EMD SD45s                                              

The exact release date of this ninth Atlas locomotive (and the last from Mehanotehnika) is a little unclear. With help from friends on the N scale mailing list, I have it narrowed down to between June and September 1969. In the May issue of Model Railroader, Atlas was still promising that it was "coming soon". In the September issue, it was listed with the other eight locomotives as being available. For some reason, I seem to recall that it was August but I'm not really certain. There was quite a price leap from the previous Mehano locomotives of similar design. While the RSC-2 and GP40 retailed for $12.98, the SD45 was $16.98.

Its release caused a sensation (with me anyway). Perhaps that's because the prototype SD45 caused a sensation when it debuted in 1965. There is really only one reason for this - those flared radiators. This was something new for EMD locomotives and they just looked so cool. Not to mention a new 20 cylinder 645E3 diesel engine that produced 3600 turbo-charged horsepower. Each cylinder had a cubic inch displacement of 645. Doing the arithmetic results in a total of 12,900 cubic inches! And that sound! There's only one word that fits - POWER! It's just as thrilling as standing next to a steamer! With 1260 base units eventually built, there was also a spate of variations like the SD45-2, SD45X. and SD45Ts. It was one of the most popular hood diesels EMD ever made.

The basic shell of the Atlas unit is a pretty good representation of the prototype with the usual Mehano oddities. One thing I noticed right from the start is that they didn't get the flares "flared" enough. The angle is a little too understated. The trucks are fair representations and look passable if close scrutiny is not paid. Again, the openings in the cooling fan grills are actually open for motor cooling.

The construction is, again, the typical Mehano diesel locomotive with the motor mounted in the middle of the frame driving a worm in a gear tower over the rear truck. The worm gear then engages spur gears to drive the two rear axles of the rear truck only. All four of the drive wheels have traction tires. Once again, there are gaping holes in the pilots to allow for the swing of the truck mounted Rapido couplers. Life-Like would later release the exact same locomotive (but without the Atlas logo anywhere on it). Con-Cor would also release this same basic locomotive in 1972 but with the bigger double-ended motor and drive to both trucks. Same shell though.

Originally, Atlas advertised these as being available in Santa Fe, GM Demo, Burlington, Penn Central, and Northwestern (?) RR colors. In later ads, instead of Northwestern, they listed #2145 as N.W. By the middle of 1971, they had dropped Burlington and Northwestern/N.W. In fact, the Northwestern/N.W. version was never made. Who knows what the heck they meant by Northwestern/N.W. anyway. Chicago & North Western? Norfolk & Western? I guess we'll never know.

The availability of the SD45s from Atlas was rather short-lived. They were gone by somtime in 1972 although, as I stated above, Life-Like and Con-Cor stepped in to fill the absence.

Atlas Identification: "ATLAS YUGOSLAVIA" molded into the bottom of the front truck with "ATLAS" in larger letters on the fireman's side and "YUGOSLAVIA" in smaller letters on the engineer's side. The Life-Like units have only the "YUGOSLAVIA" lettering. I don't know what the Con-Cor releases have but opening up the loco and examining the motor and drive would reveal the origin.

Variations: Probably the only ones are the different styles of couplings between the motor shaft and worm shaft and the different colors (white or black) of the plastic motor pieces.

Please contact me with any additions or corrections: dgosha@aol.com

Links to images of the available liveries. Click on the description or thumbnail to view a full sized picture:

Keep in mind that I modified these units. The original releases would have black (unpainted) handrails and trucks and Rapido couplers:
#2141 SANTA FE Road #1762
#2142 EMD DEMO Road #4353
#2143 BURLINGTON Road #549
#2144 PENN CENTRAL
#2145 NORTHWESTERN (never made)

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