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Built Review
HO scale
GE Dash 8-40C
GE Dash 8-40C, Silver Series, Kansas City Southern #3493
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

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Atlas Model Railroad Co. first released their HO GE Dash 8-40C in September, 2003. Since then Atlas has re-released it 10 times. This model is part of their premium Master Line range of products, and this sample is the DC Silver Series variant (The Gold Series is DCC with sound), finished in the striking colors of the Kansas City Southern "Southern Belle". It is item 10003111.

GE began producing the DASH 8-40C ("Dash 8" being the electronics suite, "40" being the horsepower rating of 4,000hp, and "C" designating the three-axle "C truck") in late 1987, and production continued into the mid-1990s. Some 4,000 units of various models rolled off the erecting floor, launching GE into the main locomotive builder in the United States. Atlas tells us:
    First built for Union Pacific in the late 1980's by General Electric, the DASH 8-40C diesel locomotives were identified by an enlarged exhaust stack and the mounting of the dynamic brake grids in a square-like unit behind the cab, which housed an enlarged equipment blower fan. These six-axle, 4,000 hp engines are still in service today in North America.

    The 4,000hp Dash 8-40CW was produced by General Electric between 1989 and 1993 as a follow-up to the successful Dash 8-40C locomotive. The most distinguishing feature of this model was the introduction of GE’s version of the wide-nose “North American Safety Cab.” This style of cab would become a common sight on railroads across the country. Four major railroads purchased the Dash 8-40CW in fairly large quantities, including Conrail, CSX, Santa Fe and Union Pacific. Most of these units are still in regular mainline and heavy-haul freight service today. Due to various mergers, they can also be seen operating for new owners Norfolk Southern and BNSF.
Let's start our walk-around of this model.

The Model
Atlas securely packages this RTR (Ready-To-Run) model in a multi-layer package. The model is secured to a plastic base with a pair of screws; that base is held in a plastic cradle that protects the model from both ends, and the top; foam blocks protect the model from the plastic cradle scuffing it; that assemblage is contained by a plastic sleeve that is finally packed into the end-opening carton. It is a very effective system to keep the model safe and damage-free.

Inside with the model is a baggie of optional detail parts, an illustrated exploded-view parts list, and registration papers.

This model consists of a cast metal frame with a plastic sills and bodies. Atlas creates this model with a modular design to represent bodies for specific prototype railroads:
    Phase 1
    Phase 2
    Santa Fe Style body/cab
    Conrail Style body/cab
    CSX Style body/cab
    Union Pacific Style body/cab
How many combinations are possible for freelance?

Other features of this model:
    • Ditch lights (8-40CW only)
    • Number boards, sand fill hatch, and marker lights where appropriate by railroad (8-40CW only)
    • Realistic die-cast underframe
    • Factory-equipped with AccuMate® knuckle couplers
    • Coupler pocket designed to accept AccuMate® Proto-couplers
    • Highly detailed coupler cut bars
    • Multiple unit hoses and trainline hoses
    • Five-pole skewed armature motor with dual flywheels for optimum performance at all speeds
    • Separately-installed scale windshield wipers, metal grab irons and fine scale handrails
    • Directional lighting
    • Painted crew members
    • Snowplow, and piping on trucks
    • Recommended minimum radius: 22”
    Atlas Master™ Series Silver Additional Features:
    • NMRA 8-pin plug for DCC (Decoder-ready)
    Atlas Master™ Series Gold Additional Features:
    • ESU Sound equipped
    AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

In injection-molded body and cab are very crisply made and full of detail. 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. Equally well molded are characteristics such as window and door combing, rain gutters over the windows, headlight collars, and more. However, for a Master Line model, the grilles are not molded open; some Master Line models I've seen have open grilles with photo-etched screens, some don't.

Except for the sunshades and side window windscreens, all parts are factory-applied. Skillfully, indeed. No de-spruing burrs nor glue spots. The shades and windscreens are separated in small baggies; Atlas taped them to an end of the cradle but the sunshades are metal, and were bent. I could not completely straighten the mounted one.

Molded detail is mentioned above. Dozens of applied plastic and metal detail parts further enhance the model, including:
    • cab sunshades
    • coupler cut levers
    • sanding pipes
    • truck retainer chain
    • speedometer cable
    • fine handrails
    • metal grab irons
    • brake cylinders
    • multiple-unit hoses
    • sand filler cap
    • hand brake
    • train line hoses
    • windshield wipers
That is a lot of detail. There are also an engineer and fireman in the cab.

Let the Light Shine

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

Paint and Finish
Atlas' paint is thin, uniform, opaque, and yet obscures 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?

Although the storied Kansas City Southern is a “regional railroad”, KCS’ management ran trains with panache. Kansas City Southern became a sort of railroading Cinderella story, surviving to prosper in the 1990s and into today. Management revived the striking black, yellow and red "Southern Belle" livery to the delight of railfans. Their Kansas City Southern logo is sharply produced to the extent that if you look closely, you with see this loco is rostered with Kansas City Southern of Mexico.

There are several units of data stenciling. The GE emblem is very well rendered, as are the DANGER 600 VOLTS warnings on the rear hood. The "F" near the front steps tell the confused that is the front of the locomotive.

These are the road names for this release:
    CREX (Yellow/Red/Gray)
    Lancaster & Chester (Blue/White)
    Pan Am (Blue/White)
    KCS (Red/Yellow/Silver)
    Canadian National (IC) cn.ca Scheme (Red/Black/White)
    CSX "Monon Heritage Decal" (Blue/Yellow)
    CSX "Chessie Heritage Decal" (Blue/Yellow)
    CSX "ACL Heritage Decal" (Blue/Yellow)
    Norfolk Southern (Black/White)
    Conrail Quality (Blue/White)

Now for a little secret. KCSM did roster a road number 3493 but it was one of 34 GE CMP30-S7N locos built in 1994. Atlas noted in their catalogue that this model is painted for a similar KCS locomotive; KCS did not use Dash 8-40s but they do use the GE AC4400CW, ES44AC, and ET44AC-T4. This is still an attractive model.

Dimensions, Weight, and Performance
The Dash 8-40C is 70' 08" from pilot to pilot. It weighs 17.8 ounces which should allow it to pull a freight train of approximately 38 cars long (weighted per NMRA RP20.1) on level tangent track. Atlas hung the knuckle couplers at the correct height, per a Kadee coupler gauge.

If you want to upgrade the model to DCC and/or sound, the connections are part of the model.

The can motor with flywheel assembly, transmission linkage and gearing gives a smooth performance. I tested this unit on Atlas code 83 track, across a No. 6 turnout, and a Peco code 80 slip switch. The good news is the model runs smooth and quiet.

Railroad modelers modeling the past 33 years will find Atlas' HO GE Dash 8-40C to be a satisfying addition to their roster. It features excellent detailing, crisp molding, more than one body style, superb paint and printing, and smooth and quiet running.

I would expect the grills of a Master Line model to be molded open. The metal sunshades were damaged by packing them.

KCS purists may balk at a Dash 8-40C in Southern Belle livery but the same model sold out in the Gold Series. All the same I am happy with the look of this model and feel secure recommending Atlas' HO GE Dash 8-40C.

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

American-Rails.com. GE C40-8/C40-8W Locomotives. [https://www.american-rails.com/45734.html] n.d.


Trains Magazine. Kansas City Southern locomotive roster. [https://trn.trains.com/railroads/rosters/kansas-city-southern.] n.d.
Highs: Excellent detailing, crisp molding, superb paint and printing, and smooth and quiet running.
Lows: Grills are not molded open. The metal sunshades were damaged by packing them.
Verdict: Railroad modelers modeling the past 33 years will find this model to be a satisfying addition to their roster.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 10003111
  Related Link: Atlas Archive Dash 8-40
  PUBLISHED: Oct 04, 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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