Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Another Penn Central GP38-2 Project

Greetings All,

After the posting of the Penn Central GP38 #7675 project in P.C.C.M. 28G on March 1, 2017
http://newyorkcentrallayout.blogspot.com/2017/03/pccm-28g-dispatch-of-train-ls-1.html   fellow modeler ATJOE1972 offered some noteworthy comments on the Penn Central GP38 fleet. With that info and a little more research I found this spread sheet online

This is part of the information from the above link;
The 7675-7737 series matches the old Atlas/Con-Cor GP38. 
The three series in bold below are the group of those locomotives that the new Atlas factory painted PC GP38 matches.
The 7940-8162 series GP38-2 units can be modeled using the Athearn blue box kits.
Road NumbersBuilt ControlsCab TypeAir FilterDynamics?Fuel Tank
2000-2004 [2]1967dualextended frontoil-bathno dynamic2600 gal
2005-2009 [2]1969dualextended frontpaperno dynamic2600 gal
2010-2014 [3]1970dualextended frontpaperno dynamic3200 gal
7675-77371969-71singlestandardoil-bathequipped2600 gal
7738-78141969-71singlestandardpaperequipped2600 gal
7815-78241969-71dualextended frontpaperequipped2600 gal
7825-79031969-71singlestandardpaperequipped2600 gal
7904-79071969-71dualextended frontpaperno dynamic3200 gal
7908-79391969-71singlestandardpaperequipped2600 gal
7940-8162 [4]1972-73singlestandardpaperequipped

With this information in mind I turned my attention to a forgotten engine in my fleet, an Athearn BB GP38-2 that I painted for the New York Central assigning it number 2933 in 2010. Once one of my favorites after awhile as I learned more and more about the NYC and PC this 'fantasy' schemed engine went into the box and pretty much remained there for the last five years.

As I began to further explore both the PC and NYC I considered repainting the NYC 2933 into a more prototypical PC GP38-2. Now this was blasphemous as never before had a NYC engine that I painted been stripped and repainted for the PC. So I did what I did best when confronted with a modeling project that I was not fully committed to. I procrastinated. But ultimately I put the engine into a four unit consist and, well...the rest is history.  

The subject of this blog entry, New York Central GP38-2 #2933 is in the #2 position of this four unit consist. This lash up ran extremely well and was a big factor in the repainting of NYC #2933. Sharp eyed modelers will note that the paper air filter box on the 2933 is in the wrong position. Something else to fix. All of the below units were painted over the past 7 years. 
The four unit lash up looks pretty cool on the Empire City viaduct. The PC units are all pretty accurate but as you know the NYC unit is not. The 7675 was the first GP38 purchased by the PC and it features oil bath air filters. You can see it does not have the paper air filter box behind the cab. This info was pointed out by ATJOE1972 and the above chart shows that standard cab GP38s 7675 - 7737 were so equipped.
Seven years ago NYC GP38-2 #2933 was OK. The should I paint it or leave it alone question has been mulled over for several years. Below we can pretty much hear 1/87th scale PC Ralph saying 'John, it's a no brainer'
So NYC GP38-2 #2933 became the first ever custom painted NYC unit to be stripped and painted for the Penn Central. How prototypical is that! It is now Penn Central #8038
Some of the trainmen and tower men of the PC / N.Y.C.T.L. have gathered at Terminal Yard for the unveiling. Note that I corrected the paper air filter box location by removing and turning the dynamic brake blister.
PC 8038 and friends take the curve over Water Street with a priority freight train.
A close up of the newest GP38-2 in the PC fleet.
A four unit lash up of PC GP38-2s and a GP-38 run light on the lower level of Empire City.
Penn Central four pack on a priority freight thru Empire City. How cool is that!!!! All units painted by the N.Y.C.T.L. Paint Shop.  
While this has been a very rewarding project it was not without it's difficulties. Stripping the paint from the units turned out to be a major pain in the neck and it looked doubtful for awhile that I could accomplish it. First I soaked the shell in 91% alcohol. No results. 

Next I soaked it in brake fluid. The lettering and numbers came off along with some of the paint. A week later it was still soaking with no real progress made. 

With nothing left to lose at this point I used a spray can of Super Tech non-chlorinated brake parts cleaner and an old toothbrush to get the stubborn paint off the model. The can says it is safe on most automobile plastics so I gave it a shot. After many more shots outside and much scrubbing the model was finally cleaned of the old paint. 

After a thorough washing with soapy water and rinsing with cold water the model was allowed to air dry and was finally ready for paint. 

Thanks for reading!!!!


  1. This is a first for the N.Y.C.T.L. I gather? The change is always for the better. Your engine came out looking great (as does all of your work)! I do think since this engine can be considered the 'pride of the fleet', it should be the lead engine on the consist. Lookin good!!

    1. Thanks Sir Neal!!! I have the "Pride of the Fleet" in the #2 slot to keep the bugs off the new paint and windshield. ;-)

  2. Thanks for the info on the 1970s Atlas-Con Cor loco. I have one of these undec around someplace, should be a fairly easy hardwire DCC conversion and repaint!

  3. Bravo to the NYCTL management to make a difficult decision on the repainting of NYC 2933 to it's new PC assignment. It would be like my railroad painting a Red and Grey Q unit into a Green and Black scheme. Your efforts paid off and 8038 turned out looking great. Thank you for sharing the wealth of PC GP-38 information. I have a feeling this will get my shop crew to get things rolling on my stalled PC GP-38 project.You can also make a GP-39 from the Atlas/Con-Cor shell by removing the two small exhaust ports by the dynamic brake and adding a turbo charger. The C&O had several of these. I think Emery even has some C&O GP-39's in Michigan on his PC videos.
    Nice work on your GP-38 project!

    1. Thanks for the compliments and inspiration on this project Brian! The conversation on the PC 7675 was the catalyst for this. Your example of repainting a locomotive show you get the difficulties of this decision! It wasn't easy but in fairness the engine spent about five years in the box so it's finally free! Nice info on the GP39. I'll keep my eyes open for them next time I watch the PC videos! So...Get the 1/87th scale shop forces together and get your GP38 project back into the shop.

  4. I was checking photos, and it looks like PC 7675-7737, while delivered with oil bath filters, got converted to paper while still in PC lettering. Actually, I think this happened to a lot of GP38s with oil bath filters, including SOU and MEC. So you could do a Con Cor in PC, but CR would be a stretch!

    1. Looking at the Conrail Cyclopedia some photos definitely show an 'after market' or 'after thought' paper air filter box. Check this link so see the differences:

    2. Some more paper air filter fun, PC removed the turbochargers from their GP20's after the merger. They replaced the turbocharger stack with a large paper filter box. An unspeakable act for my mechanical depart to perform. We really like GP20's. But another example of a unique PC locomotive modification. My PC GP20's will forever keep their turbochargers. I'm taken by Conrail's GP35 to GP38 conversion of PC 2363. It was done several years after the PC became a fallen flag. But it really looks like a fun "fantasy" unit to consider for the roster. Here's some more information on oil bath vs paper air filters. http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?1,982256

    3. Good read re; the link. Thanks. Turbolobotomies...Just say No! Hopefully other 1/87th scale mechanical shops will follow your lead. Count in the N.Y.C.T.L. Shops!
      A proper PC GP20: 1974
      GP20M #2104 in 1977
      CR GP20 2110. In PC colors. Maybe / maybe not re turbo