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Recreation of a Post War Lionel Prototype - How I made it

Updated: Jan 26

The lead photo is from the July/August 2022 issue of Classic Toy Trains magazine. It depicts a PostWar Lionel prototype of a Western Pacific GP-9.

As soon as I saw the picture, I knew that I had to recreate it!

I thought that I'd document how I did here.

I don't like to fiddle with nice, original, Post War trains - It took several months to find a suitable donor candidate. The one I found was operationally perfect, light battery damage to a small part of the chassis, no damage to any of the internals, heavily repainted cab - PERFECT for my purposes!

Here is what I started with:

First I soaked the body in hot water with powdered Tide laundry detergent for 24 hours.

A couple side notes,

*Liquid Tide laundry detergent does not work for this purpose,

*If this was tinplate, I would have made the water as hot as possible, close to boiling, and all of the paint would have been removed in 8 hours or so. Can't do this with plastic as it would warp it.

After this 24 hour soaking, I discovered that under the thick black paint was a MPC Union Pacific body (the body is the same mold as the Post War GP-7, so this was not a problem).

Some brushing with a fingernail brush and the old repaint was no more. After burnishing it with a plastic scouring pad to make sure none of the original paint was loose, and a through rinse with clean water, this was the result:

After giving it some time to thoroughly dry, I gave the shell a light coat of primer.

On to the Chassis.

I lubed it and cleaned the brushes- it ran great. Then I thoroughly cleaned the frame with 70% alcohol to prepare it for a light coat of gray primer, its orange paint, and a coat of Testor's Dull Coat.

Back to the primed body.

I sprayed it orange and, after 48 hours of drying time, here it is masked and ready for the silver spray paint:

Next I designed and printed water-slide Ink-Jet decals:

After applying the decals, I gave it an overall coat of Testor's Dull Coat spray to eliminate the shine.

I then reinstalled the decorative horns and the front and back clear plastic marker light/window "glass".

Here is the finished (almost) product - still need to install wire handrails, they are on order.

Here it is, complete with handrails, pulling a string of 13 Lionel single dome Chemical tank cars. Bringing up the rear is the Western Pacific caboose I had earlier painted (see: One of a Kind Cabooses (Cabeese?) ( for more on my custom cabeese projects).

Recreating a one-of-a-kind postwar prototype was a fun project!

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Dec 21, 2022


it looks very good! Thanks for an excellent how to narrative. Bob

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