It was probably last fall when I first saw the announcement on Athearn’s Facebook page about the SDP45 models they were planning to release under their Genesis brand. I made a mental note; this would be an ideal mate for my Genesis EL SD45-2.
I don’t always keep my ear to the ground, with respect to the business of model trains, so I was taken by surprise on March 19th when Athearn announced that these models were shipping to retailers that day. I was even more surprised when I learned that they were basically sold out, save for a very small number of models not already spoken for. I acted quickly, and now my Genesis SD45-2 has a mate.
A review of an Athearn Genesis model seems a bit pointless to me because my impression of my recent purchases of Genesis locomotives is that they represent some of the best quality plastic models available. Regardless, I’ll report on this model’s unmitigated awesomeness.
Drive Mechanism Performance
Action Hobbies has excellent pricing, and the model was delivered to my door within days of making payment. I took the model to the WRMRC layout on a work night and ran it on a 12 car train from Sudbury, where it ascended two helices on the Webbwood Sub, then back to Sudbury. It operated smoothly, right down to a crawl, and with no drive noises or issues. With 12 properly weighted cars, it was probably at its limit, but that’s about typical for any locomotive on our layout. In fact, six-axle locomotives tend to pull slightly fewer cars, but this model did just fine.
I’m still not very informed about the quality of sound reproduction in HO models. In my opinion, prime mover sounds in all HO models falls dismally short of reproducing anything that remotely resembles a real locomotive. I actually find it fatiguing to be around dozens of sound-equipped models during operating sessions, likely because all of the sound that comes out of these models is within a relatively limited band of the audio spectrum. However, when compared to the other sound equipped models on the WRMRC, this one can be counted among the better ones. They’ve done a good job differentiating the sound of the turbocharged V20 engine from other configurations. I especially liked running the dynamic brakes while descending helices. I was pleased to be was able quickly reduce the sound volume to about 1/3 of its factory setting, which I still found to be too loud after a while, and the mute feature came in handy after the novelty wore off. All of this is in no way meant to be a criticism of the model. Athearn is providing exactly what consumers want, and perhaps expect.
As expected, the model comes with all of the details that I used to spend months applying to my models, and then some… hoses, horns, wire grabs, lift rings, etched fan grills, windshield wipers, interior (with correct dual control stands), and much more.
The paint is applied well. The colour is close enough to be well within the range of tones that appeared on this locomotive over its lifetime. The yellow is pretty bright, in my opinion, but I think it, along with the maroon and grey, show a uniform degree of fade from what I think was present in the factory applied colour formula. All of this is subjective conjecture on my part. What I’m getting at is that I believe the three colours are nice for a weathered locomotive that has been in service for five to ten years. The yellow doesn’t match my Genesis SD45-2, but I don’t care. It will all work out after I weather both models.
If someone forced me to make recommendations for improvement (as if I’m any kind of authority), they would be pretty minor. First, I think the footboards are too thick. I’ll cut them off of this model and replace them with something etched. Second, I wish they had used an etching for the radiator grills. I’ll leave that alone on my model.
Third, I think they still have room for improvement on fit and finish. See the front number boards in the photo below.
But seriously, all of that is pretty minor, and having superdetailed plastic models in the 80s and 90s, I know exactly how much value is in this locomotive. I feel like the Genesis SDP45 is well worth the money I paid.
And now the part about me
This locomotive (and my SD45-2) doesn’t exactly fit squarely into the theme of the layout I’m building. If I build my layout to the second phase as my plans envision, I’ll need EL road power for their Niagara Falls Branch. F-units and RS3s were the typical power for the branch, but I’m told that after the hurricane, all bets were off. I’ve seen a photo of an SDP45 leading a train into the EL Niagara Falls yard, though I’d never purport this to be common. My aim is to model what was common, as opposed to the exception.
Still, I’m a locomotive fan. I think that’s typical of our hobby, at least in North America. Specifically, though, I’m a fan of the locomotives that rolled in the ’70s (surprise). These Genesis models replace two locomotives that I started to kitbash back in the early 90s from parts by Rail Power Products and Athearn blue box. These projects went into the trash, by the way. I feel like I now have locomotives that I coveted for decades.
[This should go without saying, but this model will never be part of an operating session on the WRMRC layout, except on our annual “junk night” when we suspend the rules and power our trains with whatever random locomotive can be safely operated].
Lastly, I’ve been experimenting with my new DSLR, and it’s become apparent that if I want to take decent photos of my models, I’m going to have to invest in some lighting at some point in time. So bear with me while I use sunbeams to light up my photos until I get some lights.