Genesis SDP45


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.

Details, Details

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.

Next Steps

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.

IMG_0163But 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.

Photos Needed For New Decals – NYC 86′ Boxcars


One of the beautiful things about the times in which we live is the speed at which information can be shared.

Earlier today, I blogged about the NYC 86′ auto parts boxcar that I’m building.  Yesterday, I posted on the PCModeler yahoo group about the fact that there are no commercially available decals for this car.  A discussion ensued, and within a day, the various resourceful people on that group suggested that this represents a void in the market that someone might benefit from filling. Scott Pandorf (whom I’ve never met) posted on that group indicating that Hubert Mask of Mask Island Decals has expressed interest in producing these decals.

That was fast!

So, now Hubert needs lettering diagrams and/or quality photos of NYC 86′ boxcars.

I sent Hubert an email this evening, and he made a point of assuring me that the information he gets is used only for the purposes of creating decals. I’m going to dig through my slides, but I doubt that I have any such photos in my collection.  The readers of this blog have proven to be very resourceful in the past, so if you or anyone you know has photos or diagrams that could help with this project, please contact Hubert Mask directly at

NYC 86′ Hi Cube progress continues

Over the past week, I’ve made some progress on a number of projects that I currently have on the go.  My NYC 86′ auto parts boxcar is a step closer to completion.

IMG_0136I don’t have studio lights, so I posed the model in the afternoon sunbeam shining into my livingroom.  Don’t be fooled though, it’s -11 degrees Celcius outside.

Since my last post on this car, I’ve come up with a number for the car (NYC 67208) that falls within a block of cars that were equipped with Hydra Cushion draft gear. Here’s an outline of the work that was required to bring this $5 model up to its current condition:

  • carved off all of the molded-on details, which included reshaping the ribs in the ends
  • weighted the car to NMRA specifications
  • reconfigured the floor/frame/coupler mounting system
  • body-mounted Kadee couplers in Cal-Scale cushion draft gear
  • reshaped the body bolster
  • installed Kadee trucks
  • added Hydra-Cushion detail parts underneath (only what can be seen when the car is sitting on the rails)
  • reshaped the top and bottom side sill beams at either end of the car to more closely represent a Greenville car (see my previous post on this car for more details on this)
  • added grabs on sides and ends
  • added crossover platforms to each end (cut from Plano roofwalk etchings)
  • added brake details to b-end.
  • repainted the entire car with Polly Scale NYC Jade (Century) Green

Still to do: paint the trucks, couplers, draft gear, and the whole underbody in a grime/rust combination, shoot some gloss coat on the car and then decal-bash the lettering from a number of different Microscale sets.  Of course, it will have to be weathered like a ten year-old car to be appropriate for my layout.  I’ll post again when there’s more to report.

Here’s a shot of the A-end of the car, just to be thorough.


86′ Hi-Cube Project – Part 2 Removing and Reshaping

In my previous post, I outlined the various possibilities for modelling 86′ hi-cubes in HO from the old Athearn blue-box model.  In this post, I’ll describe how I plan to move forward with improvements to the model.

I decided that I would try to improve the Athearn four door car into a representation of the Greenville prototype.  The Athearn car more closely represent an early Thrall car in that the model has single welds between the side panels and the indent behind the ladders  have a beam at the floor and roof.  But I wanted to try to bring the car closer to a Greenville car, despite the fact that all of the Greenville cars were riveted.  I decided I could live with the concession of the welded panels for this one.

My decision to live with the welded sides was partly influenced by the fact that the factory paint on my NYC car isn’t too bad.  I felt that a model of a Greenville car would result in the least amount of repainting required.  Also, I’m confident that I can weather the factory finish more easily than a custom paint.  I’ll expand on that in a later post.

To begin the the upgrade, I removed all of the cast-on hand rails and grab irons, the stirrups, walkway across the B-end of the car, brake equipment, and tack board.  I shaved these off with a chisel blade hobby knife, then shaped and shined the ends with three consecutively finer grades of sanding sticks.

Once the cast-on details were gone, I removed part of the beam at the top and bottom of the indent behind the grab irons. Here’s a nice illustration of the indent on a Greenville car.   In this photo of a Thrall car notice that there’s a beam at the top and bottom of where the sides are indented (near the ends).  That’s the part that has to come off of the model.  Here is a sequence of photos taken during the removal of the cast-on bits.


I used Morning Sun’s NYC “Color Guide to Passenger and Freight Cars” as one of the many sources of information for this build.

In this shot, I'm trying to illustrate the thickness of the beam that runs along the top of the indent in the side of the car.

In this shot, I’m trying to illustrate the thickness of the beam that runs along the top of the indent in the side of the car. There is a corresponding thick beam at the bottom of the indent, above the side sill.


This photo was taken while I was in the process of removing the unwanted bits. The grab irons have just been carved off, and I’ve tried to minimize the effect of teh beam at the top and bottom of the indent. At this point, I considered trimming back the wrap-around of the ends to correspond with the prototype, but I felt that would remove too much of the factory paint in a place where the repaint won’t be partially obscured by new wire details. Aside from cleaning things up a bit, this is the extent of the removals.

I’ll need to do some drilling for grab irons and the handrail & walkway across the B-end.  I haven’t checked my parts box, but I’ll proceed when I find or buy the grab irons that I need.

In the meantime, here are some links to old articles about HO hi-cubes built from the Athearn model.

Railmodel Journal January 1994 – Part I   D. Scott Chatfield

Railmodel Journal March 1996 – Part II  Mike Budde

Railmodel Journal June 1996 p42 – 48 – Part III   Mike Budde

Athearn Genesis GP9 (as a CASO geep?)


In the photo above, Penn Central 7458 approaches the west end of Montrose Yard on the CASO with twelve cars and a caboose from Welland Yard.

IMG_2215A short while later, the same unit is westbound leaving Montrose Yard to bring five cars and a caboose back to Welland Yard.

Ok, I guess I’m not fooling anyone.  I took these shots of my new Genesis GP9 at Nairn on the WRMRC.  I could change that 5 to a 3 and this model would have the right number for a CASO geep, but there are some details that would have to change as well.  This one might become a CASO geep, or it might keep its number and represent one of the many roadswitchers working out of Frontier Yard in Buffalo.  Regardless, I’m pretty impressed with the model, and I also have to mention the excellent customer service, competitive pricing, and super cheap shipping from Tim at Action Hobbies in Kingsville.