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F40PH #301

F40PH #301

What Amtrak roster could ever be complete without a model of one of the 200-plus workaday F40PH diesels build by EMD? For twenty years, these units represented the face of Amtrak, and could be found in any number of situations - from racing up and down the Northeast Corridor with Metroliner trainsets to trekking across the country with one of Amtrak's long-distance trains. The F40PHs were built in three distinct phases, with minor variations among those. The first group (200-229) sported a rear-mounted fuel tank and P5 air horn, while the second group (230-328) carried a foward-mounted fuel tank and the brighter-sounding K5LA horn. The third group (329-409) were very similar to the second, but were built with Q-fans and some other different details. The fourth group (410-415) consisted of units purchased from GO Transit, and resemble the second group but with some unique details.

This model represents the 301, which was part of the late Phase 2 (280-328) subgroup. During the mid-to-late 1990s, it served the northeastern United States, and in fact was one of the last few F40s in service along the Northeast Corridor in 2001-2002. It did not receive ditch lights until the last couple years of its lifetime, but around 1990 it had been retrofitted with a long-distance fuel tank, along with a few other units such as 216 and 315. This gave it a rather distinctive look that made it stand out from others, so this was part of the reason I chose to model it.

Another part of the reason for my choice of roadnumber was that the F40PH sold by Walthers is almost an exact match for 280-328 subgroup that the 301 is a part of. I purchased their unit 339, since the paintwork on that model is slightly better than on the 300 and 303 they offered, but I needed to change the unit number without damaging the factory paint. I used Polly Scale's E-Z Lift Off solution to remove the printed-on side and rear numbers, along with the incorrect logo on the nose, then replaced them with custom-printed decals to renumber the unit as 301. I also used masking tape to lift off the large "Amtrak" logo from the side and replaced it with a custom decal as well. I still need to add the numberboard decals and some miscellaneous items like builder's plates and warning labels.

To result in a more realistic model, I made some significant detailing changes. Starting with the roof, I replaced the dynamic brake fan with a Detail Associates part, and carved out the grilles from the radiator fans so that I could use etched-metal ones from Plano. I also filed off the exhaust stack and replaced it with a brass casting from Miniatures by Eric, mounting it in the forward position as many F40PHs had been modified. I also added numerous grab irons and lift rings, though some had to wait until after touch-up painting and decaling were finished. I added sand filler hatches on the nose and drilled for windshield wipers, and added a modified Detail Associates air conditionar atop the cab. The molded-on anticlimber was incorrect, so I replaced it with a thin strip of .005" styrene, and I also added appropriate details to the pilot. There are still a few more details to be added, including fuel fittings and other underbody piping.

I touched up the factory paint as needed where I had added detail parts, using Floquil Old Silver to match the base coat, along with SP Scarlet and Conrail Blue to match the stripes. Once the rest of the detailing is complete, I will add some moderate weathering to this unit. Eventually it will be equipped with DCC and wired for operating headlights and strobes.

Click photos to enlarge
The 301 leads the Empire Builder through Summit, Montana. Collection of Alex Stroshane, photographer unknown. 12/93
Right side view of the model 301. 1/16/06
The left side of the 301. 1/16/06
Front view, showing new anticlimber and other details. 1/16/06
Overhead view, showing the new fans and other roof detail. 1/16/06