Truck scale

ScaleTrains.com Scale N GE Dash 9-40C


In 1995, Norfolk Southern was looking for a modern high horsepower diesel to add to their list. If you operate an N scale railroad, you can do like NS and get the General Electric Dash 9-40C, the latest offering in ScaleTrains.com’s highly detailed rivet counter line. This modern six-axle workhorse is available as a DC model (ready for digital command control) or equipped with an ESU LokSound 5 Digital Command Control sound decoder.

A personalized order

In 1993, General Electric sought to build on the momentum of its successful Dash 8 series by standardizing upgrades that had been options on the Dash 8. The result was the Dash 9-44CW, also known in the GE nomenclature forward and backward like the C44-9W. The C referred to its three-axle powered trucks, 44 referred to the locomotive’s 4,400 hp engine, and W stood for wide, as in the North American safety cab, which had become standard on most new diesels in the continent at that time.

But as popular as the C44-9W was, at least one railroad didn’t buy it: Norfolk Southern. This railroad placed an order for 125 new Dash 9s in late 1994, but as a picky eater at a restaurant, NS requested substitutions. No big cab or console helm station for us, please. Oh, and can you reduce the horsepower to 4000? Sorry to be a problem, but we are trying to reduce our fuel consumption, thank you. And so was created the Dash 9-40C, aka the C40-9, the only Dash 9 built with a standard cabin and a short, narrow hood.

Although the C40-9 looks like the standard cab C40-8 on the outside, there are a few spotting features that set the NS C40-9 apart. One is the Dash 9’s bolsterless Hi-Ad truck, visibly distinct from the Dash 8’s GSC die-cast trucks. The Dash 9 also features a split grille, with the brake wheel centered below on the right side. Norfolk Southern also requested that a distinctive square cabin air conditioner be mounted on the roof, which led crews in Nova Scotia to nickname these locomotives “top hat”.

Precision in miniature

The General Electric Dash 9’s flared radiator housing makes it one of the most distinctive diesel engines on the rails. The fine tooling, precise dimensions and many separately applied details of ScaleTrains.com’s N scale model do the prototype justice.

Our sample model is decorated for Norfolk Southern no. 8888, the latest order number from NS. 338-26925, and as such the last non-wide nose Dash 9 ever built. I compared the model to the prototype drawings that appeared in the May / June 1997 issue of Diesel Era. The number, size and location of grilles, panels, access doors and other details on our sample model all matched the drawings. All of the major dimensions I measured with my scale ruler also matched. The prototype photos posted with this article also matched, including the location of the warning labels.

Wiring inside the locomotive
There isn’t a cubic millimeter of wasted space under the hood. The decoder is attached to the bottom of the lighting board. All the wheels are driving and collect electricity. The side frames of Hi-Ad trucks feature nice braking details.

The black paint on the locomotive was applied smoothly and evenly. The white of the letters and the herald was uniform and opaque, although there were gaps where the large NS logo crossed the lines of the panels of the long hood. This could be corrected with a thin brush. The lettering of the warning labels on access panels and the like wasn’t quite readable under magnification, but it’s literally a glitch.

The six axles of blackened metal were gauge and the half-scale hitches were mounted at the correct height. Rust-colored plastic couplers do not have trip pins, so they do not respond to magnetic decouplers; it is necessary to use an uncoupling pick. If you rely on magnetic decoupling, the manufacturer indicates that the locomotive traction reducers are designed to fit Micro-Train couplings.

DCC test

I first tested the locomotive under Digital Command Control. At first I thought the locomotive was unresponsive and subjected it to a factory reset (programming configuration variable 8 to a value of 8). But upon checking the manual, I found out that the misunderstanding was mine. Unlike most locomotives equipped with a sound decoder that I have tested, the ScaleTrains.com C40-9 does not trigger its sounds immediately after applying DCC power. Instead, the operator starts the locomotive by pressing function key 8 (F8). This initiates a prototypical, albeit long, start-up sound sequence, and – just like the prototype – the model won’t budge until it’s finished. This is a feature that will be appreciated by those who have a lot of sound-equipped motors on their network, but you can program the decoder to start automatically when the power is turned on.

Once I figured out that I had to wait for the start sequence to finish before the locomotive started, the tests went well. The engine started at speed level 1 at less than 2 mph on the scale, good for hitch maneuvers. At speed step 28, the locomotive reached 116 mph, much faster than the prototype’s 70 mph limit. The maximum model speed can be reduced by setting CV5 (Vmax), to a lower value. A setting of 90 produced a more prototypical top speed of 66 mph on the scale.

I was impressed with the working ditch headlights, front and rear. Years ago, this kind of functionality was only seen on HO scale and larger locomotives, but light emitting diodes are getting smaller and smaller. They can be turned on and off separately from the headlights using F6, and when turned on, they flash alternately when the horn sounds. Pretty cool.

The sound recordings were realistic, despite the small speaker needed to fit into an N scale model. I liked the Nathan AirChime K-5LA-R24 horn. If you want a different sound set, 11 different horns and 10 bells are available in the decoder. You can even choose alternate sounds for brake squeal and air dryer! The volume of individual sounds can also be programmed.

More tests

The ESU LokSound 5 DCC decoder is dual mode which means it will work under DCC control or DC, so I tested it on DC as well. Although I would expect sound decoders to take a lot of voltage to boot, leaving only a small portion of the PSU’s operating range for speed control, I was surprised. The diesel’s cranking sequence triggered at just 5.5V. It started to move at 7V, rolling at just 0.7mph on scale. It accelerated pretty quickly, hitting 129 mph on the 12V scale, which wasn’t even the top end of our power pack.

Before GE Dash 9-40C
The ditch lights operate both front and rear and flash when the horn sounds. The couplers are not magnetic, but can be replaced by Micro-Trains couplers.

Although I cannot control the sounds directly in DC mode, the starting sequence and engine sounds are played automatically, and the lights turn on in the direction of travel. I liked the slight squeal from the wheels that is heard when the speed is reduced to 0 mph.

While I had plugged in the DC power supply, I took the dynamometer out of the test bench. At full tension, the little locomotive mustered nearly an ounce of pulling force, the equivalent of a 23-car free-running N-scale freight train.

Finally, I took the locomotive and a box full of N scale freight cars to our Project Canadian Canyons railroad for a real world test. The diesel had no problem driving a 10-car train up and down the 1.9 percent grade into the propeller and through the 13-inch radius curves of the array and mid-radius switches. Peco.

Hats off to ScaleTrains.com

General Electric’s Dash 9 series was one of the most successful designs of its time, with nearly 5,000 units built. Among these, the 125 standard cab versions built for the Norfolk Southern stand out. ScaleTrains.com has successfully captured this distinctive N scale locomotive. NS modelers no longer have to resort to kitbashing. Thanks, ScaleTrains.com!

Facts and characteristics

Price: $ 174.99 (direct current, DCC ready); $ 294.99 (ESU LokSound 5 DCC sound decoder equipped)
Maker
ScaleTrains.com
7598 Highway 411 Benton, TN 37307
scaletrains.com
Time: 1995 to mid-2010s
Road names: Norfolk Southern (drawing as delivered, six route numbers).
Characteristics
– All-wheel drive and electric pick-up
– Detailed cabin interior
– Dual-mode ESU LokSound 5 sound decoder with permanent capacitors (DCC models) or 21-pin decoder socket (DC models)
– Early or late dynamic brake exhaust, as the case may be
– Engraved metal grilles
– Five-pole obliquely wound motor with double flywheel
– Illuminated number boxes
– Light-emitting diode lighting
– Minimum radius: 93⁄4 ″ (11 ″ recommended)
– Half-scale couplers
– Separately applied pneumatic horn, brake wheel, firecracker antennas and other details
– Weight: 3.7 ounces
– Wire clamps
– Functional front and rear ditch lights