These are Budd RDC1 made by Samhongsa and imported by Omnicon in 1987. There was RDC1, RDC2 and RDC3 made. They were about $400.00 when new and have pretty much remained at that price at least for the RDC1. You simply cannot model the PRSL without the RDC1. They had 12 of them. It was some of the last and longest running PRSL trains when used by New Jersey Transit into the 1980s after the PRSL was gone. I have owned both of my RDC for many years now knowing they would be completed for the PRSL someday.
There was lots of procrastination for a long time for many reasons. The first and biggest factor was I did not know how to handle the fact that the silver paint was easily rubbed off the nickel plating. I spent considerable time fitting the shells with brass tubes for the headlights and marker lights – 8 light bulbs total. I decided to not light the numberboards so they had to be blocked off. Since the 2 motors were very noticeable in the middle of the interior there would be no people or seats inside. Lots of black paint stops most from looking in the large windows! This is a rather heavy model. Even though the real RDC1 was not designed to pull anything these easily pull 20 cars.
I found out about Alclad metalizing aircraft paint and painted them in 2010 but that wore off the nickel plating too! I had no good artwork so I did not have decals. When I got the cars DCC was not mainstream for at least 15 years. I actually had them wired for just a motor decoder for a few years. The solution sort of all came together when I bought the QSI RDC decoders and got decals made.
In 2010 I put a shell in the blast booth and went at it. No turning back now – I was committed. The blast booth stripped the silver paint and all but took the nickel plating off.
This was the first time I painted the shells with the Alclad paint. They turned out pretty good – actually much better than the second time I painted them. But it was quickly pointed out to me that the PRSL RDC did not have the snow plows/pilots in the 1950s. When the stainless paint started to instantly and very easily wear off they went back in the box for about 3 years.
In April 2013 I decided the pilots HAD to come off at the same time I knew I had to repaint the shells. The Alclad paint was BRUTAL for stripping and getting back to the bare brass. Even with a stripping dunk in lacquer thinner and another trip through the blast booth it was hours of clean up.
These photos are after the blasting of the first Alclad paint job. You can see in the right photo I removed the pilots. I thought I would just unsolder the pilot and maybe fill some small holes – easy! I never would have imagined that the pilot was all a part of 1 huge casting with both steps, cab floor and the coupler pad – essentially the whole end of the car. It required delicate cutting to remove and extensive wet sanding in very tight places to make the step sides look smooth and original like there were no pilots.
This is the second Alclad paint job. You have to paint the car black first. It is very strange paint to use. I used too much flash on 1 photo of the car painted black and it looked like it was the stainless color!
I used the same procedure as the first time for painting but they somehow appear to be a bit darker. I learned after I bought more paint for the second paint job that a glossy gray paint would have worked as the first coat and it would have made the stainless color look brighter. But the biggest difference with the paint this time was I picked up a lot of dust and schmutz in the paint. Just my luck. There were actually 3 coats of paint before decaling – the black, stainless and a gloss clear since I was decaling the car. With every wet coat is a chance for more dust problems. If I fixed and redid every problem nothing would ever get completed. I had to move on.
The decaling was pretty straightforward. I just looked at some photos and got it done pretty quickly. The “I” in “Reading” is centered on the car but the lettering is NOT centered on the length of the car.
Glass & Finishing
Much of the wiring was competed from when I had a NCE motor decoder installed. I unplugged the NCE and plugged in the QSI. But programming the QSI decoder proved to be a real challenge. After 2 calls to QSI tech I sort of got it, but the lighting was still not what I wanted. All lights including the markers lights are directional and go completely off when I stop. This all can be changed with programming. I have heard programming the QSI is easy with their programmer but I am not getting one. I don’t plan on using more QSI decoders any time soon. The incorrect lighting issues will be addressed at some point.
For 20ish years I have been using real glass exclusively but for this I thought about using an acrylic for the windows as a long strip. Plastruct makes .030 canopy plastic for airplane models that is really nice – it has the shine of glass. After some not so good tries with the plastic I decided to go back to the glass. It was hours of cutting glass. The glass broke many times especially after trying to put the “blinds” on. It is really Scotch 218 plastic auto masking tape. But trying to get everything straight and pulling the tape off many times broke lots of glass. It was all really trying my patience! All of the electronics and speaker is stuffed up and taped in the arch of the roof. I used a 4 wire Miniatronics plug to disconnect the shell from the drive in what I call “power up – motor down”. The plug makes it much easier to work on to disconnect the shell form the drive.
Completed on the layout
TLC Repairs & Decoder Upgrade
My RDC were in need of some TLC. Windows were broken, a speaker and wires were hanging down where you could see them, and I wanted to change to LEDS for the headlights and marker lights. I also found I put 1 of them together wrong years ago making the coupler height very high so that got fixed.
After waiting for over 4 years for Soundtraxx or TSC to make another RDC I had enough. I have been rather brutal in postings on the TCS Facebook page for over a year asking when the decoder would be available. I have 3 year old emails from TCS saying it is “coming soon”. I just snapped one day. I was done with waiting. The QSI decoders have been removed. I bought Tsunami2 faking the RDC sound with a dual Whitcomb. I also wanted to get a decoder with a Current Keeper. They are running good and the lights are working normally now. Whenever someone in some future century graces my wallet with a RDC decoder it will likely be just a plug in swap out.
These are new photos taken 2-14-21 that should have been taken earlier. Some are showing how I set the drive up and did the decoder and lights.
I have better cameras now so these are new photos also taken 2-14-21.
All photos and content © Lanes Trains 2005-2021