Rapido News

Rapido News Volume 68 - ©2015 Rapido Trains Inc.

Dear Rapido Customer,

Hello from China! Bill and I are spending a couple of weeks at the Rapido/MLW factory, discussing our various projects on the go and visiting with our tooling workshops. But I'm taking a quick break from these intensive, top-level business meetings ("这部电影非常好。请多给我一些爆米花") to give you a special report on our HO scale Amtrak F40PH Locomotive.

Rapido Amtrak F40

Rapido Amtrak F40PH pre-production sample: Phase 2 paint.
Production model will have cab steps!

Order Deadline: May 15th!

The HO scale Amtrak F40PH is Rapido's first modern American model, and thus an opportunity to introduce a new group of model railroaders to our obvious insanity. If you are reading this, chances are you are already familiar with our ridiculous, completely-unprofitable level of detail.

For our first modern American model we notched up the crazy factor to the F40's full 893 RPM. Click here or on the link below to watch our Amtrak F40 video, otherwise known as...


It's 37 seconds of complete absurdity in the spirit of those Monster Truck commercials we used to see all the time when the Amtrak F40s were in service. That is followed by a proper look at the sounds and features of the model.

Rapido F40 Video

Rapido F40 Monster Madness

Please share the video with anyone you know who models Amtrak or modern American freight. Everyone modeling the 1970s to 2000s can use a Rapido-quality Amtrak F40 on his or her layout.

North American manufacturers have been outdoing each other in terms of bringing out really top-notch freight engines. We're talking prototype-specific details and bodies, underframe detail, see-through grilles, you name it. So visit any modern layout in America and you are awed by these museum pieces... until the token Amtrak train pulls up. And suddenly we're back to molded-on parts, generic body styles, unlit number boards, no underframe detail, etc.

As a life-long passenger train fan and modeler, this just gets my goat. Our Amtrak F40PH is a big step toward righting that wrong and bringing museum-quality details and sounds to your Amtrak trains.

(I need them for my layout as well. While the Amtrak F40 didn't actually arrive in Toronto until 1981 - a few months after my December 1980 layout time period - I will be using some modeler's licence and having them serviced at Toronto's Spadina Yard anyway.)

Rapido Amtrak F40

Rapido Amtrak F40PH pre-production sample: Phase 3 paint.

Rapido Amtrak F40 Roof

Rapido Amtrak F40PH pre-production sample. Nice roof, eh?

Rapido Amtrak F40 Underframe

Rapido Amtrak F40PH pre-production sample. Nice underbody detail, eh?
Yes, we even have the conduit between the two battery boxes,
which you can only see if you have a massive derailment.

There were many deliveries of F40PH locomotives to Amtrak, and modelers have referred to them as Phase 1, Phase 2, etc. Our Amtrak F40PH has a Phase 1 body style, representing locomotives 200-229 delivered from EMD in 1976. There has not been a new HO scale model of a Phase 1 F40 produced in about 30 years.

Despite common misconceptions to the contrary, Phase 1 F40PH locomotives operated across the country, and we have chosen a mix of eastern- and western-assigned units in our locomotive numbers. If you visit our F40 page and scroll down, you can see the regional assignment beside each product number.

Amtrak F40PH 223

Amtrak Phase 1 F40PH #223 leads the Coast Starlight in 1994.
Photo courtesy Craig Walker.

You'd think that, being America's passenger railroad for over 40 years, there would be a plethora or books written on Amtrak and its locomotives. Need to know about the Amtrak F40? Just head to your local library and ask for a book on it. I mean, there have been books on Geeps, Alco Centuries, C-Liners, you name it. Wouldn't there be a book on the iconic Amtrak F40?

Of course this is Amtrak we're talking about - the 44-year-old whipper-snapper that old guys who write railroad history books generally regard with clothespin-on-nose disdain. So no, there are no books on the F40.

Consequently, two of our Amtrak F40 experts have put together a Master Class for the Rapido web site, giving you a detailed introduction to this iconic engine. Matt Donnelly works for Amtrak and played an enormous role in the 40th anniversary celebrations and Amtrak's model train program. Alex Stroshane is widely regarded as being one of the top Amtrak modeling experts on the planet. Click here or on the image below to read the Amtrak F40 Master Class. We only work with the best here at Rapido.

Amtrak F40 Master Class

Amtrak F40 Master Class

The Rapido HO scale Amtrak F40PH Locomotive features:
  • Extensive, separate underbody piping and conduit highly visible from trackside
  • Separate cab safety grilles and rooftop AC unit for you to install if desired
  • Operating head lights, backup light, and red marker lights
  • Working strobe lights that flash independently in DCC - a first!
  • Lighted number boards and step lights!
  • See-through, etched-metal radiator grills with visible shutters
  • Separate, factory-applied wire grab irons
  • Era-specific details
  • Full cab interior painted in correct colors
  • Wind deflectors, see-through dynamic brake grills and radiator fans
  • Scaled from original blueprints to ensure accurate dimensions
  • Accurate fuel tank profile and exhaust silencer
  • Available as a sound-equipped model with a custom Rapido ESU LokSound sound decoder or as a DC silent model
  • Will operate smoothly on DC and DCC layouts
  • Rapido's proven 5-pole, skew-wound motor and silky-smooth drive system
  • Available in Amtrak Phase II and Amtrak Phase III (early) paint schemes plus undecorated
  • Eight numbers plus unnumbered available per paint scheme
  • Decals included for maintenance locations and warning labels

Amtrak F40PH

Amtrak F40 Order Deadline: May 15, 2015

The MSRP for the Amtrak F40PH Locomotive in the USA and the rest of the world is $299.95 (DC/DCC/Sound) or $199.95 (DC silent). DC models come equipped with a 21-pin plug in case you want to upgrade to DCC and/or sound later. For customers in Canada, the MSRP is roughly $330/$320 based on today's exchange rate. (If you Canucks don't like that, please write a letter to the Prime Minister and ask him for $5 billion of new funding for VIA Rail Canada.)

The tooling is 99% finished and the models will enter production in early June, which means a delivery date of fall 2015. The only things we have to do are a) add the cab steps, which we somehow missed, and b) revise the lightways in the roof to allow the strobes to operate independently. The fact that they will flash randomly just like the prototype really lights my wick. Am I allowed to say that? The revised lightways have been designed and the information will be given to the tooling workshop on Monday.

Click here for more information or to order direct.

Designing the Rapido RDC

Finalizing the RDC designs at the Rapido/MLW factory
Can you spot the SP train number boards?

Quick China Update

As a bonus for those of you who have read this special edition of the newsletter, here's a quick update on our China trip. Bill and I are in the Rapido/MLW factory working on the 20-odd projects that we currently have under way, from the latest deliveries to projects that are planned for delivery in 2017.

In the photo above, our chief engineer and I are finalizing RDC variations. As you can see from the cab fronts on the screen, he wants to kill me. It's the crazy detail variations like these that set Rapido apart from other manufacturers, especially as we bring the same attention to detail to passenger equipment that the other guys seem to reserve only for freight. It's because we have to pay for details like these that explains why I am driving a used Ford and not a Jaguar. We'd be much more profitable if we left those details off. But then we wouldn't be Rapido.

Bill Schneider in China

Bill's new job.

When Bill and I come to China it's not all business meetings. We brought a bunch of Peco track with us and we told the factory that we needed them to build a test track with #2 radius curves for testing trains for the UK market. Outside the UK, #2 radius curves are known as "streetcar tracks."

They started to set up the tracks and then my chief engineer turned to me and innocently shouted, "I'm an engineer not a track layer!" It warmed the cockles of my Trekkie heart. Bill took over, and threatened to tell the world that I still sleep with teddy bears if I circulated the photo of him installing 17.25" radius curves. I figured it was worth it...

Pad printing the FL9

Pad printing New Haven logos on the FL9

The Tampo (pad printing) room is very busy working on the HO scale FL9 Locomotives. In fact, the whole factory is very busy working on FL9s. We have to make a lot of FL9s.

The pad printing process is quite neat. A logo or other artwork is etched onto a steel plate. Ink is spread over the artwork and then wiped off, leaving ink only in the etched area. A silicon pad then picks up the ink from the etching and drops it on the model.

Yesterday I shot a quick movie of the pad printing process here in the factory. Click here or on the image below to watch it.

Pad printing FL9 locomotives

Being an observant Jew, I don't get a haircut for 32 days each spring. I forgot to get a haircut before the 32 days began so I was looking a bit like a grey, shaggy dog by the time I got to China. On Wednesday night - literally minutes after the 32 days ended - I headed to the nearest barber. My Chinese must be pretty poor because he spent more time on my ears than my hair. I'm not sure how he did it, but I think I like the new look...

Jason Shron


Thanks for reading this quick special report on the Amtrak F40PH locomotive. Please reserve yours with us (by clicking here) or with your dealer before May 15th.

Warmest regards from Dongguan, Guangdong, China!


Jason Shron
Rapido Trains Inc.

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