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Athearn HO DD40 review

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Athearn HO DD40 review
Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 6:06 PM
This review is on Athearn's HO dual motor DD40.[:D]



The Athearn DD40 is almost based on a real engine, but the real DD40s were cancelled. It looks close to a DD35A, so the Athearn shell can be modified pretty easily to look like a DD35.[:D] Because Athearn started making these in the 60s, they have the wide hood problem, making them look too big and heavy. The castings look good, and they're all nice and smooth. Most of the detail is molded on, but Athearn's plastic is easy to work with so most of the detail can be filed or sanded off for seperate parts.[:D] The railings are all metal, with separate wire and stancions, but they're not too detailed, and the separate stancions can slide in the wrong position easily. The pilots are completely open to make room for the truck mounted couplers, but they can be filled if you have wide enough turns. The paint is nice and smooth with pretty good color separation. The printed lettering also looks looks good, with small labels clearly saying "fire extinguisher" or "danger 600 volts." The rear motor is visible through the door in the middle of the engine, but the flywheel is far enough forward to not be real noticable. The trucks are pretty well detailed, but Athearn never changed them to plastic like on most of their other engines. The metal sideframes do add about 4 or 5 ounces of weight, so there is an advantage to having them that way.[:D]



My DD40 ran smoothly at all speeds, but was pretty loud because of the dual motors. Changing the motors to Sagamis, Katos or Mashimas should make the engine much quieter. The DD40 reached a maximum of 94 scale MPH at 12 volts, and drew an average of 0.5 amps. The minimum speed I could keep ir running at was about 9.5 scale MPH, but different motors should help lower that. The maximum stall current was 2.2 amps, so you'll want a heavy duty decoder for this one. With the two pounds of weight plus the two motors and sixteen wheel drive, I'm pretty sure this engine could easily pull 90-100 cars.[:O][:D] The engine has a working headlight, but it's behind the cab so it doesn't really light up the headlight lenses. At least Athearn didn't put it in the cab like they usually did. There's lots of empty space in the shell, so it should be fairly easy to add sound, but you won't want to do that without new motors. The noise of the dual Athearn motors would drown out the sound system, but I guess the sound of the stock motors could be used as the sound system.[:D]

Athearn's DD40 is a good engine for anyone who wants everything BIG, with big power, big size, and big everything, all at a low price.[:D][:D][:D]

_________________________________________________________________

Darth Santa Fe, doing weird and challenging projects for the fun of it!

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Posted by trainfan1221 on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 7:15 PM
Aaaah, yes. The infamous model of the engine that never actually existed. When I was in HO this was always one model I never saw myself getting. It's just too much in one model. Not to knock your review, Darth, It's just my opinion and memory from the past. I am sure it's a good running model and good for people that don't mind bending the rules a bit.
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Posted by West Coast S on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 7:28 PM
Beats my rubber band powered one from eons ago!!! A nice model just the same and for those SP kitbashers don't forget the SP rostered three DD35 B units...

Dave
SP the way it was in S scale
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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 9:32 PM
The twin motored Athearn unit is tough and will pull monster length trains. Nice looking unit and definetly a conversation piece.

For detailing though it is a "challenge" to convert an Athearn DD40 into either a DD35 or DDA40X. A DD35 was essentially two GP35 power systems back to back while the Centennials were a pair of GP40s with even more modifications, including the enourmous fuel tank!. Hence, the differences in body and roof detailing.

One idea that has been suggested before is to utilize the now "hard to find" Bachmann DDA40X body (ebay) and adapt it to the Athearn underframe , which also involves a bit of chassis re-work. The stock Athearn motors would have to go, of course.



"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, July 06, 2006 12:28 AM
I've always wanted to mess around with one of those and see what I could create.

Good review, DSF. I crave information like this.


Matt
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Posted by Tilden on Thursday, July 06, 2006 11:38 AM
I've been toying with the idea of gettting one of those brutes. One goot thing about UP's patent claims. They have started to maintain the heritage fleet. Which gives modelers and excuse to have just about any old engine on their layout. :-)
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Posted by NS2591 on Thursday, July 06, 2006 12:45 PM
Our Club has a EMD Demo one. It pulls the entire 30 car 34' loaded coal train(ceramic loads) no problem. It could probably do more, They are decent engines very powerful. I'm sure it will out pull my pair of proto SD45s
Jay Norfolk Southern Forever!!
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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, July 06, 2006 2:33 PM
One of the guys at the club I recently join has 4 of those engines..I seen 2 of those beast pulling 110 cars..Of course the layout is modular.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

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Posted by cacole on Friday, July 07, 2006 11:41 AM
When I purchased one of these engines, the instructions indicated that the two motors were interconnected with a drive shaft, but they were not. I contacted Athearn about this, and their answer was that they had removed the drive shaft because the motors seemed to run better as individual units. They sent me a drive shaft, anyway. They were right -- the engine runs much better if the two motors are not interconnected with a drive shaft.

I have also installed a Digitrax DCC decoder into the engine, and run both motors from only one decoder. So far, I have had no overload problems with the single decoder even though our club layout has long 2% grades to climb.

My only gripe with this model is that I don't think SP ever owned one -- wasn't UP the only road that purchased the DD models as experimental units?

Union Pacific named their DD40AX the "Centennial" because it was introduced at the Golden Spike Centennial celebrations.


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Posted by BentnoseWillie on Friday, July 07, 2006 11:57 AM
QUOTE: My only gripe with this model is that I don't think SP ever owned one -- wasn't UP the only road that purchased the DD models as experimental units?
Both UP and SP had DD35s (no cab). Only UP purchased the DD35A (with cab) and DDA40X - the "Centennials". The Athearn model is of a DD40, a model that EMD catalogued but no railroad ordered. No DD40s were built

This model was tooled at a time when Athearn sometimes had a model to market before the prototype had been ordered or built.
B-Dubya -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Inside every GE is an Alco trying to get out...apparently, through the exhaust stack!
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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Friday, July 07, 2006 1:54 PM
Thanks for the replies and comments everyone.[:D]

I forgot to mention in the review; although it may look a little silly, the DD40 can easily make it through 18" radius curves without even struggling.[:D] It may even make it down to 17" curves, but I can't really test that, because all I've got is 18".

_________________________________________________________________

Darth Santa Fe, doing weird and challenging projects for the fun of it!

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Posted by DrummingTrainfan on Friday, July 07, 2006 1:56 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Darth Santa Fe

Thanks for the replies and comments everyone.[:D]

I forgot to mention in the review; although it may look a little silly, the DD40 can easily make it through 18" radius curves without even struggling.[:D] It may even make it down to 17" curves, but I can't really test that, because all I've got is 18".


REALLY!?! [:D][:D] Maybe I can convince my Dad to let me buy one (his excuse is that our curves are too tight at 24"a nd 22"). I've always loved the look of those!
    GIFs from http://www.trainweb.org/mccann/offer.htm -Erik, the displaced CNW, Bears, White Sox, Northern Illnois Huskies, Amtrak and Metra fan.

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