GP40-2 No. 3111

As of April 1984

This shot is of a pair of GP40-2's that were the rear helper on an eastbound CSUX train, April 8, 1984.  Specifically, this is what the D&RGW called the "West helper", operating out of Tabernash.  This job would push heavy trains up to West Portal, and often stay with the train all the way down the mountain, to help with dynamic braking.  The helper would then return light to Tabernash, unless there was a westbound that needed a shove.

Rio Grande's GP40-2s came in several groups, as shown in this table.

Number Range Date Purchased Comments
3094 - 3105 Apr 1972 All GP40-2s delivered in the billboard "Rio Grande" scheme.
3106 - 3115 Dec 1972  
3116 - 3127 Sept 1974  
3128 Nov 1974 Replaced wrecked GP40 No. 3063.
3129 - 3130 1983 Also wreck replacements.  Have many updated features similar to EMD's GP50 model.

Specific information for individual units may be found on the Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society's GP40-2 page.


(1) Dash-2 style extended-range dynamic brake blister.

(2) Nathan M3 air horn.

(3) Headlights with glare shields on bottom.

(4) Marker lights.

(5) Mars Light on low nose.

(6) Drop step-- standard D&RGW practice.

(7) Wedge-style plow.

(8) Handrails painted white, and kept clean.

(9) Speed recorder cable-- looks broken.


(11) Bell.

(12) Rerail frog.

  • Compare the dynamic brake blister to that on GP40 No. 3077, which does not extend as far forward.  This style was inaugurated with the dash-2 series around 1972.
  • Rio Grande locomotives delivered before 1980 came with the Nathan M3 air horn.
  • GP40s of this class were all delivered with the Mars signal light. 
  •  Markers illuminated red indicate that this is the rear of the train.  Even with the markers, the rearward-facing headlights on helpers were kept on at full bright.
  • Earlier GP-series plows were straight across on top (see here for an example).
  • Handrails by steps were painted white by rule in the late 1970s.  In most cases, even when a locomotive had gotten extremely dirty, the handrails would still be kept clean, as a safety practice.
  • If the speed recorder cable is actually broken as it appears, by rule this unit could not lead a train, and the helper set would have to be turned before returning up the mountain.


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2006, James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.