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This review is from Model Railroader,  June 2001. Reprinted with permission of Kalmbach Publishing Company 

O Scale SD35, SDP35 from Atlas O

by Jeff Wilson

The new Atlas O SD35 and SDP35 are excellent models with outstanding pulling power thanks to their heavy weight and dual-motor drive systems.

Electro-Motive introduced the 2,500-hp SD35 in 1964 as the successor to the earlier 2,500-hp SD24. It was the first SD with an angled cab roof, and it can be distinguished from later SDs by its rear rooftop radiator fan arrangement of two large (48”-diameter) fans with a small (36”) fan in between. It was moderately successful, with 360 sold until production ended in January 1966.

Major SD35 buyers included Southern Ry. (100), Norfolk & Western (80), Pennsylvania RR (40), Southern Pacific (29), Baltimore & Ohio (24), Atlantic Coast Line (24), and Louisville & Nashville (22). The N&W, Southern, and ten Central of Georgia engines had high noses; the rest had the low noses that had then become standard for EMD. All SD35s and SDP35s had dynamic brakes.

The SDP35, designed for use in either passenger or freight service, was a standard SD35 geared for higher speeds and with a distinctive extension at the rear of the long hood for a steam generator. A total of 35 were built for Seaboard Air Line (20), Union Pacific (10), Louisville & Nashville (4), and Atlantic Coast Line (1).

Atlas O offers this model with a high or low nose to match the different prototypes. We tested the two-rail DC scale version, but a hi-rail AC version with Lionel Train Master command control and RailSounds is also available.

The model has an injection-molded styrene shell made up of three main pieces: the long hood, cab, and nose. Separate details include fan housings and fan blades (which rotate), horn, grab irons, cab sunshades, lift rings, sand filler hatches, uncoupling lever, m.u. hoses and stands, drop steps, handrail chains, and (on the SDP) steam generator details. The shell detail is sharp, with good definition and texture in the grills and other areas. The truck sideframes are decent with separate cylinders and airlines.

There’s no cab interior, but there’s a painted figure in a seat on each side of the cab. A black plastic shield hides the head-end motor from view.

Six screws hold the shell to a heavy die-cast frame, which includes the walkways, fuel tank, pilots, and wire handrails and stanchions.

The model’s dimensions are all within an inch or two of drawings published in the December 1964 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. However, there’s a noticeable gap (almost a scale foot) between the trucks and body, which makes the model appear to ride quite high.

Each model is powered by two can motors which are mounted vertically atop each truck. A series of gears transfers motion to all axles, and all wheels pick up electricity. I tested the Conrail SD35 for the performance evaluation, and it ran smoothly through its speed range. The pulling qualities are excellent (it took some muscle to do the stall test), and the SD35’s 1 pound, 6 ounce drawbar pull should be good for about 66 cars on straight, level track.

Plastic knuckle couplers are mounted on each pilot, and the couplers are at the correct height. The wheelsets on our samples are all in gauge.

The electronics are all located on a printed-circuit board located under the hood and fastened to the middle of the frame. The board includes an eight-pin socket for a DCC decoder, and there’s plenty of room for a decoder.

The headlight LEDs are secured inside the shell, but not hard-wired to circuit board. Instead, four springs inside the shell press down on a PC board pad on the frame when the shell is in place. The headlights begin to flicker at about 4 volts and reach full (constant) brightness at just over 5 volts.

The paint and lettering on our Conrail SD35 and Seaboard SDP35 samples were nicely done. The small label lettering is sharp and legible, and all of the striping separations on the SAL engine are sharp.

Atlas had again expanded options for O scale modelers with this excellent early second-generation diesel. – Jeff Wilson, associate editor

O scale SD35 and SDP35

Price $349.95 each


Atlas O LLC

603 Sweetland Ave.

Hillside, NJ 07205


Directional, constant headlights and marker lights

Drawbar pull: 1 pound, 6 ounces

Dual can motors

Engine weight: 5 pound, 9 ounces

Minimum radius: 27”


Minimum, midrange, and maximum speeds on filtered DC, straight track:


Road names:

SD35 low nose:

7800 undecorated

7803 Chessie System

7804 Conrail

7805 Central of New Jersey

7806 Pennsylvania RR

7807 Southern Pacific

7808 Western Maryland

SD35 high nose:

7801 undecorated

7809 Norfolk & Western

7810 Southern Ry.


7802 undecorated

7811 Seaboard Air Line

7812 Union Pacific             

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