In my last post I bragged about my new HO scale New Jersey Transit train, which was released by the Atlas Model Railroad Company not long ago.
Like a lot of other manufacturers of model trains Atlas thinks they can save a few pennies per train by not affixing fiddly little parts to their models. These are items like hand rails, windshield wipers or air horns. Generally those parts are plastic and come on a sprue in a plastic bag. It is then up to the hobbyist to properly apply those tiny parts to the model. Atlas did not even see fit to at least pre drill holes in the locomotive body shell into which the individual parts would fit. What Atlas did do however is package a plastic template with the detail parts. Fortunately the parts are also numbered.
The idea is to attach the template to the front of the locomotive and then drill the appropriate holes. Like so:
The holes are tiny. Atlas advises to use a #.80 drill bit. Often that size is referred to as wire drill bits. Naturally that is something I did not even know existed and certainly did not have in my tool box. A trip to the local Home Depot proved fruitless. The ACE hardware store up the street wasn't much help either. However I did get lucky at Strohsnider's Hardware. I decided to buy their whole inventory of #.80 drill bits: Two!
Back home I got to work on my locomotive and promptly broke both drill bits within minutes. Now what? Well, Amazon to the rescue. They had the appropriate drill bit sets and it would be arriving at my house tomorrow if ordered during the next few hours.
The bits did show up the next day as promised and I set out to finish my detailing job.
I must have butter fingers or really bad coordination, perhaps both, because within five minutes I managed to break three of my brand new bits.
Eventually I did manage to drill a few holes into the locomotive shell. Now came the fun part. Getting those tiny, flimsy pieces into the holes. With the help of some very small needle nose pliers (and a lot of griping) I did eventually get some grab rails onto the locomotive shell. One handle is above the number board and two are under the respective wind shields.
I readily admit that this is not the best job. Frankly I just don't have the touch or, like the Germans are bound to say, the "Fingerspitzengefühl" for this kind of thing. So in the end, all three of my New Jersey Transit locomotives will just have to do without hand rails and such. And here is a word to the wise: Before drilling holes into your locomotive shell make sure all the detail parts are in that plastic bag which comes with the locomotive. For example, the template has a provision to drill a hole on the top of the locomotive shell next to the air horn. It is labeled for part number 6.
The problem is that there is no part number 6 in the detail parts bag. Not in any of the three bags I have. So now I have a hole on the top of locomotive number 4510.
I'll think of something to do with it. Maybe cover the hole with a GPS antenna dome...