Modifying the Ubiquitous LGB Mogul
by Larry Larsen, Dean Lowe, and Russ Reinberg
If you model outdoors in G-scale American narrow gauge you probably own a version of the LGB Mogul. And if you run it straight out of the box its appearance is probably just fine, except for one thing: It looks exactly the same as everyone else's LGB Mogul. In the event that fails to reflect the precise image you really had in mind for your railroad's motive power, you have come to the right article. Because you are about to find out how even a club-fisted, rank amateur may create a good-looking, believable, and personalized locomotive.
We shall now see how three of your peers in the hobby effected simple modifications to their Moguls.
Larry Larsen's White Pine Lumber Company Number 2
Uncle Russ is right. First, our railroads are different, our track plans are different, so why can't our locos and rolling stock differ as well? Second, we all have differing talents and time available to our hobby, so let's look at what this club-fister did in an hour or two.
My particular locomotive has been painted and weathered, but that's not why we're here, so disregard that. What I would like you to notice are the canvas curtains and flaps at the rear of the cab. If you've ever ridden in the cab of one of these beasts, it can get extremely hot, but in colder climates, the bitter wind, rain, and cold can be a bit much for the intrepid crew.
Here's what you'll need to protect your engineer and fireman and keep them cozy and happy:
3 1/2 inches brass wire 1/16 diameter
3 inches to 6 inches copper wire #21 or 22 (strip the
insulation off some scrap solid strand electrical
Floquil #110084 Foundation or similar color FLAT paint
Floquil Box Car Red or similar dark brown FLAT paint
Cyanoacrylate glue (such as Superglue)
#3 paint brush
1 sheet of facial tissue
Begin by removing the cab roof. Unscrew the two Phillips head screws above the windows on the cab front, then the single screw on the underside of the roof at the back.
Then cut four lengths of copper wire approximately 1/2 inch long. Cut two lengths of the same wire approximately one inch. Paint them a strap or rope color such as brown or boxcar red. It looks best and adds detail to make the curtain ties darker than the curtain.
Now the window curtains: Eyeball the width of the window opening and with your piece of facial tissue on the piece of cardboard, paint a section a bit bigger than the window opening. Do two. You only have to paint one side because the paint soaks through the tissue. Then, guesstimate the rectangular size of the rear curtains (mine are about 1 3/4 inch by 3 1/8 inch). Slop the paint over an area of the facial tissue larger than that dimension.
Next, cut two pieces of brass wire to use as a curtain rod. Each should be approximately 1 3/4 inches long.
After everything has dried, cut out your pieces of facial tissue to match the dimensions. Crumple the window curtains, then carefully flatten them. That gives the canvas texture you're after. When you have achieved the right amount of crease and crumple, loosely wind each piece into a roll. Secure the roll by wrapping two pieces of the short wire around it. Leave the ends of the wire heading straight up so you have something to glue to the cab window casing and fasten the end of each wire to the cab above the window opening.
The same crumple method applies to the back curtains. You're going to use wire "rope" to pull the curtains toward the front of the cab so glue one end of the rectangle to the brass wire curtain rods. Fold and pleat the tissue as you work toward the opposite end of the rod. Glue the rod to the underside of the cab roof. Reinstall the roof on the cab and continue to work the material forward. Use the two remaining copper wire "ropes" to wrap around the cab posts, through the windows.
If you have decided to weather your locomotive, use some of the all-purpose dirty Dio-Sol (everyone has some, right?) to stain the canvas curtains to a nice, "it needs to be washed" look.
That's about it. By the way, facial tissue and toilet paper make very convincing canvas (tan) and tar roofing paper (black).
With just a few minutes' work you have modified a locomotive you now can pick out of an LGB Mogul union meeting!
Russ Reinberg's Dinkey Creek & Buttonwillow Number 3
My locomotive has evolved into its present incarnation over about four years. I began with one of the early red and green 2018D models and a can of flat black spray paint. It happened to be Floquil Engine Black, but if I were to do it over I might use Grimy Black. Or Krylon Flat Black because it costs less and reportedly works as well as Floquil. The most important improvement I made to that locomotive was to paint it. Here is how I did it:
The cab roof unscrews. The cab unscrews from below and lifts off the boiler. The clear plastic window "glass" pops out of the cab. So does the backhead (the part of the boiler sticking into the cab). Remove a few more screws from underneath and the boiler lifts off the underbody. The headlight pops off its bracket. If you remove the four screws on the bottom of the tender deck, the superstructure comes off the deck. The plastic wood load unscrews from inside the tender body.
As I recall, the only things I masked were the number plate on the smokebox door, the ends of the wires running to and from the motor block, and the headlight bulb. The bell comes out of its bracket (I painted that by hand) and I sprayed right over the whistle and pop valves (the things resembling "little whistles" in front of the actual whistle). Before the paint had a chance to set, I brushed a little thinner on the whistle and pop valves to remove most of the paint but not all of it. That helped to camouflage the plated plastic look of those parts.
I was trying to create a freshly-shopped, narrow-gauge-in-the-Sierras impression, so I sprayed black on everything, including the smokebox (the part of the boiler where the smokestack sits). More often railroads tended to paint them silver, a mixture of graphite and silver, plain graphite, or heat-resistant flat black but the locomotive looks pretty sharp in all-black with a red headlight, number plate face, and cab window frames, so what the heck.
I left the underbody alone; it was already black and I liked the silver rods, crossheads, and cylinder faces. I did paint the pilot (cowcatcher).
Once everything had dried, I removed the masking tape and touched up the rim of the number plate with gold. Then I bought one sheet each of Woodland Scenics' white Condensed Roman dry transfer numbers and letters and applied the graphics according to their instructions. That took an hour or two, and the new lettering adds tremendously to the locomotive's appearance.
The model looked so realistic when I reassembled it, I just stood and gawked at it for half an hour. Of course, that was in 1986 and I was still young and impressionable; now I am far more sophisticated and mature.
Eventually I sprayed everything but the windows with Floquil Crystal Coat to add a little gloss and a lot of protection.
A year passed. Time to add some details.
The Congdon stack had to go--too distinctive. I decided to "Baldwinize" my Mogul with an LGB diamond stack, so off came the Congdon and out came a drill bit the same diameter as the metal stem of the new stack. The old stack had a sleeve that fit into the base on the smokebox and I used the bit to ream out the sleeve (by hand), cut it off with a razor saw, slid the sleeve onto the metal stem of the new stack, and installed it on the boiler. What a difference.
I also ordered a pilot from a 2019S to replace the old wooden style pilot. That gave the Mogul a circa 1904-1925 appearance.
But it needed toolboxes. I built them out of 1/32-inch thick basswood, .010 styrene for the hardware, and .020 brass wire for the handles on the ends of the long box on the tender. If you prestain the wood with a drop of Engine Black or Grimy Black in a capful of Diosol you'll get a nice, subtle, grungy, weathered appearance. It might be a good idea to prepaint the styrene black, too. I dipped the brass wire in Hobby Black Number One after bending it; Hobby Black weakens brass wire and makes it brittle. I assembled everything with cyanoacrylate adhesive but I attached the parts to the locomotive with Walthers' Goo.
Then it was time to add some brass goodies, so I trotted off to my friendly hobby shop and asked the nice man for some of Trackside Details' swell Baldwin builder's plates, locomotive marker lamps, lens jewels, and water shut-off valves for the tender. I dipped everything in Hobby Black, but afterwards I rubbed the builder's plates face down on a piece of worn, 600 grit sandpaper taped to a hard tabletop. That took the blackening off the face of the raised brass letters but left a dark background. I glued each piece to the locomotive with Goo and sprayed everything lightly with Crystal Coat.
The last details I added were brass "arms" and pull-cords to the bell and whistle.
But something about that Mogul still bothers me. One of these days I really ought to replace the plastic wood on the tender with a load of real coal. Then maybe weather the locomotive....
Dean Lowe's Colorado and Southern Number 5
The LGB Moguls are beautiful locomotives but to my eye they present a toy-like appearance with all the brass plating and bright colors. I prefer a more realistic look. Also, the run-down depression era appearance of Colorado & Southern motive power seems to convey more of the narrow-gauge "feel" I enjoy.
The Colorado and Southern probably used more Moguls than any other narrow gauge railroad. They are my favorites and with the items from Trackside Details it is reasonably simple to duplicate a 1930's loco.
If you're starting with a 2018 or a 2028, the first thing to go is that Congdon stack. All C&S Moguls burned coal. After about 1910 they all had straight stacks. The Congdon stack pulls straight out and the brass stack from Trackside Details drops right in. The smoke unit fits back inside perfectly. And, to add the crowning touch, Chuck's Custom Cars/Shortline Foundry now makes an excellent Ridgway spark arrestor (bear trap).
The next change is the steam and sand domes if you're modifying an old-time version of the Mogul. The new solid brass round domes from Trackside Details probably seem harder to install than they really are. Use a razor saw to cut off the old style fluted plastic domes at the base, just above the transition to the boiler. File the base flat. The new domes have a register; it fits into the hole now in the boiler. Just add a little CA (cyanoacrylate) or epoxy glue and push them in.
Choose a whistle from Trackside Details' list and add it to the steam dome along with Trackside's pop valves.
Now it's time to change the bell. LGB's goes into the scrapbox and Trackside offers two replacements. Both are beautiful and have excellent detail. The brass bells look good with a light polishing. You should paint the bracket.
If you really want a "proper" C&S Mogul (such as Number 21 or 22) you may go the unnecessary trouble of building up an airtank to mount between the domes, but it's a lot easier to buy the new one-piece air tank Trackside manufactures. The bell goes on top.
As for the air pump on the side of the boiler, LGB's is all right but I like the detail on the one from Trackside. So off came the plastic and on went the brass. I also added correct air piping from 1/16-inch brass rod.
If your Mogul has an oil-burning box headlight, time to pop it off its base and replace it with Trackside's--the one with the visor. You may use LGB's plastic reflector and the lens from the original headlight. You'll need Trackside's headlight mount, too.
While on the subject of lights, one feature I particularly like is working marker lights, and installing them is not very difficult. It requires no cutting or butchering; only four small holes in the smokebox.
The lights I like best are Trackside Details' number TD-20. One reason is because the owner of the company, Pete Thorpe, finally took my advice and has begun casting the parts with the lenses open! Until recently it was kind of a tricky procedure to put them in a vise and drill them out, but now that headache is gone. The bulbs I use are Walthers clear 6-volt no. 942-441. They are the right diameter to slip into the casting and need no glue to retain them.
For lenses, Trackside's number TD-36 are a perfect fit. First, though, you have to remove the silvering from the back. It's easy. Just rub the lens across a smooth file a few times.
The next step is to remove the light base from the casting trees. Snip them off leaving 1/8-inch beyond the mounting point. At this time clean up any casting marks or burrs and paint the light parts. I used Floquil Engine Black.
Now comes the point of no return--drilling the locomotive! First mark a point on both sides of the smokebox for mounting the bases. They usually went at about the ten and two o'clock positions. Drill through the smokebox with a 1/16-inch bit approximately 1/4-inch back from the door. Attach the bases with CA, epoxy, or Walthers' Goo. Then drill a hole with a #60 bit just below the base mount for the wires to pass through.
Time to attach the wires, and that means getting inside the smokebox and locating the wires to the smoke unit. Notice the detail piece inside the door. A minimal amount of glue holds it in place; you may pry it out without damage. Gently pull out the wires. One is white, the other black. Cut them at about the middle of their length and strip off some of the insulation. Feed the bulb wires through the #60 holes you drilled. Attach one wire from each bulb to the black wire and the other two to the white wire. Wrap the splice with electricians' tape and reinstall the plastic smokebox insert.
Assemble the lenses to the light bodies with a drop of CA and also attach the bodies to the bases with CA. The only thing left to do is insert the bulbs into the casting, push the extra wire into the smokebox, and admire the way your locomotive looks when you run it around the garden at night.
Of course, you still have a few more things to do before the engine is ready for the layout, so let's finish it up.
The cabs on the 2018 and 2028 represent wooden versions. To represent a steel sided cab, cut two pieces of .010-inch thick styrene to cover the cab sides below the windows. Mark and punch in rivet detail. [You may buy a rivet-making tool from, among several manufactures, Northwest Shortline. Or you may make your own using a small nail for the male punch and a piece of wood for the female die. Be very gentle; .010 styrene is more fragile than cardboard!--Ed.] Glue on the "steel" rectangles with CA or epoxy.
If you want boiler washout plugs, Trackside Details has them available and the package shows where to mount them. And if you want a snowplow, Norm Grant makes one. I added chain supports between the smokebox front and the plow. I purchased my chain from Hartford Products. That wraps up construction on the engine.
The tender is next. You should saw off the "wings" on the front, then file and sand the area smooth. Trackside's water valve handles go on next; the package shows the location.
Now it's time to paint. I sprayed the locomotive and tender with Floquil Engine Black, but for a more weathered look you could use Grimy Black. For the smokebox and stack, I made up a 50-50 mixture of Floquil Antique White and Old Silver. I brushed it on, but you could apply masking and airbrush it on. I painted the wood sideboards and toolboxes on the tender Floquil Roof Brown. [For a more weathered appearance you could use Floquil Foundation and, after it has dried for a couple of weeks, stain the parts with a very dilute mixture of Diosol and Grimy Black. Or just paint them the same color as the rest of the engine, as the C&S probably did.--Ed.] To achieve a very grimy look on the running gear I very carefully cleaned the drivers, rods, and valve gear with acetone. [If you just dab the parts lightly, the acetone will clean them. If you are heavy-handed, you will mar the finish!--Ed.] Then I brushed on Poly-S Oily Black.
A couple of companies make dry transfers for lettering and numbering the loco and tender. They are easy to apply and are available in various road names.
Good weathering with an airbrush may be very effective at this point, but that's a story in itself.
In the meantime, the tender needs a coal load. I used real coal, and I hammered it to the right texture. If you are unable to find a lump of real coal, cat litter is the next best thing. Fill the tender and spray the load with a 50-50 mixture of white glue and water. If you used cat litter, spray on Krylon Semi-Flat Black when the glue has dried.
And before you set your Mogul on the ready track, remove the piece of wood from the fireman's hands; give him a coal scoop instead. Now your locomotive is ready for some "serious" work!