An LV GP38 to D&H, DC to DCC conversion project
(Editor's note - started the idea for this thread in my "Rainbows in the Lehigh Valley Gorge" thread for my layout and decided to dedicate this thread to that project).

I run Conrail and Delaware & Hudson on my Lehigh Valley Gorge layout, circa August 1976.

Until last year, my typical D&H consist was two C628's and two RS36's, all in Blue Lighting stripe.  Conventional, all Alco - the D&H pretty much up until the formation of Conrail.  

A funny thing happened when Conrail was stood up - the U.S. Government wanted to at least have the appearance that there was still competition in the northeast for rail traffic after the formation of a giant amalgamation of 5 Class I railroads.  The poor little D&H was to be that competition.  The D&H was granted trackage rights from Washington D.C. up through Buffalo, given responsibility for running TOFC trains (one of the few lucrative freight packages in 1976), and given GP39-2's (Reading's last new locomotives), some GP38's from the Lehigh Valley (last power purchases by the LV), and some C420's.

Forced into this role, things got a little insane for the little D&H.  The red LV and green RR locomotives got quickly patched and immediately placed into service.  And some of those locomotives kept their original colors and initial patches for years.

I always liked the green dip paint scheme that the Reading used on their GP39-2's, and I have a deep affection for anything in LV livery.  

2 years ago I saw that Athearn was releasing some GP39-2's, and one of them was a patched Reading unit for the D&H.  I decided I had to get that one, and for Christmas last year I spent more money than I ever have on a locomotive, aided by a couple of gift certificates from my wife.

In recent months I began to get the itch to get a LV GP38 and turn it into a patched D&H.

Problem was, a lot of the LV GP38's offered out there on the used market are pretty poor representations.  However, Athearn had released a DC unit about 20 years ago, and I saw a couple for sale at what I thought was a somewhat reasonable cost.  Decided if I won the auction that I would turn it into a DCC model with the necessary D&H patching.

Won this one last week:


I have a Digitrax DH126P decoder that I'd like to put in it, and aside from the patching, there are a few other additions I'd like to make.  You're invited for the ride!


1)  Remove the DC-related hardware
2)  Add the decoder for motor control
3)  Add LED's for the front and rear lights
4)  Paint over the LV logos on the front and rear diamonds and long hood
5)  Add a "7" in front of the road number on the cab
6)  Redo the road numbers on the top of the cabs at both ends
7)  Add a plow
8)  Add MU hoses
9)  Weather the whole locomotive

I made some purchases.  LV decals (for the "7"), D&H patch decals (GP39-specific, but I think they can work just fine for what I want to use them for).  Also rooted through my stock and pulled out a snow plow, the decoder, the wiring harness, and the MU hoses.

The end result will be something very close to this: RailPictures.Net Photo: D&H 7324 Delaware & Hudson EMD GP38-2 at Enola, Pennsylvania by George W. Hamlin

Stay tuned for some progress and pictures.
Check out my "Rainbows in the Gorge" website:

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An LV GP38 to D&H, DC to DCC conversion project - by TMo - 01-23-2023, 06:26 PM

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