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F40PH #394

F40PH #394

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.

The unit I've chosen to represent is the 394, which served around New York and the Northeast in the mid-to-late 1990s. It received ditch lights sometime around 1994, and was still in service as late as 2001 on certain routes. These facts, along with the availability now of a Phase 3 F40PH from Kato, led me to choose this unit for my model.

In a broad sense, the Kato F40PH is accurate for the 329-409 group. The choice to model 394 could have been a simple renumbering job, but I was not pleased with the quality of the Kato paint and lettering. The separation line between black and silver was fuzzy in places, the printed-on stripes did not carry well over raised surface details, and I was less than happy with the red and blue colors. I used Polly Scale's E-Z Lift Off to remove all the printed stripes and lettering, but left the original paint alone since it was a very thin coat.

I was also not happy with Kato's representation of the Q-style radiator fans. After drilling them out and carving away the excess material, I mounted new 48" Q-fans from Detail Associates that are much more accurate. However, these are no longer in production, so the next best thing would be the Q-fans that Athearn uses in their Genesis line. These represent a later 5-blade style, but could be modified to the older 8-blade type without too much work. Another change I made on the roof was to file off the exhaust stack and add a new one from Miniatures by Eric, mounted in the forward position according to the prototype. I installed most of the details included with the model, leaving off a few until after painting, and also added lift rings on the roof. I carved off the molded anticlimber, replacing it with a strip of .005" styrene, and then prepared the model for painting.

I made sure to mask the shell carefully, thus preserving the original separation lines, before giving it a coat of Floquil Platinum Mist. After this dried, I masked it again and sprayed Engine Black on the rest of the shell. Next up will be decaling using a mixture of Microscale stripes with custom-printed lettering. Once the rest of the detailing is complete, I will add some very light weathering to this unit. Eventually my hope is to install sound using the forthcoming Digitrax sound decoder, since the model was designed with this in mind, and I will also add flashing strobes at this time.

Click photos to enlarge
The 394 on the point of a train passing through Matinsburg, West Virgina. Photo by Doug Boyd, collection of Alex Stroshane. 6/92
Right side view of the model 394. 1/16/06
The left side of the 394. 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