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Built Review
Video Review included
N scale
ALCo C-420 Phase 1
C-420 Ph.1 LN Silver Delaware-Lackawanna #405
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

This Atlas' N C-420 PH.1 LN, in the very popular Delaware & Lackawanna livery, is this model's sixth release since September 2008. Atlas' N C-420 is part of their premium Master Line range. Atlas describes this model:
    This run of Atlas C420 Locomotives feature Phase 2 versions, featuring both Low & High Nose models. Early phase 2 locomotives feature phase 1-style walkways/sills with stanchions mounted into the top walkway deck (referred to as “Phase 2a” models). Later phase 2 locomotives feature a revised configuration where the stanchions are mounted to the sides of the sill (referred to as “Phase 2b” models). Phase 2a production ran from December 1964 through September 1965. Phase 2b units were produced from December 1965 through the end of C420 locomotive production in August 1968.

This review is of a Silver Series model, item 40003999. It is also available in the Gold Series. The Silver Series operate by DC while the Gold Series feature DCC {Digital Command Control) and a sound system. The DC model features and NMRA-standard 8-pin socket for modelers, who choose to do so, to upgrade to DCC. The Gold DCC system is dual-mode, allowing the model to run DCC or DC.

What's the difference? Read these features:
    • Flat or "step" pilots used where appropriate
    • Long hood with or without dynamic brake used where appropriate
    • 3,100 or 2,400 gallon fuel tank used when appropriate per road name
    • Separately-applied coupler cut levers
    • Painted safety rails
    • Dual flywheels
    • Directional lighting
    • Blackened metal wheels
    • Scale Speed™ motor
    • Factory installed AccuMate® magnetic couplers

    • Supports all DCC-programming modes
    • DCC includes RailCom and RailComPlus, with 14, 28 or 128 speed steps and with 2-digit and 4-digit addressing.
    • Flexible mapping of function keys F0 to F28.
    • A total of 6 DCC function outputs are available, and all can be function mapped (disable, brightness, light effects) individually
    • Follows all NMRA DCC standards and recommended practices.

    • Over 20 sound effects are available, including engine start-up and shutdown, prime mover sounds through all eight notches, bell, air horn, air compressor, dynamic brakes and more.
    • There are up to 16 user-selectable horns, 2 user-selectable bells, and 2 user-selectable synchronized brake squeals.
    • Manual and Automatic Notching modes with the ability to change modes "on the fly" are provided for true realism.
    • Equipped with ESU’s Exclusive "Full Throttle" features for ultimate realism.


Atlas tells us of the C420;
    ALCo built a total of 131 Century 420 locomotives between 1963 and 1969, when the builder ceased all new locomotive production.

    Powered by a 12-cylinder, turbocharged, 2,000-hp 251-series prime mover, the C420’s direct competitor in 1963 was the EMD GP18. In fact, EMD did not offer a 12-cylinder, 2,000-hp prime mover until the GP39 model was produced in 1969. The shorter 12-cylinder engine block allowed the C420 to have its distinctive set-back cab and extended short hood.

    The first road to purchase the C420 was the Lehigh & Hudson River, with its first two units built in 1963. The largest fleet was purchased by the Long Island Railroad, with 30 units built between 1963 and 1968. All were equipped with a high short hood which housed a steam generator for passenger service. Over time, the largest fleet of C420s was amassed by the Louisville & Nashville. While only 26 units were purchased new, their total fleet grew to well over 60 units through mergers and acquisitions. The C420 can still be found in daily service today in the US. Currently the largest fleet of C420s is operated by the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad.

This Model
Atlas securely packages this model in a multi-layer package. The model is secured in a foam cradle which in turn is held in a jewel case. It is a very effective system to keep the model safe and damage-free, and the jewel case is designed to be stackable.

This model consists of a cast metal frame with a plastic bodies. The model has a modular design allowing Atlas to model bodies for specific prototype railroads:
    Phase 1 High Nose
    Phase 1 Locomotive (High Short Hood)
    Phase 1 Low Nose Locomotive
    Phase 1 Low Nose w/o nose light
    Phase 2A High Nose Locomotive
    Phase 2A Low Nose Locomotive
    Phase 2B High Nose Locomotive
    Phase 2B Locomotive (Low Nose w/ Nose Light)
    Phase 2B Locomotive (Low Nose w/o Nose Light
Recall that Atlas makes flat or "step" pilots, long hood with or without dynamic brake, and the choice of 3,100 or 2,400 gallon fuel tanks? How many potential combinations are possible for a freelance railroad?

All parts are factory-applied. Skillfully, indeed. No de-spruing burrs nor glue spots.

The locomotive rides upon Association of American Railroads (AAR) type B trucks.


Separately-applied scale plastic and metal coupler cut levers enhance the model. MU hoses are molded into the pilot. Detailed tooling makes this model. The surface detail is both raised and recessed, as appropriate. Engine access doors and battery compartment doors are sharply molded, as are intake and exhaust grilles.

Paint and Finish
Atlas' paint is thin, uniform, opaque, and yet obscure no detail. Printing and demarcation between colors is razor-sharp. I look at the boundaries along the raised and recessed surface detail and wonder just how the colors are applied?

I am not well versed on Northeastern shortlines or their liveries. However, judging by all of the photos available of Delaware–Lackawanna No. 405, the Delaware–Lackawanna Railroad scheme looks very accurate. Judge for yourself with these images of the real DL 405 via Click here for additional images for this review, at the bottom of this review. Looking at this ALCo demonstrates why, when painting railroad models, for maximum accuracy and authenticity one must ask what year am I trying to model? You can see her in more than one coat of colors.

This ex-IHRC unit has some data stenciling and warning signs. Part of the Genesee Valley Transportation Company, Inc. (GVT) system, she wears the unified color scheme of gray and white with red and yellow stripes, and the GVT flag logo.

These are the road names for this release:
    Delaware & Hudson (Blue/Light Gray/Yellow)
    Lehigh & Hudson River (Blue/Gray/White)
    Lehigh Valley (Gray/Yellow)
    Lehigh Valley (Delaware-Lackawanna) (Gray/Yellow)
    Delaware-Lackawanna (White/Black/Gray)
    Delaware & Hudson (Ex LH&R) (Blue/Gray/White)
    Ohio Central (Maroon/Yellow)
    Lehigh & Hudson River (Blue/Gray/White)
    Monon (Black/Gold)
    Long Island (Blue/Yellow "As Delivered")
    Long Island (Blue/Yellow "Retro")
Most of the road names feature more than one road number. Undecorated versions of each body style are available, too.

Dimensions, Weight, and Performance
A C420 is 55' 5" from pilot to pilot, and a coupled length of 60' 3". This model scales out to 55' 5" pilot to pilot, and 61' 7" between couplers. It weighs 2.6 ounces. I have read a report that it should pull a freight train of 24 cars (weighted per NMRA RP20.1) on level tangent track. Atlas hung the knuckle couplers at the correct height, per a Kadee coupler gauge. That draft gear is attached to the body with screws.

The can motor with flywheel assembly, transmission linkage and gearing gives a smooth performance. Each wheel supplies power via phosphor bronze contact strips. I tested this unit on Atlas code 80 track, across turnouts. The good news is the model runs smooth and quiet. The bad news is that the minimum breakaway speed I could achieve with an older DC powerpack is a whiplashing 16 mph. I have read elsewhere that much lower minimum speeds are possible.

Let the Light Shine
This model is equipped with golden-white LEDs for illumination. Headlights and number boards illuminate. The lighting is directional.

I think Atlas has released another high-class and -quality locomotive with this N C-420 PH.1. It features smooth and quiet performance, directional lighting, and high detail. I appreciate that Atlas made it modular to offer as close to a prototype loco as practical. The paint and lettering is incomparable.

My complaints are the high minimum start speed and the lack of open grilles for intakes and dynamic brake fan.

N ALCo lovers can rejoice over this great looking and running model. Whether you buy the Silver or Gold version of this model, you should be very happy with it. Recommended.

Please remember to mention to Atlas and retailers that you saw this model here - on RailRoad Modeling.

ALCO PRODUCTS, INC. OPERATING MANUAL CENTURY 420 - 424 - 425 - 628. [http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/manual/copsman.html] September 1964.

Alco Century Roster. [http://www.calclassic.com/alco/century.htm] n.d.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Smooth and quiet performance, directional lighting, and high detail.
Lows: Minimum starting speed is high. No open grilles for intakes and dynamic brake fan.
Verdict: N ALCo lovers can rejoice over this great looking and running model. Whether you buy the Silver or Gold version of this model, you should be very happy with it.
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 40003999
  Related Link: N C420
  PUBLISHED: Sep 28, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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