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Athearn GP38 Athearn GP38...
Athearn does not make a GP38 model, but they do make a GP38-2.  This GP38-2 can easily be backdated to a GP38.  The Athearn model is very close to the 4800 series of GP38s owned by Chessie.  Mine is GP38 #4813.  I chose an odd number since my kit is a dummy locomotive, and all my dummies have odd numbers.  You can just as easily do this project on a powered locomotive.

Since doing this project, Atlas came out with GP38s that are considerably more detailed than this older Athearn kit.  I would recommend the Atlas one as a better starting point, with less work.

Below is a Dean Heacock pic of the real #4813.

                                        Dean Heacock Photo

How to:
1.  Purchase a GP38-2 undecorated kit from Athearn.
2.  SHELL: Drill holes for all the grab irons and lift rings.  There are grab iron locations marked on the front of the nose, the right side of the nose, the top of the nose, and the back of the long hood.  All the lift rings are on the top of the long hood.  There are about 10 or so of each.  Also drill two holes on the top back of the long hood for the fan grab iron.
3.  SHELL: Sand off the small square with the three little posts on either side of the coupler.  This is the molding for the m.u. hoses.  There are two squares on the front pilot and two on the rear pilot.
4.  SHELL: Sand off the foot boards on the front only.  These are the protrusions at the bottom of the pilot where someone would stand to ride the locomotive.  Drill two holes in the front pilot to accept the Details West Chessie pilot.  The back foot boards are fine, or you can replace them with Details West #130 rear plow.  I left the kit ones attached.
5.  SHELL: While you have the drill out, drill each of the hand rail stancions so they are a little bigger.  They come just a little too small to fit the stancions right out of the box.
6.  CAB: Drill a hole centered on top of each of the six windows.  This will be where the windshield wipers attach.
7.  CAB: Drill out the holes for the handrails attach.  There are two on each side of the cab.  They are just a little too small to fit the wire right out of the box.
8.  CAB: Sand off the over hang on the back of the angled part of the cab.  Do not sand off any material from the flat part (top of the roof), only sand off the overhang on the part of the roof that slants down to meet the sides.  See pics below for clarity.
9.  SHELL:  Prime a Details West 3 Chime Leslie horn, 2 pairs of mu hoses, a curved fan grab iron, a side mounted bell, 2 uncoupling levers, and enough grab irons to fill all spots they belong (around 12 or so).
10.  SHELL:  Super glue in lift rings into the holes on the top of the long hood.  I don't prime these before I put them in.  Prime them carefully when the glue is dry.  Try not to fill the hole of the inside of the lift ring with paint.  Super glue on the Chessie pilot on the front of the shell, in the two holes you drilled in step number 4.  When dry, super glue on the mu hoses on the front and rear pilots.
11.  FRAME: Super glue pieces of sheet styrene (plastic) to the front and back faces of the fuel tank.  Build up the sheets unitl the fuel tank almost hits the trucks as you turn them.  The trucks should not contact the fuel tank, but should be close.  Sand (this will take a while to do well) the plastic sheets when the glue is dry to the shape of the fuel tank.  This whole process will replicate the look of a larger fuel tank.  The one on the kit is way too small for the Chessie GP38's.  See picture below for clarity.
12.  FRAME:  Prime the metal pieces behind the plastic truck sideframes with an enamel primer.  You will have to remove the truck sideframes to do this.  When dry, paint the wheel faces rust colors and the parts between the wheels black.
13.  SHELL: Prime the sides of the shell where the yellow stripe will be.  No need to prime the whole thing.  The areas that will eventually be dark blue do not need to be primed.
14.  SHELL:  Paint the whole shell C&O Enchantment blue.  When dry paint the side sills UP Armor Yellow, then paint the long tube and jacking points on the bottom of the side sill blue.
15.  SHELL: Paint the inside of the vents on the sides and the fans on the top black to give added depth.
16.  SHELL and CAB: Spray with gloss coat and decal.  I used Microscale's B&O/C&O hood unit sheet.
17.  SHELL and CAB: When dry, drybrush with successively lighter shade of blue.  Use some rust shades as well on the top.
18.  FRAME:  Add the truck side frames back on.  Drybrush the frames and fuel tank with shades of greys and browns.  Overspray the side frames and fuel tank with a light dusting of railroad tie brown to give it a nice dusty look.
19.  SHELL:  Add on detail parts of mu stand, drop step, mu hoses, wipers and horn.  Add window glazing to the cab.  I attach the clear plastic with white glue, all other parts with super glue.  Snap the cab into the shell.
20.  SHELL:  Prime the bottom 1/2 of each hand rail stantion, the ends of the handrail pieces for the front and back, and the ends of the long hand rail pieces.  Paint the ends blue.  Attach the handrails.  Super glue the stantions to the rail.  When the glue is dry, prime the rest of the hand rails and paint blue.  Paint the parts seen below yellow.  Weather the handrails like you did the rest of the shell.
21.  Attach the shell to the frame, it just snaps in.  You are done.  Enjoy your GP38.

Below is a pic of my GP38 still in the box.

Below is a pic of the frame as it came out of the box.  Notice how small the fuel tank is.

Below is a pic of the frame with the fuel tank extensions added.

Below is a pic of the frame with the sides primered.  I painted the fuel tank black with a brush, just to see how my sanding job looked.

Below is a pic of #4813's frame with the wheels painted.

Below is a pic of #4813's frame completely done and ready to mate with the shell.

Below are two pics of the cab with the over hang removed.  The cab on the left in each pic is the GM50 cab, but that is exactly how the GP38 cab looked coming out of the box.

Below is a pic of the shell primed.  Note I only primed the sidesill (the area that will eventually be yellow).

Below is the shell after painting blue.  The side sill is still grey and will be painted yellow next.  The long tube under the side sill in the middle of the shell will eventually be blue and weathered until it is a dark grey color (very common look for this part on older engines).

Below is the side sill painted yellow.  The long tube and the jacking points will be painted blue later.

Below is the shell with the vents painted black.  The three fans on the top are also painted black inside.  This gives a feeling of depth to them.  Compare with the photo above for the difference.

Below is a pic of the shell with the bottom tube painted blue and the jacking points as well.  The shell is ready to be given a gloss coat and decals.

Below is a pic of the shell and cab decaled.

Below is a pic of the shell and cab drybrushed.

Below is a slightly out of focus view of the front.  The horn, wipers, drop step, mu stand, mu hoses, and Chessie Rock Pilot all make the front of this unit appear much better than the original kit.

Below a 3/4 rear view of the unit.  It shows the grab irons and fan grab iron on the back.

Below is a 3/4 view of the unit.  Much of the details on the front pilot can be seen here.  I took these pics before I put the wipers on.  The wipers can be seen two pictures above this one.

Below is a top view showing the location of the air filter box.  Also note the walkways are worn.

Below is a perfect profile shot of the unit.  It really highlights how long the fuel tank is compared to before.