my ESPEE MODELERS ARCHIVE
California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996
Southern Pacific E7 A-B-B
8/1947 - 6/1949
LifeLike HO Scale straight out of the box E7ABB set.
N Scale custom painted and decaled E7AB by James of Sydney
Life-Like released its E7A and E7B in Golden State paint some years ago. The photo above is of the units straight from the box with no modifications. These models are something of a paradox, while Life-Like has made available certain customer options, in this case they have either used the wrong one or not made an option where they could easily have. The E7A reflects (nearly) the as delivered condition in August 1947. With some minor and some major modifications they can be brought closer to accuracy. The options available as provided by Life-Like in the box are, a larger fuel/water tank, a freight pilot and clamshell doors to close off the pilot when the retractable couplers are retracted. When going through the points below reference to prototype photos on the E7A/E7B Page will be helpful. These Golden State E7's are only good through to mid to late 1949, after that they were repainted into standard Daylight paint scheme.
Anomolies and modifications...
Details that are just plain wrong...
Other wrong things...
The above modifications while physically fairly simple, will require matching the paint on an all ready decorated model. These mods will get you closer to the as delivered condition.
Most modelers detailing a model will also want to replace the plastic handrails and the lift rings with wire items. Very possibly one of the Detail Associates kits for F units for the handrails and their #2206 for the lift rings or eyebolts. Life-Like made both items as plastic parts and both are fragile with most of mine bent or broken during delivery... Careful study of prototype photos will no doubt reveal many more details that can be added.
Other options to take are:
Very shortly after delivery the rearmost upper panel of both A and B units was replaced with a new panel with 3 grilles cut into it and the B units had a large grille cut into the forward roof hatch (the opposite end from the steam generator), to provide more cooling. The "Trainline" article listed below is very very good value for all E7 mods and really is a must have for detailing SP's E7's. The article gives a couple of options to model these new grilles.
In 5/1948 the unit number was painted on the nose in 6" aluminum-bronze paint centered between the headlights.
The only other things to address are the diaphragms, close coupling and horsepower... It would seem to me that the diaphragms should probably be black in color, Life-Like chose to mold these in red. They could of course be replaced with something better, assuming there is a better product out there.
Close coupling so as to have the diaphragms touch will depend firstly on if you intend to run them, if these are display models only, then a permanant drawbar can be fashioned from either metal or plastic, painted black and applied.
For close coupling the things to consider are:
This is something I have not done yet to these E7's. I did successfully (temporarily) permanently connect my Daylight ABB set with plastic drawbars as an exercise. They were not painted and simply made the length required to have the Life-Like diaphragms touch when on straight track. I made the drawbars to fit into the coupler boxes. Not having a layout at the time (and still not...) they had to be taken to the club and assembled while on their side then the whole placed on the track. I cannot remember the radius of the club layout - too long ago... They were successful in that they did go around the curves without derailing while pulling a train. They were certainly permanent and a hassle to connect and disconnect. They were temporary beacuse I did not paint them and I was not happy with the hassles much preferring couplers. Something to investigate in the future.
More Horsepower may be required if you actually run these on a long train and your layout contains grades. Again this is something I have only looked at, not actually done. Only the A unit is powered, you may want to investigate getting a powered chassis to put under one or more of your B units. Naturally it is not as simple as taking an A and a B unit apart and swapping bodies, the B unit bodyshells are held on to the chassis by 4 screws, these screw into posts molded on the inside of the bodyshell. However, once you remove the posts you should be able to place the B unit shell onto an A unit powered chassis. The A unit bodyshells are held on by 4 cast protrusions engaging holes in the center of the fuel/water fillers, drilling out the center of the B unit fuel/water fillers looks like it will hold the B unit bodyshell on the same way. -- Another (better) option may be if Life-Like does a powered chassis for their later runs of E8/E9B's, then a simpler swap may be available.
The E7A's and E7B's went on to have many many more modifications (or in today speak "Continuous Improvement Process"), over the rest of their lives, but that was when they were in paint schemes other than Golden State, so they will be covered in other paint scheme webpages.
The Why 'O' Why Dept...
Life-Like made interchangable louver/grill panels for behind the cab door and two fuel/water tank options. Large numberboards were an EMD option at the time why not optional numberboards??? The opening cab and hood doors are a waste of engineering, they are in fact sprung-loaded shut, so you can't pose a crewperson climbing aboard or leaning out anyway and the cab interior is minimal and contains headlight wiring that can be seen through an open door. Time and money would have better been spent on factory options like optional numberboards and steam generator options, rather than useless and unusable 'features'...
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This document prepared and maintained by Richard.A.Percy.
All Corrections, Additions and Flames should be aimed at Richard Percy email@example.com
This document © 2005, 2006, 2007. Richard.A.Percy