Southern Pacific 9010
USA ML 4000 C'C': Life in Miniature
(Photo (c) Clemens Kirchner/Deutsche Technik Museum Berlin)
Obscure in reality, popular in miniature
The USA ML 4000 C'C' enjoyed a brief lifetime in full scale, but made a relatively big splash with fans and modelers. It has been well-represented in model form, though usually in limited numbers. One exception is the global popularity and long production run of the 1961 Prototype version, as modeled by the Italian firm of Rivarossi. American fans sometimes wonder how enough commercial interest could have been justified to mass-produce a replica of so obscure a real-life locomotive. But that would underestimate the impact these powerful Krauss-Maffei locomotives had on the imaginations of European fans and collectors. How many thousands of these models were produced, fueling the interest of young modelers and railfans the world over?
Models of the later Series variants (such as SP 9010) are far fewer in number, although the aesthetically-challenging Camera Car modification of SP 8799 was duly represented in a limited production run. Brass imports -- generally originating from U.S. model companies, and fabricated by precision South Korean builders such as Boo-Rim or Ajin - have traditionally been the logical way to produce many variations of such rare beasts for a small number of collectors. Through the years, individual modelers have also modified commercial replicas, or created from 'scratch'. This page will highlight some of these efforts.
Rivarossi/AHM: The Original
Making its debut not too long after the full-scale Prototypes went into service was the 'granddaddy' of ML 4000 models, the iconic Rivarossi model in HO scale (1:87), marketed in the U.S. by AHM and later by Rivarossi directly.
Although considered a bit crude now, the models featured some fairly sophisticated die work for the time, especially in the crisp molding of the truck sideframe detail. The version chosen was the Rio Grande's large-headlight style, but the model was offered in SP paint as well. The early SP models were finished in a very smoky dark gray which seemed to have a hint of metallic, and the warm gray of the unpainted plastic underframe had even more of this metallic appearance. But overall the models were a good rendition, even featuring tiny "KM" builder's plates.
Paint masking tended to be a bit fuzzy, quite typical for the era. But the lettering featured an early version of the 'tampoprint' technique now used widely to great effect. The running gear was (and is) perhaps the greatest liability: the motor was mounted in vertical axis over the rear truck, powering only the rear two axles. Traction tires on one side were to help with pulling power, but the speed range was the greater issue, with jackrabbit starts and speeds ranging from about 10 scale MPH up to well over 100! Repowering is still a concern for modelers, who will find a seemingly abundant supply offered on eBay and other resale venues.
Skilled modelers can use the Rivarossi model to create a very convincing rendition of the ML 4000 C'C' Prototypes in HO scale. It's not easy, and the choice of how deeply to carry the effort is up to the individual. Few have gone further than modeler Clyde King. His fine work includes details which even expensive brass models have difficulty in representing. Clyde's brother Jay is a machinist who also volunteers for the PLA, and Jay helped create the robust power train for Clyde's models. (Intended for heavy hauling duty in club layout operation, Clyde elected to forgo a bit of accuracy and opted for a permanent drawbar connection between the two units.)
Clyde King's Prototypes are stunning in photographs, but are even more arresting in person. Congratulations to Clyde for some fine work, and watch this page for updates: he's going to bite the bullet and paint them soon, we hear! Thanks to Clyde for bringing the models out to SP 9010 for viewing, and to our mutual friend Rob Sarberenyi for the fine photos!
Below: Research into SP 9010 has revealed that the exhaust uptakes were refitted on all the USA Maybach MD870 motors, resulting in the cast iron stacks and attached 'butterfly' flaps being exposed slightly above the can-shaped chimneys in the roof. (These were recessed on all six Prototypes and the first batch of Series units, but refitted to all while the second batch of Series units were on the production line. We surmise this was for better flow of exhaust gases away from nearby fresh air intakes.)
Modelers and manufacturers to date have never been 100% clear on how it was supposed to look, or why. Clyde has revisited the exhaust flaps on his models based on the new data, with the results shown below. Very nice job!
Brass Models: Division Point
Division Point Models have recently offered HO scale Prototypes in most of the significant variations in their service lives. The same models have also been announced for production in O scale (1:48), although the DP website currently does not list a delivery date.
As with most USA KM efforts, data has been hard to come by until recently, so there are some minor inconsistencies in areas where specific details were previously unknown. (The masking outline of the SP scarlet wings, for example, is a hybrid of original KM and SP repaint templates.) These inconsistencies tend to make their way into modeler's critique sessions because of the perceived high-end price of the models. But overall, these are handsome replicas, well-researched and executed.
Our friend Chris Bowen has done some slight updating to a DP model of the repainted SP 9021 (ex-DRGW 4001) and has shared the results with us.
Diecast Models: Del Prado
Del Prado is a Spanish collectibles company founded in 1988 in Madrid. They offer a collectible set of "The World's Great Locomotives" in N scale (1:160), sold by online subscription. Included in the set is a representation of the Krauss-Maffei ML 4000 C'C' Denver & Rio Grande USA Prototype. The models appeared in 2005.
It appears from the front 3/4 view that the mold makers may not have had the benefit of anything but a side view drawing. (We'll leave it at that.)
The set may still be available from Del Prado, and single units of the KM model often appear in online auctions at modest prices.
Brass Models: Overland
Overland Scale Models did a series of brass USA KM models starting in the mid-1980's.
Pictured are the Series models in two versions and SP 8799, the Camera Car. Completely accurate information and drawings were not available during this period, and major research was apparently done in the field on SP 8799, causing a couple of 8799-only oddities to make it into the non-Camera Car locomotive iterations. (The roof hatch is reversed, and only the bases of the supplementary heat exchangers are modeled; the exchangers themselves were removed on 8799.)
Some rooftop details like the exhaust centering springs and Nathan air horns were also realized a little more stoutly than accurately. But in general, these models were welcomed by KM fans, and still command a premium in resale.
The drive of the first-run Overland units was unique, with universal shafts exiting both ends of the fuel tank -- the same manner in which the full-size ALCo DH-643 diesel-hydraulics got their torque to the rails! Models were later offered in several painted and numbered versions, with original high windows and modified low windows available. (Some discrepancies also exist with end platform railings and other details relative to specific unit numbers, but it's only with the recent historical work on SP 9010 that some of these details have become widely known.)
No word on reruns, but the manufacturer can be found at:
Scratchbuilt Models: N Scale
Mike Danneman scratchbuilt these three fantastic Krauss-Maffei ML 4000 C'C' Prototypes. Here's his account:
"I model N scale Rio Grande, and I always thought it would be neat to have a KM for the layout. After checking plans and other sources, I realized that I'd have to scratchbuild a body shell that would hopefully work over a modified mechanism. I choose the N scale Kato SD45 mechanism since its length is only a few inches different than the KM. I built my original KM shell out of styrene, with only a few commercial parts added. The lower portion of the nose and pilot are from a Kato F7 shell, and the cowl and cab is made of .015 styrene. The fuel tank and trucks are modified Kato parts, used to retain the reliability of a good-running model."
After finishing the first model, I dreaded trying to build two more. Neighbor Keith Sorci, who casts 1/24 and 1/25 scale automobiles, saved the day and cast three KM shells for me using my model as a master. Because I didn't construct the master with casting shells in resin in mind, I was only able to get a a few resin shells out of the mold. The cast resin models were then finished in Rio Grande paint and sent out onto my Rio Grande Moffat Road for testing (with Dynamometer car No. 10 tagging along, of course). The models aren't perfect, but as far as I know, they are the only N scale ML 4000 (Prototypes) out there!"
For more information on how Mike built the models, please see the November-December 2003 "N Scale Railroading" magazine.
Scratchbuilt Models: HO scale
Scratchbuilding was once the only resort for modelers desiring a scale version of the 1964-built 'Series' units. Bob Zenk was 16 years old in 1969 when he started this model in styrene plastic, finishing three years later. (Paint and decals would come more than a decade after that.) And in a bit of synchronicity, he began by constructing the nose, just as we began on full-size SP 9010.
Bob says he made every mistake a novice styrene fabricator could make (including using eyeballs instead of a straightedge!) but still is happy to display the effort. He sacrificed the cab roof of a Rivarossi Prototype to set the roof profile, and sectioned some Rivarossi GE U25C trucks, using gearless gearboxes from the sacrificed Rivarossi KM and replacing wheelsets. And like SP 9010, for the immediate future it will require a trailing unit to supply motive power!
Scratchbuilt Models: 1:11.25
Here's a jumbo garden-scale model, scratchbuilt from info, data, and links to articles found here on the 9010 website and with Rob Fern's 1:29 model as inspiration! Germany's Norman Schaake is the builder.
Weight (estimated, with two batteries): 130 lbs.
Here's Norman's short description of the building process:
The frame is welded from rectangular steel tubes (2"x1"). The trucks are a frame of 1"x1" square tube - it is mounted to the main frame on a kingpin (not prototypically); suspension is by four rubber-metal elements which are positioned close to the kingpin.
Each truck is powered by a 280W motor (24V) - all axles of a truck are connected by chains.
The hood has a steel frame - plain areas have a fiber-board base and covered with glass-fiber reinforced resin. The nose was shaped from styrofoam and heavily covered with resin and glass-fiber. Other supporting structures are made from thin plywood and covered GFR.
The pilot is a remodeled F7-pilot from a British supplier.
The photos make the unit appear to be primered with a zinc green, similar to what KM used on the full-size units. Norman points out that there's no real primer, but he's added yellow paint into the resin to help the later painting in Rio Grande colors. Before final painting it will receive a white primer - Norman observes that yellow creates difficulties with full coverage.
Norman is modest about his achievements, saying "Maybe my unit will not be as detailed as the scale might promise (in comparison to HO) - but real outdoor work with derailments and so many small hands (of children) that try to open every door & window and maybe finally trying to climb onto the model will lead to some compromises."
Possibly some delicate details will be omitted, and with the outdoor use that's very wise. But the fundamentals look just right!
Custom Models: O scale
A fine effort in 1:48 was realized in Series unit modeling not too long ago by our friend John Ford, which he created in very limited production numbers.
Looking great in these photos (resting in its elegant custom carrying case), the model has extraordinary impact when viewed in real life, especially when John recently brought it out to shine next to the full-size SP 9010! This is one of three copies John built about 10 years ago. They are powered by a Doug Cockerham drive, and John reports they run like a fine watch. He currently has 10 more in various stages of construction, of which 6 will be powered and 4 will be dummy. After that, John says he's through! We're happy he's done such an impressive job. But John - maybe you'd reconsider stopping 'production' until you reach the prototypical quantity of 15? And then there are the 16 Brazilians. Kidding, John. Really.
Custom Models: 1:29
Our friend and SP 9010 crewmember Rob Fern, UK train driver and Maybach expert extraordinaire, has begun what will surely be a stunning model of the SP Prototype in large 1:29 scale. He's using nickel silver, the 'favoured' scratchbuilding material of our friends in Old Blighty - a land which also happens to be the cradle of both full-size trains and model trains!
Rob tells us: "I picked up where I left off with the 1/29 KM after our discussions on the number boards, making yet another set of boards as I just wasn't happy with what I'd made earlier; you know how it is, if you're not happy then you're not happy and you just can't kid yourself that it looks right when it plainly doesn't! I've fitted in all those round windows down the sides and on the back door and also made those fancy windows in the cab doors with that recessed frame. I love this stage where you get to make the fun stuff and every time you work on her, she comes to life a bit more!
Judging from the success of Rob's other productions, such as the V.200 and D10000 below (models of Maybach-powered diesel-hydraulics, both), we should all prepare to pick our jaws up off the floor when he's done with this one! (We recently entertained a detailed discussion with Rob of whether or not the numberboards of the Prototypes were tilted ever-so-slightly rearward at the tops, relative to vertical and the class light housings above. Verdict: they are, and so shall they be on Rob's model!)
And the best part?
Rob's model is actually a master pattern for resin castings, and he's offering 'body kits' for limited sale. Rob tells us (as of early December 2009) that he's nearly done with the truck side frame pattern, and is now working on a headlight unit and other details for the Rio Grande version. The test etchings are done for the roof fans and grilles.
Rob says "As for the kit, It has all the small details and truck side detail castings, just no internal truck frame or chassis under the body. The builder has the choice to motorise it in several ways. There is the "White Pass" diesel from LGB whose truck is just over in length, or the 0-6-0 chassis from Piko which is just under in length; there is a firm in the UK which sells a fold up nickel truck chassis, wheels gears etc. and another firm that makes several motorising options too. So (the builder) must provide the power system, glazing, handrails and couplings; everything else including decals is in the kit.
Rob says the price will come out at around œ340 UK sterling (about $560 USD)." Priced at visual impact by the ounce, that's what we'd call a steal.
Contact Rob directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Custom Models: KM Factory
And finally, the piece de resistance in many ways: the 'official' KM factory model in large scale, currently residing in the collection of the Deutsche Technik Museum Berlin. This stunning model was crafted for KM at about the same time as the full-size Series units were being constructed, and is large, likely 1:20 scale -- making it greater than one meter/40 inches in length over couplers.
Our friend and crewmember Richard Oed believes it likely that this model was created internally within KM, although he notes that outside contractors were also used for such models. With only a single small photo to be found on the internet, Richard took the initiative to contact the museum with an inquiry. As a result, their photographer Clemens Kirchner had the model moved from its display perch and held this custom session for us!
(All photos (c) Clemens Kirchner/DTMB)
Enthusiasts wishing to study full-resolution shots (to see details like the cloisonne builder's badge!) are encouraged to bookmark the museum's website, as we understand there may be an opportunity in the future to purchase some of these images and thereby support the preservation efforts:
Our thanks to the museum and Clemens Kirchner for this thoughtful effort, so we can all enjoy this remarkable model!
Hydro Modelers Gallery:
We'll continue to feature new models from commercial and individual modelers on this page, as the popularity of the USA ML 4000 C'C' appears to be growing daily! Please feel free to let us know what you've got planned , or what's on your workbench these days!
Meanwhile, please enjoy these fine examples of diesel hydraulic enthusiasm in scale.
Edson Yamazaki SP 9007 HO Scale
John Goddard SP 9002 HO Scale
John Goddard SP 9112 HO Scale
Jim Bence SP 9107 N Scale, Scratchbuilt
Alco Models, DH-643, owned by Howard Wise, custom finished by Thom Anderson, San Francisco
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