David Lotz updated April 12, 2012


David Lotz's Tags


Browse Articles » How-To Text View Magazine View

  • Modeling Union Pacific's Dashing SD40-2's

    Eastbound freight meets SD40-2 No. 3780 holding on Sherman Hill's "new" line at Dale, Wyo. Photo: Mike Danneman.
    Prototype Modeler - November-December 1984 - Page 33 width=

    by JIM SIX


       Prototype modelers of the contemporary Union Pacific Railroad System can ill afford not to own several EMD SD40-2 locomotives. Both the Union Pacific proper and now partner Missouri Pacific operate very large numbers of Electro Motive's all-time most popular locomotive.

       Until a few short years ago, modelers wanting one of these growlers were faced with a choice of performing a real kitbashing chore or purchasing a brass replica. Thanks to Athearn and GSB, we can now model most any version found on either UP or MP. Of course, the popular "snoot" requires a little extra effort, but with the 115-inch nose kit from Canadian Prototype Replicas, even this modification becomes a mere exercise. Both HO locomotives offer the modeler scale hood widths and excellent operating characteristics, and at a reasonable price.

       Both the Athearn and GSB locomotives are available decorated in UP's long lasting paint scheme. However, if you're into individualizing your locomotives with super details and assiging each its own number, then you best begin with the undecorated versions - it's no fun removing paint from a locomotive shell.

       Before beginning work, research the locomotive you've planned. Locate photos that clearly reveal the locations of interesting detail and study color photos to acquire a good feel for the color (shiny new, faded, etc.) and weathering. Look for such things as fuel spills, grime thrown up from the wheels along the sides of the locomotive, oil leaking from the bottom of the hood doors, rust streaks below the battery boxes and even exhaust marks along the roof. If the locomotive is decorated in one of UP's earlier schemes, then the colors are likely to be faded from the years and months of exposure to the sun. Such simple points of interest will, if applied properly, complement an accurately scaled model locomotive.

    A Junior Old Timer Special enters Utah 's Echo Canyon behind four SD402's. With retirement of UP's E-unit fleet, SD40-2's plus 9000-series GP40X's took over chore of hauling the railroad's many special passenger trains. Photo: D. B. Harrop.
    Prototype Modeler - November-December 1984 - Page 34 width=

       Today we're fortunate in having an extensive selection of commercially produced diesel detail parts from the likes of such veteran suppliers as Detail Associates, Details West and Precision Scale among others. It's no longer necessary to fabricate these details; the addition of drop steps or grabirons requires little more than a touch of cement or the drilling of a few holes. Literally hundreds of parts are available at your local hobby store (or through Walthers).

       Once it is decided what locomotive(s) to model, collect all the parts you'll need to complete each locomotive. When preparing a project of this type, you're essentially creating your own "kit." In this way you'll get a feeling for how difficult the work ahead may become and you'll also better picture how the pieces will go together. Your kit should include the locomotive, paint, decals and all necessary detail parts.

       With the two versions of the SD40 -2 now being provided us, it's possible to prepare one of these locomotives in a few evenings of intensive work. Of course, the addition of a snoot will involve extra time and experience. Worthy of note is that the GSB locomotive, though slightly the more expensive of the two offerings, comes with a variety of detail parts included, allowing for options when assembly time arrives.

       There are prototypical differences between the Athearn and GSB locomotives of which you should be aware. In general, the GSB is representative of earlier dash-2's whereas the Athearn portrays later production. The GSB sports an 81-inch nose typical of locomotives produced up through mid 1976, when EMD introduced several modifications which the Athearn model displays, including an 88-inch snout. The Athearn also displays the more recent corrugated radiator grille covers. GSB has included the corrugated cover as an option. However, EMD apparently introduced the use of these covers in conjunction with the 88-inch nose, precluding the use of both on the same locomotive! There may have been "transitional" units produced with the shorter nose and corrugated grille, but the editors of PM have no evidence to support this (should any of you readers have photos indicating the contrary, please feel free to pass on the information).

    Prototype Modeler - November-December 1984 - Page 35 width=   Prototype Modeler - November-December 1984 - Page 36 width=
    Above, a trio of SD40's poses with a wheat train for the Union Pacific company photographer on the Plainville branch in Kansas. Union Pacific repeatedly placed orders for the dash 2 model in the 1970's. Photo: Union Pacific.

    Right, even before the merger with Western Pacific was finalized , UP power frequently roamed through the Feather River Canyon in California. Here No. 3454 leads UP units on an eastbound piggyback train around Williams Loop in October 1982. No. 3454 is one of the 246 SD40-2's numbered 3243-3488 built with extended low noses for contemplated (but never executed) installation of extra radio gear. Photo: Mike Schafer.

    An Athearn SD40-2 was modified to represent UP's extended nose dash 2.  The cut lever detail was formed from .010 inch brass wire and Athearn stanchions.

    A close-up look at the rear portion of the hood reveals such details as the "corrugated-type " radiator grilles, the cut-lever arrangement and the horn mounted between the radiator fans.

    10, built in January 1980 and photographed here in July 1984 at Laramie, Wyo., while switching out a piggyback flat, offers a good view of the nose and roof detail of a "normal" SD40-2. Consult the cover photo for an example of the latest look in nose decoration, with the UP shield displayed on the front of the locomotive instead of under the cab window.

    Weathering plays an important role in giving models an authentic appearance. Even diesels of such a maintenance-minded railroad as Union Pacific occasionally show their age. Our model No. 3300 (the prototype was built in 1975) sports the older livery with the slogan under the cab window and is weathered with several layers of "dirt" and "road grime," especially above the trucks and around the air intakes.

    Prototype Modeler - November-December 1984 - Page 37 width=   Prototype Modeler - November-December 1984 - Page 38 width=
    The so-called "snoot" nose of extended nose SD40-2 No. 3284 is clearly evident in this August 1979 view at North Platte, Neb. The unit was five years old at the time but displays a fresh coat of paint with the UP shield placed under the cab window. Photo: Mike Danneman

    Right, our model No. 3300 at first looks out of place on a single track with a Southern unit in tow, but UP 's SD40-2's are liable to show up just about anywhere on the UP and on foreign roads as run-through power.

    Here are the components for a model SD40-2 with the extended nose. The photo shows an Athearn body (GSB can also be used) and an assembled long nose from the Canadian Prototype Replicas kit. Snap out the cab to facilitate cutting the short nose with a razor saw, right.
    The author's HO scale Athearn model of Union Pacific No. 3632 represents a prototype of a more recent construction (the real 3632 was built in November 1979) than No. 3300 and hence has a later livery that has been subjected to less weathering. GSB offers a model t at typifies even earlier SD40-2 production (such as No. 3188, facing page).

    Above, compare this photo with the one on page 36 for the essential difference between the two UP SD40-2's: the lengths of the low noses. On this unit the author "opened" the front door; on No. 3300 he left the rear walkway door open. At this stage a little pilot detail and numbers and glass for the numberboards are all that remain to complete t he model. Right, detailing extends to the underside of the unit, with a drain pipe on the front face of the fuel tank, the bell nestled up against the drain pipe and a speed recorder cable leading to an axle.

    Union Pacific started its love affair with EMD's six-axle 3000 h.p. SD40-series of locomotives by buying all eight of the original demonstrators. No. 3014, above, was part of the first group of 40 new SD40's built for UP in April 1966. No. 3188, top, built for UP in July 1972, typifies early SD40-2 production that introduced such spotting features as the water level sight glass, bolt-on battery box covers and alternate classification-light positions at the rear of the unit. Both photos: Don McGivins.
    Prototype Modeler - November-December 1984 - Page 39 width=

       Adding the snoot nose presents no real problems, especially if you have experience assembling plastic model airplane kits. (Construction steps for the snoot are well documented by the instructions included with the Canadian Prototype Replicas kit.)

       A nice touch enhancing the realism of a model locomotive is to open a door or two. Precision Scale Company produces both brass and plastic EMD cab doors with a separate window glass. Because of added strength, it's advisable to use the brass. You may even want to open a hood door, but don't open it too far or you'll have to worry about exposing a very un-prototypical interior! Most enthusiasts and modelers appear to be under the illusion that Union Pacific locomotives are always clean and shiny. Reality dictates otherwise; although the UP is one of the very best managed and operated railroads in the country, their locomotives do get dirty just like those of the roads back East, are periodically in the need of fresh paint, and do occasionally operate with hood doors flapping open in the breeze.

       A model example is UP No. 3300, representative of an intermediate SD40-2 equipped with the snoot nose. It's been modeled to represent a locomotive that has five or more years of service with out having paid a visit to the company paint shop. Number 3300 is one of the few snoots dsplaying both an earlier version of the UP paint scheme and the corrugated radiator grille covers. The locomotive's apparent age is reflected in several ways. On the engineer's side you can see oil and grime accumulations below the hood doors. Also evident is a mixture of exhaust soot and streaks of oil and road dirt high on the hood sides about the turbo stack area. Below the cab, the battery box doors show an accumulation of typical road grime. The fuel tank has a wealth of accumulated fuel oil spilled from the many refuelings the locomotive is depicted to have received. Though No. 3300 has been modeled to represent a locomotive with some age, even many newer diesel locomotives display similar fuel spills.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Jim Six
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date November-December 1984

    Article Album (1 photo)

    Share - Report