Hello again folks, today we have another review, a locomotive from a manufacturer new to me, and a reefer from a more familiar one.
We'll start with the Scaletrains EMD SD45, which is my only ST purchase so far... But will it be my last?
Let's take a look and see what verdict we end up with...
First, a bit of history on the SD45 in general: built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD) between December 1965 and December 1971, 1,260 of the big locos were built in total, scattered in various numbers among most of the large railroads in the US at the time. The SD45 had 2 3-axle trucks, which were powered by an EMD 645E3 V20 through an AR10B generator, which provided 3,600 hp.
The powerful locos had various teething troubles, and their reliability was lower than expected; they were particularly prone to crankshaft failure, due to engine block flex. This issue was eventually rectified by EMD, though railroads that had purchased them eventually decided that they offered no great advantage over the much more reliable SD40, as well as the SD45 having the reputation of being a fuel-guzzler, the big railroads started phasing them out relatively quickly. Some railroads, notably Southern Pacific, put the SD45 through various rebuilding schemes, with varying degrees of success. Some were also repowered with the EMD 16-645E3, such as in the SD40. Some SD45s still exist today, some in museums, some still working, with some carrying their original V20, and some having been repowered with the V16.
And specific prototype history: Atlantic Coast Line bought 10 of the SD45s, with 1029 here being built in December of 1966. It eventually became Seaboard Coast Line 2005 after the SAL/ACL merger, then becoming SBD 8905, then CSX 8905 after yet another merger. Eventually sold off by CSX, it went to I&M Rail Link/Montana Rail Link still numbered 8905. From what I can tell, it was retired some years back, possibly 2010 or earlier, and is either still on the MRL in a dead/parts line, or has been scrapped.
I purchased this loco for 2 main reasons: 1. I wanted to try Scaletrains 2. the ACL was headquartered in my home state, NC.
Anyway, on with the review!
The info on the end of the box.
And what do we find when first opening the box? A loose footboard.
The engineer's side front footboard had detached in the packaging. Not a great start, but not a big deal, and certainly not uncommon for small protruding parts to come loose in the packaging.
I did reattach it, but after I reviewed it. I review things as they arrive in the packaging. If repairs are necessary, which they should not be on a new product, I'll explain what they were and how I did it.
Otherwise, so far, ol' 1029 is looking good.
Paint and detail are very nice, especially the ACL logo.
Now I'll detail the good and bad:
The footboard issue - as I said, no major ordeal to reattach, but shouldn't be necessary to repair a new loco straight out of the packaging. It should be perfect; if I wanted to repair one, I'd buy a used, cheaper item, and if I wanted to put something together, I'd buy a kit. Also, I'm not very good at these types of repairs, and do not like performing them at all. This results in the repairs not looking that great and marring what should be a perfect model. A problem either way - either you don't fix it, and the model looks broken, or, you do your best (depending on your capabilities) to repair it, and risk further damage, glue marks, and frustration.
The handrails and grabirons are very flimsy.
A reasonably easy fix here, but the horn and bell, and sounds in general, were very quiet out of the box. I adjusted them, but they still seem a tad quiet and thin. Perhaps the speaker isn't up to the job?
Acceleration/deceleration lag - not as severe as the Atlas U23B, but noticeable, and makes switching a minor irritant.
The paint and lettering are really nice.
Operates very smooth - no jerking or cutting out.
The DCC operates just as it should.
A very comprehensive Startup/DCC/CV code information paper. This is a big deal, and I thank ScaleTrains tremendously for providing it!
Verdict: I'm trying a different rating scheme today...
Star system, 0-5.
Overall Build Quality
Detail (Separate Parts)
Ease of Operation (Controllability and DCC)
Startup/Sound/DCC Info Provided
Final opinion - I do not plan on trying another STs' loco, unless it's something I really want, and isn't offered by my preferred manufacturers. The quality was okay, but not great, the operational characteristics are not what I prefer (even after adjustment), and the sound quality is lacking. That said, I do plan on trying some of their freight cars.
And speaking of freight cars, let's check out an Atlas Reefer!
The info on the box.
And the box in the box.
The reefer unit itself.
Thermo King also provides reefer units for trailers, and I'd assume this unit is essentially the same.
I won't do the full star system rating here.
No damage suffered in transport, details all look great, and it operates in a train just as it should for the most part, but occasionally has trouble with switches and backing, especially in curves.
Yep, I'd recommend it - if you need a modern reefer, look no further than Atlas.