Athearn Blue Box DD40

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DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
#1
Hey folks. Might anyone have, or have experience with one of Athearn's Blue Box DD40's? We have one for sale (pretty cheap!) in my club's store, and the more I think about this the more interested I get. The hangup I have is that it's a unique animal with its two-motor capacity and four-wheel trucks. What do I do if the drive gears in the trucks are shot? Is there a current production Athearn gear that matches? DCC is also a must-have for club running, so is it possible to control two motors in one locomotive with one decoder and not kill it?

You might think "But your sig says you model Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Road didn't have one."

Well, you sir are correct, but Lionel just had to shake up my belief system. I am sorely tempted to try, since ours is a Pennsy black one and therefore half painted for me.
6-34651_milwdd35a.jpg
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#2
Drive gears should not be a problem. Standard Athearn BB gears on the wheels. I don't remember what the intermediate gears are like but worst case is that there are bunches of these DD35s (Athearn calls them 40s but they are not) out there on the used market. One could caniblize for parts if they aren't available somewhere. I cannot think of anything about them that would wear out to begin with.

So you are certain it is a two-motor version? Many were not.

DCC options are many. 1. Run two decoders on same channel 2. Remotor with one giant can motor. 3. Get an O / G gauge high current decoder. And of course combinations there of. I cannot even think of how I've done it. I'm pretty certain I have at least three of the beasts. I know one has only been run once in a pulling contest....
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#4
As an identifier to it's age/date of release, has it got the gap under the couplers in the pilot, and are there wire grabs fitted and celcon handrails installed with the old wire blue box ones in the box as an option. The reason I ask, when I was a newbie back into the hobby, I bought an Athearn GP35 RTR DC/DCC ready and a GP40 in the blue box , both in SP/SF yellow/red warbonnet liveries. What was notable about the blue box, was the use of the BB chassis and shell, but it had wire grabs fitted and celcon handrails, with the wire ones in the box as an option. It was obviously a transition issue. It would have needed the motor insulated from the frame to install DCC, no huge deal, but something to consider. It also had no directional lighting i.e. no lighting board with quick plug DCC. The GP35, on the other hand was of better detail all around (narrower nose e.g.) and see through fans (I've still got it, the GP40 got given away to a young new club member because no-one was interested in it to buy. $110 down the drain) So...consider well. I later bought a couple of other late BB SD40-2's, which were from the same version. I only managed to sell them for $40, because someone was intersted in the chassis for some Australian profile models he was making.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#6
Somebody (not Chet) told me on an FB page that a member at the club in Livingston, had a DDA40X in MRL scheme. At least it was an EMD, not a GE like Intermountain tried to foist onto MRL fans. Anathema and Heresy :mad:
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
#7
As an identifier to it's age/date of release, has it got the gap under the couplers in the pilot, and are there wire grabs fitted and celcon handrails installed with the old wire blue box ones in the box as an option.
You know, I don't really know. I fully admit the Pennsy loco has been in our little shop at least since my first visit to the club eight months ago. I've only given it a passing glance since. Nothing moves off our shelves too quickly.
It would have needed the motor insulated from the frame to install DCC, no huge deal, but something to consider. It also had no directional lighting i.e. no lighting board with quick plug DCC.
Right, but hard-wiring DCC is only about a five-minute process. I've already done it with my Blue Box SD9. It may have taken me a lot of study to figure out what to do, but actually doing it is easy. Eventually I would want to do a sound installation but with the costs of sound decoders that is way off in the future.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#8
Right, but hard-wiring DCC is only about a five-minute process. I've already done it with my Blue Box SD9. It may have taken me a lot of study to figure out what to do, but actually doing it is easy. Eventually I would want to do a sound installation but with the costs of sound decoders that is way off in the future.
Yes, once you've done a couple it gets easier, I'm getting more adventurous too. Once the wiring color codes become second nature (I wish all wiring in all brands of locos were), confidence grows.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
#9
...the GP40 got given away to a young new club member because no-one was interested in it to buy. $110 down the drain)
A little off topic, but I disagree. Sounds like a great investment in the future of the hobby to me. :)

As for the DD40, I say go for it! Sounds like a fun project.
 

otiscnj

Active Member
#10
I have a number of DD-40's, both with and without flywheels. One of my projects is to add flywheels to the one I got in the 70's that didn't have the flywheels. As for a decoder for one of the dual motored ones, I'd run both motors off of one higher amp decoders. I have 3 in all, two in my freelanced railroad's paint, the other in UP. I see nothing wrong with a MILW DD40-maybe they borrowed one from the UP to test, if they took down the cat.

FWIW, earlier in the year, I saw a PRR Little Joe at a train show, in O-gauge, which had a certain appeal to me, as an electric and PRR fan. MILW DD40-no problem.
 
#11
Toot and Steve:

I enjoy hard wiring DCC locomotives. A lot of people forget to use flux, a hot iron and surfaces tinned for a successful soldering job. Practice is also a key. All my DC locomotives that are NIB have decoders ready to be installed. Many locmotives are the Atlas Classic and the DCC convertion is a simple changing to ligth board for a DCC board. I like the simple Atlas #342 Dual Mode decoders. I hard wired them when I do the install.

Greg
 

DakotaLove39

Always Improvising
#12
I appreciate the answer Greg but I never asked about that part. I already know how to hard-install DCC into blue box engines, I just was not sure how to handle a locomotive with two individual motors.

The entire idea has been set aside for now anyway. The one available from my club is a cheap $28 but only has one motor and significant cosmetic damage to the front and rear pilots that I don't care to deal with as yet. I'm also wrapped up in upgrading a Blue Box FP45.
 



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