Introduced: 1982 (Kato/Japan version) and 1995 (Chinese-manufactured version)
This locomotive was originally produced for Con-Cor by Kato. Con-Cor and Kato split up in 1989 and all original locomotive tooling was returned from Japan to the United States. An "in-house" version of the DL-109 (actually manufactured in China) then appeared in 1995 (shortly after Con-Cor re-released their old Alco PA - not surprising, since the two share very similar mechanisms).
Kato version -
Although the design is an old one (having its roots in the 1960's PA model), it's still a decent one. The motor is a 5-poler (buried somewhere inside all of that metal). The chassis consists of three pieces - two lower halves and one upper half. All twelve wheels provide pickup (no traction tires), with current flowing directly from the metal truck assemblies into the electrically isolated lower frame halves (IE, no wires). Apart from the metal worm gears, all the rest of the gearing is plastic. Eight of the twelve wheels are geared. Couplers are truck-mounted Rapidos. A directional headlight is wired to the front of the chassis. Although similar in most respects to the Kato-designed Con-Cor PA model, the DL-109 chassis is slightly different (mainly to fit inside the differently sized/shaped DL-109 shell). The trucks used on the Con-Cor DL-109 are exactly the same as the ones used on the Con-Cor PA. The wheel flanges are reasonably sized, so no problems running these on Code-55 track.
The only substantial difference between the two versions is the motor, with the newer version having an improved skew-wound job. Although, any actual difference in performance between the two versions is pretty difficult to gauge - they both run pretty much perfectly. Throttle response is smooth at all levels, slow speed creep is excellent, pickup is flawless and pulling power is off the charts. They both run reasonably quietly (especially for their era). I guess the main difference between the two versions is the top-end speed, with the newer skew-wound motor making for a much more reasonable maximum. Overall though, these are very nice looking and running models (regardless of their country of origin).
Dummy "A" units with directional lighting were also available, although no "B" (DL-110) units.
To determine which version you have, just check the bottom of the fuel tank (where it will say either "Made in China" or "Made in Japan").
These models were discontinued circa 2005 as part of Con-Cor's "The Boss Is Retiring" downsizing effort.
To remove the shell, simply spread the sides apart and lift.
Kato version reviewed: 6/82 Model Railroader ("It's time for celebration when a new N scale locomotive hits the market, especially when it looks as good and runs as well as JMC/Con-Cor's new DL-109. JMC had a good idea with this locomotive and it turned out well. What they did was take their fine-running Alco PA-1 mechanism, move things around a little, and put a new body shell over it to end up with another fine-running locomotive... The dimensions and details of the model compare very closely to those (of prototype drawings)... They took the mechanism from the PA-1, extended its rear drive shaft, and moved the worm back on the shaft. This gave the locomotive the longer wheelbase it needed to qualify as a DL-109. The only other modifications (other than the body shell, of course) were made to the frame. Both the DL-109 and PA-1 have a three-part combination frame and weight. The upper third had to have the back end opened up to allow the shaft to protrude and needed to be shaved down here and there to allow the new body shell to fit over it. The two lower sections are new, different only in their increased length needed to accommodate the longer wheelbase. Obviously, the speed at 12 volts is rather high, but the answer to that is to not run it at 12 volts. The slow speed is good, and I'm certain that after breaking in, the locomotive will run even slower. Pulling power should be excellent, based on what a PA-1 will pull... JMC has had a good idea, here, and N scalers will like this new locomotive. I wonder what other variations JMC can make from this mechanism.... How about an Erie-Built? Undec, SF, NH, Southern. Powered: $45.98, unpowered: $14.98")