Quick Review: True Line Trains MP36

Checking out the TLT MP36, details and operation

I was afforded the opportunity to stretch the legs so to say, of my new True Line Trains HO scale Metrolink (SCAX) MP36PH-3C on the overshadowed San Diego Model Railroad Association's HO scale San Diego & Arizona Eastern layout in Balboa park, San Diego.

True Line Trains did a wonderful job of replicating the MPI MPXpress MP36/40 series. Although it's nearly three years after I expected to have mine, they finally got to the Metrolink MP36PH-3C in the summer of 2013. I preordered mine through Overland Hobbies: http://www.overlandhobbies.com/

Initially out of the box I was impressed with the detailing, although not of the highest quality (minor under body details left off), all details are desperate, and accurate. Paint is smooth, evenly applied, and accurate. True Line Trains is a
stickler on paint, their facebook page indicated that some schemes are very hard to mask and paint due to the complex curves of the MP36/40 body (forgive me I cannot find the post). My model arrived with one wiper completely missing from the cab, TLT was able to send a replacement arriving just in time for the scheduled photo shoot, however I got the wrong variation. I installed it anyways.

The San Diego Model Railroad Association was courteous enough to allow me to stop by on their monthly Sunday operating session/museum duty day. Prior to the the Model Railroad Museum opening, I was able to set up from the outside (visitor isles) to photograph the locomotive and Athearn Bombardier commuter cars at their model of the San Diego Santa Fe Depot.

After some photos, and learning the club's DC block/DCC operating system, I was able to spend two hours operating the train on their layout. Overall the MP36 performed well, with a few minor stalls (track related). However, the weight of the five car train caught up to the locomotive in the twisting grade from Campo (modeled) to Cima (modeled), a gain of 14". I required assistance from a trailing freight train to make the grade due to the wheel slip. The club's Operator's Guide suggested that an equivalent (F unit) locomotive is rated for 6 passenger cars through this grade. Compensating for the operating era, and the weight of the Athearn cars (they're 2oz heavier than recommended by NMRA RP 20.1), this explains the heavy wheel slip.

Overall the True Line Trains MP36 looks great and operated outstandingly. Sound was appropriate (though I have set it at 50% volume), and pulling power more than adequate.

I must warn all potential buyers, the body on the locomotive is secured with six small tabs, three on either side. Lifting the model by the body IS NOT recommended, as the shell can easily slip off. Gaining access to the interior is very easy however! Interior lighting in the cab is calling out for crew figures, though I have yet to figure out how to turn the lighting off (I figure, when in push mode I should shut it off).

Equipped with Sergent Engineering Type H couplers, the train held together tightly. The couplers allowed the diaphragms on the Athearn cars to touch and look very realistic. The Type H couplers also realistically avoided derailment issues, on two occasions one intermediate car derailed, yet stayed upright even though the locomotive was still pulling the train along the tracks.

I'm leaving a full 4 out of 5 for this locomotive, despite the minor damage on arrival (that happens), the overall performance was great. Issues with the instructions included for the DCC (determining CV's to change for the lighting), lack of some details, and the body slipping off all played a roll in the rating.

© 2013, 2019, Josh Baakko https://www.modelrailroadtips.com

Quick Review: Athearn Genesis GP40P-2

I recently acquired this incredible GP40P-2 model from Athearn Genesis. Athearn has been striving for detail and matching road number detail for detail.  These GP40P-2's were built for Southern Pacific with their usual light cluster.  It was repainted at least once in Southern Pacific hands, and later into Union Pacific paint after the merger.  #1373 models a unit in Union Pacific paint, with a lightning stripe on the hood, thus effectively dating this as a contemporary model.

Quick Look: ScaleTrains.com Dash 9

In January of 2019, 5 year old ScaleTrains.com announced their HO and N scale GE Dash 9 locomotives, in Rivet Counter and Operator Lines.  They had industry leading, In-Stock BNSF and Norfolk Southern models in Rivet Counter both Sound & DCC equipped, and DCC Ready.  I ordered one Sunday, a day after the announcement!

Seen here is BNSF 4313, As delivered Heritage II Dash 9, with DCC & LokSound V5.  This article is intended for you to familiarize yourself with the model in anticipation for the fast looming one month away. I will not review the sound capacities here, you can visit their YouTube for that.

©2017, 2019
suvartsrailroad on YouTube
@suvarts_transportation_co on Instagram


Intermountain Railway Company Procor Pressure Flow Hopper


Intermountain Railway Company's first release of the Procor 3300 cubic foot pressurized unloading hopper came decorated in 3 paint schemes. Stock numbers 48901-01 through -06 featured a Canadian/Canadien National scheme, with gray paint, and red lettering. This model is shown here, is stock number 48901-03, CN #374537. Also available were 6 road numbers for British Columbia Railway (green and black with white lettering), stock numbers 48902-01 through -06, and one road number for a Halliburton leased car (light gray and red with white lettering), stock number 48903-01.

The cars are ready-to-run, and come equipped with Kadee #78 couplers, and standard tread (Code 110) 36” wheels. The prototype was equipped with truck mounted brakes, Intermountain included this detail on the trucks. The roof walks are finely etched metal, as are a number of the details.

These cars have a retail price of $32.95, and are available now. Intermountain announced a second run, due in March/April 2011. The second run will include the following schemes: Stelco (green and black with white lettering), stock numbers 48904-01 through -06; Mountain Minerals (tan with black lettering), stock numbers 48905-01 and -02; Canadian National (white with red lettering), stock numbers 48906-01 through -06; and Procor (gray with black lettering), stock numbers 48907-01 and -02.