Athearn Hustler restoration

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The Athearn Hustler was a very popular HO scale shunter/switcher.

It was produced in two versions, First Generation and Second Generation, and a wide range of American liveries, I’ve seen other makes using the same or similar mouldings.

These two I bought were cheap and declared as spares or repair, for a few pounds I took a risk on them.

When they arrived they had been hand painted green with damage to the grills at the front.


First thing I did was take them apart to see what was working or not as the case may be.


Straight away you can see that both have different motors, the one on the right is Athearn as fitted and after a little tinkering ran fine, the other is an adapted Triang X04 type motor with some interesting framing and although it worked the final drive was worn and not working well, even after tinkering I decided this was a failure.

I decided that if I can get one good shunter out of both then all would be worth while, this project was shelved for about 4 months before I got around to it.

After picking the best chassis a motor I started by stripping one of the bodies.


This had the grill intact but as the body soaked in the stripper I use part of the lower front buffer beam fell off, although the stripping process doesn’t harm plastic it has melted the glue previously used.

So body number two was next in the stripper.


This ended up sound, but with damage to the grill I decide to cut out the remainder.

I used some new sections cut from a scrap diesel Class 50 body and fitted them in place.


Next the re-paint, for this I picked a dark red.


Detailing of this shunter won’t be much as it’s just a cheap run around for the layout but one thing that has stumped me is what to use in the front and back light recesses, this was never wired for lighting as the holes don’t go all the way through.

My other half came up with a cunning plan and must admit a good one.


She poured this little lot of jewels on my desk and said, “How about these” she had clear and red of a suitable size and will just give the shunter the edge.

Front fitted with clear jewel.


And the red one at the back.


I’ve seen these being highly detailed on some model forums, but next to adding front and back American style handrails and upgrading the bonnet fan, not much else can be done, I have seen a few with detailed cab interiors so may take that route.

Next this will be glazed and can be re-assembled.

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