When Life Like came out with their GP20 in N scale I knew I had to have one(or five). I model the Burlington Northern post merger time around early 1970 so I knew I could get away with some of the the low short hood units. I did, however, want to have some in GN colors. Anyone who models the GN knows that they had their GP20's delivered with a high short hood. They also require an extra climbing step, a different style fuel tank and sill than the LL unit, and lastly, hand rails going up both sides of each hood end. Ah yes, another project for me!
I was a little leary of destroying my new units, since this would be my most complicated kitbash to date. But I got out my new xacto blades and went to work anyway. I ended up using the Life Like GP20 and Atlas GP7/9 shells. What I found made the most sense was to use the Long hood and cab from the GP20 and the short hood, sill, and fuel tank from the Atlas shells. This turned out to be easier than I had hoped.. although the shell rides a bit high on the frame.
You can see by the shade differences what components were used and where. The dark grey areas are LL and the lighter are Atlas.
The next thing I had to contend with was the fact that the GN also ordered their GP20's with an extra step. The LL model has only three. What I ended up using was some square channel, sliced and cut appropriately to create the fourth step... talk about tedious work!
I then started with the most nerve-wracking aspect... cutting away the LL fuel tank to an Atlas fuel tank could be used. The LL units come with a single long fuel tank, like the CB&Q Used. GN has a fuel tank as well as the two additional tanks. I decided to use the Atlas Fuel tank but this requires cutting of the LL frame. You have to be very careful to NOT cut away too much material, as the fuel tank section also serves to hold the mechanism together. You can see below the result of the cutting and filing.
Details added were snowplows on both ends, MU hoses, handrails made from brass wire and bent to shape( a TON of them), a bell on the long hood(GN ran their units long hood forward). Sunshades, firecracker antenna, Gold Medal Models lift rings and windshield wipers, and a nice white LED.
I used PollyScale GN Big Sky Blue and Engine black airbrushed on the unit. I didn't feel up to masking the white stripe so I created it on my ALPS printer, along with the GN logo and numbers.
N scale number boards never look quite right to me so I use a little trick to get them to be flush with the body of the unit. I start by putting scotch tape over the number board openings on the outside. I then fill the opening from the inside with epoxy. This leaves a nice clear, smooth base for my number boards. You can leave them clear so the light shows through, but I prefer to paint mine.
I also do a little trick to help guide the light from the LED to the light openings. I use a thin strip of aluminum foil wrapped around the Led as a light tunnel. This really helps direct the light forward and acts as a nice reflector. I then paint the rear of the LED with Silver paint to stop any light from escaping.
So, after all is said and done, this was a pretty good project for me and it turned out well. I still need to add the bell to the end of the long hood. Weathering will then be added and this baby will be pulling cars with the rest of my fleet.