Building the HO Scale American Freedom Train

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by MadCoW1, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. jaytee

    jaytee New Member

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    Johnny, first off, awesome detailing. Second, are all of those pics of your layout or are some of them actual pics from back in the day?
  2. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    Thanks JayTee, There is one photo in this thread that is a prototype pic and that is the one of the AFT showcase car with people around it(page 1). Otherwise they are all shot on the layout. Some pics were taken outdoors befor the layout was assembled. But there has been NO photoshoping, all the pics have either a backdrop or the great outdoors positioned in the shot.

    Johnny
  3. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    Thank You Mr. Wilson.

    Johnny
  4. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    Well the rework of the showcase car is complete and I'm happy with the way it now looks. When I first got the car as part of one of the Lionel sets that were produced in the 1970's, I did some modifications like metal wheels and knuckle couplers. But I was never happy with the way the Lionel windows looked. Here is the car before...

    [​IMG]

    And here is the car AFTER. Besides redoing the windows, I also stripped the factory paint and airbrushed acrylics. I decaled the car with custom decals...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And for those who asked about the contents...

    The Liberty Bell...

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    The Trains' Route Map for 1975-1976...

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    And the Lunar Rover...

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    And, of course, the action shot...

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    More to come,

    Johnny
  5. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

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    Johnny, ARE YOU SURE THAT THESE PICS ARE NOT PICS OF REAL ONES? I mean, they look FANTASTIC!!!!

    I love that mine area and that HUGE bridge that you have!! I mean, that it HUGE and looks AMAZING!!! :thumb: :thumb: :thumb: :D :D :D :thumb: :thumb:

    Your pictures are OUTSTOUNDING and I always enjoy looking at them and would love to see more :D :thumb: :D
  6. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    :oops: :oops: Thanks Josh, and BTW, I have been looking at your latest posts and am impressed with what I see!:thumb: :thumb:

    Johnny
  7. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    The next three cars are part of the 'standard' group of cars that were in the consist. Some crew members opted to tag along with the train using their own vehicles to travel but others did ride the train and used a couple of the coaches for accomodations.

    The AFT # 205 Observation - - This car was used by and for the press. When the train was in route it was 'the place to be'. My model is made from the stock car that came with the Lionel sets. The cast on details were removed, the car was stripped and airbrushed and knuckle couplers and 36" metal wheels added. Still to come, roof vents and wire grabs.

    [​IMG]

    The AFT #204 & AFT 203 coaches - - These cars were pretty basic and served as home for the crew who rode the train. My models were made from extra Lionel observation cars that were cut and spliced to make the two cars. They were airbrushed and decaled and await roof vents and wire grabs.

    The # 204

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    The # 203

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    On the RailRoad...

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    More to come,

    Johnny
  8. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

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    [​IMG]

    I asked my mom to look at this pic and say if it was a model or real train. She said Real!:D Just goes to show that these pics can already fool people with their makeover:thumb:
  9. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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  10. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

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    So, what's next on the 'to make list', hmm? By the way, the YouTube movie was brilliant, I love the founding fathers in the backround, really amplfies the mood of the pics:D :thumb: goldtoth1
  11. Frank Cullen

    Frank Cullen New Member

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    Johnny,

    Your conversion of the American freedom train is truly remarkable! Several years ago I purchased the lionel GS-4 and cars at a closeout. I have been unable to figure out how to disasseble the cars to put metal wheels, electrical pickups for lighting and add weights to this set. Can you offer any suggestions?

    Thanks and keep us informed on future projects.

    Frank
  12. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    Ringling Bros. Circus Train--

    The one from the movie 'The Greatest Show on Earth'. They used ex U.S. Army hospital cars that they purchased from the government. I have about 26 of the flat cars done....

    Johnny
  13. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

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    OH man, THAT should be a sight to see! ACtualy, I should have said 'next to make for the Freedom Train list'. Or is it complete already?
  14. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    Hello Frank,

    I'll tell you what I've learned;

    1) Display Cars-- The cars should be able to have the roofs removed by pressing into the display windows on either side at the same time and gently wiggling the roof out. I say should, as some of the cars I have come across seem to have been glued. I don't believe this was done at the factory. The roof is held in position by the windows locking into the window frames. If they will not come out trying this method, give up. I have five cars that were like this and I chipped a pretty good sized piece of the roof trying to force it. If you want to save it as a collector set, Don't Force It!!!

    2) Observation-- The roofs are just tight fitting pressed in. They are not locked into the bodies. Relatively easy to get out. Take the point of an exacto knife and on the vestibule end go into the window on end of car and use the point to get the roof started up then just wiggle her out...

    3) Showcase car--Just like the display cars carefully press the windows in. Be extra careful with pressure so as not to crack these larger windows.

    4) Weighting the cars--I found that most of the cars I have acquired have some weight, just not enough. The trickyest for me was in the showcase car as I really opened them up with the larger windows. I ended up putting the weight in the bulkheads at the ends. The other cars are all easy, You can't see into the cars once assembled, so where you put the weight is a matter of choice.

    5) Lighting the Cars-- I'm not going to. Yeh, the display cars would look great with the windows lit up but I'm going to settle for a better overall look. Shadowboxes on one side and the panels on the other. As for lighting the stock cars........SUPRISE!! Lionel made this next to impossible. Inside the cars the window dressings are fixed to a square cardboard tube that runs the length of the car. They did this for ease of factory assembly. Not an easy task. When you do yours, share it with me please?

    6) Metal Wheels-- I use 36" P2K wheelsets in the original Lionel trucks. This works best for me as the trucks are a good match for the prototype. I shave some of the cast body bolster down so they ride at a more protoypical height. And body mount my couplers. I also use a scale reamer to clean out the insides of the axle journals paint and drybrush and they look fine...

    My friend, I hope I have helped you. I may not be able to get a reply your way fast, but I will reply.

    Johnny
  15. MadCoW1

    MadCoW1 Member

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    More Cars in the Works....

    Here are the first five display car I'm doing. The American Freedom Train had ten of them. All were made from converted Pennsy baggage cars and all were identical on the outside except for window displays and chronological dates below the windows. The cars were fitted with interior conveyors that moved people from one end of the car to the other. Because of this feature the windows on the engineers' side of the train were deeper 'shadowboxes' with three dimensional displays and the other (fireman) side had panels that were flush with the window edges. The cars were numbered 101 to 110 and the the five here are 101 thru 105.

    These cars were made from the original Lionel cars included in the sets from the 70's. The five here are the ones I could not get the roofs off due to being glued on by previous owners. Thus the cars had to be remasked for every stage of painting and/or gloss/dull coating and the progress pics suffered due to the time involved. The next five will feature more detailed pics.

    AFT 102

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    AFT 103

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    AFT 104

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    The group of five....

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    I'm also starting to fiddle with the three flat cars the train had. There were three 85' TT flats that were used to carry Ticket, Concession and Food wagons, a step van, forklift, and other support vehicles. I am using the new RTR flats from Athearn as they are a dead ringer for this train. With some modifications of course!

    Here they are after being stripped of their original RR colors and primed with acrylics and given 2 coats of pure white.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All of the loads(wagons) will have to be scratchbuilt. The exceptions being the forklift and step van. So I'm starting on two of the four dropfloor wagons that carried concessions. My starting point for them are military wagons from ROCO. They were ribbed but the AFT units were not, so they were sanded smooth.

    The wagons were all equipped with undergear first developed by the Ringling Circus for use in their tunnel cars. The gear supports smaller tires thus lowering the overall height of the wagon to less than the height of a passenger car when loaded onto the flats. And , of course, this will all have to be built from scratch....

    The wagons...

    [​IMG]

    A look at the rear undergear...

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    The wagons will get a front gear assembly that includes a fifthwheel arrangement with which to steer. The tongue that is used to tow it off/on and to/from the train, will fold up against the front for travel. When complete, these wagons sit level.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a look at the undergear sub assembly for the wheel brackets...

    [​IMG]

    More to come,

    Johnny
  16. Frank Cullen

    Frank Cullen New Member

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    Johny,

    Thanks a MILLION for the information!! It maybe sometime before I attempt the ideas you gave. For years BC (Before Computer) I played ideas trying to remove the bodies without damage. Some of the cars have wheels that have dropped off - apparently played with and thought a possible solution was replacing with metal wheel sets. This would add weight and allow the cars to run behind the GS-4. Now i really have a starting point!!!

    Thanks again - i will let you know what happens,

    Frank