As Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse (set in Buffalo, NY in 1942) is on the NYCS mainline from New York City to Chicago and was fully equipped with General Railway Signal Company’s intermittent Automatic Train Stop system, all mainline locomotives visiting Fillmore ought to have a tender truck mounted ATS receiver.  Switchers at Fillmore do not need this detail.

This is one item that is almost never included on a locomotive model, whether New York Central or other.  It is a relatively small part, so perhaps it is usually missed when researching a particular prototype.  None of my models have one, so it was about time I applied them, to be ICC compliant of course ☺

I have not yet found a suitable detail part like the one found on New York Central locomotives.  There is an offering from Custom Finishing (#229), but it isn’t the right style for my models.  I couldn’t tell from the illustration about another (#202) they sell either.  So I decided to make my own.  Initially, I thought about scratch-building one as a master and then casting them.  However, it occurred to me that I could try to computer model (solid model/3D model) the part and have it 3D printed.  After all, this is all the rage in railroad modeling now and I hadn’t tried it.  Plus I’m lazy…

Now, as you may know from me by now I am not a rivet counter.  As long as it looks right, then I’m happy.  So I modeled up a part using 3D software based on a photograph and estimating the sizes.  The part is quite small at about .210” high by .380” wide with a thickness of .050”.  Below is a picture of the 3D model.


It contracted Shapeways ( to do the printing.  There are some printing limitations which are explained on their website , but it is a pretty straight forward process.  I ended up mirroring the part a short distance past the bottom edge and connecting the two with a thin strap, thus providing a two-in-one build.

I was aggressive with the modeling; the thicknesses of the flanges, ribs, gussets, and raised details.  There is no way I could have hand-built this fine a detail (some as fine as .006″ to .008″).  After I had sent it to Shapeways (uploading and placing the order via their website was very easy to do), their automated model evaluation process warned me of possible printing trouble in some areas, but I went for it anyway.  After printing, they sent me a message that it was, in fact, successfully created.  Attached below is a picture of the parts after I received them.


All I had to do was separate and install them.  These receivers were mounted on the lead truck, trailing wheel (engineer’s side) on New York Central steam locomotive tenders.  They fit very well on Broadway Limited Imports J1 Hudson twelve-wheel tenders.  The parts are made by a fine layering process, adding material to the part’s shape layer by layer until the full part is built.   Even though I chose the build option with the finest resolution (Frosted Extreme Detail), I carefully cleaned up some rough areas with light file work and fine sand paper.

I also roughed up the backside of the part and truck face with some 320 grit paper so that the glue had something to bite into.  I used medium CA.  Here is a picture of the ATS receiver mounted on a J1e Hudson tender truck.


Below are better pictures of the truck painted and weathered.



I like it.  I have more; enough to equip all my mainline steam locomotives plus 25% spares in case of damage or my clumsiness.

But is that all there is to this ATS story?  While this adds an interesting and authentic detail that most NYC locomotive models do not have, does it do anything operationally?  ATS in HO Scale doesn’t work of course, but there is an additional prototype operation that can be performed at an engine terminal.  And it would hardy take up any real estate – which is already at a premium here at Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse.