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Quick Look: Kato N scale SDP40F diesel locomotive

Read this review from the May 2017 Model Railroader
Kato N scale SDP40F diesel locomotive
Kato N scale SDP40F diesel locomotive

Price: Direct-current, $125; with ESU LokSound Digital Command Control and sound, $250

Kato USA Inc.
100 Remington Rd.
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Era: 1988 to 1994 (as decorated)

Road names: Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (three road numbers) and BNSF Ry./Maersk (one number)

Comments: Yes, we reviewed the passenger version of Kato’s N scale Electro-Motive Division SDP40F in the September 2016 issue. But the freight version is more than new paint on an existing shell. Above the cab on the injection-molded plastic shell is a rooftop air conditioner and two ground plates with Sinclair antennas. The rooftop steam generator equipment, doors on the sides of the cowl body, and rear classification lights are all prototypically plated over.

Between January and May 1985, 18 former Amtrak SDP40Fs were rebuilt at Santa Fe’s San Bernardino, Calif., shops. The six-axle road units were reclassified SDF40-2s and numbered 5250 through 5267. During the rebuild, the steam generator stacks and vents were removed, a new front door was added, the nose was modified, and front handrails were installed, among other modifications.

Though the front end was rebuilt, crews still had a difficult time reaching the cab using the front step and grab iron. To remedy this, the SDF40-2s were modified a second time. Starting in 1988, new front step wells were added and the nose was notched.

The Kato model depicts the post-1988 SDF40-2s. The model’s dimensions closely match prototype drawings published in Robert C. Del Grosso’s BNSF Railway Company 2007 Locomotive Review and Diagrams II (Great Northern Pacific Publications, 2007).

The Santa Fe model weighs 5.7 ounces. The wheels are correctly gauged, and the couplers are at the correct height. The direct-current model moved at 1 scale mph at 1.2 volts. With a drawbar pull of 1.45 ounces, the locomotive is capable of pulling 35 freight cars on straight and level track.

I also tested the SPD40F on our Red Oak project layout. The locomotive comfortably negotiated the 13" radius curves and Peco no. 6 medium turnouts.

Kato did an excellent job capturing the distinct lines of Santa Fe’s SD40F-2 diesel locomotive. The notched nose, rooftop details, and plated over parts give this model a sense of history.

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Two great beginner layouts.

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