Saturday, July 6, 2019

SP 2601 - C-2 class 2-8-0 (Part 1)

Prototype History

The C-2 class SP 2601 was originally built as class "FB" compound engine in March 1899 by Schenectady as the SP 1914 in the 1891 numbering system.  She was placed into service the next month. 

She would be renumbered in the 1901 numbering system as the 2601 and then rebuilt as a 'simple' engine on August 15, 1910 in Los Angeles.  During this rebuilt the boiler pressure was lowered from 200 psi to 185.  On September 8, 1928 in LA, the 2601 would be superheated and pressure would be raised to 190 psi.

SP 2601 at Bakersfield, circa 1947 - Eddie Sims Collection.

Looking at the locations for all of the shopping work, it seems that 2601 was a regular around the LA basin for most of her whole life.  The above photo at Bakersfield showing her on the outbound servicing lead indicates that she's about to back out of the roundhouse complex and head to the yard.  Probably to work as either a switch engine around Bakersfield or take a train west into the San Joaquin Valley.

The 2601 was vacated from service June 13, 1951, and scrapped July 30, 1951 in Los Angeles.

The Oriental Limited Model

Many years ago a friend loaned me a photo of the 2601 as reference for a project, then about 10 years later a customer's sent me an Oriental Limited Catalog No.0129 "SP  C-2 2-8-0" to put into service for him.  This will eventually include painting, decalling, DCC installation, lighting, crew, couplers, etc.  Everything to get the engine running in-service at LMRC. 

An interesting note about this model is that it must have been created with the 2601 in mind, as the details are correct and it even comes with a "whaleback" tender!

Left side of Oriental Models C-2 Class 2-8-0

Notice on the smaller C-2 through C-4 class Schenectady-built engines, how much the boiler is tapered towards the front in the 2nd course of the boiler.  The later 1901 classes of Baldwin 2-8-0s would change to a much straighter boiler.

Right side of Oriental Models C-2 class 2-8-0

There's a reason these engines became known as 'hogs', as in their day, they're the beefiest engines on the SP.  Amazing how long ago that was and how fast these little engines were superseded by much bigger engines.

Modifications and Repairs

The Oriental Limited model certainly looks nice.  I found that the power reverse on the right side was loose however, so that was resoldered in place with a resistance soldering iron.  During test running of the drive when I had the boiler off, I found that the original rubber hose drive shaft had 'cooked off' and wasn't able to hold onto the motor shaft anymore.  I replaced the old black rubber tube with a section of modern neoprene RC fuel line hose.  This works well when there's very little extra space between the motor and gearbox shafts.  (I'll be taking photos of this as I do the mechanical work on the drive in the future.)

Normally I would say that the engine being fitted with the large 'cylinderical' Sunbeam headlight would have been replaced by 1947, it would seem that 2601 actually kept her large headlight.  Therefore this will be one of the few models you'll see on my blog that keeps this rare equipment, the other being the T&NO engines seem to have been regularly refitted with this type of headlight when on the Texas Lines, and replaced when engines came west and were refitted during shoppings for Pacific Lines operations.


With the drive running again, I did some lubrication of the gear box with LaBelle 102 heavy oil and used light oil on the main bearings.  The rods were left dry while I airbrushed the frame and running gear, making sure to get into all the nasty little spots.

SP 2601 painted like any Model T Ford, black!

The tread of the driver tires, pistons, piston guide rails, main and side rods were cleaned with a Tamiya mirco brush in lacquer thinner.  I didn't fully clean the rods, as I'll be adjusting the finish on them from the 'chrome plated' look of the white brass to something more appropriate to the steel rods of 2601's in-service look at Bakersfield.


The model was given a coat of Testors 'Wet Look Clear' as a base for the decals.  This generally gives a good smooth finish for the decals to 'snug' down against the surface without leaving trapped air pockets or other 'fogging' of the decals.

The 73-SC-1 tender for 2601 painted and decalled.

I'm using San Juan Decals' #600a, SP Lettering Gray set.  These are good sets which allow you to model basically ANY Southern Pacific steam engine and tender from the 1890's to the end of steam.  Usually each set can provide decals to two or even three models, assuming the models are different size engines and don't need the same tender name decal size.

SP 2601's cab side receives the decals for engine number, class data, and safety warnings.

One interesting thing decalling the 2601 is the truly HUGE cab that she has!  Later SP engines went to the 'Sport Cab' design, which pushed the cabs backward on the boiler and sloped the front of the cab back, following the back head of the boiler.  This allowed the cabs to remain on the engine during the regular staybolt inspection and replacement.  The cabs then only needing to be removed for heavier class repairs to be made.  The 2601's larger cab results in the cab numbers being more spaced out than on engines of, say Mt-series, AC-4 thru -12, or Mk-5/6 classes with their 'Sport Cabs'.

Safety stencils applied to the lower rear of each side of the cab.

The rear of SP 2601 receives the two large safety stencils reminding the crew boarding the engine to be safe and not fall off the engine!  A small 3" "SP" will also be applied above the right corner post of the cab opening, just above and left of the engineer's rear window.  This lettering is often missed on many SP steam engine models.  Just remember that other subsidaries would also stencil their reporting marks here in the cab as well, so T&NO engines would have "T&NO" above the rear of the cab.

Graphite and Aluminum Detail Painting

Front of SP 2601 with post-1947 Aluminum smokebox front.

The paint work on SP 2601 is mostly done.  Next comes removing the smokebox front.  It is masked and I used Tamiya 'Gloss Aluminum' to replicated SP's Aluminum colored paint used on the smokebox fronts after mid-1947.

Once the paint on the front of the smoke box is touched up, I will apply the small 'silver' "2601" decals to the number board below the headlight and a smaller "2601" on each side of the headlight's 'illuminated' number boards.  The Train Indicators will also be decalled once a gloss coat is applied. 

While number boards make it easy to tell this is the Owl, behind P 4255, it causes logistical problems using the engine anywhere else!

Because the ideal of having interchangeable 'working' train indicators in HO scale is not really practical at LMRC, we apply the engine's number to the Indicators.  We leave off the "X" because that would permanently assign the engine to be pulling authorized extras, which is often not the case.  Likewise, you don't want the same engine to be permanently assigned to a particular scheduled train. (See my blog post about how things can go sideways in an operating session. - Triple Trouble on Tehachapi.)  Engines working scheduled trains or yard switching duties would not be set up with 'X' in their number boards.

Smokebox 'Graphite' coating applied.

The sides of the smokebox and firebox are painted with Tamiya 'Gunmetal' to replicate the high temperature graphite coating which was usually mixed and applied with a mop.  The color's a little light at this point, but it will be darkened with weathering as the engine is finished.

Left side of decalled and graphite/aluminum painted 2601, just some final touches left to do.

In Closing

Here's the prototype photo again at Bakersfield around 1947.

The cab sunshades will be painted canvas.  The armrests will be painted a green leather, and crew members will be placed in the cab.  I still need to go back and do a little black touch up on the details around the graphite and aluminum.

Left Side of Oriental Models C-2, SP 2601 nearly finished.

Lastly I may paint the injectors and check valves red, then off to the land of DCC, lighting, crew figures, and perhaps a bit more tweaking to the drive, to make sure all the kinks are out of it.   Last will come the final weathering.  It should be fun to get this model to match the weathering on the real 2601 as it appeared in Bakersfield.  The end result should be a fun little switcher to have around Bakersfield during the 1950's operating sessions.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Modeling SP Road Switchers (Part 1) - Small Steam Engines

SP Tender Swapping (Part 1) - A Game for the Prototype Modeler.

Busy Times in Bakersfield


  1. Jason, nice work! As much as I like to follow a prototype photo, I can't help feeling the engine would look "better" with a Pyle National! I trust the "graphite" paint on the smoke box will darken a lot. I have in my files a really good color photo of a C-9 in San Jose and its hard to tell the smoke box was ever anything but black.
    I don't envy you having to apply those tiny decals to the headlight and the markers.
    Thanks for sharing your work with us! As soon as I catch up I plan to build a bunch of the Owl Mountain flat cars. A necessity on the NWP!

    1. I agree about the headlight... the standard Pyle Sunbeam would look better, but I think this engine just never got around to being given one. Even more fun is the T&NO 910, which still had the large headlights but with the 'wing' number boards like the later type headlights. I think I'll be getting to scratch build that one!

      Let me know about the flat's, were getting down to needing to produce another run of them soon.


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