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N Scale - Atlas - 53616 - Locomotive, Diesel, EMD SD7 - Great Northern - 556

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N Scale - Atlas - 53616 - Locomotive, Diesel, EMD SD7 - Great Northern - 556 Image Courtesy of Atlas Model Railroad Co.


Brand Atlas
Stock Number 53616
Original Retail Price $94.95
Manufacturer Atlas
Body Style Atlas Diesel Engine SD7
Prototype Locomotive, Diesel, EMD SD7 (Details)
Road or Company Name Great Northern (Details)
Reporting Marks GN
Road or Reporting Number 556
Paint Color(s) Green/Orange
DCC Readiness Ready
Release Date 2006-01-01
Item Category Locomotives
Model Type Diesel
Model Subtype EMD
Model Variety SD7
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era Era III: Transition (1939 - 1957)
Scale 1/160



Model Information: The model was introduced in 1990 and the early releases were made by Kato Japan for Atlas. From 2004 on, the models were made in China and the internals were modified to a more modern mechanism. The Atlas SD7, SD9, SD24 and SD26 all share the same internal mechanism and differ only in their shell details. The modern releases fall under the "Classic" label for the SD7 and SD9 models and "Master" label for the SD24 and SD 26.

The early releases featured the Kato-designed "low friction drive" which had been successfully used in their Kato-branded U30C model. This design allowed clean transfer of current from wheels to long copper strips to the chassis and then to the lightboard. This may not sound innovative, as many modern mechanisms use this design today, but in 1990 it was a game-changer. The post-2004 releases are fairly standard "modern" mechanisms featuring a split-frame, dual-flywheels, and body-mounted magnetic operating knuckle couplers. They run quiet and smooth and can pull 30 or more standard-weight cars.

DCC Information: Models produced from 2006 are DCC Ready or Dual-Model Decoder Equipped. They accept the following drop-in decoders:
- Digitrax DN163A0: 1 Amp N Scale Mobile Decoder for Atlas N-Scale GP40-2, U25B, SD35, Trainmaster, B23-7 and others
- TCS AMD4 (Installation for Atlas SD-9)
- NCE N12A0: Plug and play decoder for N-Scale Atlas GP40-2, U25B, U23B, B23-7, 30-7, 36-7, GP38, SD25, TRAINMASTER, etc.
- MRC 1812: N-Scale Sound Decoder for most Atlas short/medium locos (selection of 4 prime movers - might not be prototypical for this model however)

Earlier DCC factory-equipped versions were fitted with Lenz LE063XF decoders, whereas most recent versions are fitted with NCE N12A0 decoders. The Atlas version of these decoders will respond to manufacturer's address "127" (CV8) i.e. "Atlas Model Railroad Products", though being identical to their original manufacturer's specification.

Prototype History:
An SD7 is a 6-axle road switcher diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between February 1952 and November 1953. It had an EMD 567B 16-cylinder engine producing 1,500 horsepower (1.12 MW) for its six traction motors. 188 were built for United States railroads. Starting in August 1953 a total of 26 SD7s were produced which used either the 567BC engine or the 567C engine. These units are noted on the roster below.

This was the first model in EMD's SD (Special Duty) series of locomotives, a lengthened B-B GP7 with a C-C truck arrangement. The two extra axles and traction motors are useful in heavy, low speed freight service. SD series locomotives are still being produced today, with the SD70 being the most popular example in current production, and with many SD40-2s and rebuilds to SD40-2 specifications, or SD60s still in operation.

Yesterday's Special Duty eventually became today's Standard Duty, and yesterday's General Purpose has become today's Special Purpose ("time" freight and other time-sensitive lading). True GPs were discontinued after the completion of the last GP60 in 1994. Recently intermodal and other fast freights may be hauled by 6 axles locomotives with 4 powered axles, such as the SD70Ace-P4.

Many earlier model GPs, most particularly GP40s, GP39s and GP38s, also their SD equivalents, SD40s, SD39s and SD38s have been rebuilt to Dash 2 standards for another 30 to 40 years of service.

From Wikipedia

Road Name History:
The Great Northern was born in 1881 with the consolidation of several railroads of the northern plains under the leadership of James J. Hill. By 1893, the mainline from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River to Seattle was complete.

The GN had two distinctly different characters. The eastern half was a largely flat, grain producing region serving cities like Fargo, the Twin Cities, Grand Forks, Duluth, Sioux Falls, Sioux City and even Winnipeg in Canada. The east end also included the iron ore rich regions of Minnesota. Half of North Dakota was blanketed by GN branchlines (21 in all) serving every imaginable grain elevator.

The western half is the mountainous portion that most people identify with Great Northern. This included crossing the northern Rockies and the even more difficult Cascade ranges. Cities on the western half included Billings, Butte, Helena, Havre, Spokane, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. In 1931, a connection to the Western Pacific was completed from Bieber north to Bend, Oregon. This line was disconnected from the rest of the Great Northern. They used trackage rights on the Oregon Trunk and SP&S to bridge the gap. The Cascade Tunnel, the longest on the continent at 7.8 miles, wasn’t completed until 1931. Construction included a massive sluiceway and hydro-electric power station to feed the electrified line through the tunnel and several miles of railroad on either side. This replaced the original Cascade Tunnel which was a third as long but 500 feet higher up the mountain. That replaced the original route that was another 700 feet higher, had 4% grades and 50 miles of snowsheds. All told, Great Northern had about 8,300 route miles.

The steam era was especially unkind to the Great Northern. They seemed to go out of their way to make their locomotives ugly. Belpaire fire boxes were the norm (made famous by the Pennsylvania, made hideous on the GN.) Headlights were often mounted just above center giving them a spinster look. Cab fronts were often at odd angles. The tender coal bunkers were often taller than the engines. But it wasn’t just aesthetics. GN had a knack for buying the wrong engines for the job. 150 Prarie type 2-6-2’s were so unstable at speed that they were busted down to branchline duty almost straight away and none survived after about 1930. Their first 4-8-2 Mountains built for passenger and fast freight were such a disaster, they were rebuilt into 2-10-2’s. Many railroads had built Mountains out of Mikes but no one had ever started with a Mountain and had to build something else from it. The first 2-6-6-2’s were so under-powered, the boilers were used to make Mikados instead. They did manage to build the largest, fastest, and most powerful Mikados in the country however. Their articulated fleet included 2-6-6-2, 2-6-8-0 (later rebuilt into Mikes), 2-8-8-0, 2-8-8-2 types as well as a pair of Challengers originally delivered to SP&S. Many engines were dressed up with green boilers and boxcar red cab roofs.

For the first generation of diesels, GN bought like many large railroads did: a sampling from everyone. Cab and hood units from EMD and Alco and switchers from EMD, Alco, and Baldwin populated the roster. GN’s first generation geeps and SD’s were delivered with the long hood as the front. This included their GP20’s which had high short hoods and the long hood as the front. Aside from an early black scheme for switchers, the GN fleet was delivered in Omaha Orange and green with yellow piping.

Beginning with the arrival of GP30s in 1962, the paint scheme was simplified by dropping the bottom orange band and the yellow piping. For the second generation, General Electric replaced Alco as a supplier of new road engines.

In 1962, some GN freight cars began to appear in Glacier Green which ran along side the vermilion paint adopted in 1956. In 1967, they went for a major shift. Sky Blue, white, and dark gray were joined by a new version of the Rocky the goat logo. There was talk that this would become the paint scheme for Burlington Northern. The GN name and logo was painted on a steel panel bolted the the hand railings of hood units, making it easier to remove after the merger. For whatever reason, they went with green, black and white, a version of which was simultaneously being tested on the Burlington Route. In 1970, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Spokane Portland & Seattle, and Burlington Route merged to form Burlington Northern.

Brand/Importer Information:
In 1924 Stephan Schaffan, Sr. founded the Atlas Tool Company in Newark, New Jersey. In 1933 his son, Stephan Schaffan, Jr., came to work for his father at the age of sixteen. Steve Jr. built model airplanes as a hobby and frequented a local hobby shop. Being an enterprising young man, he would often ask the owner if there was anything he could do to earn some extra spending money. Tired of listening to his requests, the hobby-store owner threw some model railroad track parts his way and said, "Here, see if you can improve on this".

In those days, railroad modelers had to assemble and build everything from scratch. Steve Jr. created a "switch kit" which sold so well, that the entire family worked on them in the basement at night, while doing business as usual in the machine shop during the day.

Subsequently, Steve Jr. engineered the stapling of rail to fiber track, along with inventing the first practical rail joiner and pre-assembled turnouts and flexible track. All of these products, and more, helped to popularize model railroading and assisted in the creation of a mass-market hobby. The budding entrepreneur quickly outgrew the limitations of a basement and small garage operation. Realizing they could actually make a living selling track and related products, Steve and his father had the first factory built in Hillside, New Jersey at 413 Florence Avenue in 1947. On September 30, 1949, the Atlas Tool Company was officially incorporated as a New Jersey company.

In 1985, Steve was honored posthumously for his inventions by the Model Railroad Industry Association and was inducted into the Model Railroad Industry Hall of Fame in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, Steve was nominated and entered into the National Model Railroad Association Pioneers of Model Railroading in 1995.

In the early 1990s, the Atlas Tool Company changed its name to Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc.

Item created by: Bryan on 2016-03-21 06:52:24. Last edited by gdm on 2020-06-03 12:41:06

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