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  • Modeling a Norfolk and Western GP40

    by Mark Sharp Photos

    by the author unless otherwise indicated

    N&W 1349 rolls westbound, just outside Statesville, on the Northern Virginia Model Railroaders layout.
    Model Railroading - October 2001 - Page 30

    EMD's GP40

    By the end of the 1950s, the "dieselization" of Americas railroads was largely complete. However, those roads continued to demand more powerful and reliable locomotives as they sought to replace their first-generation diesel motive power and to accommodate the growing needs of their customers. Alco, General Electric, and EMD, the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, were happy to supply the roads with the necessary power. EMD had established an early lead in the diesel locomotive race with its FT model in 1939. It maintained this lead throughout World War I I and the 1950s by building its own car- bodies, electrical generators, and renowned diesel engines. Nevertheless, by the early 1960s, EMD was facing a serious challenge to its leadership status from General Electric. GEs 2,500-horsepower U25B, introduced before EMDs 2,250-hp GP30, was a clear demonstration that EMD was no longer the undisputed "King of the Road."

    EMD did everything possible to tweak and tune its famous 567 diesel engine during its production of the GP30 and 35 models. Even so, it became clear to the designers at EMD that a new engine was needed. In 1965, EMD introduced its new 645 diesel, a long with its D77 traction motor. EMD placed the 16-cylinder, 3,000-hp version of the 645 in its new GP40. The GP40s frame was three feet longer than that of the GP35, and it featured a 3,600-gallon fuel tank, as compared to the GP35s 2,600 gallons. The GP40 out-horsepowered Alcos C424 and C425 models, as well as GEs U28B, thus putting EMD in the lead in the horsepower race again. George Melvin is in the midst of presenting a terrific series of articles on the GP40 for this magazine, and I refer you to those for more detailed information on this locomotive.

    N&W GP40 1346, Hagerstown, Maryland, 1973.
    Model Railroading - October 2001 - Page 31

    (Editors Note: The segment on N&W GP40s will appear next month, in the November 2001 issue.)

    N&W GP40s

    Although the Norfolk and Western Railway was among the last Class 1 railroads in the United States to abandon steam power in favor of diesel, by the mid-1960s, it was well into the process of purchasing substantial amounts of four- and six-axle GE, Alco and EMD units. The N&W had a large geographical area to serve, filled with mountainous terrain, and its power requirements were voracious. As for four-axle power, the road bought GP30s, 35s, and 40s, along with U28 and U30Bs. Following its usual practice, the road directed that these units be equipped with high short hoods. N&W also acquired 15 U25Bs in its merger with the Wabash Railroad in 1964. These were never equipped with high hoods.

    The Norfolk and Western purchased 60 GP40s, in three orders, between April 1 966 and September 1967. Besides high h oods, all featured dynamic brakes, dual control stands and had the long hood designated as the front of the locomotive. The units were numbered 1329-1388 and were primarily used on former Nickel Plate and Wabash lines in the Midwest. Although most were assigned to fast freight service, two were assigned to haul commuter trains in Chicago.

    N&W's GP40s were the first freight u nits delivered in the N&Ws F4 paint scheme. This scheme, adopted in January of 1966, featured a blue carbody and yellow lettering. The N&W applied several paint schemes to its units over the years, and an excellent discussion of them, and the roads diesels, can be found in Paul Withers and Robert Bowers book Norfolk & Western Second Generation Diesels, Withers Publishing, 1989.

    Building a High Hood GP40

    One of the truisms in model railroading is that if you build what you think is a unique model, a manufacturer is sure to produce it, preferably after you've done all of the work on it but before you've written up the article. Such is the case here. When I build my N&W GP40, the low hooded version was the only game in town. Shortly after I completed the model, Atlas announced and then produced its beautiful high hooded blue N&W GP40. At least Atlas did me the courtesy of not using my locomotives number. Even though Atlas beat me to the punch, I wrote up this article to discuss some of the basics of adding a high hood to a model, and of course, I added a few detail parts to make my model a little different.

    Before Atlas released its GP40, if you wanted one you had a couple of relatively unattractive choices. You could use the old Atlas/Con-Cor GP38 as a starting point, and with a lot of backing and filling, you could get a GP40. In the late 1980s, Athearn came out with its GP40-2. This was a definite improvement on the old Atlas/Con-Cor G P38, but the model was a Dash 2, and required several modifications, including the replacement of the cab and the elimination of the sight glass on a rear door on the engineers side of the locomotive, to make it prototypically accurate. Now Atlas has released its GP40, and has set a new standard of excellence with the model. The detail is the best Ive seen, and the drive will compare favorably with that of any other manufacturer. The only thing I noticed on the model was that the dynamic-brake fan housing was as tall as the cooling fan housings; it should be about half as high.

    Model Railroading - October 2001 - Page 32

    I started the project by removing the low hood and cab from the model. This did not require any cutting as the nose pulls right off of the walkway with the hood. Next, I removed the low hood and connecting piece from the rest of the shell and sanded everything smooth (see Photo 1). I then built a Cannon & Company "35 Line" cab as well as their high hood kit, adding a Details West (DW) 135 bell. When I attempted to fit the cab and high hood to the model, I found that they did not fit. I was stunned. However, after I did some measuring, I found that the Atlas sub-bases were slightly higher than Cannons, while the Atlas cab was slightly shorter. This meant that I could not mount the cab and nose on the Atlas sub-bases; I would have to use the Cannon subbases to make everything fit.

    I removed the Atlas sub-bases by cutting them off with a Dremel tool, as shown in Photo 2, well above the walkway. I then filed and sanded the remaining material off down to the walkway level. The result is shown in Photo 3. I then test-fitted the Cannon cab, high hood, and sub-base assembly to the shell. When I was satisfied with the fit, I attached the two together as shown in Photo 4 with a rubber band. Dont use a rubber band that is too small or you'll bow the shell. After everything was lined up, I applied several coats of Testors liquid cement underneath the model. Testors sets up rather slowly, so you can make any tiny adjustments necessary, at least for a few minutes.

    After the glue had dried, I found the inevitable gaps between the Cannon assembly and the Atlas shell. I taped both sides of each crack, then applied Squadron Green putty. The tape allows you to apply the putty to a very narrow area, and eliminates a lot of sanding later. The putty and tape arrangement is shown in Photo 5.

    I also replaced the Atlas dynamic-brake fan at this time. I used a Detail Associates (DA) 2003 fan housing and 2012 fan grille instead. You need to file out the middle of the housing and insert the grille in it. I started by drilling several holes in the f an, as shown in Photo 6. I then removed the remaining material with a small circular file until only a very small lip remained on which I mounted the fan grille. I glued the fan onto the shell and glued on the DA 2206 lift rings so that the shell and walkway, as shown in Photo 7, were ready for paint. I then painted the shell MODELflex Light Blue, the best match I could find for the N&W color.

    Model Railroading - October 2001 - Page 33

    When I tried to fit the shell on the chassis, I again found things did not fit. I removed some excess material from the front weight with a Dremel tool, as shown in Photo 8. I should have removed everything from the frame to avoid getting shavings into the guts of the locomotive, but I thought this would be a short and sweet touch-up. I spent some time removing the shavings later, even with the masking tape in place.

    When the shell still did not fit onto the chassis, I came to my senses, stripped everything off the frame, and removed enough metal so that the shell would sit flat on it. I used a cutting disk, as shown in Photo 9, for this task. The result is shown in Photo 10. I went through several disks removing the metal and it was a tough job. It is essential that you use eye protection when using a Dremel tool. I had broken disk pieces bounce off my eye protection a couple of times.

    While I had the frame bare, I drilled a hole for the speed-recorder cable. You can see how I later attached the cable in Photo 11.

    I again attempted to fit the shell on the chassis but still found it to be a tight fit. I shaved off material inside the shell, as shown in Photo 12, until I got a nice fit. While I was under the shell, I installed a plastic light bar I had shortened from an old Atlas GP7. As you can see from Photo 13, I mounted the bar on a couple of pieces of styrene, and I also glued some styrene between the high hood and the cab to baffle the light out.

    I decided to detail the truck sideframes, although Atlas has done a great job in this area. I added .019 wire to the ends of the sideframes for sand lines and installed a DA 2807 speed recorder (see Photo 14). Note that Atlas had already included brake rigging on its sideframes, a very nice touch.

    Mask off the locomotive body to give the grilles a black weathering wash.
    Model Railroading - October 2001 - Page 34 Model Railroading - October 2001 - Page 35

    I finished painting the model by masking off the shell to leave only the grilles showing, as shown in Photo 15. I then applied a wash of two parts lacquer thinner and one part Floquil Engine Black, to give the grilles a black, flat finish. I also removed the blades from the Atlas housings, attached them to some tape on a 3x5 card, as shown in Photo 16, and air brushed them Scalecoat II Silver. Decaling the model was straightforward. I used Microscale set 87-22 for the yellow lettering and heralds. I found the builders plate on Microscale 87-48. As always, the main requirements for decaling are to work from pictures, and to take your time.

    After I added the final details, I weathered the trucks and pilots of the model with a wash of Floquil Rust Brown and SP Lettering Grey. I shot the shell with some diluted Floquil Engine Black to simulate dirt and soot. As you can see, putting a high hood on a locomotive is not that difficult a job (its even easier if the manufacturer has done it for you!) Although you may not need to do this to get an N&W GP40, I hope you'll try these techniques on some other diesels to get your N&W or Southern Railway version.

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