HO Scale GP7's: Experiences?

Discussion in 'Electo-Motive Division (EMD)' started by Coonskin, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    It's been a long time since I've had an HO scale GP7 model. So many out there now. Here's my question:

    WHAT is one of the smoothest running GP7 models available now?

    I've watched Youtube videos of the new Athearn Genesis GP7 and, frankly, I'm NOT impressed with its slow speed (jerky) performance as reviewed.

    The Bachmann GP7 w/Tsunami Sound is way smoother than the Athearn in the review videos, but (as expected) doesn't have the detail niceties of the Genesis model. (This can be corrected with time, $$, and detail parts.)

    The Atlas Classic still has the cast metal frame, which makes frame modifications/detail adding a total pain.

    Has Walthers come out with the former P2K GP7 w/DCC and Sound?

    What are your choices and your experiences for an HO scale GP7???
  2. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    My own HO GP7 quick opinions off the top of my head .....

    o Go with the Atlas. It is a smooth runner, looks great, is the correct phase (though it is mis-numbered). Yes, it has a metal frame/tank.
    o Forget the Athearn Genesis. Yes, it has some motor and detail issues, but the main problem is it is the wrong phase GP7.
    o The Proto 2K is nice, but has running issues from a less than stellar motor, and gear cracking issues. Mine is a PRR and it looks great in those colors. I'd have to look (it's in a box) to check the phase for the Frisco.
    o Forget Bachmann. Every loco of theirs I have ever had had many issues, plus it is short on details. Don't know if the phase is correct for the Frisco geeps.

    I still see the Atlas Frisco geeps on eBay now and then.

    Just my quick thoughts.

  3. geep07

    geep07 Member

    I have 2 Atlas GP7's w/DCC and no sound. They run very smooth and also in a consist. I also have P2K GP7's W/DCC and no sound. They are also very smooth runners and consist very well. These were DCC Ready locos that I installed decoders to them. But prior to installing decoders I made sure that everything was in working order such as wheel gauge and gears are lubed, wires are soldered on and no binding of its mechanism. Programming a decoder to get the motor to run smooth is were the results are defined for motor performance and to consist very well.
    If I have a preference between Atlas and P2K, I like the Proto's I think they are more durable, easy to work on, the hand rail stanchions don't break like the Atlas.
  4. paul slavens

    paul slavens Member

    I have the Atlas orange and white ones that I bought new way back in the early 90s, #573 and #597. The fuel tanks were painted orange from the factory so I painted them black and added some kadee couplers. Also the handrails are black plastic so I painted them. They run really really smooth even after all these years and work great coupled together. I added a rotary beacon and an all weather cab window on one of them and lightly weathered them. Only issue I have is touch up painting the handrails from time to time as the paint tends to flake off of them since they are pretty flexible. I saw one at the last Bixby train show it was a nice used one for 35 bucks.
  5. geep07

    geep07 Member

    Yeah, the handrails issue for holding paint is a nightmare. I used Testors/Pactra racing car paint, it seems to do the trick on sticking to it. I don't know if it is still available. I bought a bottle years ago and plenty left to do a lot of models.

  6. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

  7. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Frisco.org Supporter Frisco.org Supporter

  8. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    My comment above knocking the Proro 2000 GP's stems from my experience with them. I have a P2K GP7, GP9, SD7 and SD9, all in PRR, plus a GP20 in EMD demo colors. These are all original LifeLike P2K's. They look great and they run great, except the P2K motors back then had a fairly high current draw. Thus they run well together, but not so good with Atlas, Athearn Genesis, Bowser, Kato or Stewart units.

    Plus, I'll need to look at my P2K GP7 closely to see which phase it is regarding the SLSF units (which were early geeps).

  9. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    My experiences with the GP7s are all centered around units with Soundtraxx Tsunami sound installed. The old Atlas/Kato units are very smooth runners, and I have a few in both variations of Frisco livery. I also have a number of P2K units, and they all run very smoothly with the Soundtraxx decoders. I have installed Tsunami sound in several of the Athearn Genesis GP7s and have had no issue with getting them to run smooth. I have also programmed new OEM Tsunami equipped Genesis models of other locomotives to run smoothly as well.

    Bottom line, if you read the Soundtraxx Technical Manuals, you can learn how to program their Tsunami or mobile decoders to make nearly any locomotive run smoothly and well with other manufacturer's models.
  10. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Thanks all for your valued input. I have a couple of undec P2K GP7s that need the gear swap thing. I am also contemplating purchasing an Athearn Genesis Mop GP9 w/DCC and Sound to use as a transfer engine, but was concerned about how herky jerky it looked during slow speed in the Youtube videos.

    I would not be interested in the orange and white Atlas GP7, but I may be interested in an undec Atlas eventually. Do any of you own the original yellow box Atlas GP7 and an Atlas China GP7? How's the performance/looks between the two? I have found the Atlas China RS3 to be better detailed than the yellow box version and runs exactly the same: Smooth and quiet.

    Thanks again.
  11. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    I have installed sound in Atlas/Kato locomotives and the Atlas/China variants. I don't see any difference in operation.
  12. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    To back up Keith, my GP7 was instal was done by him using a Tsunami silent decoder. After some CV adjustments, it runs great with an Athearn Genesis GP15-1 that has OEM Tsunami.

  13. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    I currently have two Front Range GP7s, and they run OK together, but they need remotored. Also have one P2K GP7, which is B/Y custom paint, and last I checked was running OK. Currently I have an Atlas/China GP7 chassis and drive that I'm putting an Atlas/Kato shell on- it was painted for Frisco, but I liked neither the color or the lettering. Plus, I've added details to the shell, which is painted with Badger's Mandarin Orange & white.
    I also have what looks to be a remotored Front Range GP7, with DCC and sound I bought at the Frisco convention in Kansas City.

    Haven't taken a serious look at the Genesis GP7, since I have 5 GP7s total, and no further plans to get any more. But, I AM quite interested in the Santa Fe GP7U that Athearn is coming out with, as I need a good DCC-equipped (if not DCC-ready) Santa Fe 4-axle Geep for my layout.
  14. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    As for Atlas/Kato drives on ANY HO diesel, I've had nothing but good times with them- they do indeed run smooth & quiet.
  15. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Does anybody wonder about the phases of all these GP7 models (HO) we are talking about? Per X2200S, the early geeps went through at least seven phases. The Frisco units were among the early phases. I know the Genesis GP7 is not right for the Frisco units, but I've forgotten why. The Atlas GP7 is good for the Frisco, but it is numbered incorrectly - the numbers (SLSF 500 and 502) are correct for the next earlier phase. I have three Front Range geeps I got from a fellow frisco.org'er. I have no idea what phase they are, nor do I know what phase the Bachmann GP7 is, or what the various P2K GP7's are. I'll look up the X2200S article and do some research.

    I still say stick with the Atlas GP7 and simply renumber it. You'll have a fine runner that is close to perfect in looks, unless you need to do major frame/tank modifications.

  16. w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021)

    w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021) 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    Growing up in Dixon, MO, one couldn't miss seeing trains 43 and 44, the east local out of Springfield to Newburg on M/W/F and back on Tu/Th/S. I tried to watch them switch Dixon when I was in town. Every time, but one, was with a single GP-7. (1200-series 2-8-0's when I was little). The one other was with one of the RS-1's. So, when I switched from 3-rail (Marx - we were poor) to HO, I saved up my money mowing lawns and ordered a brass Tenshodo GP-7. It was unpainted, so I painted it black with yellow decals from Walthers. The detailing was fantastic, the paint was poor, and the running was terrible. I left it on the club layout at MSM in Rolla. When I graduated, I went to collect it. Someone had stolen it.

    My next GP-7 was a major kit bash of a Blue Box Athearn. I took off the D/B, replaced the handrail stanchions with Kemtron castings, put on sun shades, spark arresters, MU posts, 5-chime horn, and even built a 555-timer and 2mm LED flasher, which didn't work very well.

    The thing still looks and runs great after 50 years. That Athearn drive was pure percision. It's an O/W representation of 599. I ran it at the Severna Park club during monthly op sessions for decades. That old drive held up well and is still one of the best HO runners I have. There's a photo of it in our "joint-author" article on the ex AT&SF cabooses that ran in PROTOTYPE MODELER along with my model 1158.

    Tonight, I finished an ECO-200 sound DCC decoder install in 599 with three LEDs (head light, back-up light, and flashing beacon) and a big ZIMO speaker. There is a lot of room in there. The stall current for that 50-year-old Athearn motor was about 0.6A, but I put in a -200 rather than a -100 anyway. I'll program it at the local Knoxville club tomorrow.

    I took photos as I went along and plan to post them to the Knoxville Area Model Railroaders' Facebook site.

    599 = perfect ham radio CW signal report.

    Anyone who says that DCC decoder installations are easy is not a very honest person and should be running for POTUS.
  17. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Great story, Doug - 50 years is a lot of mileage to get out of a unit, and it sounds like she'll be good for many more now that her DCC shopping is complete.

    Best Regards,
  18. w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021)

    w3hodoug (Doug Hughes RIP 03/24/2021) 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    24 photos are posted to Facebook.
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  19. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Frisco.org Supporter Frisco.org Supporter

    A beautiful work of an Athearn model of 50 years ago.
    you did a really nice rebuild.
    You should be proud - you have a right too!
  20. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    I don't do Facebook. Looks like one huge virus to me but I ain't smart lol.

    I consider one of my best HO GP 7s as delivered by a guy named Andre Ming.

    It was not the most perfect representation.

    But it was and still remains a valued acquisition.
    No sound/noise and boy does it do a good job of pulling.
    I always have it ready for a time freight or work train, or any other assignments.

    Those GPS 7s were great locomotives in their day.
    I'm just sayin.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016

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