Lehigh Valley 323 - From Life-Like (Toy Line) GP38-2
I am posting this by request, because of some of the recent discussions regarding the new Life-Like Proto 2000 series GP38-2. This is _not_ that model. It's not even a 1985 Athearn. It's actually made from the Life-Like toy line GP38-2 shell, built around 1982.
The basic shell was very accurate for a toy line model - dimensions were correct, and the major spotting features where there. The model's shortcomings were some very crude parts that were molded on to the body, thick plastic handrails, open pilots, and a cheap drive mechanism.
This is my own version of what I call a "Lafayette Drive". At the 1981 division show, there was a guy from Lafayette IN selling scratchbuilt shells on Atlas drives, except the frames were made from Plastruct L-girder beams. I used the same idea, with trucks and motor from the then state-of-the-art Atlas/Roco GP38, and the plastic fuel tank from the Life-Like model.
Number of Cannon parts on this model? Zero. There was no Cannon cab, nothing. The cab is Life-Like's molded one-piece cab. I replaced the fans with the Detail Associates solid flat tops, which were not bad 22 years ago. The radiators are spliced together from Athearn SD45 radiators.
When I removed the huge handrails, I had a lot of holes to fill in the walkway. Once this was done, I drilled new holes and used Athearn stanchions, and bent my own brass wire railings. I did some crude modification to the Atlas trucks to make them look like Blomberg-Ms, removing the outer brake shoes and right side cylinder, and adding the strut. I made the rubber center spring by cutting off the leaf spring with a pair of side cutters!
The shell was primed with Floquil primer gray, and then painted with Scalecoat Cornell Red. The decals are Herald King. Finished model is weighted with a bunch of pennies inside! Runs like a classic Atlas. I had plans to do at least two more models using this shell - a DT&I, and a Southern. With Cannon parts it could have been even better - but the model was made obsolete by the Athearn release a few years later, long before any Cannon parts were available. This model took me several weeks to complete, and I was able to make a second LV GP38-2 in about two evenings with the Athearn model. Oh well!
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