ATSF/MKCX SDF45u 5956
This model has a long history. It started out as a "blue box" Athearn that I purchased and
super-detailed many years ago while in college. It sat in my display case for decades until I got
involved in Free-mo in 1997. By then Santa Fe was history, having been merged into the BNSF.
But toward the end, Santa Fe had begun selling off older locos like SD45's and F45's, which
ended up being leased right back to the Santa Fe! To replicate that aspect of Santa Fe's final
years, I took my old number 5956 off the shelf, stuck a DCC decoder in it, and painted out the
Santa Fe heralds just as lease company Morrison-Knudsen had done (reporting mark MKCX).
Below: During my original super-detailing efforts decades ago, I opened up the fan housings and installed
fans made from Athearn semi-truck wheel hubs and styrene-strip blades. The grills are an etched brass
product from Detail Associates. The antenna ground plane is sheet styrene with brass wire conduit. This
model could use a lot more grunge weathering on the top - something I can easily add in the future.
The original upgrades included cabtop air
conditioner, horn, and beacon platform.
I had blanked out the upper headlight and
class lights, and added windshield wipers,
drop grabs, hand-made coupler lift bars,
and MU air hoses. Campbell scale chain
was installed on the handrail openings.
Below: Here is the prototype that inspired my model. I captured MKCX 5951, a former Santa Fe SDF45u,
on Tehachapi Loop in August 1996 a few months after Santa Fe had disappeared into the newly-formed
BNSF railway. Morrison-Knudsen had quickly refurbished the unit, painted out the Santa Fe markings,
and leased it right back to Santa Fe. The "MKM" sub-lettering below the cab number indicates this unit had
been maintained under contract by Morrison-Knudsen before ownership transferred from Santa Fe to M-K.
Below: I just copied what M-K had done. Starting from my old Santa Fe SDF45u 5956, I painted over the big yellow Santa Fe lettering
on the hoods, and scraped off the blue Santa Fe "cigar band" herald on the nose. I added "MKM" decals under the cab numbers.
Below: Here is my original model in process circa mid-1980's - note the fuel tank has not yet been repainted
after grafting in the fuel gauge. I had installed styrene smoke lifters on the roof, which were removed during
the MKCX conversion. I also replaced the old Athearn metal trucks with their more accurate plastic ones.