Model Railroad News Product Reviews

Action Red E-unit: Rapido Trains CP Rail E8A Diesel Locomotive

On Rapido Trains’ website, you’ll find an EMD E8 & E9 Master Class section prepared by Craig Walker with loads of information and many images documenting this famous prototype. Included is a complete roster with E8 and E9 models labeled (as well as B-units noted). Canadian Pacific was the only buyer in Canada for this offering (all coming from Electro-Motive in the U.S. with no General Motors Diesel examples built). As with all road names reproduced, Rapido Trains includes road-specific features.

Action Red E-unit: Rapido Trains CP Rail E8A Diesel Locomotive

August 2023Review by Kevin J. Holland

Having made its name with accurate, highly detailed models of specialized Canadian rolling stock and locomotives in HO- and N-scale plastic, in recent years Rapido Trains, Inc., has pursued the broader North American market by also producing a growing range of products of particular interest to modelers of U.S. railroads. This trend continues with the company’s HO-scale E8 passenger diesels, which debuted in 2022 (“Amtrak ‘Day One’ Arrives” review in December 2022 Model Railroad News) in a multitude of prototype-specific paint and detail combinations.

Rapido’s stable of E8 diesel locomotive models includes 13 paint scheme and detail variations for 10 railroads: Amtrak (two decoration styles, Phase I livery reviewed by Aaron Adams be-ginning on page 40); Canadian Pacific (three versions); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Erie Lackawanna; Illinois Central; New York Central; Pennsylvania Railroad; Southern Railway; Union Pacific; VIA Rail Canada; plus, three undecorated body style releases.

To achieve these specific combinations of body detail, Rapido tooled seven nose configurations; three rear-end walls; side panels with or without portholes; three dynamic-brake hatches; single or dual steam generator hatches; skirted or unskirted fuel and water tanks; and passenger or freight pilots, among other more subtle variations. Distinctive features unique to individual railroads (rooftop snow shields for Union Pacific, Trainphone antennae for Pennsy, and Southern Railway’s rooftop air tanks) are also offered in this run.

Rapido Canadian Pacific E-8

ABOVE: This version of the road’s Action Red livery presents 5-inch angled white stripes on the nose (against red) and on the rear (against black) providing excellent visibility.

The design phase of Rapido’s E8 production was based on a 3D scan of an actual E8, former Union Pacific 942, at the Southern California Railway Museum in Perris, Calif. The principal aim of this scan was to accurately capture the prototype’s notoriously difficult-to-replicate com-pound nose curves, for translation into CAD drawings and production tooling. Notably, and thankfully, the prominent mold seam visible on the sides of Rapido’s FP7A and FP9A noses is nowhere to be seen on this E-unit. Some observers have questioned the accuracy of the Rapido E8A model’s headlight assembly — specifically, the manner and degree of its fairing into the upper nose. Side-by-side comparisons of the E8A with the company’s earlier FP7A models reveal comparable fairing, but the model E8’s housing does extend a few scale inches farther forward. And a porthole note: the rims of the forward and rear portholes (which were hinged to open outward on the prototype) are rendered on the model as a two-step frame, which doesn’t match the prototype.

Thanks to Canadian Pacific’s 1949 purchase of three E8A units (acquired to serve in a Boston–Montreal passenger pool with Boston & Maine), modelers north of the border (and in northern New England) can share in the E8 bounty, with Rapido releasing models in all the paint schemes worn by these Canadian units during their careers. Notably, these were the only E-units acquired new by a Canadian railroad…

August 2023Read the rest of this article in the August 2023 issue of Model Railroad News. Subscribe Today!

This article was posted on: July 16, 2023