This review was taken from the January, 1999 issue of Model Railroader Magazine and is reproduced with permission of Kalmbach Publishing Co., Waukesha, WI.
Review by Marty McGuirk
This new EMD standard-cab SD60 from Atlas is a nice model, and the good news for those using Digital Command Control (DCC) is that, following in the footsteps of the firms earlier GP40-2, Atlas is offering the model in Both conventional and Lenz DCC decoder-equipped versions.
The Electro-Motive Division of General Motors introduced its 4,300-hp SD60 in 1984 and delivered the first production locomotives (a total of 50 units) to Norfolk Southern in the summer and fall of 1985. Other buyers of standard-cab SD60s, which were built through 1991, were Burlington Northern, Chicago & North Western, Conrail, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Oakway Leasing (owned by GM), Soo Line, and Union Pacific.
My first impression of the Atlas model was the same one Id had upon seeing my first prototype SD60-these are BIG diesels. Drawings of BN no. 8300 appeared in EMDs SD60 Series (Withers Publishing), which is a great source of information on these engines. The model matched the prototype nicely, scaling out at 67 feet long and 14-8 3/4" tall.
The Atlas Model follows conventional N scale diesel locomotive construction, with an injection-molded styrene shell that fits over a split frame that surrounds a five-pole skew-wound motor. The model has directional lighting, blackened metal wheels, and dual brass flywheels.
The shell is a one-piece casting including the walkways, but with a separate cab. The molding is sharp, with most details, including grab irons, lift rings, grills, and fans, molded in place. The brake wheel, horns, and plow are separate pieces.
A winterization hatch is included, to be added by the modeler. Be aware that only some of the prototypes had them: C&NW, Oakway, and Soo Line. To install the hatch youll need to remove the body shell from the frame (gently squeeze the body together above the fuel tanks and lift straight up) and drill out the three dimples located inside the roof. The winterization hatch can then be pressed into place and secured with a small amount of cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA) from the inside.
Acetal plastic handrails and stanchions are molded in color to match the body, but the green on our BN sample doesnt quite match the paint on the locomotive, and the handrails have a rather waxy appearance.
We tested a non-decoder-equipped engine (models with decoders were not yet available). Decoder-equipped models can also be run on conventional DC layouts. the model runs smoothly, although it was a bit noisy until it had been run for a few hours. It responds well to the throttle, and I dont really mind that its top-end speed is extremely high since it runs very well at low speeds. With its 1.1 ounce drawbar pull, the SD60 should pull about 28 cars on straight, level track.
The locomotive comes with Rapido couplers, but Micro-Trains no. 1015 couplers are easily substituted and match a Micro-Trains coupler height gauge.
All axles are powered, and all wheelsets were in gauge according to a National Model Railroad Association standards gauge.
Painting and lettering on the model live up to the standards weve come to expect from Atlas. All the color separations are sharp and the lettering is clear and legible. I was impressed with the BN tiger stripes- the edges are clear and well defined. The numbers in the number boards are a nice touch as well.
This large, modern locomotive will be a welcome addition to the rosters of many N scale railroads hungry for high-horsepower engines.