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MTH's new O-scale SD45

By Bob Keller
By Hal Miller
Published: July 14, 2010
MTH O-scale SD45 with Proto-Sound 2.0
Product: Six-axle diesel mania gripped U.S. railroads in the mid-1960s, as did horsepower fever. Out of the times was born EMD’s SD45, a 3,600-horsepower beast powered by a 20-cylinder turbocharged prime mover.

Despite crankshaft issues, EMD sold 1,200 of them to 21 railroads from 1965–71.

Many were rebuilt and saw regular service into the 1990s, with some working on regional carriers well into this century.

MTH’s model of the locomotive captures the look of the real thing, with its characteristic long carbody and flared radiators. The model is Proto-Sound 2.0 equipped and features operating smoke and a wealth of physical detail. Other roadnames and road numbers are available for many of the major owners of these diesels.

Performance: I’ve compared EMD’s SD40 to a hammer: a solid, multi-purpose tool that found its way into nearly every railroad’s toolbox. That makes the SD45 the sledgehammer: a bit bigger, beefier and good for certain jobs, like hauling long, really heavy trains. The radiators that stand out from the wider carbody, along with the taller and wider nose, say this locomotive is ready to tackle the toughest jobs a railroad has to offer.

Starting at the business end of the locomotive, the pilot has brake and multiple-unit hoses, perforated brakeman steps, handrails with safety accents and chain, and a fold-up step for moving between units. The decks all have cast-in safety tread. The nose features some nicely cast-in hatch and latch detail, two add-on fine wire grab irons, as well as illuminated markers and on top of the hood, a sand pipe and grab iron. The forward- and rear-facing cab windows have separate wiper arms, and the side windows have add-on (plastic) mirrors. An engineer and brakeman inhabit the “office.” Leaning forward from the cab roof is the housing for the headlights, number boards and a horn mounted on top. The roof has an operating strobe and a radio antenna.

The body has ample rivet, hinge, seam and latch detail. The Armour yellow Union Pacific paint scheme is brightly done, with crisp lettering. The roof features lift rings, raised fans, the exhaust stack which produces plenty of smoke, and a sand-pipe cap.

Most of the screening on the sides is see-through, except for the lift-off section under the two forward exhaust fans. Underneath the lid, the user will find volume- and smoke-output controls, a battery-charger plug, and the 2-to-3-rail conversion polarity switches.

The silver-painted trucks boast good cast-in detail and include near-scale brake piping and cylinders. The trucks are Proto 3-2 and can be equipped with scale wheels for 2-rail use.

The locomotive runs and sounds just as good as it looks. Using a conventional setup produced a low speed of about 3.5 scale mph; using the command system lowered it about a scale mph more. The upper speed range is in line with the performance of the real thing.

The locomotive performed smoothly and quietly at all speeds and has plenty of pulling power. Two traction tires on each truck help the muscle get to the rail.

The sounds of the 645 prime mover are deep and throaty and change with speed or resistance. The more cars you hook to it, the more it will sound like it’s struggling. Run it up a grade to hear it really work.

Marketing: MTH’s version is a worthy model of the locomotive that spawned the term “Hustle Muscle.” Contemporaries of these engines include the SD40-2, which MTH also produces in a variety of roadnames. Equipped with Proto-Sound 2.0, an operator can consist several SD45s or SD40s easily, so if your customer is in the market for multiple units, let them know.

MTH’s Digital Command System (DCS) Commander (50-1028; $149.95) can unlock the full potential of these and other MTH locomotives, so be sure to let your customers know if you have them available. Have one out with a test track or in-store layout to demonstrate the locomotive’s capabilities to potential customers.

Be sure to also suggest rolling stock and track when you sell this item.

Product: Premier SD45 Low-Hood Diesel Engine with Proto-Sound 2.0
Maker: MTH Trains
Scale: O
Stock No.: 20-2915-1 (Union Pacific No. 19, hi-rail wheels)
MSRP: $449.95
Availability: Various model railroad distributors

Long service history
Very good details
Sound brings the engine to life
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