One of the most interesting projects I have ever worked on was back in 1998 when I was still working at Orange Blossom Hobbies. One day Nelson Berrios of the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC) police department and the head of their “Operation Life Saver” program walked into our shop. He approached me about a project he wanted to do with the FEC railroad. The Operation Life Saver Program was looking to propose a locomotive painting project to the FEC president. There were three locomotives being rebuilt into GP40-3’s, and they would need an FEC paint scheme. The plan was to paint these three locomotives into an FEC Operation Life Saver scheme.
I first asked Nelson if he could get the Operation Lifesaver stencils from the Norfolk Southern (NS) Railroad which he was able to do. So out came an Athearn undecorated dummy GP40-2 and some Micoscale decals. One set was of NS Operation Lifesaver and one set was of FEC decals with the small hurricane logo in on it. The small logo was used on the few remaining SW switchers the FEC had at the time. I then got Bob Leonard who was working in the back to come out and join us. Bob was a very good custom painter, and we needed someone to paint the mock-up fast.
We then began to lay out the decals on the model and found that by combining the two sets we could come up with a very impressive paint scheme. The Operation Lifesaver logo from the NS set was placed on the center of the long hood, at the end. Under the air intakes we placed the small FEC hurricane logo. Under the cab window went the standard FEC numbers. Below the number was the NS/OL, “Look, Listen and Live” slogan. Standard FEC safety strips finished off the scheme; these were placed in the normal position on the ends and on the lower sides of the locomotive.
Within a few days we secured the correct FEC blue paint, allowing Bob to quickly finish the model. The finished model was soon on its way to the FEC president and board for approval. Nelson was back in the shop a few weeks later with the good news that the project was approved with our design. A couple of months later the FEC had a special Operation Lifesaver event in Miami, the star of the show was the re-built locomotives in their new paint scheme. I must admit it was neat to see these units on the road; and knowing that you were part of the team that designed their paint scheme is rewarding.
A couple of months later the FEC had a special Operation Lifesaver event in Miami, the star of the show was the re-built locomotives in their new paint scheme. I must admit it was neat to see these units on the road; and knowing that you were part of the team that designed their paint scheme is rewarding.
from the July, 2011 SMARTT Newsletter