It seems that every project at Fillmore requires a lot of planning.  I think this is true for everyone who is building a layout.  That is why I write things down so as to avoid missing a step.  Most of these lists are temporary, usually written in my iPhone, but on complex projects that I expect to repeat from time to time, I write the steps down as a document that I keep with all my other Fillmore info on my laptop.

One such checklist is the process for prepping a locomotive for service.  Here it is:



  • Verify all markings/data are correct; check for replacements on decal sheets
  • Check/adjust/verify coupler height for Sergent or Kadee #158 couplers using appropriate gauge
  • Verify wheel gauge & flange height (NMRA gauge)
  • Replace traction tire driver with all-metal driver (if available)
  • Lubricate gearbox & wheel bearings
  • Switch-off/disable smoke generator (if so equipped)



  • Reset decoder to factory default (BLI Address Changer)
  • Program cab number (BLI Address Changer)
  • Test operation at default settings (programming track with command station)
  • Edit cv’s and function key mapping (JMRI DecoderPro)
  • Verify new behaviour in forward & reverse
  • 1 hour break-in run (50% forward and 50% reverse) on stationary rollers (programming track with command station)



  • Remove engine trucks (if so equipped)
  • Clean driver wheel treads (operate via command station)
  • Wipe down driver treads (lacquer thinner) and rods/wheel faces (rubbing alcohol)
  • Tape-mask driver wheel treads (operate via command station)– check brake shoe clearance!
  • Airbrush-weather drivers and rods (in motion) on fixture (operate via command station)
  • Clean, mask, paint, weather, lubricate & assemble: engine trucks/wheels, tender truck/wheels, couplers



  • Remove road number and other markings (if req’d)
  • Sand/smooth out any obvious mold parting lines
  • Shorten drawbar length (if req’d/if practical) – check deck plate clearance
  • Add steam and trainline hoses (if req’d)
  • Add other desired detail parts (if necessary)
  • Modify for NYC-specific details:
  1. Reposition tender ladder to engineer’s side (if req’d)
  2. Remove classification lights (if req’d)
  3. ATS pick-up shoe (mainline engines only)
  • Mask: windows, light lenses, cab interior, markings (if desired), electrical pick-ups/connectors
  • Scuff bare plastic/metal areas with 600 grit paper & wipe down with rubbing alcohol
  • Apply paint
  • Apply gloss (for decaling)
  • Apply decals
  • Apply flat coat overall (Tamiya TS80 Spray)
  • Weather locomotive & tender (airbrush, dry brush, & powders)
  • Remove all masks previously not removed & wipe down driver treads



  • Install trucks, couplers, tender
  • Add crew (optional)
  • Add coal load (if req’d)
  • Certify with yard test


Some locomotives are handled differently like the J1 Hudsons.  They are stripped right down to the chassis and I move the drivers by hand-turning the flywheel while airbrushing the drivers/rods.

The guide above keeps keeps me on track and I find it handy as I work.