Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Penn Central E8A #4072 and related E unit projects.

Greetings All,

The N.Y.C.T.L. is finally glad to announce that Penn Central E8A #4072 has joined the fleet. This was one of those projects that suffered from delays from the outset. Here's the story of this locomotive and two other Penn Central E units that received upgrades as a result of this project.

Several years ago I purchased used Proto-2000 E7A and E8A units from a fellow modeler. The modeler included a P-2000 E6A power chassis minus the shell in the deal. The E7A and E8A quickly became Penn Central 4210 and 4317 respectively.
Here is PC E7A #4210 in 2013
 and E8A 4317 also in 2013

All was well in my Penn Central E unit world until I found out that the Penn Central E units(and F units) did not have mars lights (look closely at the front of 4210 and 4317 and you can see the door headlight openings). For the PC purist PC E8A 4300, ex PRR 5700 did have a mars light at one time but during PC the 4300 had the mars light opening covered with a wood insert. Anyway, for the three plus years they have been on the roster the mars lights on 4210 and 4317 didn't bother me to the point of correcting them.

Here's PC E8A #4317 on the layout February 2015

Later that week PC E7A #4210 was at Empire City Station 

Then came this project. Last year I came across a Rivarossi shell that would fit the P-2000 E6A power chassis. I stripped and repainted the unit a rattle can gray. Originally destined to be a New York Central unit I didn't like the way the gray looked with other NYC E units in the stable. So the gray shell sat in the 'purgatory box' for several months while management mulled over what to do with it. One of the key issues keeping the project stalled was that I now knew that the NYC and PC units did not have mars lights like the newly painted gray Rivarossi shell did. Should I correct it.? The Rivarossi front door does not come off unless cut off so that would mean sanding and filling. Should I bother? I had the other PC E units with mars lights and a NYC E8A #4020 that I painted in the cigar band scheme with a mars light.(oh, the shame!)

This simple project was starting to cause project bleed in a big way. If I spend the time to correct this shell then have to do the others right. Ugh!

Eventually I researched the PC E units for a gray unit with a PC patch and found 4072.

So I finally bit the bullet and was able to get the 4072 project completed. I then tackled the two other PC E units. Fortunately for me the P-2000 nose doors come off easily so it as only an matter of filling the door headlight opening, repainting black and adding a PC decal over the covered opening. Disconnecting the mars light wiring, tucking the mars light out of the way and rerouting the headlamp was pretty simple. The NYC 4020 has not yet made it to the work bench. The NYC herald and cigar band stripes make this a bit more involved than the PC units. But for now I'm happy with the results on all three PC units. Let's take a look at some photos of the project;

Purchased used Rivarossi shell for $1.00 in July 2015

Stripped and ready for repainting December 2015

October 2016. Painted with door headlight blocked off. 

Coupled to PC E7A 4210 on the High Line
Cigar band striped painted with rattle can white.

Slowly becoming PC 4072. PC herald covers door headlight opening quite nicely.

NEW YORK CENTRAL lettering has been painted over (not really)
Air grills are rattle can aluminum.

Decals applied and shell has been sprayed with Testor's Dullcote.

Nose of model after decals settled down and dullcote has been applied.

Now that 4072 has been weathered to match the prototype I turned my attention to the PC E7A on left and the PC E8A (not shown) that still had mars lights. Fortunately the nose doors on the Proto 2000 E7A and E8A shells pop off making the cosmetic part of the job pretty simple.

Power chassis for E7A 4210 with blue wire that controls mars light disconnected

Mars light has been removed, tucked behind cab and held in place with electrical tape. Headlight has been removed from door head lamp opening to upper nose opening. 

Close up of circuit board. 'R' is where blue wire connects. Disconnected wire is held out of harms way between layers of electrical tape. 

#4072 leading 4317 thru Bedford NY

Looking somewhat prototypical!!!

E7A sans mars light looking much more like a PC unit!

A close up of  #4210 and #4317 looking good after surgery.
Look Ma, No mars lights!!!

Here's a short video of the three E's in action

Thanks for reading!


  1. Two favorite topics: PC Es and fiddling with headlight wiring!

  2. "Project Bleed" is definitely an occupational hazard in this hobby! Funny how once you know something about the prototype that catches your eye its hard to resist the desire to model it! A very worthwhile and excellent project! How did you weather the old oval herald on the gray unit?

  3. Thanks Ralph! I was happy to eventually overcome the "Project Bleed" and get these three units looking more PC. As you said once you know something about the prototype you can't unknow it. NYC herald was weathered with watered down acrylic hobby paint after the dullcote was applied.

  4. John, As always, your work and details are outstanding! I truly admire how your makeovers come back to life. PC fans, rejoice!!

    1. Thank you for such kind words Sir Neal! Much appreciated from a respected fellow modeler and friend. Thank you.