This review is
from Railroad Model Craftsman, April 2001. Reprinted with
permission of Carstens Publications.
EMD SD35 and SDP35:
The Atlas O scale
SD35 is an outstanding model that is highly detailed and runs
well. The SD35 was an
early EMD entry in the mid-60’s diesel locomotive horsepower
race, with 360 produced from June 1964, until January 1966. It
used a turbocharged version of the EMD 567 engine and was rated at
2,500 horsepower. The SD35 was followed in 1966 by the 3,000 h.p.
SD40, which used the then-new EMD 645 engine. Half of the SD35’s
were produced with high short hoods. These units went to the
Southern (110) and the Norfolk & Western (80). Low-nose
SD35’s went to Atlantic Coast Line (24), Baltimore & Ohio
(20), Chesapeake & Ohio (14, including two replacements),
Central R.R. of New Jersey (12), Louisville & Nashville (26),
Pennsylvania (40), Southern Pacific (29) and Western Maryland (5).
The SDP35 passenger version (these had a steam generator at the
rear of the long hood) went to the Seaboard (20), Louisville &
Nashville (4), Union Pacific (10), and Atlantic Coast Line (1).
producing both high-nose and low-nose SD35’s and an SDP35, all
with prototypical-accurate paint schemes. The model reviewed here
is a two-rail, low-nose unit lettered for the PRR; the locomotives
also come in a three-rail version with the pilots and couplers
adapted for that use, along with tinplate type wheel sets.
dimensions match the plans by Al Kamm, Jr., in the December 1964
issue of RMC. Plans were published in the 1966 Car and Locomoitve
Cyclopedia. The various access doors, grilles, stack, lights, etc.
all match prototype plans and photos. The Brunswick Green paint on
the hood looks good compared with published photos of new PRR
diesels, and the lettering is an accurate rendition of the PRR
“austerity scheme” in use when the SD35’s were delivered.
This paint scheme has no road name, just a road number and PRR
heralds. The lettering also includes a nicely done EMD builders
plate and small lettering on various access doors and elsewhere.
The detail on
this model is outstanding. The see-through fan grilles show off
the rotating fan blades inside, a nice touch. The cab windows look
good and there are windshield wipers. The cab is populated by an
engineer and a fireman. Other details include lift-rings, horns,
accurate handrails, wire hand grabs that match the prototype, fuel
fillers, sight glasses, a fuel filter, a bell, drop steps, m.u.
stands, coupler lift bars, m.u. cables, and brake piping on the
trucks. The model is truly ready-to-run.
details that could be added include air hoses, ditch lights to
represent units currently in service, fuel gauges on the tanks,
and a partial cab interior. (The motor position does not allow a
full cab interior.) There
are no brake shoes on the outboard ends of the trucks. These were
apparently omitted to allow the model to negotiate short radius
curves. Since the ends of the trucks are hidden behind the steps,
the lack of brake shoes is not noticeable on typical O scale
effect of the well-done paint and lettering, the many details, and
the finely-executed tooling is a model that really captures the
feel of the prototype.
The SD35 ran well
right out of the box. However, one sample shorted out when
negotiating turnouts. I traced this to the cut-offs from the
casting sprues at the inboard bottom ends of two sideframes. When
these were trimmed, no further problems were encountered. If you
run into the same thing, this should take care of it. The
back-to-back distance for the wheelsets is slightly narrow (less
than 0.01”) compared to the NMRA specs. However, this did not
cause any operating problems, and the model ran well through a mix
of Roco, Peco, Eschelman, and scratchbuilt turnouts, as well as a
scratch built curved crossing.
is from one rail only on each truck and is reliable. There is
plenty of space in the two-rail version for a DCC decoder and a
sound system, should you wish to add one. The three-rail version
comes with Lionel Trainmaster control and sound.
With the loco
running light, I measured the following scale speeds: 3v at 9
s.m.ph.; 6v at 28 s.m.ph..; and 12v at 72 s.m.p.h. The speed at 12
volts is very prototypical. With 62:15 gearing, the prototype had
a top speed of 71 m.p.h. The minimum speed is about 6 s.m.p.h. at
2.5 volts. The model is powered by two motors, one on each truck.
All axles are powered with spur gears transmitting the power to
the two end axles first. The power trucks are self-contained, and
the trucks swivel freely. The three-rail version minimum radius is
specified as 18 inches. This probably also applies to the two-rail
version, although only for the unit running by itself. The model
runs fine around a 36” radius curve coupled to an Atlas 52’
Weighing in at 6
pounds, 1 ounce, the SD35 has plenty of pulling power. I coupled
the locomotive to a string of Weaver hoppers, each weighted to 14
ounces and rolling on Athearn plastic trucks. The locomotive
easily pulled this train up a curving 2.5 percent grade. With this
25 car train, the current draw when running up the grade was 1.75
amps, The current at full slip is 1.5 amps. The stall current at
12 volts is 7 amps.
The model comes
with Atlas magnetic knuckle couplers; they are compatible with
Kadee couplers. The coupler boxes are mounted on a
cleverly-designed, removable piece that fits between the steps and
the front platform and fills the large opening needed for the
Atlas three-rail coupler. I removed the Atlas coupler box by
taking off the cover plate and then removing the screw that holds
the coupler box in place. To mount a Kadee No. 804 coupler, I made
a 0.60” spacer to get the correct coupler height. I attached the
back of the Kadee coupler box using the mounting hole for the
Atlas coupler box and ran a 2-56 screw through the spacer and the
front hole in the Kadee box.
In summary, Atlas
has set a new standard for O scale diesel locomotives at an
affordable price. The following road names are listed in the Atlas
O catalog and the Atlas O web site (www.atlaso.com).
For the low nose SD35: undecorated, Chessie, Conrail, Jersey
Central, Pennsylvania, Southern Pacific, and Western Maryland. For
the high-nose SD35: undecorated, Norfolk & Western, and
Southern. For the SDP35: undecorated, Seaboard, and Union Pacific.
The two-rail model lists for $349.95, and the three-rail for