GNRR Locomotive #2000 rumbles past the vacant Tate Depot.
Georgia Northeastern Railroad locomotive #2000 is one of the “newer” locomotives in the fleet, built in 1969 for the Penn Central, the unit is a rebuilt GP38-2. Photos on the Railroad Pictures Archives website show it on the GNRR roster beginning in 2004. The General Motors EMD GP38-2 is an upgraded version of the GP38, with a 645E 16 cylinder 2000 HP engine. Many original GP38’s were upgraded to GP38-2 locomotives in the 1970’s. Photos of GNRR locomotive #2000 can be found in the Prototype section on my website.
My model of GNRR #2000 has an interesting history. A few years ago, I custom painted and decaled the Atlas model in the Georgia Northeastern red and silver paint scheme. Originally, I left the factory painted locomotive number on the number boards and installed cab number decals to the sides of the cab. The factory number was 2005 and I figured it was close enough to the GNRR #2000 that it would be acceptable. As time went on, the “wrong” number began to bother me and I knew eventually I would have to change it. I was planning to upgrade the decoder and add ditch lights, so I figured that would be the perfect time to make the change.
I began the project by disassembling the locomotive and removed the cab from the rest of the shell. I used Strip Magic, a paint remover, to remove the numbering from the cab and hopefully not harm the paint. Unfortunately, the paint was damaged when I removed the numbers so I had to repaint the cab. Once the cab was repainted, I then used a decal set from Microscale for the number boards and the cab numbers, this time using the correct numbers. In the prototype photos, you’ll notice the cab numbers are quite a bit smaller than most cab numbers, so I replicated the smaller size on my model.
With the painting and decaling complete, I then began installing ditch lights and a new decoder. I used the same ditch light castings, LED lights, and procedures as I did when I installed ditch lights in the GNRR GP9 #6576 locomotive project. The Atlas model originally came with a factory installed dual mode QSI sound equipped decoder. The decoder had no provisions to add ditch lights and did not have a braking feature. Having a decoder with braking is important when operating with the ProtoThrottle, so I decided to replace it with an ESU LokSound decoder.
I removed the original decoder and cut a piece of styrene the same size as the old decoder board to use as a mounting plate for the new decoder. I chose the ESU LokSound Select Micro decoder (#73800) as it has a very small profile and would fit into the limited space on the frame. I did not want to mill or cut down the frame for a larger decoder to fit, so the Select Micro decoder was the perfect choice. Even with its small size, the Select Micro decoder has plenty of power to run the locomotive and has provisions for auxiliary functions like ditch lights. I also selected a LokSound 8 Ohm “sugar cube” 11mm X 15 mm speaker for the decoder. The decoder installation was relatively straight forward following the wiring diagram provided in the ESU instruction manual located on the company’s website. The Atlas locomotive did not follow the recommended NMRA color coding for the wiring, so I had to trace each wire to identify its function. To prevent mistakes, I made a chart indicating each wires color and function on the locomotive and which wire on the decoder it was to be soldered to. Next, I soldered all the wiring connections from the locomotive to the decoder making sure I had the correct wires identified. I used heat shrink tubing to cover the soldered connections. Before putting the shell back on the locomotive, I tested it making sure everything worked correctly. I used Kapton tape to hold the decoder in place on the styrene mounting plate and glued the speaker in place. Now for the fun part, getting all the wires to fit inside the shell as I re-installed it on the frame. I used another piece of Kapton tape to bundle the wires together and keep them in place as I slid on the shell. As you can see from the first picture of the locomotive passing in front of the Tate Depot, I was successful getting the shell back on.
The Atlas locomotive is a smooth runner and it sounds great with the new LokSound decoder. The ditch lights look awesome and overall I am very happy with how the project turned out. I now have another prototypical GNRR locomotive to run on my layout.