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F40PH #339

F40PH #339

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 (329-400) were very similar to the second, but were built with Q-fans and some other different details.

The unit I chose to model, 339, is part of the Phase 3 group and was commonly seen running on various East Coast routes. It may have been assigned to Albany-Rensselaer, NY at one time, which makes it an excellent choice for my modeling purposes. Some prototype photos show it with stripes applied at a higher level than normal, which looked very distinctive but was simply a mistake by an Amtrak paint crew. I decided to represent the 339 around the middle of its lifetime, when it was just another member of a strong and reliable Amtrak workforce.

Part of the reason for my choice of roadnumber was that Walthers sells an F40PH numbed 339, and the paintwork on this model is slightly better than on their other Amtrak F40PHs. However, the logo on the nose of the unit was still incorrect, so I carefully applied a piece of decal striping over the logo and added a replacement from Microscale. That alone made a significant difference, but many other details needed to be added to enhance the realism. I began with the most important task of replacing the radiator fans with Q-fans from Detail Associates (now Smokey Valley). After cutting out the molded- on fans and a rectangular section of the fan hatch, I made a new recessed hatch from styrene, including the distinctive triangular extensions. After adding the Q-fans, I also replaced the dynamic brake fan with a taller one, also from DA (SV). Next I began drilling for the countless grab irons, which were fortunately all pre-formed wire parts from Detail Associates. I also added sand filler hatches, a new K5LA air horn, strobe lights on the roof and windshield wipers. 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. I also added a touch of realism by going over the side grilles with a thin wash of black paint, which settled into the grilles to add depth and simulate weathering. After the remainder of the detailing is complete, I intend to add more weathering, since the F40PHs were never truly clean while in service.

Click photos to enlarge
Rear side view of the 339 near State Line Tunnel on the New England Berkshire & Western club layout at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 12/3/04
The other side of the 339 as it approaches the town of Proctor, VT with a northbound Vermonter. 12/3/04
Overhead view, showing the new fans and other roof detail. 12/3/04