Conrail GP-38-2 locomotive model railroading. Always updating.

Page Updated:
May 21, 1999

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EMD GP-38-2: HO Modeling
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General Modeling Info
CR GP-38-2 OLI As mentioned on the GP-38-2 Prototype page, there are two basic types of GP-38-2's that Conrail owned. The first group of units were purchased by the Penn Central prior to the Conrail merger, while the second group of units were purchased by Conrail.

The former Penn Central units (CR 7940-8162) are the easiest to model in HO using the currently available Athearn model, which has the 81" low short hood found on these units. I have detailed below the basics for modeling these units. The Conrail-purchased units (CR 8163-8281) take more skill to model since you will need to replace several molded-in parts with Cannon & Company ones. If anyone has any additional information, I'll gladly consider it.

Conrail Phase I Modeling by Bob Waller
Phase I As mentioned above, modeling these units (CR 7940-8180) is probably the easiest route to go if you desire some GP-38-2's on your roster. The Athearn model covers all the major features fairly well, such as the 81" short hood. But like most models, there are improvements we can make to raise them above the average. If you have the skills, I've provided info on how to raise them to the exceptional.

Below is a basic list of detail parts. Depending on the level of detail you desire, additional parts can be added or removed from the list. Since the many parts on these locomotives varied over time, it's always best to track down photos of the units you wish to model. If you wish to add ditch lights to your model, I leave it up to you to choose your favorite manufacturer for those parts.

A-Line (AL):
 29200 Windshield Wipers
 29210 Hood unit Sun Shades (depends on unit)


Campbell Scale Models:
 256 Chain

Cannon & Co. (CC):
 1501 Dash 2 Hood Unit Cab Kit
 1505 Window Set
 1103 81" EMD Short Hood Kit (optional)
 1204 Conrail 'Split' Battery Box Cover (optional)
 1153 EMD Long Hood End Dash 2 (optional)

Detail Associates (DA):
 1404 Drop Steps
 1505 M.U. Stand
 1508 M.U. Hoses
 1701 Clear Jewels (7"--Headlights)
 1703 Clear Jewels (4"--Class Lights)
 1803 Sinclair Radio Antenna
 1902 Air Vent
 2202 Former Wire Grab Irons
 2204 Coupler Lift Bar W/Brackets
 2206 Eyebolts
 2306 Signal Box Late GP/SD
 2312 Straight Air Deflectors
 2807 Speed Recorder Flange Type
 3001 EMD Sand Hatch Late GP-35
 3102 Fuel Tank Fitting Set
 6503 Curved Caboose Grab Irons
 101101 Brass Eye Bolts

Details West (DW):
 120 Snowplow
 127 Frame Mount Bell
 139 Fuel Tank Air Filter Set
 155 Standard Plow
 172 Step Lights
 190 MU Cables Double Plugs
 218 RSL-3L-R Air Horn
Locomotive Cab/Nose: As on all models I do, I remove the stock Athearn cab and replace it with Cannon & Company's 1501 kit and their window set. As always, this will remove all the errors found on the Athearn cab, give you higher detail for little effort/cost, and provide scale thickness walls. Plus you can even open the doors! If you are able, replace the sub base of the locomotive as well with Cannon & Company's 1202 kit. Then add the 1204 Conrail 'Split' Battery Box Cover on only the engineer's side. Check photos for this.

Dynamic Brakes: When modeling a Phase I GP-38-2, the dynamic brakes on the Athearn model are functional--not exact, but close enough for most of us. Do remove the small "T" piece that sits on toward the rear of the blister assembly; I don't know what they call this piece, but it easily pops out of the model. Simply fill and sand the part's hole. Also chisel/sand smooth that seam running across the engineer-side of the air filter hatch. I would love to see Cannon & Company make a one-piece replacement part for Athearn's dynamic brake area. Then all we would need to do it pop out the old and pop in the much-improved new!

Fuel Tank: There is nothing special about the fuel tank used on all of Conrail's GP-38-2's, but you will add a great deal of realism to your model by adding the details listed above and cleaning up Athearn's stock tank. Simply follow the parts' instructions.

Conrail Phase II Modeling by Bob Waller
Phase II Modeling Conrail's Phase II GP-38-2's (CR 8163-8281) is similar to modeling their Phase I units as listed above, but there are a few changes. The basic detail parts list above can be used for these units with a few additions/changes as described below. You will need some serious kitbashing skills and experience using Cannon & Company parts to model these units.

Locomotive Cab/Nose: The instructions listed above for the Phase I units applies here as well, except that EMD delivered these units with 88" low hoods, as opposed to the 81" hoods on the model. As a result, you must replace the entire front section of the locomotive with new Cannon & Company parts as listed in the Phase I section, with the addition of C&C's 1105 88" EMD Short Hood Kit.

Dynamic Brakes: When modeling a Phase II GP-38-2, you will need to make some changes to Athearn's dynamic brake blister area. You will need to cut out the air filter hatch at the front of the assembly and replace it with Cannon & Company's #1901 AAF Angled Paper Air Filter Hatch. Next, file down the exhaust stacks until they are almost flush with the roof; check photos for this. Like on the Phase I units, remove the "T" section-thingy, fill in hole, and sand smooth. Finally, chisel smooth the rivet band at the rear of the assembly. This will give you a more accurate dynamic area with only a little effort.

Grills Ph2 Radiator Grills: After 1976, EMD changed the design of their GP-38-2 radiator grill filters from a single piece wire mesh affair to a rounded corrugated version, which is pictured to the right. Athearn's model has the earlier grills molded on. You will need to cut these out of the body and replace them with Cannon & Company's 1401 Radiator Screens.

Conclusion: Well, that's about it for the basic tips. Like in any model, you can add even more parts for a contest quality model. But I feel the above will give you a good model that is detailed just enough to look good, while not overly-detailed that something breaks every time you pick it up. Details do vary from locomotive to locomotive, so please compare the parts above to photos of your favorite unit. I wish you luck in your modeling efforts. Now if you'll excuse me, I hear the sound of my geep getting ready to head out on the next local.

Copyright (c) 1998-2011 Robert S. Waller. All rights reserved.
Photos for personal use only. All rights reserved by original owner of image.
Reproduction or redistribution in any form without express written permission is prohibited.