Introduced: 1983 (SD40-2 and SD40T-2) and 1985 (SD45)
These models all came out at pretty much the same time, and as such, all feature the same internals. So, to save myself a bit of time (and money), I'm going to review them all here based on the couple of examples I've actually tried out.
These are very nice running locomotives. Throttle response is smooth at all levels, slow speed creep is great, pickup is fine, and pulling power is excellent. The mechanism has a bit of a growl to it (particularly at higher speeds), but it's not horrible (certainly not by 1985 standards). These models have no problems on sharp (9.75" radius) curves. One wheel (rear truck, right side) has a traction tire on it (replacement wheels are included if you want to swap it out). The mechanism is a pretty sophisticated one (particularly for its era), employing a 5-pole motor and a PC board electronic scheme that eliminates the need for wiring. The factory paint jobs are OK, although they do seem a little thick in spots. Like most brass, these models lack window glazing and lighting.
My main complaint with these models (and the reason I only give them a "B") is the crazy truck/pilot design. Not only are the couplers and pilots mounted to the trucks, but the freaking steps are as well! This is a compromise that might be acceptable on a $10 plastic model, but certainly not on an expensive brass one.
To remove the shell, simply unscrew the two screws holding the fuel tank to the shell. The shell should just slide up and off at that point.
Reviewed: 1/84 Model Railroader ("Key's brass N scale version of the SD40T-2 is a standard-nose version manufactured in Japan by Endo. The lights are different on the SP and D&RGW versions, and the SP unit has an air conditioner on the cab roof. The locomotives are assembled from etched sheet and cast brass parts. Appearance and workmanship is generally quite good, although the cast-on hand grabs on the ends are something of a disappointment. Generally on a brass engine we expect to see free-standing grab irons. The unpainted models have a coat of gold paint. The air intake grills on the sides are etched completely though, an important feature on this engine since one of the delights of watching real tunnel motors in action is being able to see daylight through the bodies. The model's mechanism blocks more than half the hole, but the effect is still there... Disassembling the engine is a little tricky... Screws through the floor also hold the five-pole, open-frame motor in position. The double-ended motor shaft is connected to the worm shafts by tight, heavy springs... The engine is a powerful performer... Each cast-metal gear tower includes a brass worm which drives a plastic worm gear in the truck casting... The truck is held in place by a knockout pin... The worm gear drives two plastic idlers and a brass drive gear for each of the two powered axles on each truck. The center wheelset on each truck is not driven and does not pick up current. One rubber traction tire is on each truck, but included with the prepainted locomotive are replacement wheelsets for those who don't like traction tires... The model is offered either plain or painted. The factory paint on my SP engine is quite satisfactory... This is a sturdy, accurate, good-running model of an interesting and attractive prototype. No price")