GNRR #6576 works Tate Yard sorting cars for the outbound Elizabeth Yard Turn Job.
Everyone has a favorite prototype locomotive and one of mine is GNRR #6576. The EMD GP9 locomotive was built in 1958 for the B&O Railroad. The locomotive was designed to operate long hood forward and continues in that configuration today. After service on the B&O and later the Chessie System, it was purchased by the Georgia Northeastern Railroad (GNRR) in 1988. Photos from 1993 still show the locomotive in the Chessie System paint scheme working the GNRR line. Sometime after 1993, the locomotive was painted in the Georgia Northeastern red and silver paint scheme. GNRR #6576 has that classic EMD styling and has served for many years on the GNRR until recently being sold in 2017. Photos of the locomotive can be found in the Prototype section on my website. The reason that GNRR #6576 is one of my favorite locomotives is because I rode on that locomotive in 2013 when I was granted permission to ride along with the GNRR crew as they switched the industries in Marble Hill. After that day, I knew I had to have a model of that specific locomotive on my GNRR layout.
The model started out much like the one on the prototype, a GP9 in Chessie System paint. A few years ago I purchased an Athearn Chessie System GP9 and ran it on my layout but always planning to paint it. I wanted to paint the model to replicate the GNRR #6576 in its current paint scheme and upgrade it with ditch lights and an ESU LokSound Full Throttle decoder. I began by disassembling the locomotive, removed the cab portion and then soaked the remainder of the shell in 91% Isopropyl alcohol for 36 hours to remove the factory paint. Using a soft toothbrush I gently scrubbed the shell and almost all the paint was removed. A touch up with a fine sanding stick or a small stiff brush removed the remaining paint. The model has sliding cab windows that are sandwiched between two side wall castings, the main cab casting and an exterior wall section, and I was unable to separate them without damaging the castings so I had to take a different approach to remove the paint. I used Strip Magic, a paint remover, applying it with a Q-tip swab to remove the striping and lettering from the cab. The Strip Magic is amazing stuff, it works quickly so you have to stop the removal process with Isopropyl alcohol before it goes too far. Once I had the shell and cab prepared for painting, I cleaned them and then sprayed them with Tamiya Fine Surface Primer. Once the primer dried, I used an airbrush to apply the black, silver and then finally the red paint to the model. I allowed the paint to dry overnight between color changes. Masking off the different sections was the most time consuming part of the project. By allowing the paint to thoroughly dry overnight it prevented damaging the paint when removing the masking tape.
After all the paint was applied and thoroughly dried, I airbrushed the model with Alclad II Lacquer Gloss Klear Kote to provide a smooth surface for the decals. Next, I applied the GNRR Microscale decals from a long ago discontinued set. Due to the age of the decals, I first coat the decals with Micro Liquid Decal Film to prevent the decals from falling apart as I apply them. Once all the decals were applied, I airbrushed the model again with the Alclad gloss kote. This step helps to prevent “silvering” of the decals which is where the clear decal carrier film shows on the model creating a silvering effect around the graphics. For the final painting and decaling step, I airbrushed the model with Testors Dullcoat Lacquer and once it dried weathered the model with Pan Pastels.
For the final part of the project I installed new LED headlights, added ditch lights and a new ESU LokSound Select Direct decoder. For the headlights, I removed the Athearn incandescent bulbs and then made up a new headlight assembly by using two pieces of Stretch Magic 1.5 mm clear cording attached to a 3 mm warm white LED with heat shrink tubing. The clear cording acts like a fiber optic cable and directs the light out through the lenses of the headlight casting. The tubing was inserted into the back of the headlight casting and then glued in place. The ditch light castings are from Details West (DL-228) ditch lights w/lenses pilot top mount EMD. I drilled out the castings to accommodate inserting Warm White SMD LED #0402 with wire leads that I glued to the back of the lenses. I drilled holes in the front deck platform as far outboard as possible and then glued the ditch lights in place. Finally, I removed the old decoder and installed the new LokSound decoder and soldered all the wiring connections to the board. Once it was installed I tested all the functions and the new decoder worked perfectly. The sound files on the LokSound decoder are awesome, and the decoder improved the performance of the locomotive. Overall the project took almost a month to complete. Now I have a replica of GNRR #6576 to operate on my layout and recall the memories of that day.