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Atlas HO-scale Alco S-2 delivers

By Eric White
Published: February 13, 2015
Atlas Alco S-2 HO-scale locomotive
Product: With the sound of pistons and turbochargers, the new Alco S-2 from Atlas Model Railroad Co. chattered to life on the test track. All that was missing was a belch of smoke as the locomotive started to creep forward tie by tie. The dual-mode sound decoder adds a pleasing dimension to this HO-scale switch engine.
Alco began building the S-2 in 1940. The S-2 was fitted with a McIntosh & Seymour Model 539T engine, turbocharged for 1,000 horsepower. Between 1940 and 1950, 1,502 S-2s were built by Alco and its subsidiary, Montreal Locomotive Works.
Atlas' model is a newly retooled, accurate model of a popular prototype locomotive. It’s now being offered with an ESU LokSound Select Digital Command Control sound decoder that produces impressive, authentic sound effects.
Performance: The Atlas model matches all the dimensions in Model Railroader Cyclopedia, Vol 2: Diesel Locomotives (Kalmbach Publishing Co., out of print). Our sample was painted for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe in the blue-and-yellow scheme from the 1960s. This was the scheme worn by these locomotives until they were retired in the mid-1970s. Our model has horizontal radiator shutters. Atlas also offers a version with vertical shutters. The plastic hood snaps into a die-cast metal chassis that includes diamond-tread walkways. Handrails and end rails are molded in flexible plastic.
Separate detail parts include hand grabs, piping on the sides of the hood in front of the cab, a bell and horn, and a walkway above the radiator fan outlet on the top of the hood (which isn’t found in prototype photos of Santa Fe S-2s).
We tested a sample that came equipped with a dual-mode ESU LokSound Select sound decoder, which will also run on a layout wired for direct current. A lower-priced version is available for customers who have DC layouts and are not interested in sound.
We first tested the engine on DC power. At 5V, the lights came on and the sound of the Model 539T six-cylinder engine could be heard starting up. At 7V, the engine revved up, and the locomotive started to creep forward at 1-scale mph. At 12V, the model topped out at 60-scale mph, pretty speedy for a switcher.
In DC, all sounds are automatic. The engine speed notches up as the locomotive accelerates. A brake-squeal sound effect is activated just as the locomotive comes to a stop.
Under DCC, the model started moving at 1 mph in speed step 1, reaching 60 mph in speed step 28. The LokSound Select sound decoder allowed me to control all of the usual sounds of horn and bell, and offers 16 different horn sounds. After trying a few out, I returned the model to its default Nathan single-chime horn.
In addition to sampling the horn sounds, I also changed the address of the locomotive to match its road number, 2350, using an MRC Prodigy Advance2 DCC system.
While testing the locomotive on the layout, I took advantage of the yard mode feature, which dropped top speed by half. I could also use functions 9 and 10 to manually notch engine sounds independently of the locomotive speed.
Atlas' Alco S-2 thrummed along, pushing and pulling 20-car cuts in the yard, through No. 6 turnouts and crossovers without missing a beat.
Marketing: Some of the largest railroads in the country owned and ran Alco S-2 switchers, and Atlas offers its version painted for 16 different roads, appealing to a broad variety of model railroaders. The model’s accurate tooling, smooth slow-speed performance and powerful sound effects add to the appeal.
With sharp details, smooth operation and accurate sound, this engine is a pleasure to run. If your customers are in the market for a switcher, give this S-2 a look.
Product: Alco S-2 diesel switcher
Maker: Atlas Model Railroad Co.
Scale: HO (1:87.1)
Stock number: 10001466 to 10001501 and 10001887 to 10001926
MSRP: $259.95-$264.95 with DCC and sound, $149.95-$154.95 without
Availability: Walthers

• Accurate model of popular engine
• Available with DCC and sound
• Offered in numerous road names
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