Rapido Trains (China) GE DASH 8-40CM

Introduced: 2020

These gorgeous looking and smooth running models are available either DCC-Ready or equipped with an ESU LokSound decoder. The shells are crisply painted and feature a plethora of separately applied detail parts (varying from one model to the next based on the prototype in question) -

The bulk of the chassis is metal and split-frame. A plastic underframe piece holding the couplers and all of the various bits of underbody detailing clips to the sides of the chassis. Two additional plastic clips across the top of the chassis help to hold things together (IE, the entire mechanism is screwless). Yet more plastic clips hold the main PC board in place on top of the chassis. A "Next 18" DCC socket is provided on top of the PC board. Wires from the PC board run to the motor and the LED boards for the forward and rear lights. The lighting is directional on the analog version. On the DCC-Sound version, the headlight is either on or off with F0 (regardless of direction). Similarly, the backup light is either on or off with either F12 or F13 (again, regardless of direction). Note that although the instructions say to use F12, I (and others) wound up having to use F13 to control the rear light (evidently a programming glitch at ESU). The forward LED board also provides separate illumination for the numberboards (F19), ditch lights (F6) and rock lights (F11) for models so equipped. The speaker sits inside a cutout at the back of the chassis (held in place with a small strip of Kapton tape). More Kapton tape on the front of the chassis holds the forward LED board wiring in place.

The motor (five-pole and skew-wound according to RT) is a round "can-style" job equipped with a couple of small flywheels. The multi-piece plastic driveshafts turn brass worms mounted inside of plastic boxes sandwiched between the metal chassis halves.

Light-conducting plastic mounted inside either end of the shell provides illumination for the headlight, numberboards and backup light -

Additional light-conducting plastic on the front of the plastic undercarriage provides illumination for the ditch lights -

The BC rail models have additional lighting in the form of "Rock Lights" (below the ditchlights). However, my model (CN) is not so equipped, so I can't really comment on how well it performs.

All wheels provide pickup by way of an odd system of axle wipers (said wipers are thick and stiff and have cutouts that straddle the axles). Extensions off the tops of the wipers transfer current to metal contact strips mounted inside the chassis. Chassis current reaches the main PC board by way of a couple of large springs that seat inside holes in the top of the chassis and push up against the bottom of the PC board (I kid you not). The trucks clip to the plastic underframe and are easily removed (just pull on them and they will pop right off). In fact, so easily removed are they that a lot of these models were delivered with the trucks completely detached right in the box (mine included).

Four of the six axles are geared (with the center axles on each truck being idlers). Apart from the worms, all gearing is plastic. Couplers are chassis-mounted Micro-Trains. The wheels are low-profile. They're also blackened, although only on the hubs (IE, the wheel surfaces are not - which seems like a very good idea in this era of finicky sound decoders). One wheel per truck is equipped with a traction tire. A baggie with a generous supply of spare tires is included in the box (said baggie also includes a couple of sun shades, which I guess you're supposed to install yourself). The plastic fuel tank clips to the undercarriage and holds a large metal weight for additional heft.

These are sensational runners - silky smooth, whisper quiet, one-tie-at-a-time slow-speed creep and a realistic top-end speed. Mine ran well right out of the box, so pre-emptive wheel cleaning doesn't appear to be required. Mine can creep through insulated frog turnouts at very slow speeds, so pickup is flawless. Pulling power is outstanding with mine able to comfortably haul 50+ assorted freight cars through curves on level track (and probably a whole lot more than that). I didn't have any problems with the wheels derailing (even on 9.75" radius curves). The DCC-Sound feature is well executed. My only minor quibble is with the ditchlights (which are somewhat dim), but other than that these are gorgeous looking models with performance to match.

Prototype -

Powered by a V16 FDL 4000-horsepower prime mover, the main features of this distinctive design are the four-window North American cab, the cowl-style body and the famous "Draper Taper" cutout behind the cabs (designed by CN's Assistant Chief of Motive Power, William L. Draper to provide better reverse visibility on full-width cowl units). These great-looking locomotives always turn railfan heads in trains! The Dash 8-40CM (also known as the C40-8M) was introduced in 1990 with an order of 30 units for Canadian National (2400-2429), classified EF-640a. This was followed by a further 25 units (2430-2454) in 1992, classified EF-640b. BC Rail received 22 units (4601-4622) in 1990, followed by four more (4623-26) in 1993. These were transferred to CN following the de facto purchase of BCR in 2004. The final units were for QNSL, which acquired three locomotives (401-403) in March 1994. Amazingly, all 81 CN and BC Rail Dash 8s are still in service. Most are still in their original paint schemes but several have been repainted into the newer CN.CA livery. The "Draper Tapers" make regular visits to Chicago via CN's Grand Trunk Western route through Michigan and Indiana in the mid-1990s and sometimes further afield as run-through power. However, it was CN's purchase of the Illinois Central in 1998 that really expanded their range of use and it became common to see Dash 8-40CMs as far south as the Gulf Coast and all points inbetween, on and off CN/IC track. CN's units were joined on their foreign adventures by BC Rail's units from 2004.

Features -

- Accurately scaled from prototype blueprints
- Roadname-specific details including bell position, single or double rear headlights, with or without battery boxes behind cab, horns, tall or short sand fillers, CN or BCOL style ditch lights and more!
- An insane level of underbody detail with air filters, many separate pipes and moulded traction motor cabling and air/control pipe runs.
- Heavy, die-cast chassis with a powerful coreless motor and dual flywheels
- Operational headlights and rear lights with operational factory-installed ditch lights (plus rock lights on BCOL locomotives)
- Separate grab irons and handrails installed at the factory
- DC/Silent (Next18 DCC Ready) or DC/DCC/Sound (ESU LokSound) options
- Accurate sounds recorded from a real General Electric Dash 8-40CM
- Factory-installed couplers mounted at the correct height

Shell Removal -

Unhook the four handrails that are attached to the shell (two on the front and two on the back). Once the handrails are freed up, the shell will lift right off.

Grade: A

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