California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Model Train Help EBook

N Scale RS32 - John Barnhill

Converting a C420 to an RS32 in N Scale.

Parts needed:

  • 1 ALCo C420--by Model Power/PMI or MRC
  • 1 AlCo RSD15--by Model Power/PMI, AHM or MRC
  • 1 GP35 shell--by Kato/Atlas
  • 1 SP red warning gyralite--Sunrise Enterprises
  • 2 early style dual headlight--S.E. or Detail Associates
  • 1 late style dual headlight--Sunrise Enterprises
  • 1 GP9 light bracket w/lights--Sunrise Enterprises
  • 1 3-chime horn w/o bracket--Sunrise Enterprises
  • cab sunshades and armrests
  • 1 Sagami 10mm can motor and flywheel


First re-motor the C420 with the Sagami can motor.
Cut the fuel tank off the C420 leaving just the air tanks. Form a new fuel tank from the RSD15 tank. The RSD15 comes with 3 angled sections(1 long and 2 short). The long section just needs to be notched to fit around the air tanks. Use the two short sections (spliced, shortened and notched) for the opposite side.

Short Hood:

Remove the short hood of the RSD15 to just behind the "ALCo notches".
Remove the corresponding section of the C420 nose and replace it with the RSD15 nose. Note the RSD nose will be slightly taller so some filing and sanding will be required. Next use a triangular piece of sheet styrene to fill in the rear section of the short hood where the cab center post comes down.

The Cab:

Remove the center post from the C420 cab. This will create one large rectangular window without the angles. The battery box on the left side needs to be lengthened by using the battery box off the GP shell.

Long Hood:

Remove the inertial filters on either side and replace with the ones cut from the GP35 shell. There are three small vents along the top of each side; remove the rearmost vent and sand smooth. Now add a radiator grille just forward and higher than the large air intake grille, again using the radiator grilles from the GP35 shell (use of photos helps in placement.)


Use the end handrails from the RSD15. The late style dual headlight is placed horizontally between the "ALCo notches" on the nose. The warning gyralite and an early style dual headlight (horizontally) are placed between the cab numberboards. Add the horn to the center of the cab roof and add sunshades and armrests. Note the following may be incorrect: use the GP9 light package on the long hood in typical GP9 fashion(warning gyralite above the top of the hood with the twin gyralites vertically mounted just below. Another early style dual headlight is mounted horizontally just below the other lights.

Painting and Decaling:

I painted my model in the "Bloody Nose" scheme using Floquil paints and Microscale decals.


  • Photo of RS32 4008 by Tom Gibson
  • Photos of RS32 4004 located at the Portola museum from my collection
  • Model Railroader, DEC. 1986 "Repowering a Model Power N-scale ALCo"

this article © John Barnhill

see also the Searchable Magazine Article Database - for further RS32 references.

SP RS32 Info page

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This document © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. Richard.A.Percy

Thursday, January 01, 1998 00:00:00 AM