Railroad Model Craftsman Product Review

Athearn Genesis 2.0 EMD SD59M-2/SD59MX

Athearn has completely reengineered its Genesis SD60M models from the wheels up with a higher level of detail and a host of other improvements.

Athearn Genesis 2.0 EMD SD59M-2/SD59MX

HO Scale (1:87)By Harry K. Wong

The 60-series was Electro-Motive’s first foray into what most diesel locomotive historians deem to be the third generation of diesel locomotives in North America. Unlike earlier generations, this new breed of diesels was defined by the incorporation of electronic microprocessors to provide a much higher level of control over the prime mover, wheelslip control, cooling systems, and other critical components, thus delivering higher reliability and greater efficiency over its predecessors. Beginning in 1984, EMD introduced several different models of its 60-series locomotives including the six-motor SD60, powered by a single 16-cylinder 710-series prime mover rated at 3,800 horsepower.

From January 1989 through November 1990, Union Pacific received 184 SD60Ms numbered 6085-6268. With a distinctive three-pane front windshield on a new wide-nosed “safety cab” design, these first units were soon dubbed “Triclops” by fans, a moniker that has since stuck their entire lives. In 1991, 47 more SD60Ms arrived numbered 6269-6315. This third group marked a noticeable change to a two-piece “pork chop” front windshield design reminiscent of earlier F45/FP45s, along with an all-new tapered wide nose to further improve forward visibility. A final order of fifty SD60Ms followed in 1992, numbered 6316-6365. These were essentially identical to the third group.

The cab details on Athearn’s new SD59M-2 model.

Beginning in 2012, Union Pacific sent 28 of these “pork chop”  SD60Ms back to Electro-Motive Diesel to be rebuilt as SD59M-2s with low-emission EPA Tier 2 compliant 12-cylinder 710-series powerplants. During the rebuild process, they also received all-new control systems, a new crash-resistant 4,500 gallon fuel tank, and an all-new large flared radiator section of a design similar to that seen on late-production flared SD70Ms. Designated as SD59MXs on UP, these SD59M-2s are assigned to areas where low exhaust emissions are of high importance. With a consistent sparkling appearance compared to other members of the fleet, these unique locomotives have become fan favorites.

Recently, Athearn completely reengineered its Genesis SD60M models from the wheels up with a higher level of detail and a host of other improvements, enough to rechristen this model as part of their Genesis 2.0 product line. Offered with this new group are replicas of the rebuilt SD59M-2 variant created by EMD/Progress Rail.

Our review sample is a rendition of UP 9916, a SD59M-2 finished in the modern “flag” scheme. Representing the apogee of Athearn’s product offerings, this depiction bristles with a maximum level of detail throughout, especially under the side sills and on each pilot face. Each unit is detailed and decorated to match a specific road number. If one looks closely, one will find many subtle lettering differences between each model that extend beyond just the flag on later units versus the “Union Pacific” billboard lettering on UP 9903 and 9908.

Details atop the long hood include the 52-in. dynamic brake fan behind the cab, exhaust silencer, and a brass Nathan K3 horn cluster bisecting the group of rooftop access doors. Per the prototype, three 48 in. “Q-fans” sit inside a framed structure atop the flared radiator section, each displaying the correct asymmetrical blade arrangement designed to meet noise regulations…

The rear radiator area on Union Pacific’s SD59M-2 locomotive.

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This article was posted on: April 3, 2024