After years of Lima shells and Atlas SD60 underframes haunting me, and calling me to build my Coast Starlight train(s), Kato has finally come along with the right stuff to motivate me to get it done. I'll post more on this Starlight project, but first wanted to cover these new locos.
My era being modeled was the transition from the Ph I paint shimmy to the Ph II, so I was even more excited when they announced both were being offered. My first two SDP40F's arrived and I finally got around to putting the TCS K7D4 decoders in them. I had a hard time getting the shell off the first one to install the decoder. Not much help from TCS or on-line, but I finally figured out the trick to getting them apart. I started with the rear first by removing the handrails from the
pilot. The ears on the underframe that hold the shell on, snap into the window glass rather than the body shell itself. There is only one tab used on the engineer's side to release the
glass / shell at the rear end, so once you get that loose, the shell
will start to lift up. You can see the notch in the glass that lines up with the frame ear in the pic below:
When prying the shell away from the frame, make sure the window sections
are not separated from the shell (I stuck an x-acto blade between the
window glass and the frame). The hard part is the front. Release the front tabs simultaneously (one on each side, on-center of the cab windows). When the frame ears release from the
window / shell, the body will easily pull straight up... without any
twisting or bending as some have recommended.
You can see it is not impossible to add the Mars feature with an 0603 LED, by separating the upper lens from the number board section, but I will revisit that some other day.
I'm still waiting for my Kabo sound versions to arrive, as they have been delayed for a couple months now... but these first two are nothing less than I would expect from Kato. Ready to run out of the box except you might want to add the trip pins that come separate in the box.
A preliminary shot of the first train slowly coming together...