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From: "Paul R DOT Tupaczewski" paultup AT optonline DOT net
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2003 16:01:02 -0400
Subject: Proto 2000 SD45s in EL... Brief review,
and fairly thorough comparison with Kato's SD45 (first run)
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The Life-Like Proto 2000 SD45s are on their way. Here's a brief review
of the EL version (photos attached for reference)

The P2K EL SD45s represent EL 3625 and 3629, two units from EL's second
order of SD45s (3621-3634). They are painted in the "as-delivered" paint
scheme (i.e., no gray roof). The paint is done quite nicely on these
(though the roadname lettering is a little "off" from the prototype
typeface, but acceptable). Nice touch: The numberboards have the correct
typeface! There's one minor faux pas in the paint, however: The yellow
on the nose goes up onto the top of the nose, but only on the point
(draw a line across the top of the nose from the "corners" of the hood,
and you'll see the triangle it makes - this is all yellow). Fortunately,
a little gray paint will solve this problem. Another nice touch - the
grilles were all masked off and faintly airbrushed in black, to give
depth and the appearance of use.

Some highlights of this model:

* Has very nice truck sideframes, with high brake cylinders
* Very well-done fuel tank detail and piping
* See-through corner steps
* Very fine windshield wipers as part of the cab window casting
* Big bag of spare parts including plows, winterization hatches, wind
deflectors, antennas, strobes, and more

One very odd thing about the model is that behind the engineer's side of
the cab, underneath the inertial air filter grilles, there are a pair of
holes in the carbody, one above the other. On the opposite side of the
carbody, there is a single hole at roughly the same location (see the
photos). There are no parts that come with the model that are supposed
to go here (nor do they appear in the diagram in the instructions). I
wonder if this is an "oops?"

Comparisons to Kato's model are inevitable, so I'll point out the items
that I notice off the top (keeping in mind that Kato's model might
represent a phase variation):

* PAN-TOP FANS: Although neither is correct for EL's unique low-profile
fans, the P2K fans appear to have better detail

* BRAKE WHEEL: Kato's lacks much depth behind the brakewheel; the P2K
one is beautifull done here! Good depth.

* SIDEFRAMES: Both are nice, though P2K's seems to be a bit finer in
detail, and also has sand pipes.

* BELL: Kato's is brass, P2K's is plastic. I guess Kato's bell is

* RAILINGS: The P2K railings and grab irons are far and away the better
ones - scale cross-section makes them look very fine

* WINDSHIELD WIPERS: Both mold them onto the cab windows. P2K's are much
finer in detail and "look" correct

* WEIGHT: The P2K model is considerably heavier than the Kato one.

* MARKER LIGHTS: P2K's have lenses in them (and I assume light up white
with the headlights); Kato's have a molded "lens." Tough call. Separate
marker lenses are nice, but they're not really supposed to be on all the

* BLOWER DUCT: The long "step" on the fireman's side walkway. Kato's is
a split between "long" and "short" versions (a personal pet peeve), Like
Like's is the "long" version (correct for EL)

* RUNNING QUALITIES: Katos run great. Haven't run the P2K one yet, but
if past offerings are any indication, they should run pretty well, too.

Big beef with both: Why can't anyone make numberboards that fit FLUSH in
the numberboard openings!? They're always too far in the carbody. UGH!

Now, as for "EL correctness": The notable differences between the Kato
and P2K models revolves primarily around the dynamic brake blister.
Life-Like's correctly represents the as-built SD45s, which had a smooth
dynamic brake blister with only the side louvers (no hatches or vents on
the sides of them. It also lacks the "rectangular hat" dynamic brake
vent on the roof. The Kato model isn't really correct for EL
out-of-the-box for the DB blister, but it's close for the "retrofitted"
units. These had a small vent behind the louvers on the side the blister
(though Kato's small hatch on the forward end of the blister wasn't on
the prototype - this could be sanded off) and the vent on the roof (this
was done to address overheating in the DB compartment, and most units
received this modification by the end of the EL. The brakewheel housing
and blower ductwork are all correct for EL on the P2K model (not on
Kato). Both need rework in terms of the horns (we ALL know this!). It's
a tough call. If you have Katos, I wouldn't sell them, but certainly
would consider the P2K model to supplant the rest of your fleet.

Another note: I noticed on their website that they will NOT be doing
undecorated units in the second run, so order your from this one!

- Paul

P.S. Please do NOT repost/reuse the attached photos - these are strictly
for the list members' enjoyment! :)


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