Well… it’s not exactly new, since the prototype was built in 1972. Moreover, I’ve sat on this model since early 2015 until finally deciding to do something about it this year. A little history lesson…
Thanks to the direct efforts of my friend and fellow IAIS modeler Joe Atkinson, Athearn released a set of four Iowa Interstate GP38-2s in their Genesis line in late 2014. At the time, I only had my Frankenstein version of IAIS 708, which was a slightly superdetailed Athearn shell atop an Atlas drive.
The release of the Genesis Geeps factory painted in IAIS livery was too good to pass up. However, I couldn’t justify picking up all four units, especially since I was modeling the IAIS Grimes Line at the time, which rarely to never saw more than one locomotive leading a train. I picked up the 712 and the 715 and considered myself blessed.
I knew that both models needed a little work to better match their respective prototypes, but compared to what I had to do with the 708, this was a walk in the park. It was so easy, in fact, that after completing the 715… I never started on the 712.
Understand that for the first four years of the life of the IAIS Grimes Line, I had a grand total of one locomotive. That one locomotive appeared in EVERY PHOTO I TOOK of the layout. I was so happy that I finally had another unit to feature that once I finished the 715, getting the 712 up and running wasn’t as big of a priority.
Throughout the remaining life of the Grimes Line, the 712 basically sat on a shelf. It wasn’t like I needed a large roster to replicate operations on the industrial spur. And again, compared to what I had started with, I had already doubled my available motive power. Tripling it never felt necessary.
With the destruction of the Grimes Line and the start of The Hills Line, I always had more pressing needs to address on the layout. I didn’t need another locomotive; what I needed was benchwork and track and wiring! I felt fortunate that I had a somewhat complete roster from the get go, which was one of the big reasons I selected the prototype Hills Line to begin with.
But my decision to convert to ESU Loksounds with Scale Sound Systems speakers earlier this year made me realize it was time to fish or cut bait. Fortunately, upgrading the 712 was as straightforward today as it was six years earlier with the 715… even if it took me a few times to properly install working ditchlights.
It is absolutely unprototypical to run multiple units on The Hills Line. Not even during its heaviest traffic levels did the Iowa Interstate ever lash up three locomotives for the trip down the line. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t try.
It was worth the wait.