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Model Railroading > CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)


Date: 01/15/23 17:34
CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: wheel_slip

So the inter-web is ablaze with comments about the Aurora Miniatures new SD60F release and what I find amazing is the comments from people who don't even have the model. People are reading comments and then taking those comments and passing them along like they are Gospel. That being said I did take the plunge and pick one of these models up from Spring Creek Model Trains. I have no real need for a CN unit, but this being produced by a new manufacturer I was intrigued, so I figured, what the hell.
Upon unboxing this locomotive I was impressed with the overall appearance of the model. It is well tooled and of a similar quality to what you expect from ScaleTrains or Athearn. I also noticed that this thing is heavy. Real heavy. Upon close inspection I noticed the front bottom step on the engineers side is missing. It was not loose in the box, and it was not inside the locomotive. I am very careful unboxing anything new these days because things do have a way of working loose on their way to their new homes. 99% of the time a missing part is found floating around in the packaging, not this time. I also look for loose parts that might fall off the model... It happens a lot. Once I am happy with the inspection, I program the locomotive and continue to test it's features and functions. The CN SD60F has a lot of lights. Everything from step lights, ground lights class lights and gauge lights on the control stand. Yes, you read that right. Gauge lights on the control stand. These were done quite well, so well that I was rather surprised. The rest of the lighting was done equally well. The color of the LED lights seemed close to prototypical and not that blinding obnoxious white you find on some models. The step lights are noticeable and not blinding blobs as they should also be. The classification lights are also well done. Not oversized, good color and not blinding bright. As far as lighting features and execution Aurora Models hit the lighting out of the park. I would have liked to see platform lights as well, but alas, they didn't go that far...
Next I wanted to see how the radiator fans looked and.... operated. Yes, this model has working radiator fans. The radiator fans look great from the top of the locomotive as do the intake grills. Very well done. Now, how do they work? Hitting F11 on my control turned the radiator fans on. This also turns on the radiator sound from the sound decoder which is way too loud and I will need to turn this sound down with my Lok Programmer. On the prototype, the radiator fans start one at a time in sequence and on the model they all turn on at the same time. Big deal? Not really. It's a interesting feature never really tried by a modern manufacturer and in my own opinion, it's a feature I can live without. The actual motor/gear noise ruins the effect and the loud sound effect from the decoder doesn't compensate for it.
Operation - I allowed the locomotive to self tune with the Back EMF feature on the LokSound decoder. The locomotive operated OK at slow speed and anything higher the locomotive surged and slogged slightly. It can't be considered smooth, especially compared to a model from ScaleTrains. Is it horrible? Not horrible, but not smooth and the drive is not as quiet as again a ScaleTrains model. When I took the locomotive apart for weathering I did lube the gears and this seemed to help a bit, but we are still not at the point I would expect at this level of model. I did not experience any problems programming my model. I used a combination of the mainline and the programming track with the Lok Programmer. 
The model is a very nice model. It is well put together and after taking it apart, I can tell it was very well planned. The place the model falls short is the smoothness of the drive train. It is quite possible that it can be smoothed out with some tinkering with the CV's but that may only fix it to 80%. It is just not as quiet as I would expect. Did Aurora Miniatures rush these out the door? I believe some more development of the drive train would have solved the only major flaw of the model. Everything else is so well done. I hope all the negative chatter this model is getting doesn't kill this manufacturer. They came so close.
Over the next few days I will try some fine tuning to see how it helps. I will also allow it to run for a couple hours to see if that smooths things out... With any luck, I will report back here.

Andy   








Date: 01/15/23 17:40
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: wheel_slip

Here's a attempt at a audio and visual representation of the radiator fans....

Andy

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Date: 01/15/23 17:41
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: bnsfmodeler

Wow very nice could you share what paint and colors you used, it looks right on point.



Date: 01/15/23 18:07
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: TCnR

Nice weathering, complements the prototype. Good looking model.

Looked at the Atlas comments, one thread was 'off the rails' and was closed by the Moderator. The other was going in the same direction and was quoting TrainOrders. Lots of minor nits, not much about running performance.



Date: 01/15/23 18:53
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: ghemr

Indeed, your weathering compliments the model.



Date: 01/15/23 19:52
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: Kemacprr

Looks like the manufacturer has discovered an issue with the truck gearing that might be the issue with yours. Otherwise a really nice looking unit. ---- Ken 



Date: 01/15/23 23:51
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: MrMRL

I don't own one of these models (yet). But visually, from the numerous images I've seen so far of these (other than the 'coke-bottle glass' windows) I think they look great, even better with the high-class weathering shown above! Shame about the apparent drive issues, but those can hopefully be fine tuned with later runs. 

To the folks at Aurora Miniatures, keep it up! A welcome new addition to the model railroading market.

~ Mr. MRL



Date: 01/16/23 08:15
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: M-636

I am curious if the drive issues are as noticeable when the unit is operated with other manufacturers locomotives in a consist?



Date: 01/16/23 09:36
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: dmaffei

Great review and nice weathering as always. Never heard of these guys till today! 



Date: 01/16/23 10:22
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: DGOLDE

Did you ever get the bottom step from the manufacturer?

Thanks for the photos and the review of this model your photos show all the details of the model and that the separation gap between the body/hood below the doors and the frame is too wide especially when compared to the real thing.  Is it possible to trim the body/hood so that this large gap goes away more or less?



Date: 01/16/23 11:30
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: wheel_slip

Here's an update on the drive issues... On the website for Aurora Miniatures they have a link to a document that has some tweaked settings for the CV's https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NB61z7cUmNbDcJOs85Uh7qVrXKKBkOBM/view After applying these there was a noticeable improvement in the operation. I did receive a response from Aurora Miniatures and they said if they have a step plate available, they would get it to me...
  Someone asked about consisting the locomotive with other locomotives and I have consisted it with a ScaleTrains locomotive and that also makes a difference. It runs quiet well.

Andy



Date: 01/16/23 11:40
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: wheel_slip

In response to the following...
 I see no oversize "gap" that you speak of. Everything looks rather close. 60 series locomotives tend to sit a tad higher than say a SD40-2, but I see nothing that jumps out at me. I did notice my front truck isn't sitting right on the rail... OOOOPS!

Andy


DGOLDE Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Did you ever get the bottom step from the
> manufacturer?
>
> Thanks for the photos and the review of this model
> your photos show all the details of the model and
> that the separation gap between the body/hood
> below the doors and the frame is too wide
> especially when compared to the real thing.



Date: 01/16/23 12:43
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: ChrisCampi

Appreciate the fair review. I hope Aurora gets the issues squared away. Your weathering and slight detail work like the brake pistons really highlights what a fine looking model this really is.



Date: 01/16/23 14:48
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: FiestaFoamer

ChrisCampi Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Appreciate the fair review. I hope Aurora gets the
> issues squared away. Your weathering and slight
> detail work like the brake pistons really
> highlights what a fine looking model this really
> is.

What he said. Nice review, great weathering -- appreciate it all. 

 



Date: 01/18/23 06:12
Re: CN SD60F - the good, bad and ugly... (Review)
Author: CO1309

For video reviews I found JLWii200 on Youtube had a pretty good coverage of testing, features, pros and cons.  The other videos seemed like marketing mostly.



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