The Mckeesport Model Railroad Club’s Custom Operator SD40-2s – Inc. Inc. Articles Customer Article The Mckeesport Model Railroad Club's Custom Operator SD40-2s

The Mckeesport Model Railroad Club’s Custom Operator SD40-2s

An Article by Mike Pilyih

The Mckeesport Model Railroad Club, founded in 1950 and celebrating its 70th anniversary this year,
models the late era of steelmaking in western Pennsylvania. While fictional, our layout is based on the
McKeesport area of Pennsylvania, about 12 miles south of Pittsburgh where the
Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers converge. That’s where our main fictional railroad, the
Mon-Yough Valley Railroad gets its name from. Recently, a member donated three Operator
SD40-2’s in Norfolk Southern paint to the club. I landed the task of converting these models to our own
Mon-Yough Valley paint scheme. These Operators will be our club’s first SD40-2’s on our

I started by completely disassembling the models and removing all details. I used DOT3 brake fluid to
strip the Norfolk Southern paint. Each shell was soaked in brake fluid for a total of about 24 hours, using
a toothbrush to scrub it down and rinse it off three times over that period. The plastic held up well,
there was no sign of it becoming brittle from the brake fluid. Afterward, I cleaned the shells with mild
soapy water and primed it. They were then painted in our Mon-Yough Valley scheme of Wisconsin
Central Maroon and Gloss Gull Grey and decaled with our logo and lettering. I added a number of other
warning decals and EMD builder plates.

I added a number of aftermarket details including a bell, five chime horn behind the dynamic brake fans,
Sinclair antenna, metal lift rings, grab irons, coupler cut levers, MU hoses, MU cables, air tank piping,
and windshield wipers. On the trucks, I made brake cylinder piping from a phosphor-bronze wire. For
sanding lines, I stripped the insulation off of black 30 AWG wire and glued one end to the brackets and
one end out of sight to the back of the top of the truck’s side frame. I also added a speed recorder to the
front left truck. I didn’t add ditch lights since they were not required during the era we model.
When all was done, I did some light weathering with black acrylic washes and airbrushed grimy black for
some road dust. I’ve completed two of three of these. The third will be slightly different in that it will
be an Operation Lifesaver unit. We can’t wait to see our first club-owned power go into
mainline service at the McKeesport Model Railroad Club.

Learn more about the McKeesport Model Railroad Club here: