P42DC 9 – Upgraded Blue Box

Amtrak P42DC 9

My model of Amtrak’s P42DC 9 is one of the older “blue box” versions that Athearn released in the 1990s.  The newer “ready-to-roll” versions aren’t all that different.  I built one of those for our HO Weathering & Detailing Volume 3 program.  The paint on the newer version was a little better.  It has improved lighting and an improved drive line with hex shafts.  It also comes in a more useful box that can be used for storage.  The “blue box” cardboard boxes aren’t a good place for a detailed locomotive.  They offer little protection or cushioning.

The model I built for the video is a P40DC, Amtrak 814.  My model of P42DC 9 is very similar.  The main visual difference is that the P42 lacks the hostler window on the end of the locomotive.  Also, the Phase III Amtrak stripes are solid on the P42.  On the P40 the stripes fade toward the rear.

One thing that my model of P42DC 9 has that my model of P40DC 814 doesn’t is a can motor.  I opted to leave the stock Athearn motor in 814.  No. 9 has a Mashima can motor from Northwest Short Line.  All of my older “blue box” engines have been re-motored.

In this particular case, however, the swap hasn’t made much difference.  Both models have exactly the same trucks and chassis.  I have LokSound Select DCC decoders installed in both.  Performance is pretty much identical.  It’s possible that the excellent motor control provided by the Select has equalized any inherent differences in performance.  I don’t know how they would do on straight DC.

My model of P42DC 9 was detailed exactly the same way as my model of Amtrak 814.  Since that write up is already on this website, I won’t repeat it here.

What’s important is that there really isn’t much difference between the two finished models.  I also have another P40 that I built from a “blue box” kit like my model of P42DC 9.  All three of these locomotives look good and operate well together.

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