News & Reviews Product Reviews Atlas O Premier ES44AC

Atlas O Premier ES44AC

By Chris Montagna | March 21, 2024

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The Canadian Pacific ES44AC graced the cover of the Atlas Fall Premier catalog and was delivered in March of 2024. Atlas cataloged eight versions of the ES44AC, along with two CSX ES44CD models. These Premier models are former MTH tooling and feature DCS Protosound 3. They can be operated conventionally, as well. Atlas also offers a two-rail version of each locomotive, which features a fixed pilot and scale couplers. The two-rail variations can be converted to three-rail if desired.

side view of orange model train
The graphics on the ES44AC are crisp and detailed. Chris Montagna photo

The unique paint schemes on these Canadian Pacific models are prototypical. The Hapag-Lloyd version, cab number 8781, was painted in 2021 to honor the longstanding partnership between Canadian Pacific and Hapag-Lloyd, a shipping container company. The locomotive also features Port Saint John logos, which were added to promote new shipping service out of the eastern Canadian city.

The graphics on the ES44AC are crisp and detailed. Chris Montagna photo
Learn more about the prototype behind this paint scheme here. Chris Montagna photo

The “Every Child Matters” scheme commemorates Canada’s national Truth and Reconciliation Day (September 30). This is a day to remember Native American children who attended reservation schools. Bill Stephens wrote this article on the prototype and unveiling back in 2021. This model features the orange shirt logo and Every Child Matters website on the nose of the locomotive and traditional large Canadian Pacific with black beaver crest along the side.

top of model train with access panel open
Access to the controls is on the top of engine. Chris Montagna photo

The blue Premier box arrived in great condition. Opening the box, I found a tightly wrapped model in a foam and plastic wrap with two Atlas branded ribbons loosely knotted, which allow for easy removal from the snug-fitting foam insert. The delicate handrails are protected by strips of foam. The paint is flawless with crisp decals and lines. There is no variation between add-on parts or the plastic shell. After getting the locomotive onto the tracks and firing up the track power, it was easily added to the DCS remote.

front of orange model train
This engine can navigate O-42 curves. Chris Montagna photo

These models feature an assortment of details and features. When comparing them to the most recent Lionel versions, there are some key differences. The Atlas version weighs in at 5 pounds 13.3 ounces, only .1 ounce more than the Lionel version. The controls are accessed under the rear ventilation grates, similar to the Lionel model. The Atlas model features multiple see-through vents, an improvement over the Lionel model. This provides a nice visual depth to the model as it moves around the layout.

rear of orange and black model train
Chris Montagna photo

LED lights are used throughout this model, including ditch lights, cab lights, and illuminated number boards. The trucks and wheels are metal. At 19.5 inches in length, the model can navigate O-42 curves. These models match up even with Lionel in pulling power at 2 lbs., 2 ounces.

two orange model trains on layout with steam engine on track above
The two CP models look impressive when put together. Chris Montagna photo

The standard sound file offers freight sounds dialogue and a nice extended start-up sequence. The fan-driven smoke unit, after being primed with fresh smoke fluid, pumps out plumes of smoke. Just be sure to add more drops when you see the smoke output begin to decrease.

orange model train on layout
Chris Montagna photo

I used the DCS remote to test this model and did not use the Wi-Fi app. I was able to quickly create a lash-up with both ES44acs and an Atlas SD70ACe. The models ran smoothly together; I didn’t notice any pulling or pushing between locomotives.

Both two- and three-rail models are priced at $679.95. Models that were offered include: BNSF No. 5738 (30138177), Canadian Pacific “Every Child Matters” No. 8757 (30138178), Canadian Pacific Hapag-Lloyd No. 8781 (30138179), Two Canadian National Anniversary models No. 3880 and No. 3883 (30138180 and 30138181), Kansas City Southern No. 4859 (30138182), two Union Pacific models No. 5395 and No. 5293 (30138183 and 30138184), two BNSF H2 Pumpkin schemes No. 5719 and 5742 (30138185 and 30138186), and two CSX ES44DC models, Western Maryland No. 5327 (30138187) and Spirit of Cincinnati No. 5500 (30138188).

Get more O gauge action on the Chris’s Trains & Things channel on YouTube.

Compare reviews

Lionel ES44AC from 2022

MTH ES44AC product review


Atlas O Premier ES44AC (30138179 and 30138178)


Proto-Sound 3.0

ProtoSmoke diesel exhaust

Remote-controlled Proto-Couplers

Onboard DCS/DCS decoder

O-42 operation

Metal wheels, axles, and gears

Illuminated LED number boards

Operating LED ditch lights

Two hand-painted cab figures

Price: $679.95



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