Today we have a unique model to check out - the only standard cab "Dash-9" locomotive model built by GE, and which are now all extinct.
GE C40-9 History: There were several versions of the Dash-9 offered, and the line proved very popular, with many railroads rostering them, and a good number also being exported. Today we're focusing on the C40-9, a Norfolk Southern exclusive model. Built by General Electric from January to April 1995, 125 of these locos were built. They were powered by a GE 7FDL-16 4,000hp prime mover, which put power through GE B13B DC traction motors to two 3-axle GE HiAd (High Adhesion) trucks. These were the only Dash-9s built with the standard cab, and only NS ordered this configuration. Eventually NS would begin ordering the wide/safety cab variants, but would more than likely have continued with the standard cabs if the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) hadn't stepped in and required the safety cab. Starting in 2015, NS began rebuilding the C40-9 fleet into AC44C6M units, which included a new safety cab and changing from DC to AC traction motors, specifically GE 5GEB13B7 motors, and this also necessitated installation of a new inverter cabinet behind the cab. All C40-9 have been rebuilt into AC44C6M units.
Also, due to the C40-9's roof mounted a/c unit, they were nicknamed "tophats".
NS 8777 History: It was built at GE's Erie, Pennsylvania facility in January of 1995 with serial number 48237. It would have an unexciting career for 22 years, and in September of 2017 would be rebuilt at NS's Roanoke, VA shop as an AC44C6M, NS 4051. It's still actively working for NS as of November 2023.
GE units with this style radiator section were also referred to as "hammerheads", especially on NS, who had a habit (inherited from Southern and NW) of running long hood forward.
Visible wires in the cab.
And an obvious glue mark on the nose (around the lower sand fill hatch).
Good - Very heavy, coming in at 1lb 4.9oz. It's also very sturdy and well contructed overall. The paint is sharp and clear, and all the details look good. It sounds really nice, and runs very well. All the DCC and lights work perfectly as well.
Bad - The wires and the glue marks in the pics above are relatively small issues, neither of which impair the functionality. But for a premium model the wires are a little too obvious, and the glue is, too. The glue is just a manufacturing accident, but the wires are an actual design problem.
I also thought the paint was a little too matte/flat. And as usual on Athearn, the handrails were worryingly flimsy, but they were not damaged.
Overall - It's a very nice model. Looks good by and large, and sounds and operates perfect. The issues are very minor, though I do think the cab wires really require a redesign to conceal them. A good solid model of an unusual prototype.