Santa Fe’s Raton Pass: Model Railroad Structure: Painting Brass Steam Locomotives

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The Railroad Artifact Preservation Society-  Dean Collection, contains forty-seven pieces of brass. Fifteen of which are AT&SF steam locomotives in various wheel arrangements, the rest are freight and passenger cars from the Golden Era. All the brass steam locomotives and cars in the Dean Collection are unpainted. Recently the Society decided to start with the steam locomotives in the Collection and begin as systematic painting process to get the locomotives out of storage and into service on Santa Fe’s Raton Pass Model Railroad recently completed. This article will highlight the painting of AT&SF 2-6-2 Steam Locomotive Number 1050, manufactured by Sunset Models.

Santa Fe’s 1050 Class Steam Locomotives were originally built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works as four-cylinder Vauclain compounds with the following dimensions;

17” and 28” cylinders with 28” stroke.

69” drivers

220 psi boiler pressure

34,000 pounds tractive effort.

Engine 1050 was built in 1902 and assigned Baldwin Builder’s Number 20132. After being simpled it had 25” x 28” cylinders, but all were later bushed down to 23 ½” x 28”. The engine was donated to Independence, Kansas for static display on July 1, 1955.

Every steam locomotive in the Dean Collection is evaluated thoroughly to verify its overall appearance, mechanical soundness and to determine if the model is a candidate for operation on the layout with DCC and sound, or if missing parts or other mechanical problems prevent it from going into service, it will be painted but only used as a static display.

Engine 1050 passed all mechanical inspections and evaluations and was scheduled for complete painting and decal installation. After painting it will be scheduled to receive DCC and sound.

This article is not intended to provide “How To” information, but merely let the reader know what projects the Society is working on in its history preservation activities.

The Society intends to place all the Dean Collection brass equipment in service on Santa Fe’s Raton Pass Model Railroad after painting. The brass equipment will be used to showcase Santa Fe rolling stock and steam locomotives in a historically accurate fashion. The brass engines will tell the story of Santa Fe Locomotive Development according to Larry E. Brasher’s book, Santa Fe Locomotive Development, published in 2006.


Sunset Models AT&SF 2-6-2 1050 Class steam locomotive ready for painting. The blueprint is from the Railroad Artifact Preservation Society Archives that house a complete collection of Santa Fe’s Railway engine diagrams.
Photographs are taken of the model from every possible angle to assist with the reassembly process.
Locomotive 1050 will receive a new can motor to replace the original open frame motor shown here. Open-frame motors draw too much current for DCC decoders.
The locomotive and tender are broken down into sub-assemblies. It is not necessary to completely disassemble the locomotive.
This is the drive-mechanism sub-assembly. All wiring and plastic parts are removed from all sub-assemblies and placed in a bath of lacquer thinner overnight. This removes the clear lacquer coating applied to most brass products by their manufacturer.
After the lacquer thinner bath, the sub-assemblies and all parts to be painted are washed in a degreaser to remove any oil or grease still hanging on. The parts are rinsed in water and blown dry with a blow gun.
One by one the sub-assemblies and all parts are sprayed painted with an air brush with semi-gloss black paint.
After paint has cured, decals are applied.


When completed the model is reassembled and tested under DC power. Once it proves to run well under DC, it is scheduled for DCC installation. Later, weathering will be added to ad more realism to the model.
Additional painted of details such as bell, smokebox front, couplers, bell and whistle ropes and cab shades are done with a small brush and steady hand.
AT&SF Steam Locomotive 1050 heads down the 3% grade on the mainline at Wootton, Colorado.


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