News & Reviews Product Reviews Atlas Premier E8

Atlas Premier E8

By Chris Montagna | June 3, 2024

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New arrivals always bring a sense of excitement and anticipation. Most often, though, there’s a wait of a year or more between an announcement and the product’s arrival. The Premier E8 was an exception to that rule, with a delivery just under a year from its announcement on April 25, 2023 and a delivery between the beginning and end of April 2024.

Before we dive into the model, one problem that I’ve had with almost all the Atlas Premier models is the blue box they arrive in. The box seems to be ½ a centimeter too short, causing the end flaps to bend around the foam insert and not remain securely closed.

Inside the box you’ll find a tightly wrapped locomotive with white Atlas ribbons to easily remove the model from the foam protection. A dummy O gauge coupler and spare traction tires are also provided. Cab units, such as the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) E8, are probably the easiest to remove as there are minimal rooftop details and no stanchions and handrails like you’d find on a hood unit. Atlas also places cardboard pieces between the trucks and frame that can easily be removed.

black locomotive on layout
Chris Montagna photo

Though details on the EMD E8 are minimal, Atlas does a fantastic job creating a sleek and accurate model. The vertical handrails and nose grab irons are separate, factory-applied and painted wire parts. The cab and engine room access doors are sprung. Inside the cab are factory-painted crew figures and a control stand with unpainted molded gauges. The headlight, class lights, and number boxes are illuminated with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), reducing the amperage draw from your transformer. The controls for volume, DCS/DCC, and smoke are located behind the rear door, which is secured with a magnet and folds down to easily reach the controls.

black locomotive on layout
Chris Montagna photo

The ABS body has crisply defined rivet detail, which even on an all-black model like our Penn Central sample is easily noticed. The roof features free spinning fans and two exhaust holes for the fan driven smoke unit. Measuring 18”, this 1:48-proportion E8 is a tad longer than scale to the 70’-3” prototype. Even at that length, the non-flanged wheels on the inside axle set of each truck allow this model to navigate O-31 curves.

The Atlas Premier E8 features two flywheel motors, one per truck. The smoke unit has a deep brass funnel directly under the front exhaust port. The LEDs for the headlight and number boxes are affixed to a steel structure attached to the frame. This reduces the wires between the shell and the frame when the shell is removed. The die-cast metal frame accounts for much of the model’s 4 pounds, 14.5 ounces. With a pulling power of 3 pounds, the six-axle cab unit has plenty of power to pull a string of passenger cars without assistance for additional units.

rear of black locomotive on layout
Chris Montagna photo

As we’ve come to expect from Atlas, scale coupler mounting holes are drilled in the die-cast metal pilot. I added a Kadee coupler to the front of my model for a more prototypical appearance. Removing the ElectroCoupler on the front is about a 5-minute process. First, carefully remove the C-clip holding the coupler spring in place on the underside of the model. Next, remove the pilot. The screws used to attach the pilot are difficult to reach. I found that removing the shell (four screws) provided enough clearance to reach the two screws holding the pilot in place as well as the ElectroCoupler wire harness.

With the pilot out of the way, remove the ElectroCoupler wires and the coupler. I always keep these parts in a labeled bin should I want to reinstall them later. The Kadee coupler required a 2mm Plastruct styrene shim to get it to the correct height. I ended up spraying the shim with flat black paint to help it blend in. I added some light weathering with an airbrush to give my Penn Central version a more prototypical appearance.

Atlas doesn’t catalog any cabless B units to pair up with these single As. Atlas offers three road numbers for most road names (two powered units and one non-powered model per scheme). Burlington Northern and NJ Commuter units are sold as two powered units only. The EMD E8 isn’t available in a 2-rail version.

The models offered include Penn Central (30138235, 30138236, 30138242), Amtrak (30138229, 30138230, 30138241), Burlington Northern 30138231, 30138231), NJ Commuter (Transition Scheme — 30138233, 30138234), Rock Island (30138237, 30138238, 30138243), Kansas City Southern (30138239, 30138240, 30138244.)

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

Atlas Premier E8

MSRP: $599.95 (powered) and $279.95 (non-powered)

Features: Proto-Sound 3.0, directionally controlled LED headlight, ProtoSmoke diesel exhaust, illuminated LED number boxes, illuminated cab interior, O-31 operation, front ElectroCoupler

Road names: See text above



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