buffers, Horns, Light fittings, main side grille vents, Cab Doors €15

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https://www.shapeways.com/product/JW2L8UNNQ/detail-parts-for-irish-railways-121-class?optionId=57419115&li=marketplace

 

4. Cut roof cover from plastic styrene sheet from downloadable template

 

5. Remove The Athearn SW1500 Body Shell and keep for salvaging later parts like horns, rails, etc. Cut away body mounting lugs from each end of the metal chassis using carburundem cutting disc (mini drill) so that the chassis will fit length wise inside the 3d Body Shell

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Test fit for length to ensure ends of chassis do not snag body

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5. If doing earlier CIE variants that did not have the walk way rails cut away the mounting lugs on the side where the vertical stauncauns would have been fitted

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6. Make and test fit plasticard styrene chassis mounts. These will be used to friction mount and plug the Athearn metal chassis into the 3D plastic body shell. The Metal body chassis has a nice little shelf all along the sides which can be made to sit snugly between the plastic chassis mounts with just enough friction to hold the body in place at the correct height. This is also a good time to drill, cut file a suitable NEM size hole or pocket in the valance at the cab end. This can be used to hold the tongs of either a standard tension lock coupling or a kaydee NEM coupling (eg no 19).  The coupling protruding through the valance can also be used indirectly as a body mounting lug that stops the body pulling up away from the chassis. Making the NEM hole is time consuming and requires precision. Start by drilling and then use suitable shaped micro files. 

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7a. Wash the 3D body with warm soapey water and allow to dry thouroughly before priming with Halfords get primer. The 3D FUD Detail parts will need to be cleaned with mild Isopropal Alchol to remove the 3D binding agent otherwise pulling masking tape later will pull the paint away from FUD components. Halfords plastic grey primer applied thinly at a distance in a warm dry environment best

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7b. Fit detail parts before priming (horns will be removed for hand painting later). Drill out any holes in the light fittings for future micro LED lights or fibre optic cabling for LEDs located inside the bodyshell.

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8. If doing CIE era Black’n’Tan variant. Airbriush white paint approx. where the white bands will exist (in preparation for reverse masking later). Salvage any parts of the SW1500 body inards that may be useful later (eg for cab interior, lights). I choose not to use the incandesant lights that come with the Athearn model to avoid heat buildup, prefer LEDs lower operating lighting temperature when in close proximity for plastic body parts (eg head lamp enclosuers). Drill out by hand any light bulb or LED aperatures that will be needed in the future rather than after painting to avoid paint damage later.

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9. after priming gently rub down the 3D body sheel to smooth out the 3D finish and reduce the ‘toothpaste’ surface effect. This is not necessary for any 3D FUD detailing parts as hey are as smooth as fine scale injection moulded plastic parts.

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9a. hand drill any holes that will later be need to fit any of the metal grap rails (ie to avoid drill damge after painting.

 

10. Mask and airbrush the model as required for the livery of your choice. My example is Black and Tan 1960s livery which did not have full length walkway hand railings.

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11. Test fit body to chassis. If internal plastic body mounting spacers were neatly cut the body should friction fit nicely (later you can add internal plastic body mounts and screws). I used the Kadee coupling tongs or Tension lock coupling tongs as a means of stopping one end of the body slipping off.

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12. Test run the chassis after test fitting the body (before modifiying bogies)

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13. Remove Athearn SW1500 fuel tank and replace with plasticard one or modified salvage. Carefully ensure bogie clearance after the GM bogie sides have been added (especially checking the singe brake cylinders clear the fuel tank and the front of the bogies clear the ladder and valance.

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Check clearances by test running through points and curves. Its easier to make corrections now changes now before detailing has been added that would be vunerable to accidental hand pressure

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14. Clean and Prime 3D FUD Detail bogie sides

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15. Carefully File the existing plastic bogie sides flat ready to glue the 3D GM bogies sides on top of. 

 

16. Paint, apply decals, and varnish and weather in the usual manner. Do not fit glazing until after the body has been sealed with varnish otherwise the windows will go milky and opaque. Be very careful when removing masking tape from any of the FUD components (eg forward engine grills, cab doors, etc)

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Reverse masking helps get the white bands level with well defined edges.

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17. Form and Add grab and hail rails around cab doord, cab windws, end of bonnet walkway, face of cab. These can be later hand painted. I used a simple needle nose pliers and a tweezers to for the various metal grab rail components for strips supplied by eileens emphorium.

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17b. Hand paint any wire grap rails (I used Tamiya Acrylic paints as they seemed to stick to the metal without primer quite well).

 

17c. Add and weather buffer beam details such as coupling hook, screw coupling, lantern tail lamp, vacuum pipes, etc

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18. For DCC sound create mounting cradle for sugar cub speaker that will sit under front of bonnet using small pices of plasticard. Use an 8 pin DCC sound decoder and stick to motherboard using double sided tape to ensure no contact between decoder and any components on the locos PCB board. I used a LokSound V4 8 pin decoder programmed by Wheeltappersdccsound.co.uk with a modified 141 sound project (ie walkway dirction change removed, wheel clank, better short horn, auto uncoupling function for kadee magnets, etc).

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Wipers and tablet catchers were salvaged from former Bachmann loco donor bodies from past projects (e.g. Silverfox C classes).

19. Finito and enjoy. The Athearn is a super smooth chassis

When adding the glazing use glue'n'glazre glue to avoid milky glue opaqueness around window edges and suggest leave one cab window open with painted grey frame edge for definition. Later you can add driver, etc.

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Have fun. It's not rocket science and just requires a little patience and sequencing of assembly.

 

 

Edited by Noel
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3 hours ago, Noel said:

....more than an RTR loco if such ever exists,

Hi Noel,

Great build and info and thanks for sharing with the group. However, we would kindly ask you in future to refrain adding the conjecture above to the rumor mill about the forthcoming 121. Saying ‘if such ever exists’ is a baseless statement that does not serve the manufacturer or indeed the hobby in the right manner and we are uncomfortable having such statements made on here.

Many thanks for your understanding in this matter,

Fran

 

 

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12 hours ago, heirflick said:

:drool:What a great piece of guidence ...you make it look so easy. Oh to be blessed with your skills!😉

Hi Seamus. Thanks to you and other for your very kind comments. Just hope its of use to any fellow travellers who would love to have a 121 running on their layout.  It wasn't all easy, it took a lot of time to figure out and test fit parts iteratively making tiny adjustments until everything fit perfectly. As to skills a childhood fortunate to have access to lego, meccano, cardboard and airfix triggered a live long addiction to making things with hands and once small fingers and children eyesight. I have to credit some of the master builder/painters on the forum here and the Facebook group for inspiration and learning new tricks and different ways of approaching problems. Learned a lot from watching and reading about workbench projects from the likes of Anthony, Popeye, Eoin, Garrett, Graham (IrishTump) and Richie (Glenderg), et al. Persistence pays off because skills only come by making many mistakes along the way having a go and learning from it. B121 was running on the layout and hauling stock within weeks of starting but it was nine months before I got around to finishing the model (glazing, grap rails, buffer beam bits, sound, couplings, etc).

Link below to Roof Template PDF for Shapeways B121 model. Thin plasticard helps create the distinctive cab roof profile

http://www.derg.ie/albums/workbench/121 - Roof Template.pdf

Hopefully Next up will be a similar SF/MM C class conversion guide, but thankfully such will never be needed for 2019 much anticipated pièce de résistance IRM's A class loco. Also the AS The Deltic specs look so good on paper, I may well succumb to one of those as well to haul some of my mid 1950s BR rolling stock. Modelling budgets may be stretched in 2019 by an avalanche of Irish models. 

Edited by Noel

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Below is a link to a more detailed PDF 'how to' on B121

http://www.derg.ie/albums/workbench/Make_B121_Guide.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0gYSVIA9Zi1vspDHFwTQQBUKnRXMYd56PM-nJ8LYx2zqKHptXzjyAeNiM

 

PS: One of the things I liked about the 'rails' designed 3D body was it was broad gauge (e.g. buffers are scale width appart).

Edited by Noel

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Bloody hell Noel, so expertely well done sir, your knowledge, experience & skills are a practicable demonstration & an example to one & all,  congratulations to you, please do keep up your demonstrations of your skills...

Paul

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I built a pair of 121s using the MIR whitemetal kits and Athearan chassis about 20 years ago, the Rails 3D printed body builds i to a better model despite the limitations of the 3D printing process.

The 3D printing process seems to be a good way to go for layout stock that fits the 2' rule where the viewer is looking at the entire train than an individual model.

Kirley recently built some convincing 4w IE timber wagons using the Rails 3D printed body in conjunction with old Triang-Hornby Presflo wagon underframes.

The correct bogie sideframes makes a huge difference to the 121 compared with the stock Athearn sideframes.

 

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Whitemetal MIR 121 c-2000 Athearn SW1500 chassis.

My standard of painting an d lining still has a long way to go 🙄

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21 hours ago, burnthebox said:

Bloody hell Noel, so expertely well done sir, your knowledge, experience & skills are a practicable demonstration & an example to one & all,  congratulations to you, please do keep up your demonstrations of your skills...

Paul

You are very kind Paul, thank you for kind words of encouragement, which fill me with a degree embarrassment. Not an expert by any means just learning along the way and really enjoying the journey.  BTW, I nearly ended up boating through Glencree last night during the height of the rain storm such were the roads as rivers flowing.  Wondered up what creek without a paddle I might be if there was a power cut in the middle of an airbrush session down the valley where the 10kva lines regularly fail. :) 

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More 3D body shells are on route from Shapeways so the new year should keep me busy working on more locos. Now What livery to do on these? On the one hand supertrain livery is the easiest to paint and an ST could operate in consist with the existing B&T 121 (i.e. same overlapping eras), the delivery grey'n'yellow lines appeals due to the old youtube films and lack of need for walkway rails, and while the IE tippex 121s are not my era at all, visually they look very attractive and distinctive, but the most difficult to do a crisp paint job on. Decisions decisions?? :) :) 

Edited by Noel
lexdysia yet again

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Posted (edited)

Here we go again. Starting another 3D 121, first of three. Now which livery for this one. Another black and tan or perhaps super train as its the easiest to do. I'd like to do the 1961 delivery grey as it ran with B&T and green coaching stock. But its not a straight forward paint job. The Tippex IE is the most difficult to paint accurately and also out of my era anyway, but a visually pleasing livery on the 121. Chassis will be a 3rd gen Athearn SW1500 again as it fits like a glove and runs with the smoothness and precision of a swiss watch and is 8pin DCC ready.

Side by side B121 finished and raw 3D body shell from Shapeways

IMG_9097.jpg

Edited by Noel
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A few more 3D 121 bodies on the workbench with one of the Athearn SW1500 donors.  Looking forward to getting my teeth into some more of these now that I know what's involved.  The Athearn is a geogeous little switcher, seems almost a shame, but the prize is more 121s with a fabulous precision running chassis under them, that's DCC ready and ready for lights. 

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