Facebook Page
Modeling Milwaukee GP30's in HO scale
Modeling Milwaukee GP30's in HO scale
Detailing a Proto 2000 HO scale GP 30 for the Milwaukee Road

I’m sure that by now you have all seen the rave reviews in the modeling magazines but one really has to see the new Proto 2000 GP 30 up close to appreciate it’s exquisite detail. Even if you’re not much of a praying person you’ll be praising the Lord for this model. If you’re the kind of person who has never super-detailed a model before this one would be a perfect starter for you. The work required is minimal and you will end up with a very nice, brass - quality model.

I started my project with the GP 30 painted in Milwaukee colors numbered 355. This number is correct for the early 1960’s era but I model the early 1970’s so a number change was in order. Begin by removing the shell and lay it on its side. Then, take a paintbrush and put a puddle of Microscale’s Micro Sol decal setting solution on the number painted on the long hood. Let this set for 5 minutes and then take an ordinary pencil eraser and carefully “erase “ the factory painted numbers. This worked perfectly for me; I had no black paint come off but all the white came off. Repeat this same step for the other side. For the number boards on the back and front, take some Polly Scale engine black and carefully paint over the factory applied numbers. This paint gives a nice semi-gloss finish that is perfect for decaling over.

MILW #344

When you have successfully removed the old numbers, it is time to add the new ones. I used the numbers that come with Microscale sheet # 87789, Milwaukee Diesels Billboard scheme, for both the long hood and the number boards. Other decals applied at this time were the early EMD builders plates, applied to both sides below the cab. These come from Microscale set # 4056, locomotive builders plates.
One other neat “decal detail” that I added was the class light gaskets that come from Microscale’s sheet for C & NW GP 50 locomotives. They don’t show up well in the model photo but they add the nice black rubber gasket around the class lights on the nose.

Once the decaling is done, it’s time to add the few details that we need to make this a true Milwaukee Road locomotive. First, remove the foot board from the front pilot and add Details West plow #155. I used a Dremel tool with a medium milling bit in a flexshaft to remove the cast on doors for the M.U. hoses. This is not totally necessary though, because the plow will be painted black and the indescrepancy will be hard to notice. Next, remove the horns from the top of the cab and relocate them to the engineer’s side of the cab. Then, add the Motorola type antenna to the cab roof. I used Detail Associates part # 1805. On the engineer’s cab window we need to add an all weather window, DA part #2301. On the fireman’s cab window add a straight wind deflector, DA part # 2312.

MILW #1012

Now that the details are added, it’s time to do some touch-up painting. First, paint the details that you just added (plow, antenna,all-weather window and air deflector). All parts receive black paint except the air deflector which gets a silver rim around the edge.Next, take some black paint and paint the orange MU receptacles on both ends black. Finally, take white paint and paint the handrails at the boarding zones at both ends.

Next comes the part that really brings this locomotive to life, weathering. My method is to take Testors brown and lightly spray both pilots, the trucks, fuel tank and the lower portion of the cab and long hood. Next , use Floquil grimy black on the top of the long hood and the grills as well as a light coat on the parts that received the brown. Finally coat the model with a light coat of Testors Dullcoat being careful to keep it away from the windows and front of the low nose. For whatever reason, no matter how dirty the rest of the loco may be, it always seems that the nose is still quite clean and shiny.

The loco is now ready to press into service on the layout unless you use DCC as I do. A decoder choice for this loco was simple to make. Since I didn’t need the lighting effects that the Digitrax decoders offer , I went the El’ cheapo route and used the North Coast Engineering  NCE P2K decoder that is a “drop in fit” for the P2K GP 7’s and GP 30’s. All you have to do is replace the factory installed 1.5 volt light bulbs with new 12volt bulbs.

Now the loco is really ready to serve on the layout. It never ceases to amaze me just how much of a bargain these P2K locomotives are. Although I did some shopping around for low prices the total cost of this project (loco, detail parts, decals and decoder) was only $84.25.  What a deal !

I am looking forward to my next project, a P2K GP 9 with Sountraxx sound, should be exciting. If you have any comment or suggestions please contact me at or