IntroductionGP40 Paducah & Louisville 2125
from Atlas Model Railroad
is an HO locomotive equipped for the Silver Series, item 10 002 383
. The Silver Series features an analog control system but otherwise the same model as the DCC & sound-equipped Gold Series.
This model holds a special place for me because the Paducah & Louisville Railway has taken the place of my hometown railroad, the Illinois Central. Paducah & Louisville (alpha code of PAL
) incorporated about the time that I left the area of bigger and better things and, while I knew of the railroad, it took me about 12 years to finally see it in action, rolling across Kentucky Dam. Another point to love is that PAL chose a dark green as their corporate livery, a green coincidentally very close to the green I chose in the 1970s for the livery of my freelance Jackson Purchase & Texas RR! Don't worry PAL, I won't ask for royalties!
Photographs of the real PAL 2125 can be found via the link Click here for additional images for this review
Atlas Master™ Series Silver GP40-2
Atlas packages this model in a telescoping lid-tray carton. The lid has a clear sheet viewing window to display the model. Inside, the model is secured in a three-piece plastic cradle which is different from previous rigs I have encountered; the third piece is a hard plastic base to which the locomotive is affixed by two screws. A foam block buttresses the top of the body. Thus it can not shift about and scuff. It is also unlikely to topple out of the cradle if one handles it clumsily. (Don't ask how I know.) The screws hold the loco where the fuel tank is located.
A small bag of optional parts is included.
An exploded-diagram line art parts sheet is included. It shows all parts and components, most with its part number. However, while well detailed, it provides no guidance as to how to attach or detach anything.
The box window allows for a good first impression. I immediately noticed a sharply molded and detailed model. The styrene shell is sharply molded and detailed with molded-on/in hood access doors with hinge and latch detailing, a radiator cooling vent, rivet detail and such.
The model is engineered with plastic frames on metal trucks and wheels, a cast metal chassis frame for weight, an injection molded body shell and a sill, detailed with plastic and metal parts. It is further equipped with AccuMate® knuckle couplers. Inside the body is the motor, dual flywheel drive shafts and electrical suite.
Atlas short and long body shells are modular for railroad-specific details. The shell has a cutout for the dynamic brake hatch, of which there are three types. These snap into place, as does the single-piece cab. Three different plows and two sizes of fuel tanks are available. Other details specific for individual railway companies are ditch lights and headlight configurations.
Electro-Motive Division GP40-2
The GP40-2 was EMD’s follow-up to the very successful GP40 locomotive model. While many internal upgrades were introduced (such as the use of improved, modular Dash 2 electrical components), there were some external differences between the early production GP40-2 and late-production GP40. This included an engine water-level sight glass on the right side of the body (a feature common to all EMD Dash 2 models), a larger electrical cabinet air filter box, a lengthened battery compartment on the left side, and a slightly modified cab. 
All GP40-2s featured a 16-cylinder EMD 645-series diesel engine which was rated at 3,000 horsepower. Early to mid-production phase 2 GP40-2s were built from mid-1976 through late-1979. Several major spotting features of Phase 2 units include: an 88” low nose, corrugated radiator grilles and notched step wells. 
Original operators of the GP40-2 include the Baltimore and Ohio, Boston and Maine, Canadian National, Chesapeake and Ohio, Conrail, Cotton Belt, Denver and Rio Grande Western, Detroit Toledo and Ironton, Florida East Coast, Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico, Frisco, Kansas City Southern, Louisville and Nashville, Reading Company, Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac, Seaboard, Southern Pacific, Western Maryland, Western Pacific, and others. The CN units sport wide-nosed “comfort cabs.” When production of the GP40-2 ended, 1,143 units had rolled off the assembly line.
As Atlas tells us;
In 1966 EMD introduced a new line of locomotives based on the 16-cylinder 645-series prime mover. The “40-series” included a six-axle and four-axle model, the latter being the GP40. A total of 1,145 units were produced between 1966 and 1972. These turbocharged 3,000hp locomotives were used primarily in road freight service. The GP40 was a versatile locomotive that could be found across the US hauling drag freights over mountain passes and leading high-speed intermodal trains across flat terrain. Three rooftop radiator fans at the rear of the long hood differentiate a GP40 from its lower horsepower counterpart, the GP38, which has two fans at this location.
Concurrent with GP40 production, EMD offered a lower horsepower, non-turbocharged locomotive based on the same 645-series prime mover. The four-axle GP38 was rated at 2,000 hp and had the advantage of costing less than the GP40. A total of 727 units were produced between 1966 and 1971 when the model was superseded. The wheelbase of the GP38 was identical to that of the GP40. Both units shared the same EMD road-switcher style body that was introduced with the GP35 in 1963. A desire for standardization caused the GP38 to share the same wheelbase, frame and many external components as the GP40. The GP38 was purchased by large and small roads alike. It was routinely found in local and road freight service throughout the US. Many GP38s and 40s are still in service today.
Options for the Atlas GP38 and GP40 models include a long hood with or without dynamic brakes and an underframe with 2,600 or 3,600 gallon fuel tanks.
• Golden-white LEDs
• Realistic die-cast underframe
• Five-pole skewed armature motor with dual flywheels for optimum performance at all speeds
• Directional lighting
• Factory-equipped with AccuMate® knuckle couplers
• Detailed cab interior with crew
• Separately-installed scale windshield wipers, metal grab irons and fine scale handrails
• Movable drop steps
• Walkway safety tread
• Coupler cut bars
• Multiple unit hoses and trainline hoses
* Lift rings on the body roof
* Windshield wipers
* Clear eye glass on right hood
* Piping on the trucks
Additional feature parts included but not installed (GP-40):
• Electrical cabinet air filter box (ECAFB)
• Two engine compartment roof vents which were added by many railroads sometime after delivery
Sound Features for Gold Series
DCC Operation Features:
• Supports all DCC-programming modes
• Flexible mapping of function keys F0 to F28.
• Follows all NMRA DCC standards and recommended practices.
Sound Functionality Features:
• Over 20 sound effects are available, including engine start-up and shutdown, prime mover sounds through all eight notches, bell, air horn, air compressor, dynamic brakes and more.
• There are 16 user-selectable horns, 2 user-selectable bells, and 2 user-selectable synchronized brake squeals.
• Manual and Automatic Notching modes with the ability to change modes ”on the fly” are provided
for true realism.
Atlas Master™ Series Silver
• NMRA 8-pin plug for DCC (Decoder-ready)
AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.
There are more than 60 individual detail pieces on the superstructure! The cab interior contains an interior wall, control stand, an engineer, a fireman, and seats. The crew are painted and in different poses. The detailed truck sideframes have separately applied brake cylinder and piping and spring hangers. The AccuMate couplers are mounted to the frame instead of the trucks. The cab is shielded from headlight and number board illumination.
Separate sun shades and two hood parts are held in the baggie.
EMD GP40's are 59 feet 2 inches long. This model is 60 feet 3 inches from couple to coupler; the Kadee® #58 "Scale" coupler is more to scale with a smaller head, which should shorten the length. The model weighs 13.2 ounces.
This model is ready to go straight out of the box.
With the weight of the die-cast frame this loco can pull a respectable consist. The can motor and flywheel assembly, transmission linkage and gearing gives a smooth performance.
Let the Light Shine
This model is equipped with golden-white LEDs for illumination. Headlights, number boards, and cab lights illuminate. The lighting is directional.
Paint and Markings
The first quality of this model that I noticed is the smooth, sharp, painting and markings. There are many stencils on the unit. All are legible, even those smaller than my camera’s resolution can display. You can see those markings in the photos.
Atlas provides more than one road number for a given railroad; this is painted as PAL 2125. PAL brought five GP40-2's into their roster: 2123, 2125, 2127, 2129 and 2131.
Other road names for this release include:
Pan Am (Blue/White)
Norfolk & Western (Blue/Imitation Gold)
Paducah & Louisville (Green/White/Black)
Paducah & Louisville (Salute to our Troops) (Green/White/Black)
Wisconsin Central (Maroon/Yellow)
Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac (Blue/Gray/White)
Burlington Northern (New Road Numbers!) (Green/Black/White)
The related GP38 Low Nose Locomotive is offered with these road names:
Maryland Midland (Blue/Orange)
Iowa Interstate (Black/Red/Yellow)
Norfolk Southern (Black/White)
Norfolk Southern "First Responders" (Black/White/Red/Gold)
Norfolk Southern "Operation Lifesaver"
North Shore (Gray/Yellow/Maroon)
Each road name comes with two to three road numbers.
The Master™ Series Silver GP40-2 is an impressive model! The fidelity and amount of detailing, ease and smoothness of operation, molding, engineering and quality all combine to make this an exceptional model. The number of railroads available means few modelers will not have the choice of a GP40-2 for their layout.
Model railroaders modeling the past 50 years have a great deal of choice with this impressive GP40-2.
Paducah & Louisville
The Paducah and Louisville Railway (reporting marks, PAL) is a Regional operation based in Paducah, Kentucky that began operations in 1986 over ex-Illinois Central trackage. Today it operates over 260 miles of railroad and is owned by Four Rivers Transportation, which itself is partially owned, interestingly enough, by Class I railroad CSX Transportation. The P&L also operates the Appalachian & Ohio Railroad in West Virginia in conjunction with CSX along the latter’s Cowen Subdivision, which heads south out of Grafton (this line was originally leased to Watco but in 2006 contracted out to the P&L retaining the A&O name). Today, the P&L remains an important transportation artery in western Kentucky, which because of its location enables it to interchange with several Class Is and a handful of smaller railroads.
The history of the Paducah and Louisville Railway, one of today's somewhat unknown Class II regionals, began in the mid-1980s when the Illinois Central Gulf looked to sell or abandon its main line to Louisville, the extreme eastern terminus of the railroad. The ICG was a combination of the Illinois Central and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio railroads in 1972. The trackage the railroad sold in August, 1986 between Paducah and Louisville to form the P&L was originally part of the Illinois Central system. Interestingly, while the IC is most often recognized for Midwestern north-south railroad it did reach well into Kentucky as well as Nashville, Tennessee.
In any event, with the sale the Paducah & Louisville instantly became a 223-mile Class II, regional not only because of its initial customer base but also due to the fact that it served two important cities, and three altogether that included at least one Class I interchange partner. Looking back, the ICG would probably have wished it kept the line to Louisville considering what the P&L has since done with the route, exponentially growing its number of customers and bottom line over the past 25 years.
Today, the Paducah and Louisville Railway connects with four of the seven North American Class I carriers; BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, Canadian National and Norfolk Southern. The railroad also interchanges traffic with regional Indiana Rail Road and shortlines, Louisville & Indiana and the Fredonia Valley Railroad (FV). Overall, the P&L's primary interchange points include Paducah, Louisville, and Madisonville along with its connection to the tiny FV at Princeton. Aside from this traffic the railroad also moves a wide range of general freight from coal shipments, chemicals, stone and clay to lumber, grain, heavy equipment, warehouses, and even a local military base.
Being located along the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers the PAL offers transload and bulk terminal services from the numerous barge traffic serving both waterways. These terminals are located at both Paducah and Louisville. Currently the P&L’s roster consists entirely of EMDs, all of which are Geeps. Additionally, they use one of the more attractive paint schemes for a small railroad using a combination of dark green and black with white trim.*
* American-Rails.com. The Paducah & Louisville Railway.
,  Atlas website