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This F7 loco set was made by S Helper Service in 2002. S Helper Service is now owned by Mikes Train House. The How To” build this set was featured in the January 2005 Mainline Modeler.
When I got this set I knew I had to add antennas. Overhead photos of any loco are very difficult to find especially in 2002. There are no known drawings for the antenna stanchions spacing. Everyone including me must have winged it and gotten as close as possible by looking at available side photos.
All below photos are from 2003 unless otherwise noted.
When I got this loco set I also got my first digital camera, a Fuji S602 a few months earlier. It gave some incredible depth of field shots even when compared with my Canon 80D DSLR 16 years later. This was likely my first project taken with the S602. In 2003 space and file size was a constant concern. Space taken up on your computer hard drive, and file size for emailing on dial up internet all was very different in 2003. I set the camera to small file size and documented the project progress, emailing it out as I went along. When I was just about done the detailing I was contacted by Mainline Modeler magazine to get the project published. Most of my photos to date were 100 KB, by far not good enough for publishing. Right after this a friend bought an unpainted set and wanted it detailed the same way so I had a “redo” of sorts in some documentation. That is why some photos are painted models and some are not. This also forever ended my practice of setting the file size to anything less than the maximum camera output. Possibly 100,000 digital photos later taken on 10 digital cameras since 2003 have been set to full JPG file size. You can make the file size and resolution smaller but you cannot make it bigger.
This is stock out of the box on 5-18-13. Let the fun begin!
Most of the improvements were adding the Trainphone antennas, the defining PRR detail. This is the main source of how I figured the stanchion spacing. I compared side builders photos of F3 sized to S Scale to my Overland F3 brass locos. They were very close and fit on the F7 as well. Good enough. This is of course measured in real inches. Your scale may vary…..
No model more than 10 years old including brass models I have seen made the route of the antenna conduits correctly especially at the rear wall. Both of the conduits usually just turns inward above the door opening. This is the best photo – from a F3 I have ever seen. I HOPE the F7 is the same!
This is Tichy .020 phosphor bronze wire. The stanchions are available from Bills Train Shop. Note the ladder rests and nose lifting rings as well
A part of drilling the antenna stanchion holes for my friend’s locos was to go off on a side project and make a drilling fixture. I do like to make things just to challenge myself. It is big fun. There was the thought of having a fleet of F Units, so this fixture would make adding antennas “easy”. That has NOT happened yet…..
This was possibly before I switched to DCC so there are no headlights are on in the photos. The locos are on a 3 feet long photography track I made with tie plates and 6 spikes per tie. I am NEVER doing that again! The depth of field shown here for the S602 is just amazing especially for its time. I had a photography studio set up back then with a paper roll up backdrop.
I was published!
For no known reason I have not run them very much. Maybe like my PRR GP9 I “worked on them” and was afraid something “might happen”. I eventually added DCC, but not sound units.
I got them out of the box just for a goof in September 2019 to find the headlights did not work. When something does not work or is not “the way I would do it” I typically gut the loco and start over. That is just what I did, stripped it down to the motor and pick up wires. New NCE D13NHJ decoders were installed, still not sound units yet though. Installing sound units would be very easy with most of the wiring already done. Unplug 1 decoder for the other and wire up a speaker. I put in all new LEDs thinking I was also lighting the numberboards but it was the corner markers instead. I might go back and light the numberboards too.
All photos and content © Lanes Trains 2005-2019