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South Jersey S Scale Modelers

Reading FP7


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I got this loco as a shell only from a friend because he wanted to keep the drive for something else. I did not need another FP7 but the paint job was excellent and “pretty” so it got added to my Reading Fleet. I bought a new drive from American Models. They run really well. It might get further upgrade like stainless grills and handrails but it is done for now.




This was not going to be a big project, just a motor decoder and other minor changes. NCE has recently added motor decoders with a capacitor bank, the D13NHP. However, I used a leftover TSC Keep Alive 2 and soldered them on to the D13SRJ and it works great. I am using all LEDS from now on. These are 3MM.




I decided to light the numberboards. I designed a light enclosure in Solidworks in 2008 for lighting numberboards on my brass E8 - which still are not done. But this enclosure worked perfectly here as well. I glued plastic angles to the nose. My brass enclosures sit in there very well. I did not modify them at all. I put a white tissue paper inside the enclosure as a diffuser. The LEDS are a bit blue which I hate but they got the job done. They are VERY bright.


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Completed 12-7-17


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Building Reading 903

Added 8-21-19

In March 2019 I got another FP7 to make 903 since I have seen many more photos of it than 901. Also 903 still exists. I quickly put a decoder in, got the headlight wired, and then it went back in the box for a while. Making something new for the Reading Modelers Meet https://readingrrmm.com has been a motivator more than once, so I got it out to finish it in August 2019. Not being critical of Pieter’s 901, but this became a modest build for 903 to match 901 in detail level. I could have added handrails, grab irons and other details but did not. They will always run together.


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My project pages usually show how I successfully did the build. The blocking off of the bottom headlight did not go as well as I had hoped. Trying to cover up the first not so good attempt by laminating .010 plastic did not go well either. This set the tone for the rest of the project that turned out to be problematic.

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This is the drive with the NCE D13NHJ decoder, and Overland driveshafts. The harness is 4 LEDS for the number boards and 1 LED for the headlight. I used a 4 pin Miniatronics plug even though I needed 3 wires.

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This was my most involved diesel decaling job to date. I kept the nose decal and 2 long side stripe decals “live” (wet) and worked them all at the same time.


A speck of silver paint accidentally hit the nose when I was painting something else. All of the windows were installed. I spent significant time trying to fix it, and every time it all got much worse to the point of stripping was going to be next. I pulled it back to being acceptable with another clear coat. I know where the problems were but they are not that noticeable.


Pieter’s decaling job is better than mine though. 901 will still run on point instead of my built 903.


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Added 12-27-21

In December 2021 a very nice American Model FP7 and F7a set custom made for Reading came up for sale on eBay from the son of my good freind the late Lou Sottnick that passed on 3-21-13. Lou had an extensive S collection unfortunately none of which he got to run. I was more interested in the F7b unit but they were sold as a set. They were better detailed than my other Reading FP7 so I installed Tsunami2 sound decoders instead of the NCE D13NHJ motor only decoders.


I don’t necessarily remember how I built something previously. This time I put the American Models headlight lens in my lathe. I used a flat bottom end mill to bore a hole into the lens then used a small piece of Evergreen round tubing to hold the LED for the 3 MM headlight.



907 was actually the last FP7 not an F7a but they still look great together.





It would not be my preference to have 3 locos sequentially numbered like 901, 902, and 903. That is how it happened.



Updated 12-27-21

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