Modeling Reviews Athearn HO scale EMD SW1500

Athearn HO scale EMD SW1500

By Cody Grivno | January 21, 2024

End-cab switcher offered for first time with SoundTraxx Tsunami2 sound decoder and light-emitting-diode lighting

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

The Athearn HO scale EMD SW1500 pays a visit to the Jones Island section of our Milwaukee, Racine & Troy staff layout. Model Railroader Senior Editor Cody Grivno discusses the features on the end-cab switcher, which is being offered with light-emitting-diode lighting and a SoundTraxx Tsunami2 sound decoder for the first time. In addition, he shares a brief prototype history of Wisconsin Central SW1500 No. 1569.

Road names on this run of the Athearn HO scale EMD SW1500 include Wisconsin Central (maroon and yellow), Burlington Northern (Cascade Green and black), Conrail (blue), St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt, scarlet and gray), and Western Pacific (dark green and orange). Each paint scheme is offered in three road numbers. In addition, Athearn offers undecorated switchers with standard and Southern Pacific/Cotton Belt details.

Features on the Athearn Ready-to-Roll Electro-Motive Division SW1500 include an injection-molded plastic shell, die-cast metal chassis, an improved five-pole skew-wound can motor with flywheels, and all-wheel electrical pickup. In addition, the model has a detailed cab interior, see-through etched-metal radiator intake grills, an 1,100-gallon fuel tank, wire grab irons, printed number boards, flush-fitting window glazing, and railroad-specific trucks (Flexicoil or Association of American Railroads) and detail parts.

Direct-current models with a 21-pin plug are priced at $219.99. Switchers with a dual-mode SoundTraxx Tsunami2 sound decoder and dual cube speakers sell for $319.99. The SW1500 has a minimum operating radius of 18”. 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.

2 thoughts on “Athearn HO scale EMD SW1500

  1. Second thought. For locomotive reviews, MR does not mention what I feel are two key facts – first, what is the pulling power in ounces, and second, does the loco decoder have a “Keep-Alive” feature, especially valuable in slow-moving switchers. Both are critical (to me) in evaluating any new purchase of motive power.

  2. Noticed that the starts and stops of the loco were often abrupt. I expect that could be fixed by placing larger numbers in CVs 3 and 4 to smooth speed changes.

You must login to submit a comment