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  • Kitbashing KATY 64-A In HO Gauge

    MKT 64-A waits to head a Dallas bound freight out of Ray Yard in Dennison, Texas, on September 21, 1963. Note the Alco FA and FB MU'd to the 64-A, originally an F3 but remanufactured to F9 standards in 1955. - Earl Holloway photo.
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    by Earl Holloway

       The first EMD F3 road freight diesel on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railroad was Number 64-A. As built on June 12, 1947, it was originally numbered 201 (later 201-A) in the red with silver/gray sides and yellow nose paint scheme and was part of an A-B-A set. A renumbering of all Katy diesels, and rebuilding of some, began in the late 1950's when William H. Deramus III came to the Katy. A simplified paint scheme and Katy shield was also begun during that time.

       The subject of this article was remanufactured into a modified F9 during February, 1955, according to Extra 2200 South. The remanufactured Katy unit lost some of its external F3 characteristics. A new stainless steel grill replaced the previously used chicken wire style. The Athearn F7 unit with the stainless steel type grill works just fine as a basis for our kitbashed model. At first glance, the prototype Katy 64-A looked like any other F7 until you noticed the high shrouded F3 fans and the fifth louver on the side. The louvers on the Athearn unit are not the correct style. Rather than try to duplicate the prototype and replace all of them, I chose to match the new ones used with the existing ones. Photographs were used as a guide in construction.

       For parts and materials, you will need the following:



      2 Athearn F7 A Unit - Undecorated
      1 Varney Plastic F3A or F3B Unit Shell - or Cary F3 Fan Casting
      1 Pair Train-Miniature Alco FA Number Boards (Optional)
      1 Tyco F Unit Single Trumpet Horn
      1 Detail Associates No. AH-1602 Nathan M5 Horn Kit
      1 Detail Associates No. MU-1507 MU Connectors (Optional)
      1 Detail Associates No. MU-1508 MU Air Hoses
      1 Details West No. SA-123 Spark Arrestors (Optional)
      1 Walther's No. 822(U) F7 Dress-Up Kit
      1 Detail Associates No. SS-1301 Cab Sunshades
      1 MV Products No. LS-20 Lens Set (F7 Classification Lights)
      1 MV Products No. L185-13 Lens Set (See Note)
      1 Plastruct 1/16" Angle Stock
    20 Lift Rings (Detail Associates, Kemtron, or Northeastern)
      4 Northeastern Grab Irons
      .014", .020", and .025" Brass Wire
      Scrap Styrene
      1 Walther's No. 68-91 MKT F Unit Decal Set
      1 Walther's Yellow Box Car Dimensional Data Decal Set
      2 Micro-Scale EMD Builder's Plate Decals
      Floquil Caboose Red, Grimy Black, Old Silver, Barrier, Hi-Gloss, Flat Finish

    Note: This is actually a Santa Fe Steam Headlight Lens but it fits much better than the MV Products lens listed for the Athearn F7.

       Begin construction by removing unwanted detail from one of the Athearn F7 units. The other unit will be used for parts. With a knife, files and sandpaper, carefully remove all steam generator details, exhaust stacks and fans and the dynamic brake fan on the roof. The exhaust stacks and fans need to be cut out. Do not cut out the dynamic brake fan. Simply file and smooth it out on its panel. Also, remove the small knobs representing lift rings. During all of this, rivet detail may be protected with masking tape. The water filler covers on each side should also be removed. A good method for removing detail such as this on a flat surface is to use an X-Acto No. 17 blade with a scraping motion. Finish up with sandpaper. I didn't bother with a couple of items on the rear of the unit. These are the electrical recepticles and conduit which should be removed to be prototypically correct. File and sand the rear roof overhang flush with the end. Now, go over the unit and clean up any flash or mold parting lines.

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       Cut out the exhaust stacks and high shrouded fans from the roof of the Varney F3. Varney has been off the market for several years now but these F3 units do occassionally turn up at swap meets or in the classified ads of the model magazines. As an alternative, get the cast metal fans from Cary. This is a separate casting on their F3 unit. The opening left in the Athearn roof will have to be enlarged slightly for the Varney fans and stacks. After you are satisfied with the fit, cement in place from the inside with plastic cement or Plastic Weld. If you decide on the optional spark arrestor detail, now is the time to install it following Details West (or Detail Associates) instructions. Katy 64-A, and most of the other F units, didn't receive spark arrestors until sometime in the early sixties.

       Carefully remove the two Varney F3 dynamic brake grids from the roof. Cut out slots in the roof panel of the Athearn unit where you removed the dynamic brake fan. I used the same measurement/placement on the Athearn roof as Varney used on his F3. See Figure 1. The ends of these dynamic brake grids will have to be trimmed a little to fit inside the panel on the Athearn roof. A little fudging here will not show up on the finished model. Now, for you modelers unable to locate any Varney F3 for this needed detail. Simply fill in the slots with Kemtron Brass screen or some similar material. Once it's painted, the effect should be about the same.

       Drill holes in the roof for the lift rings and install with cyanoacrylate or some similar adhesive. The locations are the same as on the F7. Drill and install the radio antenna using .025" wire. The length is approximately 5/32". And, if you can find it, use some very fine .006" wire for the antenna cable. This attaches to the base of the antenna and makes a small loop into the roof just in front of the antenna. See Figures 1 and 2.

       Before we leave the roof, fill in the horn mounting holes on the engineer's (right) side with body putty. Tyco's single trumpet horn will be used on the left (fire mans) side. It is mounted facing to the rear of the unit. With the diaphragm head (rear) filed smooth, it makes a perfect horn for this Katy unit. Of course, an Athearn horn could be used but the diaphragm head isn't large enough. Tyco has molded their horns in some different sort of plastic and regular cement won't work on them. I used epoxy to hold mine in place.

       Drill a hole for the location of the Detail Associates Nathan M5 horn. It is approximately 3/8" from the dynamic brake grid panel. See Figure 1. This is a very delicate piece of detail as anyone who has assembled one will know. My advice is to wait until after painting to install it. I didn't... and I had to repair it several times during final construction! A final note about this horn. The Nathan M5 is not correct for Katy 64-A. A Nathan P5 with 4 trumpets forward and the fifth trumpet blanked out is correct. Detail Associates is planning on bringing out a Nathan P5 horn kit. I will change mine when they do.

    A top view of the modified Athearn F7 showing the F3 fans and Katy exhaust stacks as well as the many other details applied to this model such as the sun shades, windshield wipers, horns, etc. - Earl Holloway photo.
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       Fashion the top grab irons from .020" wire. I used a lift ring for the center post. Drill No. 76 holes for this assembly but do not install until after painting. See Figures 1 and 2.

       Drill holes for windshield wiper blades. I simulated the wiper blades with .014" wire approximately 1/4" long. Install with cyanoacrylate cement. See Figure 3.

       If you have one of the early Athearn F7 units, the nose is correct with only one headlight. The current units have two headlights and the bottom one needs to be filled in. File out this headlight square and fit a scrap piece of styrene flush with the surface. Use body putty if needed and sand smooth.

       While we're working on the nose, let's look at the molded-on number boards. There is something about them that just doesn't look quite right. Either the number boards or the classification lights are located improperly. The classification lights should be centered above the number boards. You can relocate the classification lights and leave the number boards where they are. Or, you can remove the number boards and replace them with much more realistic ones. Train-Miniature Alco FA number boards can be used for this. They are very close in size to an EMD number board and, once centered under the classification lights, look much better than the original Athearn molded-on number board. The backs of the Train Miniature number boards will have to be sanded slightly to conform to the curvature of the Athearn nose. I had one of the early Athearn units with only one headlight which had separate number boards. If you have one of these, remove the raised numbers molded on the face of the number boards before cementing to the body. Don't overlook the possibility of using the Train-Miniture Alco FE number boards though... I used them on an other Katy F unit and they do look good!

       Checking prototype photos of Katy 64-A, you will note that a fifth louver was added on the side and the location of a port hole was changed. This was done when the unit was remanufactured. It appears that the new fifth louver is about in the same location as the original F3 port hole with it now being centered between the two louvers. See Figure 2. To correctly model this change will require cutting out the first panel next to the cab door. It consists of one port hole and one louver.

       Carefully cut out this panel and square up the hole. From your spare Athearn F7, cut out a new panel using the rear porthole. This new panel needs to be 1 3/8" long with the center of the port hole 1/2" from the end. Remove any rivets, sand filler hatches, etc. from this new piece. After squaring up, install and cement from inside the body. If you have a good fit here, body putty will not be needed. Cut out 4 louvers from the spare Athearn F7 unit cutting up close to their edges. Take one at a time and hold them down on a file with your finger tip. Work them back and fourth on the file until you have reduced their thickness enough to match the other louvers molded on the unit. Locate properly on both sides of the port hole and secure them with a drop of Plastic Weld. See Figure 4.

       Drill No. 76 holes in the side of the unit for the hand rails in the Walther's F7 Dress-Up kit. Don't forget the grabs on the rear of the unit directly above the location of the MU air hoses. See Figure 5. Northeastern's style works fine here. The extra nose hand rails and grab irons must be fashioned from .020" brass wire. See Figures 2 and 3. A Northeastern grab iron is used directly above the walk below the cab window on each side. This walk is cut from Plastruct 1/16" angle stock. It is 13/16" long and the top is 3/8" from the bottom of the unit. Attach the walks and all nose grabirons now. Wait until after painting to install the side hand rails.

    A side view of the model shows the grill pattern and porthole modification. The Katy "appearance" of this model will make the Katy fans get ready to go to work. - Earl Holloway photo.
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       Drill a No. 68 hole beside the headlight for the Detail Associates MU Connector. See Figure 3. Use one of the round receptacles. File a flat spot on the classification lights, center punch and drill out just enough with a No. 44 drill for the MV Products lens. These, of course, will be installed after painting. Fashion coupler lift bars with .020" brass wire for the pilot and the rear of the unit from the measurements in Figure 6. Form a right and a left end piece for each coupler lift bar assembly. Solder them together or use cyanoacrylate or epoxy. They may be assembled before attaching to the pilot and rear of the unit. I decided to mount the end pieces using lift rings with cyanoacrylate and then attach the center rod to these. See Figure 6.

       Drill No. 47 holes in the pilot and the rear of the unit for the Detail Associates MU air hoses. See Figures 3 and 5. Secure from behind the pilot and rear of the unit some sort of contact cement. Square off the ends of the Detail Associates cab sunshades to a measurement of 3/8". Cement them above the drip rail at a slight angle. See Figures 2 and 3.

       The unit is now ready for painting. First, clean the unit with a household liquid dishwashing detergent and then spray it with Floquil's Barrier. Floquil's Caboose Red is next sprayed on the sides and nose. When dry, mask off the red portion of the unit. Most of the roof, the rear of the unit, steps, fuel tank, trucks, and pilot are black. The separation of the red and black on the roof is approximately 15/16" from the dynamic brake panel. See Figure 7. The separation of the red and black on the pilot is exactly in the center of the anticlimber. After the Floquil Grimy Black has been sprayed and is dry, mask the remainder of the unit so the stainless steel grills can be sprayed. I used Floquil old silver for this. Finally, spray on a coat of Floquil Hi Gloss to prepare the unit for decals.

       Begin decal work on the unit with the Deramus era Katy shield from the Walther's No. 68-91 set. The small shield is centered on the nose door approximately 5/8" down from the center of the headlight. Use the next larger size shield for the sides. They are applied in the center of the panel above the fuel tanks. The small "F" (for front of unit) is approximately 7/8" from the cab door steps. This came from a left-over Walther's Yellow Dimensional Data set I had on hand from other projects. The Micro-Scale EMD builder's plate is centered approximately 1/8" up from the bottom edge of the unit next to the cab steps. The small "64-A" number used on the rear of the unit above the end steps and on the end itself is also taken from a Walther's Yellow Dimensional Data set. They are centered 3/32" up from the bottom edge of the unit above each end step. The number on the rear of the unit is located 1/16" down from the top edge of the roof. Finish up with the number in the number boards. Use a hyphen between the number and letter A.

    The details added to this Katy F9 still shows many of the F3 characteristics of the original locomotive. Purchased as an F3 in '47, this locomotive was remanufactured to F9 standards in 1955. - Earl Holloway photo.
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       Install the side hand rails and roof grab irons now with cyanoacrylate. The side grab irons are painted red. The roof grab irons parallel to the windshield are painted red including the lift ring. The other portion that is parallel to the cab side is painted Grimy Black. Give the unit and the separately painted 5-chime air horn a coat of Floquil Flat Finish. Install all the windows from the Dress-up kit and the MV headlight and classification lenses with cyanoacrylate. The MV Santa Fe steam headlight lens will be recessed slightly in the headlight molding giving it a much more prototypical appearance!

       The last thing to do is to mount the 5-chime horn and attach the unit on a powered chassis. Mount the horn with 3 trumpets forward and secure from the in side with liquid plastic cement. I used an Athearn fly-wheel drive with Kadee couplers, A No. 5 works fine on the front with a No. 8 on the rear of the chassis. In both cases, the mounting pad, after drilling and tapping for a No. 2-56 screw, will have to be filed down to bring the Kadee couplers up to the proper height. This completes the work on a one-of-a-kind unit on the Katy. No. 64-A is no longer on the roster. It was sold to Precision Engineering in early 1970. At this writing (1977), only the following EMD F units remain on the Katy roster: 70-A (F3A), 72-C (F7A), 75-E (F9B), 78-C (FP7A), and 401-B which is a hybrid B unit rebuilt from wrecked F3A unit 66-C. The three A units are used mainly in the Oklahoma City - McAlester, Oklahoma run.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Earl Holloway
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date April 1978

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