Saturday, November 22, 2014

Your Challenge if you Choose to Accept it: Numberboards

While my model railroad layout is not strictly "date limited", it is clearly a modern day layout. There are still good numbers of Cascade Green diesels on the modern day BNSF, but as far as I know they are all patched to the reporting marks of the current railroad. As a result, the unpatched BN units I still was running bugged me. Yesterday I set out to correct this.

I have patched a loco before, but this time I intended to do it somewhat accurately. That turned out to be easy for BNSF 2079, a GP38-2 that kept its prior number when it was patched. BN 3508 presented a bit more of a challenge, though, since the GP40M's were renumbered when the patches were applied. Oh well, how hard can this be. I found some photos of a patched 40M and was off to the races.

First problem was to find a unit that matched the striped front end of my loco. The BNSF 3005 fit the bill.

I also like that the original road number on the long hood was patched with two separate patches, as that was my preferred method. A quick inventory of decals revealed that I had the required material on hand.

Things went acceptably well until I got to the numberboards. At this point, things went very badly indeed. They were a complete failure. I soon burned through all the tiny decals I had, with not a numberboard to show for it. To soothe my wounds, I ran some trains.

This morning, I sat down and thought. "Surely", I said to myself, "SOMEONE has figured out a method for adding numbers to a numberboard that a normal human can accomplish." Then I asked the Google if it knew who the special someone was. I didn't know whether I should be surprised or not when I arrived at the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision blog. Having made numerous visits before, and seeing creative solutions to modeling problems, I couldn't be too suprised. The specific answer to my question was under the post on "Easy Numberboards for HO Scale Diesels", which was exactly what I was looking for. I followed the directions, and it worked! Here is a shot showing the results of the efforts on the 3005. Click on the image for a high resolution view.

Basically, the solution involved printing the numbers at an appropriate size using a black background and white text on white paper. I used Photoshop Elements to create the raw material and my home laser printer to print them. After the paper numberboards were prepared, it was a simple matter to use Elmer's to glue them in place. Since the background was black as well, they blend in nicely. It's an inexpensive but effective solution, the best kind.

So thanks, JDL, for the tip on the numberboards. Turned out to be just what I was looking for. And it worked so well, I applied them to a second unit this morning as well. Like them just as much on that unit.

The upshot is this-I no longer have any BN power running around my layout set in the 21st century. Another small step in the right direction. Sure, there is still weathering to do, horns to move, plows to install, etc., but every little step in the right direction is one step closer to the layout we dream of.