2711 & 2189 L-NWE8621
Anyone have any ideas on how to go about modeling a BN prototype (phase IIb or something like that?) GP39-2? Like where to find some articles on it or something that will give me and idea what I'm getting into?

I guess Overland did a BN GP39-2, but I'd like to steer away from bra$$ if all possible. I was looking at starting with a Athearn GP38-2, and reworking the body from there. But that routes gonna require alot of reworking from what I can see just looking at a real GP38-2 and GP39-2 side by side. Heck, I guess anyway other then brass will be alot of work, but hey, whats one more project right!? :D

Tom Busack did one article that comes to mind in the June 87 Model Railroader. There are others shown on this page, a search result on the magazine index on Kalmbach's website:

You might want to look into the GP50 shell as well as the GP38-2 shell. I think you might be able to get many of the parts you need for a BN GP39-2.

Anyway, good luck with your kitbash.
RCH said:
Tom Busack did one article that comes to mind in the June 87 Model Railroader. There are others shown on this page, a search result on the magazine index on Kalmbach's website:

You might want to look into the GP50 shell as well as the GP38-2 shell. I think you might be able to get many of the parts you need for a BN GP39-2.

Anyway, good luck with your kitbash.

Cool, thank you RCH. Now at least I have something too search for!
I assume this is an as-built 39, not a later rebuild from a GP35 or GP30? In that case, the best starting point is either a GP38 or GP38-2 -- choose your favorite manufacturer, Atlas, Athearn, or P2K.

If it's a rebuild 39, try starting from a P2K GP30, or a Kato GP35.
I think what Chris is talking about is a late production GP39-2, not a GP30/35 rebuild. The BN units were among the last to be built so they have more in common with a Phase I GP50 than a GP38-2, especially if you're using an Athearn model as a starting point. The BN GP39-2s had the larger fuel tank, which Athearn's GP50 comes with. I'm not sure about the radiator grilles, but I don't think either version (Athearn's waffle or corrugated) is going to be long enough. The GP39-2s, especially late in production, had radiator fans spaced out pretty far, much farther than the very close GP38-2 fans. The engine was also located 3 feet closer to the rear than a GP38-2 on the late production GP39-2s, which means you'd be removing the hood and relocating it farther back on the walkway.

I built a Southern GP49 from an Athearn GP50, which bears a certain resemblance to late GP39-2s. All I did was shorten the inertial grille on the fireman's side and remove/replace the radiator fans. Well, there are a certain number of "Southern-specific" mods, but you get the idea. A BN GP39-2 would share some characteristics with this model. Anyway, here it is (always looking for an opportunity to throw an image in ;) ):

It's definitely easier if you are going for a Phase I GP39-2... take an Atlas GP38, add an Atlas GP40 dynamic brake hatch (incl. exhaust stack), and you have an ersatz GP39... the -2 part is problematical.
There isn't a width/length difference between the Athearn & Atlas DB hatches? Or is cutting and fitting assumed?
I did a BN GP39-2 years ago. I did something along the lines of what EPTC100 suggested. I also used Cannon radiator grilles. The hardest part was the difference in position of the laundry chute on the left hand side. It is 3 feet or so further back on the BN unit than the Athearn 38-2. I cut out the old, filled the hole with styrene, then put in a new laundry chute. At the time I did it, the only Q style fans available in plastic were on the GP50 or in brass, so I had used the brass. Also remember the BN unit has the large turbo exhaust hatch. Don't remember what I did about that. Trucks have a single brake shoe per wheel.

Hope this helps. I was very happy with my model. Wish I still had it. It was of the 2725. I sold it at a train show in Portland around 1992-93.
Okay, I finally found a good reference photo:

And here's what I can offer on modeling this unit from looking at it:

Start with Athearn's GP50, so you get the long fuel tank and the following parts:

º silencer from dynamic hatch
º Q-fans
º larger anticlimbers (although they look like they're the GP60 style - more square than rounded)
º flush pilots, so you don't have to grind the GP38-2 footboards off

Get yourself a late (corrugated radiator grille) Athearn GP38-2 shell and perform the following modifications. Remove the radiator fans and replace with Q-fans from the GP50. Make a vertical cut forward of the inertial hatch, a vertical cut between the blower housing and the first tall door and a vertical cut between the last tall door and first short door. Cut along the walkway surface removing everything from the first to the last cut.

Next take the GP50 shell and make a vertical cut between the last tall door and the first short door. Make a vertical cut between the second and third tall doors (counting from the short hood). Make a cut along the walkway surface to extract this portion from the shell. Place this section on the GP38-2 shell with the last tall door against the first short door. Place the inertial hatch/blower housing section from the GP38-2 shell against the front of the GP50 hood section now in place. Replace missing section between the rear of the electrical cabinet and front of the inertial hatch with sheet styrene.

Take a GP40-2 dynamic hatch (Athearn part no. 47201) and remove the exhaust (keeping the flared portion on the sides intact). Replace with the GP50 silencer/exhaust removed in the same manner from the GP50 dynamic hatch. Mark the amount of material to be removed forward of the radiator section to accomodate the modified GP40-2 hatch. Place the dynamic hatch in position on the body. Put some of Athearn's acetal handrails on the model and you're ready to paint. [Note: I use white, masking the ends and painting the rest to match the body color - Athearn part no. 46106 (GP38-2 handrails) for the sides and Athearn part no. 80524 (SD50 handrails - includes both early and late end styles) for the ends.]

Now you've got a reasonably close model of a late production GP39-2. There are certainly ways to do it with less work, but this just might be the fun involved project you're looking for. ;)
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Okay, here's the specific, exact, the one, the only, GP39-2 that I am looking to model:


Thank you RCH, I think the project you outlined is what will achieve the model I desire. Involved project indeed!! But what fun would it be if it was simple!? Sounds to me though, thats what'll end me up with a model of 2711. Thank goodness 2711's counter part 2189 is a simple, off the shelf GP38!

Thanks for all the help everyone! I'm glad I said something now, I was thinking about going at this alone and trying to figure it all out in the blind.

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One more observation. BN GP39-2s were delivered with shelf-style couplers, which only have been available for a short time in HO scale. Kadee # 118 should take care of them.

Will you be painting BN green or BNSF orange?
Are they the Kadee style shelf couplers... or the McHenry ones? There was quite a discussion on the differences between the two (I think on the Atlas Forum) and the surprising conclusion was reached that the Atlas Corn Syrup cars needed the McHenry ones to be prototypical.

I've asked my LHS to acquire some, I'm waiting...
Didn't know there was more than one offering. Did the quality of McHenry ever improve? They used to not hold up very well.
Some people swear by them, now that they come with the metal coil spring in the knuckle instead of the little plastic finger. Personally, the only plastic coupler I use is the Walthers dummy coupler. No moving parts = no failure.

By the way, Chris, if you'd like, I can email that article to you. Turns out I have it on my hard drive! The author did his model with a Life-Like GP38-2 body (his model predates the release of the Athearn GP50 and GP38-2), but the concept is the same. There's also not as much cutting involved as I suggested, either, so it may seem easy compared to my description...

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If you could e-mail that article to me RCH, I would really appreicate it!! I got a chance to study a Gp39-2 and a 38-2 in the backshop last night, now I have a better idea of what needs to be done! But and article would be even more help! You can email me here:

SDP45, I plan on doing 2711 in the BNSF scheme. Ulitmately, 2711 will be paired up with a model of BNSF 2189 to form the power for of the local I love so much, the Maltby Turn. Incidently, these two units are "thier" power, that crew has had these two units for quite some time now.

Jeff, the diffrence is the Kadee #118 is a model of a top and bottom shelf, alignment control coupler. File of the top shelf, and you end up with a relpica of the coupler so common on BN/BNSF units. File both shelfs of, and you have the alignment control coupler found on passenger equipment. Now the McHenry coupler is simply a top & bottom shelf coupler, which is required by the FRA on tankcars. McHenry also offers a bottome shelf only coupler, which can be found on a variety of rolling stock. Most notably I see them on intermodal cars. All these couplers do have a FRA type to designate each type, like the Type E, Type F, H, SBE, SE, etc.
There is another GP39-2 modeling article out there. It is in the January 1997 issue of Mainline Modeler (by Michael Hopkin). It is of a Santa Fe unit, but the only difference between this unit and a BN one is the length of the fuel tank.

Thank you RCH!! I got the e-mail, already working on my game plan now. Thank goodness for Cannon & Co, I've found they even make the special long inertial filter hatch for this!

Thank you too Dan, I'll look to see if i can order up a copy of that issue.

Now let's see if i can get this thing done in under a year!

Lets not forget Katy had GP39-2 that had the big radiator grilles, 2 Q fans spaced pretty far apart and the angled air duct thingie. (name escapes me at the moment)