Aristo-Craft GP40 4 Axle Locomotive

Aristo-Craft GP40 4 axle locomotive vignette
Ted Doskaris
April 13, 2008

Four GP40 road names will be described:
1) Union Pacific - UP
2) Chicago Rock Island & Pacific - CRI&P (Rock Island)
3) St. Louis & South Western - SSW (Cotton Belt)
4) Denver & Rio Grande Western - D&RGW (Rio Grande)


1) Union Pacific GP40 locomotive, ART-23503:

I had received one UP version, and this was my first Aristo GP40.

Shown below is the Aristo Union Pacific GP40 loco, ART-23503, road number 622, box and foam packing.
The loco is packed in the box with its side and end railings already installed.
Aristo deserves much credit for doing this as it can be rather vexatious to have to install the hand rails and then not be able to put the loco back in its box if one so desires to do so.
The only thing that the user has to do is install the sun visors on each side of the loco's cab just above the window.

The box upper foam packing houses the extra - in this case - dynamic brake assembly that the user can optionally install in place of the non dynamic brake cover.

FYI, With respect to the Union Pacific GP40 in road numbers 622 and 643, it is NOT prototypically correct to use the dynamic brake assembly as these locos were formerly leased (by Union Pacific) to Rock Island and Rock Island did not employ dynamic brakes nor did it appear that UP retrofit them when they were taken back by UP from Rock Island upon that RR's bankruptcy dissolution in 1980.
That said, it is much appreciated that Aristo packages their GP40 loco with both the dynamic brake and non dynamic brake covers as this gives a user an option for future configuration possibilities.
See book:
"Diesels of the Union Pacific 1934 to 1982, Volume 1"
by Don Strack, Published by Withers, ISBN 1-881411-24-9. Page 126 describes UP #622 as former CRIP #364 receiving UP paint & number on "5 May 1980" and on page 127 describes UP #643 as former CRIP #4712 receiving UP paint & number on "29 April 1980". (Picture of UP GP40 road numbers 640 & 637 that do not include dynamic brakes are shown on pages 126 & 127.)

In addition to the optional dynamic brake assembly, the sun visors are packaged separately for the user to install on each side of the loco's cab just above the window. (I had to use a pin vise to clean out the paint from the small holes on the side of the cab and also scrape off the paint from the pins of the visors to facilitate a press fit of them to the loco.)

Below is shown the Aristo Union Pacific GP40 loco, ART-23503, road number 622 front view with box:

Union Pacific GP40 loco, road number 622 rear view is shown below:

Below is shown an overall underside view of the GP40 loco:

Below are underside views with fuel tank removed showing the two factory installed weights.
(The fuel tank is only held in place with 2 projecting plastic clips at either end of the tank that go into corresponding chassis slots. By using your finger pressing against one end of the tank near its base you can pop the tank off from the chassis.)

It appears that one more weight could be added between the factory installed ones. Since the weights are approx. 2.25 inch long by 1.5 inch wide an additional one would have to be turned sideways to fit.

The Aristo GP40 overall weight measures 9.60 lbs with two factory installed weights housed in the fuel tank area:

Shown below is the UP GP40 loco view of its 2 axle Blomberg truck side frame:
The "wire" brake line connection between the brake cylinders is very nicely done detail.

As shown below, Aristo's Union Pacific GP40 4 axle loco is paired with Aristo's UP SD45 6 axle loco pulling a 40 car 100 ton hopper train on my under house layout. Whilst I was able to pull a 30 car train consisting of mostly covered hoppers with the single GP40, the GP 40 will slip its wheels and is not able to pull a really long, heavy train on my circuitous layout consisting of mostly 10 foot diameter curve track sections.

Aristo's Union Pacific SD45 as shown in the foreground lacks the sun visors located above the cab windows like that of the new Aristo Union Pacific GP40 in the background. The prototype SD45 includes the sun visors just like the prototype GP40.

It appears that the center cab section is the same part for the SD45 and GP40. This suggests future Aristo production runs of the SD45 could readily receive sun visors if Aristo chose to do so.

The new Aristo GP40 is a very nice loco. When operating, it emits a mild "growling" sound that I find very pleasant to hear. It is a very smooth running loco and can operate smoothly at crawl speeds, too. I found the GP40 to be closely speed matched to the SD45 once both locos are operated a bit if they had been sitting for sometime without being used.


2) Rock Island GP40 locomotive, ART-23550X:

I had received 2 Rock Island locos within a group of 6 total GP40 locos (2 Rock Island, 2 Cotton Belt, and 2 D&RGW).
The shipping boxes arrived bundled in pairs for these 6 Aristo GP40s. The shipping boxes do not explicitly identify the road names - as was Aristo's former practice..
The left ART23505 pair is the D&RGW - Rio Grande - units in road numbers 3082 & 3085
The middle ART23508 pair is the SSW - Cotton Belt - units in road numbers 7600 & 7605
The right ART23550X pair is the CRI&P - Rock Island - units in road numbers 371 & 392. These units are made by the Aristo factory exclusively for and sold by RLD Hobbies located in Albion, Illinois.

Below is described the Rock Island loco of which there are 4 road numbers offered.
The Rock Island loco was done as a special product exclusively for RLD Hobbies located in Albion, Illinois.
Also described is the installation of the only parts the user needs to do - the sun visors that mount above the loco's cab windows. (Prior Aristo freight diesels like the SD45 - that are not supplied with visors - and the Dash 9 - that have visors - required the additional installation of all or some of the railings - not so with the GP40 as the railings are already factory installed.)

Shown below with its box is Aristo's Rock Island GP40, ART-23550X, road number 371:
(Since the Rock Island loco was done as a special product for RLD Hobbies in cooperation with Aristo, the "X" suffix is appended to the Aristo number.)

Below is a front view:

Note the "MU" cable is routed through the coupler pocket along with the coupler.

Like the front of the loco, its rear "MU" cable is routed through the coupler pocket along with the coupler, too.
(This has been the factory method for all 7 of the GP40s I have received so far. It appears the two small holes as seen filled with paint located just below the pilot step plate were meant to route the "MU" connector wires.)

Aristo's Rock Island GP40 loco is shown with its top cover removed exposing the switches.
Along side the loco is the factory provided optional dynamic brake housing and cab window visors that are the only things the user must install.

Below is shown the underside view of the top cover next to the factory provided optional dynamic brake housing:
(Note the retaining clips that serve to hold the covers within corresponding slots of the loco.)

I chose to not use the dynamic brake housing as this is prototypical for Rock Island's locos. That said, it is much appreciated that Aristo went to the effort and expense to provide this option as there are other railroads that had both versions of the same loco.

Below is the loco shown with one of its cab visors:
The visor's mounting pins must be trimmed of paint in order to facilitate fitment into the corresponding holes located just above the cab window.

Below is the loco shown with its visor holes being cleaned of excess paint with a pin vise & small drill bit to facilitate installation of the visors. (Of the 7 GP40 locos I have I only needed to do this on a couple of them.)

The sun visor is installed using your thumb & fingers to press fit it into the holes located in the side of the cab. No glue is needed.

Sometimes using a plastic mallet to strike a small piece of wood (with the other end of the wood held against the lip of the visor) will help to fully seat it. (The wood serves as a "buffer" to prevent damage to the paint work.)

Shown below are the locos' top view with their sun visors installed:

The Rock Island GP40 loco in road numbers 371 and 392 are shown on the layout:

Below the Rock Island GP40 road numbers 371 and 392 are shown paired together pulling a covered hopper car train on the layout.

As was my experience with the Aristo's other GP40s, these Rock Island ones run very smooth right out of the box. They go well together in multiples for emulating a prototypically long freight train as I like to do.


3) Cotton Belt GP40 locomotive, ART-23508:

I had received 2 Cotton Belt locos. See the following description with pictures:

Shown below is Aristo, ART-23508, GP40 Cotton Belt #7600 boxes having shipping damage at the front left corner area (note the gash in the sides of both boxes):

Shown below is the front view of the Loco #7600 and its box end:

Shown below is the shipping damaged rear, dislodged end railing of loco #7600 stuck in the left side of the pilot's 3 cables / hoses. Interestingly, this damage was at the other end of the box from where the boxes were gashed!

Shown below is the interior foam packing on the left hand, loco front side of the box.
Note there is no indication of indentations in the foam in this area.
(BTW, The blue tape signifies pocket areas in the foam top and bottom clam shell sections that may serve to accommodate the loco's sun visors (once installed by the user) if placing the loco back in the box. This, however, should be checked for adequate clearance if doing so. I have yet to try it.)

Shown below is the interior foam packing on the right hand, loco rear railing side of the box. Note the tell tail indentations in the foam where the loco railing was located - signifying movement.

Shown below is Cotton Belt GP40 loco #7605 in its box:

Shown below is the loco's front perspective view.
(Its sun visors are yet to be installed above the cab windows.)

Shown below is loco #7605 rear damage to its railing being a broken chain:
(Surprisingly, the foam packing for this loco did not appear to show indentations in the foam like that of loco #7600) Also, note the "MU" cable is factory routed within the coupler pocket rather than through the apparently intended holes just below the pilot's upper step plate. (This has already been reported by others who have purchased GP40s.)

Of the 7 GP40s I had received, these two Cotton Belt ones were the only ones showing damage. However, since both of these locos were damaged in the same area, it may be worthwhile for Aristo to study the present packing method. Also, all 7 of the GP40s I have had their "MU" cables factory routed within the coupler pockets.

Shown below is a top view of the Cotton Belt GP40 with its factory installed dynamic brake housing. Beside the loco is the optional NON dynamic brake cover along with the yet to be user installed sun visors in the small plastic bag.

Shown below is Cotton Belt GP40 with the "DANGER 600 VOLTS" warning at the left side of the picture:

For comparison, shown below is a first production run SP SD45 #8927.
Note the red colored rectangle at the right side of the picture. Also note at the left side of the picture that the SD45 does not include a sun visor just above the cab window like that of the GP40. (Accordingly, Aristo may wish to consider upgrading their SD45 product line with the sun visors common to that of the prototypes as they have now done with the GP40 and Dash 9 locos. The same parts probably could be used as well as being retrofitted to the present SD45 if Aristo were to stock them.)

The red rectangle on the SP SD45 signifies "DANGER 6000 VOLTS" as shown in the below close up view:
(Aristo may wish to correct this for future SP SD45 production runs to "600 VOLTS" as this was the then standard traction motor voltage like that of the GP40 which is correctly signified.)

Shown below is the 2 axle EMD Blomberg truck of the Aristo Cotton Belt GP40 loco.
With the loco body tilted back, note the bright metal, fairly large electric motor housing that apparently necessitated Aristo to include an opening on the sides of the motor block housing to accommodate it.

Shown below are the Cotton Belt GP40s paired pulling a 42 car train consisting of 38 reefer cars - 36 of which have ball bearing equipped trucks. (Whilst I normally need two locos to pull a train as long as this equipped with standard type bearings, one GP 40 can pull this train on my circuitous under house layout. None the less, I do like the looks of multiple locos pulling long trains.)

Shown below is a rear perspective of part of the same train:
(This train includes 19 PFE reefer cars - only some of which are captured in this pictured. These PFE cars include the newer Aristo production run single herald as well as the double herald SP meatball / UP shield - whilst some other cars are of the older production run having the double herald with the UP "Overland Route" shield.)

Shown below is the train with an added SP SD45:

Like the other GP40s I have, these Aristo Cotton Belt GP40s run equally smooth having good pulling ability right out of the box - in spite of these particular ones suffering shipping damage to the rear railings. They are very nicely done scale models that any SP fan should have.


4) D&RGW GP40 locomotive, ART-23505:

Shown below is D&RGW GP40 loco #3082 in its box:

Shown below is the front of the loco along side its box end:

Shown below is a top view of the loco with its factory installed dynamic brake housing. Beside the loco is the optional NON dynamic brake cover along with the yet to be user installed sun visors in the small plastic bag.

Shown below are the loco's front, top, and rear perspective views.
(Note the "MU" plug is routed within the coupler pocket along side the couplers.)

The sun visors are yet to be installed above the cab windows.

Shown below are the loco's left and right side views:

Shown below are a pair of D&RGW GP40s pulling a long reefer train.
Like my experience with Aristo's other road name GP40s, these Rio Grande units operate very smoothly and can pull a train with an amazingly slow and realistic creep speed.

(The sun visors are installed directly above the loco's cab windows. One can be seen in the above picture.)

Shown below is an Aristo D&RGW SD45 added to the pair of GP40s.
(Note how the orange color trim and scripting matches on all the units - even though the SD45 was an early, Aristo factory first production run unit.)

Shown below is the Aristo, ART-42103, D&RGW "the ACTION road" version long caboose that is on the end of the reefer train. For those folks that may be concerned, the livery of this caboose is prototypically appropriate to correspond with the Aristo "speed lettered" Rio Grande locos.

Note the left & right side views illustrate that the rear most window is plugged to allow for the "the ACTION road" livery.

For a loco livery comparison, shown below are 3 Aristo D&RGW RS3s having a more yellowish trim. Though these are fairly early Rio Grande diesel locos, Rio Grande had newer type diesels - including GP40s - with yellowish trim livery, too.

The orange color is prototypical, too, and is sometimes referred to as "Kansas City" orange or "Pumpkin" - though this color noticeably differs from the more common Rio Grande yellow trim color.
It appears that the "Kansas City" reference term is used with respect to a rebuilder's facility that Rio Grande retained to refurbish many acquired ex-Conrail GP40s that at that time received the orange livery.
In this regard, see the below link:

Furthermore, examination of many published books will show Rio Grande diesels having both yellow and orange trim - sometimes in consists together and sometimes within the paint work of a single loco all by itself!
In this regard, see the following example book reference:

"Rio Grande Scenic Line Of The World"
by Dale Sanders
Published by Hyrail Productions
ISBN: 0-9628699-8-8
Library of Congress catalog card number: 93-080592

There are many pages of pictures in this book that serve to contrast the yellow & orange trim livery. One example (page 55) shows two GP40 type trailing units having the orange trim livery in a train consist. Other examples (pages 63, 66) shows a trailing GP40 type loco having the orange trim livery within a group of several locos pulling a train.


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