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THERE IS HOPE FOR THE RTR ATHEARN GP35
Many of you are already well aware of the mistakes and shortcomings Athearn made with their decoration of the recently released Ready-to-Run GP35. As one who pre-ordered a trio of these units weeks in advance of their release only to be disappointed with $180 worth of inaccurate locomotives, I sought to remedy the situation. Listed below are the modifications that can be made to vindicate these models.
Striping: The first step I took was to correct the rear hood chevrons. As you will see on a stock model, Athearn did not wrap the stripes around to the side of the hood. Using photographs and a Proto 2000 GP30 as a guide, I estimated the wrap-around of the stripes to be just over a scale foot in length, and some leftover stripes cut from an old Herald King GP30/35 set made an almost undetectable "patch job". In addition to the chevrons, the sill stripe was narrowed to make the bottom edge even with the notch for the air reservoir and wrapped around the rear to cap off the chevrons on the rear pilot (strangely, Athearn put the sill stripe on the front pilot but not on the rear).
Lettering/Numbering: There are issues with virtually every piece of lettering on these models. First, the ampersand on the "GM&O" is incorrect, the wings are about a scale 6" too narrow, and the numbers are too "fat". A Microscale decal set (#87-365) provided correct wings, billboard lettering, and numbers. While I had those numbers out, I renumbered the unit to #637, reflecting the final group of GP35’s which were delivered with the black nose initials (included with decal set #87-365). This involved some simple masking and painting in a white "field" between the top two stripes with Reefer White. Even though the stock number boards are correct for the as-delivered white-on-black versions, these too were replaced to reflect the model’s new number.
Details: To dress up the pilots, Details Associates provided the drop steps (#1401), MU stand (#1503), and uncoupling lever (#2205). Details West MU hoses (#266), Kadee train line air hose, and a homemade brakeman’s grab iron (just above the uncoupling lever) made from 0.015" brass wire finished up the bow and stern. Up top are a Details West firecracker antenna (#157), and Leslie 5-chime horn (#235) and lift rings (#2206). Future plans are to add some windshield wipers.
Flags: The idea for the GM&O trademark flags was born after making some canvas sunshades for my Proto 2000 FA-1’s out of wire and tissue paper. The masts of the flags are 0.015" brass wire mounted with holes drilled into the front corners of the cab. The flags are pieces of tissue paper cut about a scale 18" square. I placed a small amount of CA along one edge of the paper square and glued the very edge to the mast. After the CA, hardened the rest of the paper was saturated with it to stiffen up the paper. Once the flags were hardened, they were carefully bent with a pair of fine tweezers to look like they are blowing in the wind. A quick hit of Reefer White finished them off. These items were a lot of fun to make, and create by far the most distinctive feature on the model.