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Model Railroading > Athearn RTR MRL SD40-2XR


Date: 12/15/15 00:15
Athearn RTR MRL SD40-2XR
Author: fbe

I picked up MRL 256 and MRL 259,no sound, DCC ready at the local hobby shop today. The paint job and details are correct for these individual locomotives. The horns and ditch lights differ and 256 has the lion logo, the 259 has a red ball logo. These units were built by EMD as SD40 locomotives but later designated as SD40-2XR by MRL after they upgraded the units and added an advanced -2 electrical cabinet.

The loco lights and ditch lights are very weak in DC but get somewhat brighter under DCC. The bulb wires from the ditch lights are sandwiched between the frame and underside of the front platform. They are taped to the shell with tape which is sticky on both sides. This means you carefully have to pry the shell from the frame to get these loose. I installed Digitrax dh166 plug in decoders knowing there would be solder points on the light boards for the green and lavender wires to make programmed ditch lights functional. I was disappointed to find there is no hole on the board for the + blue wire common. Since the board is set up for 1.5v bulbs it is more difficult to establish 3v circuits for led conversions. Hint: Cut the blue wire coming out of the decoder and add resistors there in series for each light circuit. I believe I will just take the light board and plug in decoder out and replace these with NCE DA SR drop in decoders. With the 1K ohm resistors already on the decoder this really reduces the wiring necessary.

Rooftop lift rings will need to be added. These are not included in the parts bag. Detail parts for the trucks and fuel tank are in the parts bag and and can be attached per the owner's desires.

The two units run pretty well out of the box and smooth out after 30 minutes of break in. They are not as good as my last two Genesis. The included instruction sheet has a box giving numbers for a Genesis motor upgrade. Last I looked that was a $39 purchase.

So for the price you get a good model for DC modelers. If I was buying one with sound I would be disappointed the Genesis motor was not in it at a higher price.

These are my opinions, others may have a different experience.

Posted from iPhone



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/15/15 01:49 by fbe.



Date: 12/16/15 00:04
Re: Athearn RTR MRL SD40-2XR
Author: funnelfan

Since the Details Associates lift rings are getting to be very expensive, I started to use these Atlas lift rings that are much cheaper and look better to boot. They are molded in a durable plastic and not likely to break

http://www.ebay.com/itm/SD35-SDP35-OTHERS-EMD-Lift-Rings-48-ATLAS-HO-/351604036259?

The seller has lots of detail parts from Atlas, Athearn, Kato and Bachmann in his E-bay store.

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA



Date: 12/16/15 02:35
Re: Athearn RTR MRL SD40-2XR
Author: Lighter

> Since the Details Associates lift rings are
> getting to be very expensive, I started to use
> these Atlas lift rings that are much cheaper and
> look better to boot. They are molded in a durable
> plastic and not likely to break

Plano also makes EMD style lift rings in etched stainless.  All five sizes EMD uses. 
Here's just one example - http://bit.ly/1UyfJBt



Date: 12/16/15 07:11
Re: Athearn RTR MRL SD40-2XR
Author: Betsy

Lighter Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Plano also makes EMD style lift rings in etched
> stainless.  All five sizes EMD uses. 
> Here's just one example - http://bit.ly/1UyfJBt

The Plano lift rings are very nice, and my current favorite to use.

Elizabeth



Date: 12/16/15 18:06
Re: Athearn RTR MRL SD40-2XR
Author: fbe

Thanks to all for the information. I know of the Planos and have enough at home to do a couple of units. I did not know of the Atlas parts so I will have to check these out when I get down to the LHS in a couple of days.

The TCS 1322 leds are too big for the ditch lights so I will need to solder leads on some smaller surface mount leds. What is nice is the bulbs are not glued into the ditch light castings or at either headlight location. Just pull the tape off the wires and the bulbs easily fall out.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 12/16/15 23:20
Re: Athearn RTR MRL SD40-2XR
Author: MrMRL

Got any pics of these fine models to share?

~ Mr. MRL



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