Detail Associates Diesel Detail Kits Reviewed

Detail Associates Parts
Detail Associates parts sets like No. 712 provide most of the common detail parts you'll need for locomotive projects in one convenient and reasonably priced package. ©2016 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Detail Associates has decades of experience in providing detail parts to enhance locomotive and freight car models. Although the company does not maintain a website of their own, you can see a complete list of their products in the Walthers Catalogs or online on their website. Parts are also available at, or for order through, most local hobby shops.

Thanks to the increased level of detail in "ready to run" models today, many models look much better out of the box.

But there is still almost always room for more. And besides, customizing models by adding appropriate details is a fun part of the hobby!

One of the biggest headaches for those who enjoy detailing however is gathering all of the parts. It seems you're always short of something - and usually right when you're in the middle of a good bit of progress as well. Detail Associates has now combined many of the most-used parts in a single package that will work for just about every model. Will these packs satisfy all your detail needs? Probably not - but they are a great start. And a great bargain!

The detail pack seen here in this review is #712 - Post 2000 Diesel Locomotives. The name is a little misleading however as most of these parts will work on older units as well. Similar sets are available for earlier diesel models as well. Cost of this pack is just $12.50.

Each kit includes common detail parts that are found on nearly every locomotive.

This kit includes all of the following:

  • Train-line air hoses (2)
  • MU hoses (16)
  • Coupler cut levers (2) with hangers
  • MU receptacle covers (4)
  • Windshield wipers (1 full set)
  • Ditch lights w/ brackets (1 pair, non-operating)
  • Sinclair radio antenna (one large and one small)
  • "Fire cracker" style antenna
  • Bell (frame mount)
  • Lift rings (8)
  • Cab arm rests (2)
  • Cab sun shades (2)
  • Fuel tank fittings (1 complete set)

With the exception of the bell and antennae, the rest of the parts are generic enough that they can be used on just about every locomotive built since the 1940s. Most details will be used on the pilots, roof, or other prominent areas of the model where the details are easily seen.

Of course for other parts like snow plows, signal boxes, air horns, etc. you'll still want to purchase the details separately to match your particular railroad.

The only other common part that this set doesn't include are grab irons. More and more models today already have these installed, and again, they can be purchased separately.

Most parts in the set are plastic. The cut levers are formed wire. Installing the detail parts follows the normal standard procedures. For most, it is a simple matter of drilling the appropriate sized hole with a pin vise and attaching the part with a little plastic cement or CA type glue.

The simple instructions on the back of the product header card indicate the right size drill to use. I found a few inconsistencies here however. A No. 76 drill bit is all you'll need for the cut levers, not a No.

72. Generally, you can use a bit one size larger than required, but a 72 will be way too big for the cut lever brackets. (Drill bits get smaller as the numbers get larger.) A No. 74 bit is also a little overkill for the lift rings as well. A No. 78 should work.

Some parts are easier to paint before installing on the model when attached to the sprue. Others are easier to paint after you've applied them. Use a No. 0 brush and your favorite paint. You can then blend everything together with a little weathering as desired.

I applied the detail sets to several Walthers GP15 locomotives. Installation was quick and easy. Having the majority of the parts needed for these projects in one pack was perhaps the biggest savings in time, and the price savings is even better! 

In addition to the parts included in this set only grab irons and cab signal boxes were needed to complete the models.

Also, there were several parts in the set which can be saved for future projects like the firecracker antenna, ditch lights, cab armrests and MU covers. (I did use one cover as a stand in for a sand box cover missing on the model.)

All together, the cost of details on this model was less than $20. For that cost and a few hours of enjoyable work I have models that look comparable to the Athearn Genesis GP15 at a significantly lower cost. Most importantly however, the models now better resemble the prototype, have lost that "fresh out of the box" look, and I had the fun of doing the modeling myself. 

These detail packs are an easy way to get started in locomotive detailing and a convenient bundle for even experienced modelers. The convenience and cost savings of these packs are a great plus and I'll be making sure to keep a few in stock for future projects at all times!