Athearn HO SW1500

Discussion in 'Electo-Motive Division (EMD)' started by meteor910, May 31, 2011.

  1. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    What's with Athearn's selection of road names for their excellent re-do of the HO SW1500 model? I was just looking at their recent release - IHB, IT, Union RR, CR.

    The Frisco had 46 SW1500's, a very successful switcher. As far as I know, they are all still running. Athearn has recently had successes with new Frisco HO models - SD40-2, SD45, GP15-1, etc.

    When will Athearn do a new Frisco SW1500? Even those of us that own one or more of the prior Athearn "BB" SW1500 ( which was a nice model!) would no doubt get at least one of the new ones, I would think.

    Union RR? IHB? CR is OK I guess, and here in StL the IT will sell, but it has little national appeal.

  2. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I'm with Ken. Where are the frisco units? I keep seeing new releases of SW1500's in the Athearn newsletter, but never seen any O&W in there. I've heard it's a good model though. But I've heard that about there other models and the RTR drive line is still CRAP to an Atlas drive line.

  3. renapper

    renapper Passed away March 8, 2013

    Ethan, I have to disagree. I own Hundreds, literly, RTR Athearns and I have never had any problem with any of them. I go back 50 years, My first Athearn was a Super Power F7A for $19.00. I'm not saying the Atlas Drive is bad, it certainly is not, but there is nothing wrong with Athearn RTR if you clean, and oil them correctly. If RTR is so bad, why was the Proto 2000 E7 & E8 so highly praised, it had a 100% Athearn drive in them? The new Genius engines have a Kato Drive. I just sick and tired of people trashing Athearn, keep in mind that the great majority of use would not be in the hobby if it were not for Athearn. I only wish they would get out for under Horizon.
  4. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I don't mean stopping/stalling jerking, etc. I mean it's LOUD. None of my Atlas engines are. The RTR drive is smooth, but louder than Atlas Drives. I've never worked with a Kato model before. I have worked with one Athearn Genesis. It's quieter than RTR, but this was a steamer.

  5. Rancho Bob

    Rancho Bob Member

    I have to jump on the giant I AGREE bandwagon with Ken. I can even see the Union scheme and lots of PRR modelers who sort of follow the Pittsburgh area will want one for an "interchange" scenario. IT...well, I like the IT and have a ton of it in O scale, but as to the national appeal in HO for a switcher -- meh --. Conrail. Is that the default "modern" selection? Indiana Harbor Belt. Yeah. BUT.... Frisco would be nice. I have a nifty VO1000 and could sure use another small switch engine.

  6. FriscoFriend

    FriscoFriend Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter

    Several months ago I conducted a survey of models that people would like to see produced and the SW1500 was right at the top. Therefore I will be contacting my source that I work with and ask him for it to be considered for the next run. I hope the pre-orders on the GP15-1 are good enough to warrant him considering it. Also down the road another batch of SD45's would be nice also. I believe that some dealers may have some of the SD40-2's so we need to wait on those in my opinion. There were only 8 on the roster and only for a short period of time. I hope everyone understands my reasoning on this issue.
  7. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    As a fellow old-timer, I am in agreement with Richard on the Athearn drive issue.

    The OLD Blue Box Athearns - the ones with the often too-wide body and the wide, open-frame motor, ran great. I never had one that caused me trouble, and they were easy to maintain. BUT - they were current hogs, and took a lot of DC volts to get them moving, and sucked up a lot of amps to keep them moving. And, they made a lot of noise due to Athearn's spur gears. I regeared several with Earnst gears - they ran slower but made even more noise, and I repowered one - it ran smoother with less power but still made a lot of noise.

    The NEW Blue Box Athearns - the ones with the scale width body shells and the narrow frame motor were a huge improvement ..... usually. The only problem I had with them was they were not consistent. My SW1500 runs as well as any locomotive I have, and looks real good. I had GP40-2's, GP38-2's, SD40-2's, all of which I eventually sold, that all ran OK but often did not run alike. I still have two GP35's - one runs great, one has a sub-par motor.

    Since Horizon, all of my Athearns run real well - F3's (Genesis) and SD45's. Hope the GP15-1 does likewise.

    And, there is no doubt, in the 1950's-1960's-1970's-1980's Irv Athearn took HO model railroading to new heights. An incredible number of different models, all good looking stuff, all ran well, and all at a very reasonable price. I'll always be an Athearn fan.


    ps - I'll like Athearn even better if they do a new Frisco SW1500!
  8. Rancho Bob

    Rancho Bob Member

    Old timers, huh? Guess so.... I remember Athearn's metal kits and GLOBE F units. Hi F drive, Rubber band drives, traction tires. And their infamous, cheap locomotive you could have fun with...The Hustler. The only thing Athean made way back I was not crazy about were their steam engines.

  9. FriscoFriend

    FriscoFriend Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter


    If we still have any around, one of us old f***s should send yor a rubber band and and some traction tires to play with and then you might be able to comprehend what the "Dark Ages" of locomotive drive trains were! Maybe even an Athearn Hustler!
  10. wpmoreland719

    wpmoreland719 Member Supporter

    Does anyone have one of these BB kits that they would like to sell or part-out? I have one of the late era blue-box SW1500's (circa 2000) that needs handrails, cab windows, bell, and snap-on truck covers. I also have the body of a GP38-2 of about the same era that needs a new motor and, of course, handrails. The GP38-2 is of particular interest to me, because it has road no. 699, and the last unit to work the Salem branch was the former 698 (BN 2368). If anyone has either of these that they would be willing to part with, please let me know.


    Pat Moreland,
    Union Mo.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2011
  11. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Ah yes! The famous early-1960's Athearn "Hi-F" rubber band drive - all four truck axles powered! It really wasn't too bad if you ran several units together so the surging could be dampered out. They were also very quiet, but they were way too fast - a scale 100MPH was easy. Ah the memories!

  12. Rancho Bob

    Rancho Bob Member

    We used to "drag race" the Hustler on the old Shawnee Mission HO Club layout. Some on this forum might remember that outfit located below George Ziegler's hobby shop.
  13. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I think it would be interesting to work on a rubber band drive engine. As time has gone buy I think that maybe one of the funnest things to me is doing repair work on locomotives. Athearn's are starting to get boring to work on since the BB kits I work with are the non rubber band drives, aka the easiest of every thing to work on.

  14. renapper

    renapper Passed away March 8, 2013

    I fixed the problem with my Hustlers, I put a PDT drive uder them, ad tured the ito a Frisco Cow ad Cafe set.
  15. Sirfoldalot

    Sirfoldalot Supporter Supporter

    What years would this have been? Some of the photos in my album were taken there in the mid 60's.
    Elmer (Bud) Mc Clary was a master of details on the scenery. Sometimes the trains got in his way -- we had to watch him in order to keep him from covering up the track. LOL
  16. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    The Athearn "Hi-F" rubber band drives were used late 1950's-mid 1960's if I recall correctly. The rubber band drive was common on Athearn's F7A&B units, their Hustler, and their RDC's - maybe also on the GP7 & SW7. Around the mid-1960's, I think, Athearn introduced their first gear drive chassis. I remember buying a cool looking CB&Q Athearn GP7 with the gear drive from Henze's here in StL and thinking it was a marvel! I had a set of Frisco A-B-A F7's and a set of PRR A-B-A F7's, all rubber band drives. Running the three units together dampened out the surging you would get from running just one rubber band drive unit alone and the rubber bands flexed under the load.

    Those were the days!

  17. w3hodoug

    w3hodoug 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    Here's a query I posted on the Athearn Facebook wall and encouraging reply:

    Douglas James Hughes
    What's with your selection of road names for the re-do of the HO SW1500 model? IHB, IT, Union RR, CR?

    The Frisco had 46 SW1500's, a very successful switcher. As far as I know, they are all still running. You have recently had successes with new Frisco HO models - SD40-2, SD45, GP15-1, etc.

    When will you do a new Frisco SW1500?

    June 2 at 6:26am · Like ·

    Like this item
    3 people like this..

    Craig Walker Frisco is not the only railroad yet to be done. Patience...
    Yesterday at 2:07am · Like.
  18. Rancho Bob

    Rancho Bob Member

    I've been meaning to answer SirFoldAlot about the Shawnee Mission Club. 1962-1966 when I left for Arizona State U. I finally went and looked at the pix....yeah...there's "Mr Scenery" himself. That was a great layout. I went back to George's hobby shop during my college years and "bought him out" of a lot of stuff at a huge discount and took it back to my buds in Arizona I'd met during my college years.

Share This Page