Santa Fe Zebra Stripe FM H12-44 in N scale

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by atsf_arizona, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona Member

    Mar 27, 2003
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    Hi, all, sharing a project just completed.

    Santa Fe Zebra Stripe FM H12-44 in N scale


    Santa Fe 565 - Fairbanks Morse H12-44 Switcher (Phase IV)

    Modeled and photographed by Randy Gustafson
    Commissioned by John Sing

    In September and October 2004, two members of the [​IMG] created the N scale Santa Fe
    Zebra Stripe FM H12-44 pictured here. Randy Gustafson had always wanted to do one of these as a project, and John
    Sing was happily willing to commission this one-off Zebra Stripe model. Randy had an old Minitrix FM switcher as a
    starting point, Randy did all the modeling work with some research assistance from John, and the rest is history.......

    Some Prototype Background

    Fairbanks Morse (FM) had four phases to their H10-44 and H12-44
    switcher production (approximately 1948-1957). A little known
    fact is that the Phase IV's frame was 3'shorter than the three earlier phases of
    H12-44. The prototype we followed, as best we could, was a late
    Phase IV FM H12-44, represented here by Santa Fe 561, at Argentine Yard in May 1962:

    Photo by Stan McCarthy; "Santa Fe Vol 4: Texas-El Capitan", "Morning Sun Books, page 87

    And here's our representation:


    The Making of Santa Fe 565, Zebra Stripe FM H12-44 Switcher

    As most of you know, back in the early early days of N scale, the
    Minitrix FM switcher was about the only decent diesel switcher then
    available. Here's a shot of the Trix switcher before starting the project.
    That ugly, wrong-color baby blue is the factory Trix paint color; along
    with the ugly plastic handrails, both had to go! :


    The Trix FM Switcher has a high mount, three pole, double shafted motor,
    brass worms to nylon idlers, and brass gears on the wheels.
    There's no flywheels, of course, so it cogs slightly on start, then smooths
    out. It isn't a rocket, but it isn't a LifeLike SW8 either (which is the
    best switcher in N as far as I am concerned).

    Like nearly all Trix's, it runs well, although a tad noisy with the
    brass gears. Pickup is with wipers on the wheels and a wiper system in the
    fuel tank. Works fairly well and tends to get better with age. Eight wheel
    drive and pickup, pulls well. Truck mounted Micro-Trains couplers (better
    for switching on tight curves).

    Some construction progress shots, all photographed by Randy Gustafson:



    Randy used decal set Microscale 60-247, grimy black paint on the trucks
    and flat black on the rest of the engine, installed wire stanchions
    all around that match the prototype, Dullcoated, and installed sunshades.
    Randy Gustafson does great work, wouldn't you agree! And here's the final


    Here is the rear of a prototype FM H12-44 locomotive and it's
    associated Zebra Stripe chevron pattern (this is a Phase III H12-44 with the
    3' longer carbody, notice the Phase III louver pattern on the hood is
    different than the Phase IV):


    And here's a similar angle on Santa Fe 565:


    Finally, for Rivet Counters:

    Finally, for those of us who like to count rivets, we will want to discuss the

    1.l Why is this model's Zebra Stripes in silver rather than the more common white
    zebra stripes on Santa Fe switchers?


    a) Some of the FM and other Santa Fe switchers were randomly painted with silver
    Zebra Stripes (Santa Fe 561 above seems to be one case).
    b) Because I simply liked the look of the silver stripes better than white stripes
    c) Because a silver Zebra Stripe FM H12-44 better matches the silver and black
    Zebra Stripe Santa Fe H31-66 Trainmaster ( )

    2. Santa Fe's final order for FM H12-44 switchers encompassed road numbers 544 to
    564. Then why is this locomotive numbered 565? Well........

    Because the Minitrix FM model, while close, is not an exact model of
    either a Phase III or a Phase IV FM H12-44 switcher.

    Therefore, I deemed it appropriate to give the model a fictitious 'could have been'
    number. (I will refrain at this time from creating some silly April
    Fool's story about a "Phase V FM H12-44 that was never actually

    That's all for now! We hope you enjoyed our little show.

    Randy Gustafson
    John Sing
  2. McFortner

    McFortner Member

    Sep 9, 2002
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    Beautiful work. It is good to see that I'm not the only one who takes the older engines and cars and works with them. Now, here is my address so you can ship the engine to me.... :)

  3. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Aug 4, 2003
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    Excellent Work John, Great Photo's :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
  4. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    May 13, 2004
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    Wow, what a transformation John, that's a nice little loco.
  5. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Dec 28, 2000
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    A great project. Thanks for the post AA