News & Reviews Product Reviews Staff Reviews Athearn HO EMD SD39

Athearn HO EMD SD39

By Cody Grivno | September 22, 2023

Six-axle road unit available with Econami sound decoder

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We’ll head down to Larson Stone on our Milwaukee, Racine & Troy staff layout to check out a model from the latest run of HO scale Electro-Motive Division SD39 diesel locomotives produced by Athearn Trains. Join Model Railroader senior editor Cody Grivno as he points out the features on the six-axle road locomotive, demonstrates some of the light and sound features, and switches the quarry.

The sample we received is decorated for the Dakota & Iowa (yellow, black, and red, two road numbers). Other paint schemes include Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (blue and yellow warbonnet); Copper Basin Ry. (gray); Boston & Maine (Guilford); and Southern Pacific (scarlet and gray, Primed for Grime line). The Athearn HO EMD SD39 is offered in three numbers per scheme unless noted.

Features on the six-axle road locomotive include a five-pole motor with flywheels, all-wheel drive and electrical pickup, factory-installed and painted wire grab irons, Celcon handrails and stanchion, photo-etched stainless steel windshield wipers, and see-through dynamic brake and radiator fans. Additional details include Flexicoil-C trucks with high or low brake cylinders as appropriate, directional light-emitting-diode lighting, and RP-25 metal wheel stubs mounted on plastic axles. The model has a minimum radius of 18” and a recommended radius of 22”.

Direct-current models with a 21-pin NEM plug for a Digital Command Control decoder are priced at $179.99. Versions with a dual-mode SoundTraxx Econami sound decoder sell for $249.99. Add $10 to Primed for Grime models. Product Review videos showcase the latest new items from manufacturers of products in Z, N, HO, S, O, and large scales. In the videos, you can watch locomotives in action, take a close-up look at details on freight cars, see kit components, and much more.

If you are a manufacturer and have products you would like reviewed, please email Senior Editor Cody Grivno at for more information.

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