Saturday 22 April 2023

Modifying a Rapido CPR E-8

CP E-8 1800 is getting under way after a stop at White River Junction

Improving the Rapido E-8

     I recently purchased a Rapido CPR E-8 from Otter Valley Railroad in Tillsonburg.  These are great looking models. I chose #1800 in the original paint scheme.  This model looks great and runs extremely well.  After studying the model I saw a few things that I thought I could improve on.  One thing I thought needed attention was the headlight.  This model has a lightboard in the front on which several LED's are located.  They shine up through clear plastic lenses to illuminate the headlight, class lights and number boards.  The number lights and class lights looked good but I felt the headlight needed improvement.  It has a very nice shiny silver reflector in the headlight casting but the actual light is behind this and when turned on only shines through a small hole in the headlight housing  producing a very weak light that can only be seen when looking at it head on.  After I removed the body shell I was able to remove the inside of the casting.  I decided to use an 0804 SMD LED mounted right inside the casting.  I fed the wires through the hole in the casting and used Microscale Kristol Klear to hold the LED in place. I then added a two prong plug to the end of the LED wires so I could unplug the body from the chassis.  The wires for the other end of the plug was soldered to the headlight terminals on the lightboard and run under the cab interior back to the middle of the chassis.  I tested the headlight and it looked a lot brighter than before. 
This photo shows the LED installed in the headlight and how it reflects inside the shiny casting.

This photo shows the front light board and LED's that illuminate the number boards. The clear headlight plastic was removed so the ne LED wires would sit in its place.
         The next change I made was to remove the Rapido front pilot and coupler and replace it with a passenger pilot from a Highliners F unit kit I had on hand.  The Rapido pilot is fastened to the chassis and is held in place with two screws. Almost every photo I have seen of these engines in the original paint shows this type of pilot with the coupler covered up.  The new pilot is simply glued to the front of the body shell.  It fits perfectly without any modifications. I just had to file a bit of plastic around the coupler pocket so the new pilot would slip over the chassis.  Before I installed the pilot I added the necessary grab irons and locking levers to the pilot.  I then painted the pilot a grimy black colour.
This photo shows the Highliners pilot with the necessary grab irons and locking levers in place. photo by David Hutchinson

The photos above show the new pilot installed on the shell

      With the headlight and pilot modifications done, I turned my attention to the speakers.  My model came with DCC/Sound. It sounded good but I have been using speakers from Scale Sound Systems lately and I feel these speakers are far superior to anything else on the market.  Scale Sound makes replacement speakers for the Rapido E-8 so I decided to order them.  They make a large speaker designed to fit at the rear of the chassis and a smaller one for near the front.  I decided to use both on my model and see how it would sound. I was not disappointed.  These new speakers have more bass and give the throaty growl of the dual 567 engines in an E-8.  These speakers are a little more than other speakers but well worth the money spent.  They were mounted with double edged tape

The two Scale Sound Systems speakers can be seen mounted on the chassis.

Rear Speaker above, front speaker below

     One other detail I wanted to change was the addition of a Cal Scale Nathan M5R2 air horn which is quite visible on these units.  They were delivered with two single trumpet air horns but at some point these were replaced with the new horns.  Looking at prototype photos,  it appears that the original horns were removed and the new horn was installed in one of the original spots.  The 1800 and 1802 had them on the engineers side of the roof and the 1801 had it on the fireman's side.  I painted the horn black and installed it on the roof.  The hole from the other horn was filled with with a tiny piece of gray plastic sprue material and cut flush with the roof.

This is the new Cal Scale brass M5R2 air horn installed on the cab roof.

       The final modification I made was to mask of the body and roof and paint the glossy black areas with grimy black.  This greatly helped show off the great detail of the trucks, fuel tank, pilot and center roof detail.  As the model comes from the factory, these details are all but invisible to see because of the black paint.  I will add some light weathering to the trucks and roof at a later date.  I also added the separate rear door diaphragm that is included with the model and add Kadee #58 couplers.

These two photos show the finished model

     Once everything was complete I decided to overwrite the Rapido sound file with an ESU sound file for a dual 567 engine.  Sound file SO761.  I did this because it has more sound effects that I like than what are included on the Rapido file.  These include flange squeal, cab door, hand brake, isolation switch, independent brake and several other sounds.  It does not have a steam generator sound but I can live without that. 
      This was a fun project and really improves an already great model.


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