MODELING: Super RS-3 by Lee Turner


Well, Lee has done it again.  He has built a superb rendering of a Northern Pacific Alco RS-3.   The model is beautiful to look at but it requires a serious study of all the subtle touches incorporated by Mr. Turner.

A client engaged Lee to build a 1/4″ scale replica of a Northern Pacific RS-3.  A specific locomotive was selected for the build.  A Weaver plastic model was selected as a starting point.  The Weaver model was of a early phase unit.  The model was rebuilt into a later phase with different door configurations and body filters.  The project was started with research, collecting photos and selected parts to aid the build.  Lee headed over to P&D Hobbies in the Detroit to buy the parts that will work.  This defined the items that Lee has to scratchbuild.


The above prototype photo was from the Fallen Flags website.  It depicts the prototype for the era the Lee was building.



Lee was able to obtain this partial shot the correct style locomotive from Rick Leach.  Alco’s were an extremely rare occurrence west of the Rockies.  This shot was taken after the BN merger.


 Lee provided this description of his effort:

Here is the unit ready to get a bath tonight and primer tomorrow. There was a lot of details that needed to be changed and as you can see I had to hang a lot of “jewelry” to get there. I had been debating how to do the NP style air intake grilles on the long hood. Most phase 3 units and apparently some of the earlier NP units just had screened openings with filters inside the body. The later NP units had a filter grille that stood proud of the doors by about an inch, I finally got the idea of using Farr air grilles cut from a scrap Atlas F-9 body They are a tad heavy detail wise but I had no better option I could come up with.


One of the interesting details on NP RS-3s was a heater cabinet.  It is located next to cab and provided essential heat in the cold winters around Duluth and Superior.


Here is the model after painting and decaling.  Not all of the pieces are installed.  From this point, Lee’s art comes into play.  Weathering with washes and highlights starts the process.

The decals were drawn by Rick Leach and sold as part of a massive set of Northern Pacific lettering covering most of their diesels.  The challenge with yellow lettering over black bodies is the transparency of the yellow ink.  Typical decals have a tendency to shift to a green tint on the yellow.  Microscale decals have this problem.  Key imported NP diesels with greenish lettering on the sides.   It took Rick about five or six passes with the decal makers to get the ink to render the proper shade of yellow (imitation gold).  His persistence paid off.  Lee was able to take advantage of Rick’s accurate font and color.


Here is the model after painting and decaling.  Not all of the pieces are installed.  From this point, Lee’s art comes into play.  Weathering with washes and highlights starts the process.


Here is more of Lee’s description:

Here is the finished project RS-3 and I think you’ll enjoy it. I was especially pleased with the chipping paint on the long hood sides. These units were painted yellow first then the yellow areas and lettering was masked off and the red stripes were painted and then masked with the black being the final color. When the black paint wore through it exposed the yellow except around the stripes where the red could be seen. Where the red stripes have chipped it exposes the yellow coat. Three reasons for this appearing on the sides where the prime mover is. First the paint could get very hot  which didn’t help its durability and it also got greasy and oily and with the paint being petroleum based the oil softened the paint, lastly when the oil and grime was washed away it took a strong caustic solution to cut through the grime.


The NP used a reflective tape on their diesels.  I believe it was made by 3M.  Lee was able to create the effect by spraying yellow and turn signal yellow (metallic accents added) on decal film.  The resulting material is a bit thick but it gives the effect you want once it is cut into strips.


  This unit was a lot of fun because of the many unusual details that set this apart from the standard RS-3

Well, that is some locomotive.  It is nice to see this unique locomotive in scale.  Thank you Lee.

 Happy Trails,




7 thoughts on “MODELING: Super RS-3 by Lee Turner

  1. Hello Gene Really nice RS3 The RS3 is perfect model for built. I made one from Boston and Main. It is mi first in proto 48 The big work is the step but with brass no problem for make modification Sorry for mi english I am for french part to Switzerland. Your blog is really interessting. With pleasure. Eric Widell

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