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SP AC4400CW Redux


Well, cutting in the Kato radiators into the Athearn shell isn’t so simple. Front to back length of the Athearn radiator section is just shy of 2″ – 1.9995″ by my calipers. That’s painted. Kato’s radiators are 2.037″ long. I measure the Athearn radiator at 1.365″ wide vs. Kato at 1.364″ wide, so that’s probably correct once you subtract paint thickness from two sides.

I think I’m going to have to use the Details West and Details Associates parts to make the best of the Athearn body. I don’t see an easy way to stretch the radiator area 0.037″ without damaging roof detail, nor is there an easy way to shorten the Kato radiator to fit without loss of critical detail.


Now that the Atlas cab came, I can do some comparison. Length of the nose – measured from the center window support to the flat of the front on the nose:

Athearn “Ready to Run” AC4400CW cab: 0.475″
Atlas Dash 8-40BW cab: 0.533″
Kato AC4400CW cab: 0.535″
My stretched Athearn Bue Box AC4400CW cab (per Clyde King’s technique): 0.535″

Frankly, I’m surprised the stretched Blue Box cab came out so well. The Athearn cab seems to be a full 0.060″ too short. I would think that the saw kerf would have shortened the nose somewhat less than the 0.060″ styrene I inserted, but it looks like it came out just right.

The Atlas cab will take a lot of work. There’s no cab sub-base, which will have to come from the Athearn or Kato cab. I’ll have to add a front door to the nose, but that’s available as a detail part. The back window on the fireman’s side needs to be shortened in order to clear the inverter cabinet. All in all, Clyde King’s method of extending the nose is a lot less work.

The Athearn cab was not reworked as part of the “upgrade” in China. The old Blue Box cab has the same texture on the roof that the Ready to Run model has. It just doesn’t show up in photographs of  the bare plastic.

More on the Kato AC4400CW:

Researching the Kato AC4400CW, there’s an early and a late version of the shell. This had troubled me, because I believe the original run of the Kato AC4400CW predates the inverter cabinet change. Well, the early version was produced with the same style inverter cabinet as used by the SP (and the Athearn model). So why not use it? Well, first off, it’s not currently available, and secondly, as near as I can tell, it was only offered with the number boards in  the nose instead of above the cab windows. The “deal killer” is the equipment blower filter box air intake. The intake grill and X-panel are reversed from the orientation on the Southern Pacific and Athearn models. So if you come across the earlier Kato locomotive on eBay or at a swap meet, and the orientation of the intake grill and X-panel on the equipment blower filter box air intake aren’t important (or less of a compromise than all the other work), then it might be a viable model for you.

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