This review is
from Model Railroader, January 2002. Reprinted with
permission of Kalmbach Publishing Company
ATLAS O DASH 8-40B IS A
POWERFUL, WELL-DETAILED PERFORMER
This new Atlas O scale
Dash 8-40B is the company’s first high-horsepower modern diesel,
and like its prototype this is an impressive and powerful unit.
introduced the standard-cab Dash 8-40B in May 1988. According to The
Contemporary Diesel Spotter’s Guide – 2000 edition
(Withers Publishing), GE built 150 of these four-axle, 4,000-hp
units before production ended a year later.
Purchasers included the
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (40 units); Conrail (30); New York
Susquehanna & Western (24 financed through CSX); and Southern
Pacific (55). The SP’s subsidiary St. Louis-Southwestern (Cotton
Belt) also owned 35 Dash 8-40Bs.
The model consists of a
crisply detailed styrene cab and body shell on top of a
well-detailed die-cast metal chassis, sill unit, and fuel tank.
Separately applied details include metal handrails and stanchions,
horn, windshield wipers, snowplow, multiple-unit hoses, brake
wheel, beacon, antennas, exhaust hatch, uncoupling levers, an cab
Although there is no cab
interior detail, two painted engine crew figures are included. A
black plastic shield hides the front motor from view.
Installation of two
electrical m.u. cables and the handbrake chain on the engineer’s
side of the lead truck is left to the purchaser. Although the
directions show how to install the cables, there’s no
information on the brake chain.
The model’s overall
dimensions closely match the prototype drawings published in the
April 1989 MODEL RAILROADER. The length, width, height, and
wheelbase are right on.
We tested a two-rail
ready-to-run version with a smoke unit. A high-rail AC Dash 8-40B,
with Lionel TrainMaster command control and Railsounds, is also
The only detail noticeably
missing on the model is two raised panels just ahead of the first
radiator panel and aft of the exhaust stack. Our sample is painted
for the St. Louis-Southwestern (Cotton Belt). The real Cotton Belt
Dash 8-40Bs had optional roof-mounted air conditions and raised
antenna platforms some modelers may want to add.
The trucks have cast-metal
side-frames with added details cast in acetal plastic. The trucks
nicely capture the appearance of GE’s floating bolster prototype
with the exception that the holders for the prototype sand hoses
are mounted on the trucks at an upward angle while the model’s
are parallel to the rail.
Removing the body shell
from the frame wasn’t easy as no instructions were included with
the model. Disassembly involves removing six screws: four
underneath the cab and two just ahead of the rear coupler.
Then the metal handrails
must be pulled out of the cab sides and the handrail ends held
away from the cab sides to avoid scraping the paint. A gentle
rocking motion will eventually work the body shell and cab free,
providing access to the locomotive’s interior.
Each truck surrounds a
vertically mounted can motor with a brass flywheel mounted at the
top end. A series of gears transfers power to all axles, and all
wheels pick up electricity.
boards are concealed inside the hood and fastened to the frame.
The main board includes an eight-pin socket for a DCC decoder.
Atlas has included a power connection harness and installation
instructions for DCC conversion. If you’d like the sound, the
bottom of the fuel tank is perforated and offers plenty of space
for a good-sized speaker Atlas also sells.
All of the lights reach
full brightness at about five volts. When moving forward, the
headlights, the ditch lights, and the rear red marker lights are
lit, while the rear headlight and front red marker lights are lit
in reverse. The amber beacon on the cab roof does not operate.
There are plastic, Kadee-compatible
knuckle couplers mounted on each pilot, and the couplers are at
the correct height. All the wheelsets on our sample were in gauge,
although the wheel width slightly exceeds the National Model
Railroad Association standards.
Our sample ran smoothly
and quietly. While the starting speed is a little high, this
should decrease as the mechanism is broken in. The model’s
weight and dual motors translate into a lot of muscle, and its
27-ounce drawbar pull should be good for about 80 free-rolling
cars on straight, level track.
The paint and lettering on
our sample are excellent, right down to the well-executed General
Electric logos on each side sill just forward of the cab.
O scale modelers who like
modern-era diesels will be pleased with this good-looking,
powerful model from Atlas. – Paul Schmidt, associate editor
O Scale GE Dash 8-40B
(two-rail version) $349.95
Atlas O Model Railroad
603 Sweetland Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205-1799
Plastic and metal
1 pound, 11 ounces
Eight-wheel drive and
electrical pick up
5 pounds, 14.5 ounces
NMRA DCC socket
Twin motors with flywheels
Minimum, midrange, and
maximum speeds on filtered DC, straight track:
Northern Santa Fe
unit numbers per road name)