Jack Hess has been creating fantasy "sci-fi" train models for some time, including this heavy road engine that serves mining operations on Colony 5. To create the model, the center section of the roof was removed and replaced by an MDC covered hopper roof. The two oval hatches were used along with the walkway. Additional walkway pieces were then glued to the edge. The body sides are Atlas boxcar doors and represent some type of corrugated side. The letter boards are white styrene strip and are not painted. Custom decals were made in Microsoft Word and printed on clear decal paper.
An out of this world kitbash: Colony 5 Road Engine
by by Jack Hess/photos by the author
Space travel and science-fiction have been around as long as model railroading, but the two never seem to meet. Occasionally there will be a near miss, such as someone putting a spaceship or alien figure on their layout and creating a mini scene. The only true pairing occurred in the April 1978 Model Railroader article, "A Lunar Railroad You Can Model." A diorama was made depicting the surface of the moon and a small train is shown running on a section of unusual rack-equipped track. It was presented as an April Fool's joke, and not meant to be taken seriously. Except, I did take it seriously.
I began experimenting with science fiction trains after I read that article. Over the years I built a car or two in HO, On30, O standard gauge, and N scale. In December 2010 I decided to take on the cause wholeheartedly and started an HO layout and began building rolling stock to run on it. Not only would I be designing trains and equipment, I would be freelancing an entire planet for them to run on!
Colony 5 is the fifth mining colony that has been established by the Sector 4 Alliance. It is located on the planat Parta in the mid-equitorial region. The function of the colony is to mine and process mernalite ore into Mern28 ignots, which are transported to any of several manufacturers that refine heavy metals into useable radioactive materials for use in the propulsion and power systems of deep space vehicles.
This is the first engine I have completed for my Colony 5 scenario. I found the American GK E60C engine at a train show and thought it could be the basis for a great sci-fi engine. After several months of not being able to figure out how to begin, I finally got down to business and finished the engine within four weekends. A variety of materials were used to modify this locomotive to represent something that might haul heavy trains on an unforgiving planet far from Earth. Visit my website at Free-Form Journal and see the steps I took to create this model. You can read my blog, and visit my Science Fiction and Fantasy Trains page which has links to prototype experimental trains and fantasy train models.
This view of the rear of the engine shows various shapes applied to the carbody to represent specialized machinery and conduits. The vertical bars are the unloading devices from the MDC covered hopper. The angled tube is a piece of plastic part sprue. The square is from a craft store. The pyramid is a bay from an AHM 4-bay covered hopper. The tank is made from Kato fuel tank halves glued together and capped with Atlas covered hopper hatches.
Lights and number boards were filled with putty. The visor was made from basswood. Engine was painted with Testors Flat Blue and while still wet, was mottled using Testors Flat Light Blue and Flat White. The corrugated panels were painted Testors Steel. Zinc Chromate was used for the handrails and the green color made by mixing the Zinc Chromate with the blue. The Athearn chassis is upgraded with Northwest Shortline wheels and motor.