Hallmark/Samhongsa (Korea) Brass GE Dash-8's

Introduced: 1992 (B40-8 and C40-8), 1993 (B40-8W and C40-8W), 1994 (B39-8) and 1995 (B32-8WP Genesis)

These models were all released around the same time and sport the same basic chassis design. So, to save myself a bit of time, I'm going to review them all here.

These are very snazzy looking locomotives that have, unfortunately, been saddled with a fairly unimpressive and primitive mechanism. The motor is a small can job (probably 3 poles), the drive shafts are long, floppy plastic affairs and all of the gears are metal. Stick all of that inside of a big, empty brass shell and, surprise, surprise, these things make a tremendous amount of noise - very much like an old 1970s Bachmann locomotive.

And can we talk about the wiring for a moment? My lord, there must be a mile's worth of the stuff snaking around inside these things. Honestly, I've never seem so much wire crammed into a single locomotive. And the topper is the wiring running from the chassis up into the shell (for the lighting). Yay, directional lighting in a brass locomotive - a nice feature - but unfortunately, said wiring is so short in most of these that you can't move the shell more than two inches away from the chassis (unless you feel up to the task of yoinking all that wiring).

Here's one (a B40-8) that actually has a bit more tether to work with. Why is this one different? Only Samhongsa knows for sure.

Another problem with these models is the pickup scheme. For some reason they decided to go with wheel wipers that contact the tops of the wheels instead of the backs. Call me crazy (many have), but that seems like a scheme that's just begging for problems. These locomotives do not have traction tires, so each truck provides four-wheel pickup. That's right, four out of the twelve wheels on the six-axled diesels do not provide pickup at all (IE, they used the same wiper assembly on their six-wheel trucks that they used on their four-wheel trucks).

All wheels are geared on the 4-axle models. As for the 6-axle models, it's hard to say. The gears are not visible through the truck bottom-plates, so without completely dismantling them there's no way to tell (there's also no way to lubricate them). Wheels are low-profile, so no problems on Code-55 rails.

None of these models have window glazing, nor do they come with couplers (although pockets clearly designed for Micro-Trains couplers are provided).

So yeah, like an old 1970s Bachmann trainset locomotive, these will run around in circles fairly reliably. But they're way too loud and throttle response is way too uneven for them to be considered operations-worthy. IE, pretty little models that will look nice in a display case, but not much more than that. Very disappointing for locomotives that were manufactured in the 1990s!

Miscellanea -

These might be some of the most abundantly available brass locomotives in N scale. They show up with amazing regularity on eBay, and generally sell for cheap (usually between $100 and $150).

Not all of these models have headlights. For example, my Santa Fe B40-8W only has a reverse light. I'm not sure what's up with that, but my guess is that since the headlight is in the nose (rather than up by the numberboards), they decided it'd be just waaaay too much effort to try to figure out a way to route photons alllllll the waayyyyyyy downnnnnn theeerrreeeee (gag). Then again, my UP C40-8W has a working headlight in the nose, so... who knows?

There are at least two different versions of the B40-8W - "Sante 565 Class" and "Santa Fe 500 Class". Sorry, no idea what the differences might be between the two. Nor do I know if there are any other versions. Some encyclopedia, eh?

To separate the shell from the chassis, remove the four small screws on either side of the fuel tank. The shell should just pull off at that point (although that insane wiring generally won't allow you to pull it off too far).

Grade: C (for all)

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