Question about the D&RGW SD50 (Athearn or Proto2K?)

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Topo, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. Topo

    Topo Member

    I need a Rio Grande SD50 for my pike. :roll:

    But I'm not decided between the Athearn and the Proto2000 models, so I will welcome your opinions.

    The Proto2K one, have it the correct nose lights? (this is important)
    Which one have the orange paint closest to the prototype's Anschutz orange?

    Thanks for your feedback, friends. :)
  2. Espeenut

    Espeenut Member

    ...from all indications I have received, the Athearn is much more accurate, even if it doesn't come with the nose lights. Depending on which time period you want to depict, you may have to remove the lights and replace them with a blanking plate anyway, so if you are modeling the SD50 as it appeared immediately prior to merger, you have to model it without nose lights - if you are doing it as it was delivered, it isn't much of a problem to install the correct set of nose lights, it's an easy fix.
    ...when I was 'shopping' for my SD50's, I had several knowledgeable people steer me in the Athearn direction, saying that, for prototype modelers, there were simply way too many inaccuracies on the P2K SD50. it is, I'm delighted with mine, once they've been detailed and 'decodered', they'll be working for a living on our club layout, sure to make the crowds in the Espee speed lettering re-paint with DGR&W under the cab window, and the other in full Rio Grande paint, which, as far as I can tell, is extremely accurate when compared to all the photos I have of them.

    Lorne Miller
  3. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    I opted for the Athearn RTR version in D&RGW paint, naturally!

    First off, there are currently no HO plastic loco's for D&RGW which have the correct nose light molded in, sadly. There were only a few RR's with this syle (D&RGW, WP, KCS and FEC sort of), so plastic models don't come with them. So to get it right, you'll have to take a file to the nose and carefully modify it for the Details West part. Notice that the nose part includes a chevron shaped bottom piece to help simulate the slant below the gyra light. I have NEVER seen this part look decent on a model, never. IMHO, this needs to be cut off. Just carefully file the slant yourself below the flat spot where you glue the DW part on. Drill holes in the part and add lenses.

    I have been following the discussion on the Yahoo Groups email list, and yes, the Athearn has been described as more accurate barring the usual noselight being needed. The Athearn has the correct anticlimber and mailbox battery box detail - which the P2k model lacks. People have had issues with the P2k SD60/50 truck side frames and running speed. There are given pro's and con's to each model in general - the P2k does have a few extra details that the Athearn model doesn't have - so there is some trade off either way.

    I bought my first Athearn SD50 just a few weeks ago and it is a lovely model - very nice looking. The major mods needed to make it more D&RGW correct is to change out the snow plow for a taller one, and add the nose gyra light. There may be a few other smaller details but that would get you most of the way there. I'm not anti proto 2000, as I love the GP30 and GP60, but the SD45's and SD50's I go with KATO and Athearn respectively.

    Oh yeah, the orange on the Athearn is excellent - to me it is very close in color. Orange color is subjective to lighting etc, but I feel like the orange used on the following all look very good - KATO SD45, Athearn SD40T-2, Athearn GP40-2. The Proto 2000 GP30 and GP60 are slightly darker but also very good.

    OTOH, The Proto 2000 SD7, SD9, and SD45 are all a darker more red orange which I don't care for. I did buy the SD9's though.
  4. dean

    dean New Member

    Like Jim said, the Athearn are nice smooth running engines. I would check around the various web sites for roster shots of the various DRGW SD50's for detail shots and locations. I have two of the Athearn SD50's and the LL P2K and the Athearn run a bit smoother than the P2K. Here are a couple of web sites to check out for shots of the DRGW SD50's for details:
  5. Topo

    Topo Member

    Thanks for your advices, friends. :wave:

    Espeenut, from your post I understand that the D&RGW removed the nose lights just before the buying/merger with SP. I was unaware of this detail, and it's very interesting.

    Humm. All of you agree that the Athearn is -in general- more accurate. If we add to this that the P2K model seems to be gone for good (well, that according to my HobbyShop, and I wasn't able to find them at discount, either) I think that my future SD50s will be Athearn (and as they are cheaper than the P2K ones, I suppose that I can indulge in 2 Athearns instead of 1 P2K, geez!). :D :p :D

    RioGrande, I was also disappointed with the SD7/9 orange. Too dark & "pinky" in my opinion. I will never understand why Life&Like didn't correct that in the next releases... :confused:
  6. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Actually, I think the lights would have been removed prior to the merger with the UP, not SP! Rio Grande Industries purchase the SP in 1988, and the noselights lasted into the early 1990's IIRC.

    I"m sure with some effort you could scare up some P2K SD50's. I see them on Ebay now and then still. But the Athearns are nice - I think you'll be pleased.

    That has confused many of us - must be where they are made? And it goes back and forth too...

    Speaking of disappointing - Atlas seems to have trouble too - the first run GP40's (red box) had a very yellow shade of orange, while the KC orange ex-Conrail GP40's (large heraled) were VERY reddish. Yes, in comparison to the other units, they were darker, but not that much.
  7. trainworm

    trainworm Member

    i was just checking all the SD50 pictures on and it seems that by the time all the D&RGW SD50's made it to the UP they had their nose lights removed, class lights plated over, and the 5 chime horns replaced with 3 chime and moved to the long hood by the radiator fans. but i dont know the exact date. seems like it was done around the mid to late 90's before the UP merger.
  8. Espeenut

    Espeenut Member

    ..howdy Alex, yeah, that's what I noticed while doing my research as well. There are no shots of any Espee Re-painted units showing the 5 chime on the front of the cab roof or nose mounted head and class lights, some of these mods may have been done before they were brought into the Espee fold. I have shots of Rio Grande units with the same mods that are un-dated, so it is difficult to make a hard call on it. I have 2 of the Athearn SD50's, one in Espee speed lettering with the other in the original Rio Grande colors. I'm going to install a nose light and larger plow on the Grande unit to make it look like they were as delivered, the Espee unit will get the same larger plow, the class lights blanked out and I will have to modify the nose with a blanking plate where the lights would have originally been installed. I will probably be a bit un-prototypical and occasionally run them together in a consist, after all, it's my railroad, right? to you later...

  9. trainworm

    trainworm Member

    i have one P2K espee and 2 of the Athearn Rio Grandes. i added the nose lights to the DRGW units and i used a file to make a flat spot on the nose of the espee unit. not 100% right, but good enough for me. i wish i would have waited and got an athearn espee, but for now i am stuck with this P2K.

    here is a shot of the Rio Grande unit with the nose light. i have since added a different plow, but i cant remember which part number.

  10. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    Next time you mount a D&RGW Details West nose light, try removing that "chevron" shaped piece from below the lights... it never seems to look right on any model I see this DW part mounted on. It ends up looking like a chevron shaped lump under the light and the stripes are missing too.

Share This Page