SD45 High Nose
Roadname and number: Norfolk & Western 1728
Series: Ready To Roll
Athearn expands their Ready To Roll
series with the mighty SD45. It features a wealth of detail, both factory applied, and separate parts. This model features the high nose favored by coal hauler Norfolk & Western.
The EMD SD45 is a six-axle diesel locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between December, 1965, and December, 1971. Power was provided by an EMD 645E3 twenty-cylinder engine which generated 3,600 HP. This locomotive shared the same common frame with the EMD SD38, EMD SD39, EMD SD40, and EMD SDP40.
A total of 1,260 units were built for American railroads. Following this, the SD45-2 was released as its upgraded replacement. Additional models, like the SD45T-2, featuring the Tunnel Motor design, were released.
SD45s had several teething problems. Reliability was not as high as anticipated, due to the twenty-cylinder prime mover's propensity to break its own crankshaft. Even though it created an extra 600 horsepower (450 kW) from the 16-645 in the SD40, some railroads felt it just wasn't worth it, even after EMD redesigned the block to reduce crankshaft flexing.
Buyers included the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway. (Contrary to what many believe, the SD45 was not a "gas guzzler." It produced more power per unit of fuel than its 3,000 hp (2,240 kW) counterpart, the SD40.) Many SD45s can still be found, some rebuilt with sixteen-cylinder 645s, operating for lease companies. 
RTR SD45 High Nose
This model is packaged in the Athearn RTR yellow and blue top - tray opening box with a cellophane window. The model is securely held in an open-side, form-fitted wraparound cradle which provides a base, ends, and top; the cradle snaplocks via a tab to an end. Within the cradle the models are protected from scuffing by foam blocks and plastic sheets. The cradle is then ensconced inside a clear plastic sleeve, and a piece of styrofoam supports the base of the cradle. These models are superbly protected from shock and jostling. Documentation includes an exploded-view parts diagram and parts list, and an Athearn News advertisement. I did not find a formal manual or product registration card. Instructions do not explain how to remove the body shell; this lack of information has long frustrated modelers -- no company guidance for the procedure.
Your locomotive is fully assembled (except for the optional detail parts) and ready to operate. This SD45 continues the tried and true Athearn model engineering concept. You have an injection molded styrene body shell and walkway secured upon a die-cast under frame by tabs and screws. The underframe has weights for traction. Mounted on the underframe is the dynamically balanced five pole skew wound motor with dual flywheels. This transmits power to both axles of each powered truck via driveline axles and worm gears. Power is conducted to the motor by machined nickel plated, blackened wheels. All 12 wheels pick up power. None have traction tires.
Molding is first-rate. I found no noticeable flash, seams, ejector marks, nor sink holes. Detail is both recessed and relief, as appropriate. It is sharply molded. Key features are:
Fully assembled and ready for your layout
Separately applied wire grab irons
Separately applied air tanks
Factory installed Celcon handrails
Equipped with Quick Plug DCC technology - accepts 8 or 9-pin plug
McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers installed
Prototype specific details applied
To provide accurate molded for prototype modelers Athearn molds different body shells for the locomotive. This one features the high nose favored by Norfolk & Western. While the RTR series is analog, Athearn made the model DCC-ready.
Athearn strives for accurate models of specific prototypes. The diagram and parts list notes 'Not all parts shown are applied to all models'
. Only those parts applicable to the prototype are included with the finished model. All of the detail features are separately applied by the factory. This is a major improvement over Athearns original "blue box" days of molded-on grab irons and metal handrails that you had to mount! Dozens of detail options are available for this model. Among them are:
Air Filter w/ Rib
Air Filter w/o Rib
Radiator Grill-Chicken Wire
Cab (Standard Window)
Cab ("L" Window)
Cab Side Window Frame
Number Board Housing
Sideframe Set-High Mount
Sideframe Set - Low Mount
3200 Gallon Fuel Tank
3600 Gallon Fuel Tank
Fuel Tank components:
Dynamic Brake Housing With Doors
SP Rear Headlight Housing
Standard Rear Headlight Housing
Dynamic Brake Vent
Battery Box Door-1 Louver
Battery Box Door-1 Louver w/ Rib
SP Battery Box Doors
Battery Box Door-3 Louver
Antenna Set, Including:
Brake wheel Housing
ATSF Beacon Stand
Though this is not Athearns Genesis series, I was happy to find rotating fan blades under the grilles on the roof. You can detail the fuel tank with sprues of parts that are provided. These include lots of pipes and vents. The instruction sheet shows where they attach although mounting holes are not molded.
This model appears to model the later N&W units, sporting a rear brake wheel and high truck brakes.
N&W's universal horn was the Leslie RS-5T-F. The model part looks accurate. See below for a link to a wave file of this horn.
Though I have not tried it for this review, the body comes off the chassis by detaching the flexible side handrails and the cab door hand rails. Once the hand rails are released the mounting clips can be unset with gentle finger pressure.
Carrying the chassis along the rails are detailed trucks of C-C arraignment (a pair of powdered three axle trucks) with highly detailed plastic sideframes representing EMD Flexicoil C2L trucks. Brake shoes are represented. Athearn details each with brake cylinders and hangers, and Athearn even includes the speedometer cable!
Athearn continues to equip their locomotives with plastic McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers. These are mounted to the frame with screws.
Paint and Livery
N&W could not make a clean break from their steam legacy. While N&W did paint these locos in blue and yellow, and maroon if I recall correctly, eventually black and with while lettering took over for easy of maintenance. Athearn released this model in the blue livery as well as in the special American Bicentennial scheme.
Paint is smooth and the printing sharp. However, I did find a couple of blemishes where it appears the paint stuck to the packaging and pulled away(One area you can see in the photo of the exhaust ports). Despite that, the paint is fine. Use gloves or wash your hands -- the black really shows fingerprints!
Athearn made 145 different SD45 locomotives (369 including dash-2s and tunnel motors). You can buy the SD45 in 30 roadnames:
1. Buffalo & Pittsburgh
2. Burlington Northern
3. Chicago & NorthWestern
4. Chicago Burlington & Quincy
6. Delaware & Hudson
7. Denver & Rio Grande Western
8. Electro-Motive Division - General Motors
9. Erie Lackawanna
11. Great Northern
12. Milwaukee Road
13. Montana Rail Link
14. Nacionales de Mexico
15. New York Susquehanna & Western
16. Norfolk & Western
17. Northern Pacific
18. Penn Central
19. Pennsylvania Railroad
21. Santa Fe
22. Seaboard Coast Line
23. Southern Pacific
24. Southern Railway
25. Springfield Terminal
26. St. Louis Southwestern-Cotton Belt
27. St. Louis-San Fransisco
29. Union Pacific
30. Wisconsin Central
Notching the Throttle
This model runs smooth and remarkably quite. Gone are the days of the coffee grinder motors! The model jumps to motion at a fairly fast pace though. When I ran it with pulse engaged, it crept along at about 2 scale mph. The metal wheels raced over the frogs and points of code 80 and 83 turnouts without a hitch. A nice running loco!
Modelers of main line action during the 1960s through the 1990s can have this nicely running, impressively detailed locomotive for a reasonable cost. Athearn offers several variants of hoods and bodies in an attempt to create an accurate model for almost every railroad. N&Ws high hoods always appealed to me and I think the contours and proportions are accurate.
The vast amount of separately applied detail is incredible. The rotating fans under the screened vents used to be reserved for big-dollar models and aftermarket detailers; now it is part of a RTR model.
The model runs fast out of the yard but can be made to creep along with pulse. It tracks well. Athearns paint and printing is very good.
I wish Athearn has pre-drilled or dimpled the fuel tank to assist in attaching the piping detail. It would be nice if they would also include directions for removing the shell from the frame, either in the box or on-line.
Overall this is a very nice loco that should be a must-have for N&W modelers of the era. Highly recommend!
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 Wikipedia. EMD SD45. 21 December 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMD_SD45.