The Aristo RDC Revisited

      The Aristo RDC is a nice smooth running piece of rolling stock.  It
does, however, lack a lot  in the area of detail.  I have been
corresponding with a Large Scale modeler in New Jersey named Bob Whipple
who has modified two RDC's to improve their overall appearance.  I have used
many of his ideas on mine, and am pretty happy with the result.  If you want to see
some of his work, his web site is as follows:  This site is also
listed in my "Links" section of this web site.
      While the under body details are not prototypically correct, they
can be made to look better than the factory produced.  The first thing I
did was remove all the air tanks.  With a razor saw I cut all the
extensions off so that the tanks were raised up to the floor of the unit.
I attached them using super-glue, since the original screws did not work
with the legs cut off.  This immediately helped the appearance of the
underbody.  I then took thin styrene and glued it the backs of the
equipment  boxes.  This styrene was painted black, and looks much better
than the thin plastic that came on the originals.  These boxes are set up to hold
the sound system and the DCC control system if they are used.
        I then removed the ends and the body from the frame.  This was a
simple removal of  8 screws on the bottom, and one small screw on the
top holding each end.  Be careful when removing the ends, as the wires
for the lights and the battery plugs are attached to these parts.
I removed the cardboard "V" light diffuser and the cardboard ends when I
took the shell off the floor.  Inside you will find a PC board which
controls the lights, smoke, and has the connections for the speaker,
sound system, and the DCC system.  The interior lights are just bulbs
soldered to the PC board.  Since I did not care for the lighting of the
RDC,  I cut off all the bulbs.
       I bought tube lights and sockets from Walthers, and glued them to
the roof of the RDC.  I then soldered the wires to the locations on the
PC board where the bulbs had been attached.  While I had the unit apart,
I painted the rear of the headlight bulbs inside the cabs to dim the cab
lighting and make it look more realistic.  Since I replaced the
interior lighting with ceiling mounted bulbs, I threw the cardboard
light deflector "V" away.
       The windows were my next area of concern.  I slid the window
strips out and painted one side with a spray made by Testor's to
simulate smoke tinted glass.  I then re installed them with the shiny
side out, and added the strip of frosted plastic inside against the
painted side of the clear window material.  This gives a good smoked
glass look to the windows,  a shiny side to the outside to simulate
window glass, and kept the frosted effect so that you cannot see the
circuit board in the interior.
       I bought some foam board at Office Depot.  I used the original
cardboard end inserts as a pattern and made new interior cab ends.
While I was at it, I simulated interior doors using card stock.  I also
built floors for the cabs with the same material and added an engineer
at one end.  All these parts were hot glued into the cab after first
being sprayed with silver paint.
         I also used the foam board to build a speaker enclosure to direct
the sound  out of the roof grills, and cut a piece and painted it flat black so the
interior lighting does not leak out through the roof opening.
          The question that is always asked is what end did I put the
engineer in?  The front end of course!   How can you tell which is the
front end of a RDC?  If you look at the roof and radiator housing, you
will notice that the housing is not in the exact middle of the unit.
One part of the roof is actually longer than the other.  I prototype
practice, the long roof is on the front of the RDC.  I used decals and
put an "F" on the sides near the doors. This is the end where I
installed my engineer in the cab.
         While I had the ends off the body, I loosened the safety chains
so that they would hang with more of a droop than the factory installed
configuration.  This is actually one single piece of chain that is hot
glued in place.  By removing the glue, the chain can be re-installed  to
look more prototypical.  I also painted my chain silver to match the SP
#10 that I am modeling.
          The battery for the sound system was installed inside the RDC
body, and  the wires were led down through the floor to where the
equipment box was located for the sound card.
          I body mounted Kadee #820 couplers at both ends of my RDC.
This involved cutting the mounting posts down that hold the original
Aristo couplers.  The Kadees fit the opening in the pilot at the proper
height, and have been given a squirt of Floquil rust with the airbrush
for more realism.
          While I was at it, I cut off the battery connectors on both
ends since I don't plan on running a battery trail car.
           The RDC was them re-assembled and made ready for exterior
details.  I bought some screen (HO Gauge) at the hobby shop, along with
a package of stainless steel side grills for an HO F-Unit.  The side
grills were measured, cut, and glued to the side of the radiator hump on
the RDC.  The prototype had them, but Aristo chose not to add them to
their model.  Thin styrene was cut for the four under window vents, the
side number board, and the six roof vents.  These were glued on with
Marine Goop.  The HO gauge screen was cut to provide grillwork for these
roof vents, and all parts were painted silver.
            The SP had unique number boards on the cab roof at both ends
of their lone RDC.  These were fabricated with styrene and glued to the
roof after being painted silver and number decals added.  SP-10 was
added to the side number boards using decals, and all decals were sealed
with Testor's glosscoat using a soft brush.
             The sound card and all switches were installed in the box
under the floor.  I went to a hobby shop that specializes in R/C cars,
and found plugs that would work with the Aristo sockets under the floor
on their PC board.  This simplifies hooking the power and the speaker to
the sound system.
              The RDC was then lightly weathered.  Floquil black was
dusted over the radiator housing grills and all intake grills.  It was
also used along the pilot and the bottom details.  Another overspary
with Floquil earth on the pilot and underside details completed the
              The unit now has a more prototypical look, and the sound
system adds to the realsim of the unit as it travels over the rails.