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Bringing engines back from the dead

Read the N Scale Insight column from the January 2017 Model Railroader
You could buy Athearn’s N scale F45s or FP45s as straight DC engines, or with a SoundTraxx Tsunami decoder, as with the F45 here. Jim Kelly thought his decoder had died, but an Athearn technician talked it back to life.
Bill Zuback photo

Several years ago I bought a couple Athearn N scale Electro-Motive Division (EMD) F45 locomotives that came with factory-installed Digital Command Control (DCC) sound decoders. I was thrilled. Only two railroads had ordered these big engines, and one was my beloved Santa Fe. (The other was Great Northern, also well-liked.)

The Santa Fe worked closely with EMD in developing the locomotive and ultimately had 40 F45s and 9 FP45s built in the late 1960s. (The FP45s were intended for passenger service, so they had a steam boiler and were 6 feet longer.)

These are big, beautiful, honkin’ engines, both in reality and in model form, even in N scale, and they’re iconic to Santa Fe fans and modelers. The Athearn N scale versions will outpull any SD-type model two-to-one, as the wide body permits a much heavier frame. And the sound effects created by the SoundTraxx Tsunami DCC decoder are just great. I wish I could afford to put sound decoders in everything.

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