It took me exactly 12 weeks to build this kit, from November 15, 2010 to February 15, 2011. It was mostly done in evening hours and on weekends. The last week of the project I pretty much worked on it full-time (over 8 hours per day) to finish the model in time for the February 19th model railroad show here in Houston. Building the body of the kit goes fairly quickly (considering the overall time table of the project). The details (the side and end hand rails, and the grab irons in particular) really bogged me down. Near the end, the electronics and dealing with all the wires took several days of 8+ hours to tweak, rework, and test. The hardest part of this project is definitely at the end, in other words, the project gets harder as you progress! No nice way to say that.
I am a bit of a rivet counter, so I spend a lot of time studying photographs and asking questions. All in all, I consider this project a success. The engine still needs a little tweaking because at slow speed it shakes a lot (the body, being as heavy as it is, makes the unit a bit top-heavy). As far as the looks of the engine, I am very happy. I am glad I scratch-built the parts of the kit that I didn't think looked good, and I am happy with the paint colors.
Would I buy and build another Railmaster Hobbies engine kit? Absolutely! I highly recommend their kits if you enjoy a challenge. These are not easy kits, but if you have a little bit of experience under your belt, and have lots of patience, you can tackle one of these kits. In the future I might buy an Alco S2 and perhaps another RS-1 of theirs.
I would like to thank Bill Lane for providing me with very high-resolution, Pennsylvania Railroad RS-1 prototype digital photos, which were a tremendous help in my rivet-counting efforts! I would also like to thank Dick Karnes for not only the 1992 article but also the supplemental information he provided me. I would like to thank Fred Rouse for the bell. Thanks go out to Bill Daniels, Christopher Chany, and Elden Gatwood for the information about the hand brake chain (I didn't know what it was and how it worked). And, finally, I would like to thank John Agnew and Jeff Smith for making this wonderful kit available to us.