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South Jersey S Scale Modelers

PRSL GP38 2002


EMD Builders Photo

PRSL_GP38_2002_1 small

Road: PRSL 2002
Model: GP38
Serial Number: 33800
Date: Dec 1967
Order Number: 7076
QTY: 5 units


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PRSL_GP38_2002_3 small



There was some discussion of color, if 2002 was Dark Green Locomotive Enamel (DGLE) or black. The 2 new to me slides below confirms it absolutely was DGLE especially when compared to the black Penn Central loco in the background.


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This is an Ajin/Overland GP38-2 model 1781 imported in 1984. A GP38 does not exist in S Scale in any form. The prototype upgrade -2 part of GP38-2 was mostly electrical making them reasonably visually passable for modeling purposes as a GP38. I had 1 of these locos for years, but decided I did not want to make the PRSL extended cab so I traded it away. This loco came up for sale in January 2020 from a good friend so I am giving it another try. I am still not going to make the extended cab though. It is a small detail that could kill a good locomotive if it goes bad. I could get a cab 3D printed but I would much rather keep the loco all brass.



This is straight out of the box. Usually photographing bare brass is difficult but this turned out really well for once.

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I “may” be tempted to run the GP38 with my AS16 even though the MU was electric on the GP38 and air operated on the AS16. A bit more modelers license.

PRSL_GP38_2002_8 small PRSL_GP38_2002_9 small


This is the Overland “tank” drive straight out of the box. Rubber tubing is for aquariums. That HAS to go being replaced with a motor coupling. You will never get the motor and gearbox shafts aligned that perfectly that tubing could be used.  Also improve the electrical pickup by flipping 2 axles and adding 2 wipers making for all wheel pickup. It is a wonder that these locos ran at all with this drive as built.


PRSL_GP38_2002_10 small PRSL_GP38_2002_11 small


I spent some significant time adding a drop of solder to the backs of all the handrail stanchions. They are always cold solder joints as are the shell cross braces that all hold the model together. In the 8+ of these Overland models I have worked on every 1 of them had cold solder joints on the cross braces. They popped off making tight assembly of the model impossible. Since I can faking a GP38 from a GP38-2 I added pilot footboards. I also added the MU plugs, the pilot fold up platform and changed most of the windshield wipers. They were too small. 


Added 2-2-20

Cab Modifications

The construction of the cab was rather annoying no matter if you were going to light the numberboards or not. Further I shoehorn in 2) 3mm LEDs for headlights. The numberboards are open in the overhead cab cowl but are not opened on the long hood. The cab front wall is solid behind the cowl making access impossible. That is why doing this modification to a painted model is brutal, and many painted models do not have headlights at all.


I chose to come in behind and solder in a fill in plate. The first thing I did was cut a sizable hole in the rear cab wall for access to cut out the front cab wall behind the numberboards. It is pretty difficult to do once they meet in the corners above the front door. I just grazed a visible part of the numberboard with a Dremel cutter coming extremely close to ruining a cab. Getting the fill in plate soldered in from behind was a challenge as well. I also soldered a nut behind the hole at lower left so the cab and long hood get attached as 1 piece and attaching to the frame.

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Trucks and Drive

This is my usual pick up system for the insulated side for a brass GP. I have backed off of cutting grooves in the backs of the wheels. I flipped 2 axles so all the insulated wheels are on the same side. I soldered 1 sideframe to the bolster and tapped the other side for a 2-56 screw. The 2-56 nylon screw holds the sideframe and pick up wiper on. Everything electrical can be unscrewed. Not shown is the Miniatronics 2 pin plug for the end of the pick up wire. This is the typical wiring for any of my diesels with 2) 2 pin plugs feeding into a Miniatronics 4 pin plug. Since the decoder is all up in the shell, the 4 pin plug is power up to the decoder and power back down to the motor. All the plugs I use are expensive but make maintenance very easy.

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This is fresh DLGE paint of the major parts, and my Overland “modern” collection. 3 of the 4 were built in the 1980s.

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Painted 1-27-20

2002 is shown as painted and running. This is a personal best of getting a new to me loco out of the box, tweaked, modified, DCC installed and painted in 9 days. I normally do not start a project without decals in hand but this was a major impulse buy and build. You CAN see the difference between the black and DGLE (Dark Green Locomotive Enamel).

PRSL_GP38_2002_20 small PRSL_GP38_2002_21 small PRSL_GP38_2002_22 small


Completed 3-28-20

I almost never paint a loco as clean and straight up glossy. The paint turned out really well and was very glossy so I went with it. The gloss coat was actually LESS glossy than the paint. These PRSL locos were never clean but this is not really a GP38 either. My weathering techniques need some refreshing. Good enough.


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PRSL_GP38_2002_25 small PRSL_GP38_2002_26 small


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Some modeler’s license here as EMD and Baldwin could not run together because of different MU. EMD was electric and Baldwin was pneumatic operated. Still when have you seen 2 S Scale PRSL locos together?  You can see the fireman is sleeping!

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Added 4-27-20

I just liked this pose with my N5 #200.

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Updated 4-27-20

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