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August 27, 2011 Atlas GP-9 Basket Case

I read the Model Railroad Forms quite often.  I've noticed that they rank the Atlas Locomotives very high and I've never owned one so I placed a bid on E-Bay for a GP-9 and won it.

The listing said that the locomotive wasn't in very good condition and because I like overhauling engines I went for it.

I was a little surprised at it when I received it because it was a basket case.  The listing said it was a good runner, maybe at one time but not as received.  Both trucks were flopping loose and the shell was a disaster.  It's orange peel had orange peel.

This engine is in the worst condition for not having anything missing as any I have purchased.  I have bought several engines with missing and broken parts that were in much better overall condition.  The shell on this one is a goner.  What little Atlas detail was there has been totally destroyed with some sort of orange peel clear coat.
I have a spare Athearn GP-9 shell leftover from an earlier project that I can use to replace the Atlas shell.

The Atlas frame, motor & drive line look  good.  It will be super easy to install a DCC decoder in it.

The Athearn shell has a floor that flanges out from the bottom and covers the frame, the Atlas uses the frame for the floor so I had to cut off the bottom flange of the Athearn shell.

I cut the bottom of the Athearn shell off with my X-acto  knife then I put a sheet of 60 grit on my workbench and moved the shell back and fourth on the flat sandpaper until the walls of the shell were even.

The new shell now fits snug on the Atlas frame and looks very good.

Both Atlas trucks were broken, Atlas used a 2mm plastic stud as a center pivot on top of the truck housing that fits into a hole on the frame.  With both of the studs broken off the Atlas was dead in it's tracks.  I drilled 1.5mm holes where the plastic pins were and tapped them with a 2mm tap.  I used 2mm screws to attach the trucks to the frame.  A 2mm screw 4mm long worked out very good without touching the gear inside the truck and still leave .5mm of slack between the trucks and the frame for the trucks to move freely.

My new Atlas/Athearn GP-9 is finished.  I'm not sure about the Atlas design using a frail piece of plastic to center the trucks.  If all the Atlas locomotives use this arrangement I wouldn't give one to a child, one good ding and it's a goner.

The Athearn has a reverse design on their truck mount, they have a metal pin on the frame that fits into a hole in the top of the truck, the top piece of the Athearn truck is metal.  The Proto 2000s use a design very similar to the Athearn.  That's a much better design for strength and durability.

I used two 1mm lamps for headlights and installed a Digitrax DCC decoder in it.

The following pictures are of the finished GP-9

The finished locomotive is a fine runner and very powerful, it's drawbar pull measured a little over 3.5 ounces.  It runs very smooth and quiet.  

The total investment was $35 including S&H for the Atlas Basket Case, 1 used Athearn shell, 1 Digitraxx Decoder $20 off E-Bay including S&H, Four 1mm lamps for headlights, a bit of paint and decals printed on my Alps.  Not bad for a DCC equipped good looking and good running engine.

I added the Atlas GP-9 #5625 to my fleet that now totals 6 GP-9s. 

Oh yes one more thing, about 8 very enjoyable hours of my time rebuilding it.  I really enjoy restoring HO locomotives.

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