Life-Like's HO Scale Union Pacific Proto 2000 GP30 Locomotive

By Don Strack

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(This article is an updated and expanded version of text used in a review published in The Streamliner, Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 1999)

Union Pacific took delivery of 152 GP30s from the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors. These locomotive were built in five different orders between July 1962 and July 1963. The first group of 75 units were ordered following the successful demonstration of EMD demonstrator 5629 (later 1962) on UP in August and September 1961. That unit was later rebuilt by EMD and sold to UP at a reduced price as UP 875 in September 1962. It was numbered following the first group of 75 units, which carried UP numbers 800-874, delivered from July to October 1962. While still in the planning stages of ordering its new GP30s, UP discovered that the angled cab ends diminished the overall cab length and for its pending orders, UP asked EMD to lengthen the left cab side, creating a longer cab, and what has been called the Phase II GP30, the most numerous phase built. All subsequent GP30s for the locomotive's other owners included this extended cab feature that had been requested by UP. EMD built 948 GP30s over the following two years, from April 1962 (D&RGW 3001 was the first) to November 1963 (one order each to L&N and Southern), of which UP's 152 were part.

The second group of 36 GP30s for UP was numbered as UP 700-735. UP 700-734 was delivered in February and March 1963, and were the new Phase II GP30s. UP 735 came in June 1963 and was a direct replacement for wrecked F9 516, which was used as a trade in unit.

The third group of GP30s for UP were the unique to UP GP30B booster units. Numbered as UP 700B-739B, these 40 units were the only GP30Bs completed by EMD, and were delivered between March and July 1963. The last 13 GP30Bs, UP 727B-739B, were equipped with steam generators to protect UP's passenger trains during times when there might be insufficient 900 class car body units, including special passenger movements such as troop trains.

The GP30s operated on UP from 1962 and 1963 until 1989, when the last one, UP 844, was retired. The GP30Bs were retired earlier, the last one leaving the active roster in 1986.

Life-Like has just recently shipped its newest Proto 2000 model. This newest model is of the GP30 and is another step up in this now constantly improving range of highly accurate HO scale models of diesel locomotives. The GP30 follows closely on the recent release of an excellent GP7 (of which UP owned 30 units), and many UP modelers are awaiting the eminent release of the Proto 2000 EMC/EMD E6 from Life Like (of which UP owned eight A units and four B units).

The Proto 2000 GP30 is a joy to behold. Its accuracy is truly phenomenal. For the first time, a model manufacturer has gone to extraordinary lengths to research and produce a new model of a popular prototype. As a Union Pacific model, the Proto 2000 GP30 has a well done paint scheme, with very close shades of UP Armour Yellow and Harbor Mist Gray. The lettering is nicely done, with Dependable Transportation on the cab sides done in fine black outlined red lettering. The model is of the Phase II variety of the GP30, and since UP's 800 series were the first Phase II units with the extended cab, the model's factory applied 800 series number is correct.

One other detail, unique to UP and therefore lacking in a model with characteristics meant to represent several railroads, are the model's multiple unit receptacles, located on the walkways at each end. During the early years of dieselization, multiple unit control was achieved by the use of twin receptacles, one with 12 pins and the other with 21 pins. Union Pacific chose to install duplicate sets of 12/21 connectors on each side of the unit's fold down walkway, with the necessary dynamic brake field loop connector mounted atop the left side MU boxes. In later years, UP converted the left side twin receptacles to a single 27 pin connector (the current configuration), putting a blank plate over the extra location. After the conversion, the twin receptacles were painted red, and the single receptacle was painted blue. This detail is easily added to the Proto 2000 GP30 using detail parts available from aftermarket supplier Detail Associates (part numbers 1503 and 1504). Additional detail work could include relocating the horn from its cab roof location to the later location between the first and second radiator fans. Overall, the new proto 2000 GP30 is a fine model and well worth the consideration of fans of Union Pacific.

Additional Reading

"Union Pacific's EMD GP30s", by Don Strack, Diesel Era, Volume 10, Number 2, March/April 1999. Article contains numerous photos of the units in service.

"Union Pacific GP30's", by George Cockle, Mainline Modeler, Volume 10, Number 10, October 1989. This four-page article has numerous excellent detail photos of UP's GP30s, with most of the photos coming direct from UP's own files.