Kato SD40-2 VS Athearn SD40-2

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by CPRail, May 19, 2004.

  1. CPRail

    CPRail Member

    Which SD40-2 is better in CP Paint, Athearn or Kato, i have been trying to compare the 2? because i would like to buy several SD40-2 for my layout and wanted 2 get some info before i buy!
  2. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    I don't know about the CP paint schemes, but the Kato will have far better detail and drive than the Athearn (far better than even the newer improved drive model). The bad news is that this particular Kato has electrical pickup problems (and, of course, costs a lot more!). The good news is, once the connections to the trucks are modified, one has a really great locomotive!

    Color-wise, some Katos have been "off", but so have some Athearns!
    Can't help you about CP color ... er ... any questions about Rock Island ???

    Good luck!
  3. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    The Kato is a better runner, but is subject to pick-up problems. The font used for the lettering is bogus.

    The Athearn is more accurate in appearance, but does not perform as well.

    Certainly the Kato, and probably the Athearn, are patterned after EMD prototypes, thus to be strictly accurate they will need modifications to the steps and pilots and the short hood will have to be corrected to 102".
  4. 94hamilton

    94hamilton New Member

    The Kato paint has one major mistake - the font used for the CP Rail lettering is completely wrong. The red is not quite correct either, although I find most manufacturers don't get the right red. The CP pacman logo red is closer to orange than the deep red used by many companies.

    The new Athearn SD-40-2's are very good runners. Very quiet. I think it performs great. Both versions would need details added to make them "true" models of the CP versions. (bells, horns, pilots, headlights etc.).

    To me, the Athearn wins.
  5. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    I have two Katos and 5 of the Athearns in Santa Fe schemes and will echo everything said here. The font is wrong on the cab numbers on the Katos but close enough. The detailing is better (but that's why we pay lots more for them), and I haven't had the electrical pick-up problems yet. I've looked at the design and know that I will someday. They run marginally better than the Athearns. The Athearns that I purchased are the newer versions with the screw applied couplers (no big hole in the pilot), and come in both long and short hood versions, correctly numbered and have the newer plastic handrails. So it depends on your druthers...I purchased the five Athearns for about the same price as the two Katos.
  6. davidvd59

    davidvd59 New Member

    I bought two brand new sd-40-2 Kato engines, and neither one of them ran out of the box because of the way the manufacturer did the electrical hook ups on them. I do not buy Kato products anymore.
  7. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    David, the SD40-2 is the only Kato model with this problem. I have nine other Kato's (SD40's, SD45's, GP35's, and Dash9-44cw's) and none of them are wired like the SD40-2's. All of them run very well and some even have the correct fonts! So if there is another model you like, I'd try it out rather than dismiss the whole product line.
  8. mykroft

    mykroft Member

    Given the detail differences between CP units and either the Kato or Athearn models, if you want an accurate CP unit, you will need to do a fair bit of work. At a minimum, replacing the short nose, replacing the steps and adding the bell & horn to the correct location.

    Just be glad you can get some that are even close :) As a CN modeller in an era prior to 1996, the stock SD40-2's don't even pass the 10' test for me. Bloody Widecab SD40-2's.

    As to the Kato's, they aren't right for the Pacman era, and the Athearn's run better (Until you correct the pickup issue, then the Kato's drive superiority outweighs the Athearns reliable electrical system). Weighting the Athearns helps though.

    And as a note, the Kato pickup design in the SD40-2 is shared only with the NW2, the system in all other Kato diesels is very reliable.
  9. pdt

    pdt Member

    Since I don't have a layout anymore, running characteristics are meaningless right now to me. However, I do have a loop of Atlas track that I occasionally set up to run trains for the girls. My new Athearn SD40-2s run very well with my Atlas B40-8s, C30-7s and U33C. I don't own any Kato diesels, so I can't compare them to the Athearn models, but the Atlas models are probably closer in running characteristics than the Athearns to Katos. That said, the newer revised Athearn SD40-2s are pretty decent performers.

    The thing I've never liked about Kato diesels is the way oversize handrails. The tooling of the Athearn models has been updated to reflect a variety of prototypes from early grilles to corrugated grilles, two different styles of dynamic brake sections, Q fans, snoots and short noses. The tooling has also been refined to today's standards for crispness, and the handrails are pretty darn close to scale size. Granted, you don't get treadplate, pilot details, underframe details, flush-fitting glass and the paint varies from thick and incorrect to crisp and darn-near perfect on the various models. But, they are pretty easy to find usually at a good price. I got all my newer releases at $40 each from Discount Model Trains. That gives me the money to add my own detail parts, which as a N&W, Southern and NS modeler (most of the time anyway), can only be a good thing. I can easily spend as much in detail parts as the base model itself.

    But, I'm not totally delusional -- I know they'll never perform like a Kato. However, that's not an issue for me in the forseeable future. If performance outweighs prototype fidelity, go with the Kato. If you can overlook a difference in performance from the typical Kato and Atlas diesels, Athearn's model is a no-brainer.

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