First Look Review
HO scale
ALCo RS-36 Locomotive
Trainman Silver RS-36 Locomotive Apache #700
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Shining Time
RS-36 Locomotive Apache #700 from Atlas Model Railroad Co. is one in a range of low nose HO ALCo RS-32/36 locomotives in Atlas' Trainman series. Trainman locos are available as a Gold (DCC) or Silver (analog) series. Bicentennial Apache 700 is available in Gold, Item 10 002 659, and Silver Item 10 002 641. To date Atlas has released seven runs of the RS-32/36.

Atlas offers a brief history of these ALCos
    Designated as a “DL721” by ALCo, the 2,000hp RS-32 was intended to compete with EMD’s GP20 and GE’s U25B locomotives. Only 35 units were produced, with 25 units ordered by New York Central in 1961 and 10 units by Southern Pacific in 1962. New York Central’s RS-32s were commonly seen in both road and local freight assignments. Southern Pacific’s units were initially used in road service, but later settled into local freight service in San Francisco’s “commute” territory. Here they were sometimes called upon to rescue stalled commuter trains. They later migrated across the system, ending their SP careers in Texas during the late 1970s with various other ALCo models.

    Designated as a “DL701” by ALCo, the 1,800hp RS-36 was only slightly more successful than the RS32, with a total of 40 units produced between 1961 and 1963. Interestingly the DL701 designation was also used for the RS-11 locomotive, and this has been the cause of some confusion when tallying fleet rosters. The largest purchaser of RS36s was Delaware & Hudson with a total of 12 units. These units served the D&H well, operating in road and local freight service through the 1980s. A few units even lasted into the 1990s holding yard and local assignments, serving their original owner for nearly 30 years. Norfolk & Western eventually amassed a larger fleet than the D&H, with the acquisition of Nickel Plate’s 11 units, giving N&W a total fleet of 17 units (some with high short hoods). Other original owners included Tennessee Central, Apache, Atlantic & Danville and Chicago & North Western (single unit order).

    Given their very low production numbers, it is interesting to note that a handful of RS-32 and RS-36 locomotives can still be found in service today on a few US shortlines and tourist railroads.

For technical and dimensional data, Jean-Denis Bachand has complied 32 characteristics for the RS-36 (DL701A) on his site THE DIESEL SHOP.

Apache Railway
This model is particularly meaningful to me. Several times since the early 1980s I have been to Holbrook, Arizona, where the Apache Railway joins the BNSF transcon. Once, I caught a fleeting glimpse of some of these colorful ALCos smoking up the sky. For those who would like to know more about the Apache Railway, please see the source listed at the end of this review.

Also, if you would like to see photos of the real Apache 700 and other Apache locos, please see Click here for additional images for this review, also at the end of this review.

The Model
Atlas' RS-36 arrives securely packaged in several layers to keep it safe. The loco is secured with screws to a hard plastic base. That base is contained in a snap-together top-bottom form-fitted cradle, which in turn is held in a clear plastic sleeve. That ensemble is held inside a sturdy top-bottom box with a clear view window. Atlas includes registration documents and an exploded-diagram line art parts sheet. It shows all parts and components, most with its part number. However, while well detailed, it provides no guidance as to how to attach or detach anything.

That is disappointing as the model comes with two small packages of round parts. I can't find anywhere they appear to attach.

The model is engineered with plastic frames on metal trucks and wheels, a cast metal chassis frame for weight, an injection molded body shell and a sill, detailed with plastic and metal parts. It is further equipped with AccuMate® knuckle couplers. Inside the body is the motor, dual flywheel drive shafts and electrical suite.

The main differences between the DCC Gold series and the analog Silver series are:


Supports all DCC-programming modes
Flexible mapping of function keys F0 to F28.
A total of six DCC function outputs are available
Follows all NMRA DCC standards and recommended practices.


The LokSound Select Dual-Mode decoder allows your Atlas Gold Series locomotive to be used on DC as well as on DCC layouts.
Please note that the Atlas Quantum Engineer will NOT operate an Atlas Gold Series locomotive equipped with a LokSound Select decoder on an analog (DC) layout. However, the sound and lighting
functions of the LokSound Select decoder in the Atlas Gold Series locomotive can be controlled by an easy-to-use basic DCC system
Also note that on a DC-powered layout, a DCC and sound equipped locomotive CANNOT be consisted with another locomotive that does not also have both DCC and sound. (This statement does NOT apply to DCC-equipped locomotives operating on a DCC layout.)


Over 20 sound effects are available, including engine start-up and shutdown, prime mover sounds through all eight notches, bell, air horn, air compressor, dynamic brakes and more.
There are 16 user-selectable horns, 2 user-selectable bells, and 2 user-selectable synchronized brake squeals.
Manual and Automatic Notching modes with the ability to change modes ”on the fly” are provided for true realism.

So that's what's on the inside. What about the "skin deep?" Atlas bases this Trainman® low nose RS-32 / RS-36 model on the proven drive of their Classic series RS-11 locomotive. As appropriate per specific railroads, Atlas makes the body shells with and without dynamic brakes. Other features are:

NMRA 8-pin plug for DCC
True scale dimensions with accurate details
Separately applied hand rails and end railings
Locating dimples for grab irons
Directional lighting
Realistic die-cast underframes
Equipped with AccuMate® Couplers

What makes this ALCo go is a skew-wound five-pole motor screwed into a metal frame. Two turned-brass flywheels smooth the transmission of energy between the motor and the nickel silver wheelset gear cases. Setting atop the frame is a circuit board that controls LEDs for the headlights number boards. That circuit board can accept a DCC unit.

Inspecting this RS-36 from the rails up, we find RP-25 wheels held in injection-molded AAR Type B trucks. The truck sideframes do not seem shiny enough to be acetal. Those sideframes attach onto the truck assembly and then to the metal mainframe, upon which sits the plastic sill. The plastic fuel tank is attached under the frame.

Six runs of molded acetal handrails are attached to the sill. Also attached to the sill is the body shell. (Atlas molded four types to best model specific prototypes: RS-32 with dynamic brakes; RS-32 without dynamic brakes; RS-36 with dynamic brakes; RS-36 without dynamic brakes.) The cab is a separate piece.

Weights and Measures
RS-36s are 52-feet 6-inches long and my scale ruler shows the model is very close.

Atlas' plastic body is crisply molded with plenty of molded-on/in hood access doors with hinge and latch detailing, vents, rivet detail and such. With Trainman models, none of the fans, stacks, louvers, intakes nor grilles are molded open.

However, Atlas crews the ALCo with engineer and fireman figures. A separately applied hand brake wheel and horn set detail the body. I am not certain what brand of horn this cluster represents but it appears close to a Leslie SuperTyfon model S-5T, or maybe a Nathan M-5. For your pleasure, I include a source - complete with audio of the different horns - at the end of this review.

The truck sideframes are single parts with all detail molding on. The detail is so crisply and deeply molded that I thought the brake cylinders were separately attached. (They are not.)

While Atlas advertises locating dimples for grab irons, no irons are provided. Presumably this is because providing them, especially attached, would drive the price up. Not only that but extended grab irons are easy to knock off. Templates for locating drill spots for the irons are printed on the parts sheet.

Paint and livery
Apache Railway Company (reporting marks APA) rostered 17 diesel-electrics, almost all being ALCos. The earliest color photos I have found of APA locos show their diesels painted silver with red trim. Apache adopted the red, white and blue livery on this model for America's bicentennial. Some time afterwards they changed to the vivid green and white livery of today.

Atlas' painting is opaque and does not obscure detail. It is smooth and bright. Borders between colors are sharp. Placards and data stenciling is pad-printed and features excellent detail. I can read it all, including the ALCo builder plate below the battery boxes on the right sill. Atlas even printed faux mounting rivets in each corner!

This 7th release of RS-32/36 features nine railroads and four undecorated variants:
    Undecorated with dynamic brakes
    Undecorated without dynamic brakes
    1. Apache Bicentennial (Red/White/Blue)
    2. Apache (Red/White/Blue)
    3. Central Vermont (Green/Yellow)
    4. Chicago & North Western (Green/Yellow)
    5. FNM (Blue/Green/Orange)
    6. Lamoille Valley (Green/Yellow)
    7. Livonia Avon & Lakeville (Black/Yellow)
    8. Norfolk & Western (Black/White)
    9. Ontario Central (Black/Yellow)

Some of the decorated road names come with two road numbers.

Atlas' RS-36 is a good looking model of their Trainman line. It features good detail and excellent paint and markings.

I am disappointed that there is no hint as to the purpose or placement of the separately bagged parts.

This RS-36 is an exciting addition for HO ALCo lovers. Recommended.

Please remember to mention to vendors and retailers that you saw this loco here - on RailRoad Modeling.
Sources Apache Railway. n.d.

Ed Kaspriske. Horns Inc. A Collection of Airhorns. November 26, 2014.

Jean-Denis Bachand. THE DIESEL SHOP. Alco RS-36 (DL701A). 2 April 2005.

AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: The body and trucks are crisply molded with plenty of molded-on/in detail. Excellent paint and markings.
Lows: No hint as to the purpose or placement of the separately bagged parts.
Verdict: This RS-36 is a good looking model and should be an exciting addition for HO ALCo lovers.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 10 002 641
  Related Link: RS-32/36 Archives
  PUBLISHED: Nov 04, 2018
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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