The latest model for my layout, and likely the last locomotive I will add, has just been completed.

Westside Models (by Mizuno, 1978) New York Central J3a Hudson 5404 – ALCO, September 1937, first of fifty class J3a. At the time of issue, these models were reputed to run very well and my 44-year-old example does not disappoint.

As-built, this is a very detailed and very correct model for my era (June 1942). I did not have to add anything to it other than a Sergent coupler for the tender.

I standardize on Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 TSU-2200 decoders for all my layout models so that they sound and behave alike. Since the pick ups are rather limited on brass steam locomotives, I installed a Soundtraxx CurrentKeeper, which provides an amazing nearly 30 seconds of uninterrupted power.

An out-of-service Broadway Limited Imports J1e Hudson (of 2002) provides the die cast tender chassis. There are two speaker openings and the trucks are way more accurate with better pick ups. In addition, this made the tender chassis and shell electrically dead (unlike the original brass one). This reduces the chances of shorting between cab and tender shell. It was pretty straight forward to fit the Westside tender shell to this chassis – a little bit of cutting, filing and drilling for securing screws.

The identical BLI J1e smokebox front replaces the brass one as it makes for an easier operating headlight (the brass one would have to be drilled out). All that was needed was some styrene shims for a tight fit.

A 3D printed Automatic Train Stop receiver (shoe) of my design is added to the lead tender truck. This is a standard feature applied to all my mainline locomotives, just like the prototype.

As this was an unpainted model, the bulk of the work was dismantling as much as I could for painting, which was practically everything. Prior to painting, I ran a finger all over the model surfaces, feeling for any sharp edges. On the ones that I found I filed a small radius to take away the sharp edge or burr. A big concern I have with painting brass (from past experience) is how well the paint adheres and sharp edges will promote chipping.

I decided to take my time and carefully apply the following by airbrush: 2 coats of Tamiya Metal Primer, 2 coats of Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black, 1 coat of Polly Scale Engine Black (I have a limited supply, hence the XF-1 prior), 2 coats of Future acrylic gloss, and finally many light coats of Tamiya TS-80 Flat Clear lacquer spray. I let the coats dry for about 4-5 days and there were many parts to paint so this took a long time. My reasoning for the acrylic gloss (aside for the decals) is to make the finish more durable.

Weathering is mainly by airbrush – Tamiya XF-24 Dark Grey (substituting for Polly Scale Grimy Black) and Polly Scale Oily Black. And powders for around the sand bin fillers and weathered brown for all horizontal surfaces. Lastly, the model was very lightly dry brushed with Tamiya XF-53 Neutral Grey. My standard way.

A load of Woodland Scenics mine run coal tops off the tender.

She runs very well, very smooth. I’m very happy with the result.

5405 rounds out the layout roster at:

  • J1d 4-6-4 Hudson (BLI) – 5290, 5292, 5301, 5366
  • J1e 4-6-4 Hudson (BLI) – 5323, 5326, 5341
  • J3a 4-6-4 Hudson (Westside) – 5405, 5436
  • J3a 4-6-4 Dreyfuss Streamlined Hudson (BLI) – 5451
  • L3a 4-8-2 Mohawk (MTH) – 3001, 3004, 3010
  • H6a 2-8-2 Mikado (BLI) – 1740
  • B62 0-6-0 Switcher (Proto) – 234
  • U3a 0-8-0 Switcher (Proto) – 7814, 7815, 7821
  • SW1 (Walthers) – 641
  • HH600 (Atlas) – 675, 677