Athearn GP38-2

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Taifun

New Member
Hi all!

I just started my addiction to this hobby. I bought a Athearn starter set, which lets me have something to run for the kids while I build my layout and collect more engines and running stock. my question now is this:

I got a GP38-2, which has plastic hand rails. Is there s kit out there to change this over to metal? Or will I need to buy wire and bend/fabricate myself? Also I can't for the life of me figure how to remove the shell to take a look at the innards. I don't like the placement of the bulb for the front lighting.

Other than that it got me started! :D

Thanks in Advance!
-G
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
First of all, welcome to the hobby - and to the forum! ("Addiction" is right - it can really consume you after awhile!)

I've never owned an Athearn GP38-2 myself, but if it's like a few of my other late-production Athearn models, there should be an exploded diagram that came with the unit in the box. See if it shows any hidden snap-tabs in the diagram, then gently pinch the body in those locations. This is what I needed to do to get the shell off my AC4400CW.

As for the handrails: Did they come already installed? If so, why would you want to revert to the earlier metal type? Just curious...
 

Taifun

New Member
The engine came in a starter set, so there weren't any diagrams included. I'll check at Athearn's website.

The rails are extremely brittle and flimsy. I was under the impression that the metal wire rails were more accurate to the prototypes?

I've spent the last month lurking on this board and reading everything I can. I am still a newbie though. :D

Thanks for the info!

-G
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
The plastic is actually WAY more prototypical then the old Athearn ones. The handrails are Derlin (sp?) plastic, and should hold up to bumps and bruises, but not extreme abuse. Derlin is flexible plastic, though it will not hold paint well. You should be able to find the old metal Athearn handrails on their site, or Horizon Hobby's.
http://www.horizonhobby.com/

The train sets I own do not come with a diagram, unfortunately, but, all GP38-2's I won that are Athearn use the tabs. Flip the engine over and you'll see 4 slots with the tabs sticking in. You should be able to squeeze the body to get the tabs to release, but I've found that some engines require a little underside coaxing to get them in far enough.
 

Taifun

New Member
Thanks for the welcome!

Cool! thanks guys! I'll stick with the Celron handrails. I'll need to touch them up a bit with some glue as they have come loose in a few places.

I'm already plotting the addition of more engines. Any advice for my next engine purchase? I am interested in UP, BNSF, GN and any other lines that run/ran in the Pacific Northwest. More importantly in the Puget Sound area.

-G
 
F

f1_indy2000

Guest
Welcome, I have four GP38-2s from Athearn and they work great, however, over on another thread I have a discussion about the couplers being too high. That will be solved when I get over to the hobby shop. Anyway, I thought I would share mine with you and all here. I get my shell off by squeezing the lower sides and they come off. If that becomes a hard I will use a screw driver to help push the tabs back. It come off eventually, kind of hard to explain, but just like Jbaakko mentions. In my pictures for me to paint and weather the trucks I had to get in there and take it appart. Once I got the truck off I went ahead brush painted the wheels with florquil rust paint.

As for better engines, I always liked Kato and atlas makes a nice engine. They are worth it, the athearn is worth it too. I like redueing my locomotive to whatever I want them to be. If you are like me and running direct current make sure it is for that. I'm not sure but i believe a dcc engine will work on a direct current setup, but they have an adaptor so you can make them dcc someday down the road or unplug it. I will guarantee you that there are some guys here that have a wealth of knowledge and are very helpful if not your local hobby guy will tell you more. Again welcome to the hobby and forum.
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Funny that my New RTR Gp38-2 is not high, where as the old Blue Box is not off by much.
 

sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
The handrails are made of acetal. Delrin is a brand name (made by DuPont I believe), much like saying 'Velcro' instead of 'hook and loop.' Delrin is almost impossible to glue, and due to its slippery nature, difficult at best to paint. It does, however, have a great deal of flexibility compared to most other plastics suitable for injection molding, which is why it's used for handrails. Acetal is also used for gears, gear boxes, drive shafts, trucks, and other moving components or components that come into contact with metal parts, due to its durability and low friction. This is the kind of thing that accumulates in a kid's head when he spends so much time beside a plastic injection molding machine at a family machine shop :rolleyes:
 

Taifun

New Member
Opened!

Well I managed to get the shell off last night. I was hoping to re-route the light bulb further up in the cab to illuminate the front lights... no luck. It also looks to be short of a nightmare if I want to convert to DCC. Anyone converted one of these? I find the Athearn site has little to no relevant info on their products.

Thanks for the continued info! I guess I'll try to tack the rails with glue even if this might not work. Seems a real pain if you can't re attach them.

-G
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
... It also looks to be short of a nightmare if I want to convert to DCC. Anyone converted one of these? ...
I'll be the first to admit that installing decoders can seem intimidating if you've never done it. There's a bit of a learning curve involved, especially with Athearn locos (because of their design - using the metal frame as 'ground'). But there have been lots of articles written about it, and after you do the first one, the rest will seem alot easier.

It's better to go the DCC route when you're first starting out, and you only have a couple of locos to convert. I was already up to my eyeballs in the hobby when DCC became popular; I'll have to spend a small fortune if I want to put decoders in every one of my loco models.
 

nsfantodd

Member
Well I managed to get the shell off last night. I was hoping to re-route the light bulb further up in the cab to illuminate the front lights... no luck. It also looks to be short of a nightmare if I want to convert to DCC. Anyone converted one of these? I find the Athearn site has little to no relevant info on their products.

-G
Digitrax has a pre-wired decoder for Athearn products if you don't want to solder. Its very easy, all the wires just clip on.

http://www.digitrax.com/prd_mobdec_dh123at.php

Todd Templeton
 

nsfantodd

Member
Thanks for the continued info! I guess I'll try to tack the rails with glue even if this might not work. Seems a real pain if you can't re attach them.

-G
I prefer the more realistic plastic handrails, however if you want sturdy handrails, the metal ones can't be beat! And actually don't look that bad painted. Athearn still list the metal set, here;

http://www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=handrail&Page=3

Just in case the link does not work, the part # is
ATH 46027

Good luck,
Todd Templeton
 

Railroad Joe

Engineer, RI #424
Hello there & welcome to the world's greatest hobby!! As you, I lurk more than I talk, but I had to chime in on your handrail question.

I'm by far a serious painter, but I do have friends in this hobby that are.

If you're going to repaint the plastic handrails on your GP38-2, I have been told that because of their flexibility, try using ModelFlex paint made by Badger Airbrush Co. Supposedly, the paint adheres well and flexes with the handrail movement.

ModelFlex is also water based, so clean up shouldn't be too bad.

Hope this helps!!
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
The paints used for model cars are the key to long lasting paint on the plastic handrails.

Todd, thanks for that link to the decoder, I may have to buy them, to save time!
 




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