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None of the other SD40-2 models out there are even close to a real SD40-2. The trucks are always spaced incorrectly and the front and rear porches are never the right length.

Atlas has never made an SD40-2 in their Master line in O-scale. Only an SD40. The recent Premier line SD40-2 are former MTH/Weaver.

The 3rd Rail versions are near perfect replicas, and only a bit more expensive than Lionel's version.

Last edited by rplst8

Finally got mine out of the box.  I reviewed some pre-production samples in February and there were several items that needed attention.  I finally got my final models out of the box yesterday and there is simply no comparison to any 3 rail model available in the market new or used.  I would go as far as to say that there isn't even a comparison in anything done in 2 rail for the scope of the project and the amount of variations that this project encompassed.  Simply put, this is probably the best representation of this locomotive done in O scale to date in my opinion.  It is a biased opinion, but still an informed one.

@rplst8 posted:

Atlas has never made and SD40-2 in O-scale. Only an SD40.

The 3rd Rail versions are near perfect replicas, and only a bit more expensive than Lionel's version.

Atlas O makes the SD40-2 in its premier line (and it's currently available). And the 3rd rail versions are considerably more expensive than Lionel's (and Atlas's) version. Lionel's can be found in the $550 range, as can the Atlas O version; with mandatory shipping and handling the 3rd Rail verson is about $900. Whether the 3rd Rail is worth that additional cost is up to the buyer, of course (and the size of his wallet).

While the 3rd Rail engines appear to be excellent, given that the SD40-2s aren't terribly complicated in appearance, to me I don't see enough difference between them and and the well-detailed Lionel and Atlas O versions to be worth the additional cost. But that's just me. Also, the Lionel versions have a superior control systems and sound systems (Legacy), as do the Atlas O versions (Proto 3). However, if a buyer puts great value on road-specific features, the 3rd Rail versions offer more of that, although Lionel provides some road specific details as well.

Also, a major consideration, for those who don't have large layouts, is that the 3rd Rail engines require 0-54 minimum curves; the Lionel and Atlas O engines can be run on 0-31 curves.

As mentioned, the 3rd Rail engines look beautiful. It's a matter of what features the buyer prefers. It's great that 3rd Rail is in the market and offers highly detailed engines, and that the SD40-2s appear to be well-received.

Just my opinion, of course.

Last edited by breezinup

Weaver made the SD40-2 in both 2R and 3R.  My dusty Chessie version was made in Korea.  They are very reasonable on the used market.

I swapped the fuel tank for the MTH version (part FC2101473), painted the railings orange, and added some details like a bell and cut bars to bring it up to more current detail standards.

As stated above, the front truck location and iconic front porch aren't quite right.  I don't think it can be done with a vertical can motor since the center of the truck should be close to the cab nose (which lacks height for the vertical motor). I sold a Lionel Legacy SD40-2 which had a similar issue.

I haven't added electronics to this Chessie yet, but after hearing the LokSound in my 3rd Rail, I'm considering it here.   



IMG_1998

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Last edited by ESPEE 8722

The Weaver, MTH and Atlas SD40-2 models are all made from the same tooling. I have one Weaver and two MTH versions. I like them. Not perfect, but correctly scaled. The truck shortcomings are mostly due to the swinging pilot, a common three-rail design that does prompt compromises.

I have a Lionel one as well. Also just fine.

Any of those are satisfactory and affordable.

@breezinup posted:

Atlas O makes the SD40-2 in its premier line (and it's currently available). And the 3rd rail versions are considerably more expensive than Lionel's (and Atlas's) version. Lionel's can be found in the $550 range, as can the Atlas O version; with mandatory shipping and handling the 3rd Rail verson is about $900. Whether the 3rd Rail is worth that additional cost is up to the buyer, of course (and the size of his wallet).

While the 3rd Rail engines appear to be excellent, given that the SD40-2s aren't terribly complicated in appearance, to me I don't see enough difference between them and and the well-detailed Lionel and Atlas O versions to be worth the additional cost. But that's just me. Also, the Lionel versions have a superior control systems and sound systems (Legacy), as do the Atlas O versions (Proto 3). However, if a buyer puts great value on road-specific features, the 3rd Rail versions offer more of that, although Lionel provides some road specific details as well.

Also, a major consideration, for those who don't have large layouts, is that the 3rd Rail engines require 0-54 minimum curves; the Lionel and Atlas O engines can be run on 0-31 curves.

The Atlas SD40-2 is the same tooling as the MTH version as others have said. I've corrected my post to state they haven't made one in their Master line which is there most accurate tooling.

According to the manual, the Lionel version needs O-54 curves.

Apples to apples on the price, the 3rd Rail model is $130 more than Lionel retail. Whatever special price folks get is between them and their dealer.



Beauty is in the eye of the beekeeper and I've held the Weaver/MTH/Atlas and Lionel versions... It's not even close.

@HiramO posted:

The prototype SD40-2 has those massive front and rear porches, I assume to accommodate six wheel trucks. I've always thought the loco looked a bit silly...  Compared to the Atlas, the 3rd Rail porches are just a tad longer. I think the 3rd Rail captures the look of the prototype beautifully.

The reason was because they just reused the frame from the SD45-2.

Last edited by rplst8

The biggest difference between the MTH and Lionel SD40-2 models are that the Weaver/MTH tooling is meant to represent what is often called the phase II SD40-2 which started being produced in 1978 until the end of production in 1986.  The Lionel model is a phase I design that was done from 1972 until 1978.  The biggest visible difference is the rear radiator grilles and the hand brake on the fireman's side of the short hood.  Radiator vents were wire mesh on phase 1 production and more refined grilles on phase II.  Hand brakes were a recessed ratchet types on early units and wheels on the later units.  Other changes included a change on the length of the short hood.  It grew by 7" on the phase II models.  Extended range dynamic brakes were offered as well that had a more robust shape than the standard dynamic brake cluster.  Most people wouldn't be as concerned with that. 

That is the easy part.  There are multiple distinct variations of the "off the shelf" phase I SD40-2 and the same with the phase II SD40-2.  I won't bore everyone with the details here as they get into some minutia that likely doesn't interest a lot of people. 

Then we get into the road specific major variations such as the "alligator" short hoods that held radio equipment on some of the ATSF and SP, the SD40T-2 used by the D&RGW and the SP, CN's GMD "Wide Cabs", high hood units on the Southern and N&W, and Conrail's special order of early phase II units with Flexcoil trucks that date back to the SD7/9 as opposed the more modern HT-C truck found on all other SD40-2s.  Those Conrail units are still operating for CSX along with their various standard units they inherited.

Finally, few locomotives had had the longevity in regular service that the -40 series locomotives have enjoyed.  So many are running today in mainline and short line operations.  Modern changes include removal of class lights, replacement of cabs and hoods, and numerous minor changes that go beyond paint. 

I guess the question is, does this matter?  That is an individual choice and there is no right answer.  We all model differently which is what makes the hobby interesting.  Personally, I just find the genealogy of these well-built and reliable locomotives fascinating.

@GG1 4877 posted:

The biggest difference between the MTH and Lionel SD40-2 models are that the Weaver/MTH tooling is meant to represent what is often called the phase II SD40-2 which started being produced in 1978 until the end of production in 1986.  The Lionel model is a phase I design that was done from 1972 until 1978.  The biggest visible difference is the rear radiator grilles and the hand brake on the fireman's side of the short hood.  Radiator vents were wire mesh on phase 1 production and more refined grilles on phase II.  Hand brakes were a recessed ratchet types on early units and wheels on the later units.  Other changes included a change on the length of the short hood.  It grew by 7" on the phase II models.  Extended range dynamic brakes were offered as well that had a more robust shape than the standard dynamic brake cluster.  Most people wouldn't be as concerned with that.

That is the easy part.  There are multiple distinct variations of the "off the shelf" phase I SD40-2 and the same with the phase II SD40-2.  I won't bore everyone with the details here as they get into some minutia that likely doesn't interest a lot of people.

Then we get into the road specific major variations such as the "alligator" short hoods that held radio equipment on some of the ATSF and SP, the SD40T-2 used by the D&RGW and the SP, CN's GMD "Wide Cabs", high hood units on the Southern and N&W, and Conrail's special order of early phase II units with Flexcoil trucks that date back to the SD7/9 as opposed the more modern HT-C truck found on all other SD40-2s.  Those Conrail units are still operating for CSX along with their various standard units they inherited.

Finally, few locomotives had had the longevity in regular service that the -40 series locomotives have enjoyed.  So many are running today in mainline and short line operations.  Modern changes include removal of class lights, replacement of cabs and hoods, and numerous minor changes that go beyond paint.

I guess the question is, does this matter?  That is an individual choice and there is no right answer.  We all model differently which is what makes the hobby interesting.  Personally, I just find the genealogy of these well-built and reliable locomotives fascinating.

Well, I appreciate this info. Then again, it’s my favorite diesel.

@rplst8 posted:

According to the manual, the Lionel version needs O-54 curves.

Apples to apples on the price, the 3rd Rail model is $130 more than Lionel retail. Whatever special price folks get is between them and their dealer.

No, what the manual says is that the Lionel SD40-2 only needs O-54 or larger track curves when coupled to certain oddball freight cars, but they "will operate on O-36 curves independently and with most scale freight cars."

The apples to apples price comparison you give is more like apples to grapefruits. The most recent Lionel SD40-2 catalog price (2022) is $649.99. The 3rd Rail engines are a bit over $900. Even if someone paid full retail for the Lionel engine (which very few people do) the difference is about $250 more for the 3rd Rail. And the reality is that all the major Lionel dealers offered the Lionel engines at about $550. There is no discount on the 3rd Rail engines. The real-world difference (what people would actually pay) is about $350 more for the 3rd Rail.

Last edited by breezinup
@breezinup posted:

The apples to apples price comparison you give is more like apples to grapefruits. The most recent Lionel SD40-2 catalog price (2022) is $649.99. The 3rd Rail engines are a bit over $900. Even if someone paid full retail for the Lionel engine (which very few people do) the difference is about $250 more for the 3rd Rail. And the reality is that all the major Lionel dealers offered the Lionel engines at about $550. There is no discount on the 3rd Rail engines. The real-world difference (what people would actually pay) is about $350 more for the 3rd Rail.

That is 3rd Rail's main weakness, lack of authorized dealers.

@HiramO posted:

The prototype SD40-2 has those massive front and rear porches, I assume to accommodate six wheel trucks. I've always thought the loco looked a bit silly...  Compared to the Atlas, the 3rd Rail porches are just a tad longer. I think the 3rd Rail captures the look of the prototype beautifully.

The Sd40-2 had those massive "porches" because EMD wanted to standardize production with the longer frame of the SD45 and Sd45-2. The Standard frame had nothing to do with fitting the six wheeled trucks.

I haven't seen the Lionel or MTH SD40-2's in person, however the SD40T-2's are noticeably different. I have a Lionel tunnel motor and a 3rd Rail tunnel motor and the 3rd Rail is worth the extra money.

If you live near the office you can pick up the models directly and you don't have to pay shipping. I was picking up my engines yesterday and Scott gave me a tour of the warehouse and a look at some of the models he had opened to inspect. It was nice to see some of the choices if there's a second run. This is a long way of saying that it's nice to buy direct from Scott if you can.

@breezinup posted:

No, what the manual says is that the Lionel SD40-2 only needs O-54 or larger track curves when coupled to certain oddball freight cars, but they "will operate on O-36 curves independently and with most scale freight cars."

The apples to apples price comparison you give is more like apples to grapefruits. The most recent Lionel SD40-2 catalog price (2022) is $649.99. The 3rd Rail engines are a bit over $900. Even if someone paid full retail for the Lionel engine (which very few people do) the difference is about $250 more for the 3rd Rail. And the reality is that all the major Lionel dealers offered the Lionel engines at about $550. There is no discount on the 3rd Rail engines. The real-world difference (what people would actually pay) is about $350 more for the 3rd Rail.

From the most recent release, the Lionel manual says:

Screenshot_20240618-212920

It actually says it three times. Once on the top of page 5, once on page 6, and once on page 7.

I'm also not sure where you are getting $900 for the 3rd Rail. The MSRP was $779.

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The apples to grapefruits comparison is an apt one.  The quality of the 3rd Rail model is on par with high end brass these days and not really meant to compete with the Lionel / MTH market.  That hasn't always been the case but is becoming more so as the design & production process for the diesels continues to see refinement and improvement since the first-generation models in the E7s of 2012. 

The Sd40-2 had those massive "porches" because EMD wanted to standardize production with the longer frame of the SD45 and Sd45-2. The Standard frame had nothing to do with fitting the six wheeled trucks.

Well, actually that longer "standardized" underframe did indeed have something to do with "fitting the six wheeled trucks". With the "Dash 2" series of SD models, came the HT-C "High Traction" three axle truck, with all three traction motors mounted in the same direction, which required an end-transom on one end of the truck, thus making the HT-C truck longer than the previous "SD Truck". In addition, the HT-C truck had a MUCH LARGER diameter housing in the bolster in order to accept the MUCH LARGER center-bearing in the underframe.

As a result, the Engineering Dept. standardized ALL the SD underframes (for SD38-2, SD40-2, SD45-2,  and SDP45-2.  

@Hot Water posted:

Well, actually that longer "standardized" underframe did indeed have something to do with "fitting the six wheeled trucks". With the "Dash 2" series of SD models, came the HT-C "High Traction" three axle truck, with all three traction motors mounted in the same direction, which required an end-transom on one end of the truck, thus making the HT-C truck longer than the previous "SD Truck". In addition, the HT-C truck had a MUCH LARGER diameter housing in the bolster in order to accept the MUCH LARGER center-bearing in the underframe.

As a result, the Engineering Dept. standardized ALL the SD underframes (for SD38-2, SD40-2, SD45-2,  and SDP45-2.  

Again, very helpful information. Thanks!

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