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South Jersey S Scale Modelers


The SW1 is my favorite switcher.



B&O SW1 203

Added 12-29-20

Completed 12-29-20

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This is another lightly modified S Helper Service SW1. This B&O paint scheme was scheduled to be made but it did not happen before S Helper Service closed. In September 2020 my friend Al Castellani asked me to just paint a SW1 B&O blue. The timing all fell together because decals were made at the same time. Of course I wanted 1 so I made 1 for Al as #200 and an identical loco as #203 for me. The striping as very time consuming but the thin stripe fell exactly where it was supposed to go on the model. The B&O emblem on the grill was made by River Raisin for their USRA 0-6-0 project. This project was payback for Al giving me his icing platform kit built up to over 7 feet long.

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My S Helper Service SW1 & Oriental SW1

Ironically they are 5944 and 5945

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PRR SW1 5944

I upgraded my first S Helper Service SW1, PRR 5944 changing from an original Tsunami to a TSC WOW4 with Keep Alive. I also changed to the single beam headlight with a 3MM LED. All the original SHS wiring was gutted. I was so surprised I could fit my favorite speaker, the RailMaster DLG8 in with everything else. The small weight under the cab had to be removed. If I had the KA4 Keep Alive cube I could have put it in the center of the cab roof and saved the weight. It is a big speaker in a little locomotive!

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PRR SW1 5945

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It is not completely done at this point but it is running.

Added 7-4-16


I bought this brass Oriental SW1 sometime in the mid 1990s. Oriental made a brief attempt at S Scale brass making some EMD switchers. Their drive was rather unconventional but runs VERY well, amazingly well. This model could be my personal record of starting to finish it, and putting it back in the box for MANY years. I have NO photos of it at all which predates me going to a digital camera in 2002. I don’t remember when I painted it. Part of the extreme procrastination was because S Helper Service came out with a SW1 ready to run.


Some modifications I made to it back then include changing the headlight from a twin beam to single light, and making a draft gear. Both required some extensive hand filing especially making a small body gap filler piece for the top of the front headlight.


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I picked SW1 5945 because I had a EMD Builders photo of it, and it is ALMOST 5495 for my K4 5495


These photos were taken 9-19-15 when I started the project again, and added all wheel pick up. Some missing driveshafts delayed getting it running for 9 more months. The pickups are only roughed in at this point showing the wheel grooves I cut.


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These photos were taken 7-4-16 when I finally got it running. Some original Oriental SW1 driveshafts were given to me by my friend Bill Winans making this all much easier.


Every DCC installation is different and a challenge. I had to figure out where the Tsunami decoder, Soundtraxx Current Keeper, and the RailMaster DS1240-Box speaker were all going to fit. I decided a shelf bracket was in order here. Everything has plugs and the bracket can be removed.


The LEDs are not shown here.


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I have to find the headlight numberboards I made, or make new ones. They went missing. The frame will have to be stripped and repainted. There is a handrail that needs fixing. Add glass and a crew. It will be done!

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Added 12-26-20

Completed 12-26-20


I never know what or when something will pop up and finally get completed. This was possibly the longest painted not completed loco I have until now. I had some custom made decals made. At the last second I remembered to add numberboard decals for this since I lost the other decals. Once I got the decals I could finish 5945. I wanted to reconfigure the DCC installation and get rid of the DS1240-Box speaker. I switched to a TCS WOW4 because that is what is in the rest of my SW1 and it is just a bit smaller that the Tsunami. The vertical motor is inefficient in space consumption and made it so I *just* could not fit the DLG8 speaker but used a DS1436-8 speaker instead. The layout was mostly like the SHS plastic SW1 with everything up in the roof of the body using a 4 wire Miniatronics plug. That left a space on the other side of the motor to cram all the wires in.


I did keep the original paint of the body from maybe 25 + years ago but stripped the frame so I could do the handrail repair. I tried a butt solder repair but that was not strong enough so I made a new handrail. I got real lucky that I got the broken piece out of the handrail base bracket. It is better then as made now with phosphor bronze wire for the broken handrail. I would rather I did not use a dead flat finish now but it is done.

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I liked these stack photos so I am including all of them I took on 12-27-20.

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My SW1 Collection 2016



Reading SW1 #20

Added 8-2-16

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This is a lightly modified S Helper Service SW1 painted as Reading #20. It is not meant to be the most exact model I have ever made – just a fun build in a reasonable amount of time. I had to change the headlights from twin to single beam with a SHS kit. It is item 01039, and is currently very tough to find. These photos were taken on 8-1-16 after the TCS WOW decoder and LED headlights were installed. The headlight is very bright!


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This is showing the rain deflector and changed headlights.

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This is showing the approximate layout of the WOW decoder and very small RailMaster Speaker. Also, I took the end Delrin handrails off temporarily and gave them a quick blast in the blast booth. That takes the sheen off the plastic and will hopefully give the paint a better bite.


In December 2020 I reconfigured the decoder and speaker to be like PRR SW1 5944.

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Completed 9-6-16

There has been a great variance in the color of Scalecoat Pullman Green over the years. I really like this color. It is possibly a bit lighter here than what I see when I see with the loco on my layout. But still it is what I think Pullman Green should be. My friend John Frantz made the custom decals for me. The most difficult aspect of the painting is the yellow handrails and accents. It is very time consuming and at least 2 coats of brushing.


Since I used real glass for windows in the Reading Train Master, which is my normal practice, I wanted to try the SW-1 too. This meant cutting a curved shape for the front windshield.  I never did this before. Most of the time I call my cutting glass uncontrolled breaking. It is at least 3 pieces cut to every one piece that gets used. The windshield was about 20 pieces cut. It had to be a very exact size. I used a Scotch tape dispenser for the cutting template as it was the perfect radius! It all eventually worked out very well.


I am VERY happy with the results.


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Posed with Reading Train Master 861


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Added 9-7-16

Besides the brass 5945 the rest are S Helper Service, now owned by Mikes Train House.

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Seaboard 1200

Added 1-14-19

Since I got the Seaboard S Helper Service caboose I decided I needed a Seaboard locomotive. S Helper Service made a Seaboard SW1 – good enough. Seaboard had elaborate paint schemes I would never paint so I am glad a loco was made.  Finding 1 on eBay took about 3 months. I wanted to correct it to the single beam headlight and add DCC. The headlight conversion was a significant job. There is not a sound unit for now but that could be easily changed.


It sure is pretty!


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SW1 Collection 2019

I “think” I am done with buying more SW1. I would buy the original blue and yellow B&O scheme in a second but that would have to be a custom paint job. S Helper Service did not get to make that scheme.


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SW1 Collection 2020

Photos added 12-29-20

So much for saying I am DONE buying SW1. It is a small but LEGAL addiction. In September 2020 a friend asked that I strip an S Helper Service PRR SW1 and paint it B&O blue. When it arrived the PRR was 5953, a number I did not know was made. There would be no paint stripping of that - I was keeping that one. Replacing that set off a buying and trade binge of 4 other SW1 including 2 CNJ a Chessie and a rare unlettered loco to get what became 2) B&O original scheme SW1 number 200 and 203.


I also updated Reading #20 to the same speaker and decoder layout in my PRR 5944 above. In 4 years since completing #20 I modified the SHS locos to fit the much larger DLG8 speaker in at least 3 other SW1.  The small speaker is good for its size but bigger is almost always better. I also finally finished my Oriental brass PRR 5945.


I will not rule out making a Southern “Tuxedo” scheme SW1 at some point. Finding unpainted locos now is more difficult than painted. Stripping a loco is tedious.

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SW1 Collection 2021

Chessie SW1 8403

Photos added 11-20-21

Starting in the summer of 2021 there was a general eBay seller with some S Helper Service items including a B&O Chessie SW1 8403 I did not have - starting at $650.00! It got quite the laugh from those that follow eBay. It was continually listed many times for months as SUPER RARE with the following  ”I AM NOT OPEN TO OFFERS ON THIS  please no messages asking for lower, I know what I have and not in hurry to sell”  in the listing.  The price has varied and as of 11-20-21 was drastically reduced $479.02 – rather odd. By 4-22-22 it was down to 283.49. I might have bought it for that price. I also took the “SUPER RARE” part as a challenge knowing that it might take a while but everything from SHS comes up for sale at some point.


Being up EARLY for going to work on 11-9-21 I saw the Buy It Now listing from TRAINZ for $225.00 – about the most I would have paid for it anyway - and did the deal. I did not notice in the eBay listing photos but this came with some work done to it. The scale wheels and Kadee couplers were already installed. A Chessie logo emblem was added to the radiator. The end handrails were painted vermillion.


So the SW1 collection stands at 8 locos for now. Whether any more SW1 are purchased in the future remains to be seen. From what I have seen anything that SHS has already made is not likely for a future purchase. I could make a Norfolk Southern or Southern Tuxedo scheme loco first.


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SW1 Collection 2023

In January 2022 another unpainted SHS SW1 was bought to be painted Southern Tuxedo scheme. It got the WOW4 decoder installation pretty quickly but as of 11-10-22 no paint work started.


Updated 11-10-22

All photos and content © Lanes Trains 2005-2023