Budget-Priced Dash 8-40CM from Rapido

Budget-Priced Dash 8-40CM from Rapido

May 2016Rapido Trains introduces a new series of high-quality value-priced model releases under its newly inaugurated Prime Movers by Rapido name. This announcement marks Rapido’s first effort in the HO modern diesel category. The company promises more all-new tooling efforts to come in the near future for its Prime Movers by Rapido line. First up for Prime Movers by Rapido is General Electric’s (GE) Dash 8-40CM diesel locomotive.

The prototype is a “Dash 8”-series diesel that came out in 1990. Original buyers included BC Rail; Canadian National (CN); and Quebec, North Shore & Labrador (QNSL). A Canadian variant to GE’s Dash 8-40CW, the Dash 8-40CM features a wide nose, four-window North American cab, full-width cowl body with “Draper Taper” notches, and six-axle Dofasco trucks. The units were certainly a sign of General Electric’s success in the diesel market, prior to delivering Dash 8-40CMs to its three Canadian buyers the most recent sale of GE diesel was a 1956 44-tonner to CN. Since the Dash 8-40CMs, GE has been a regular contributor to Canadian motive power rosters. All 81 examples now in CN’s roster reportedly continue to turn revenue miles today and frequently find themselves in consists in both Canada and the U.S. Canadian National’s ownership of Illinois Central, and other traffic agreements regularly put Dash 8-40CMs stateside for railfans in the U.S. to view.

rapido-drapertaper-06General Electric built the “Draper Taper” Dash 8-40CM at the request of Canadian National. CN owned the most of any railroad with 55 examples delivered in two orders. You’ll note the EF-640a classification below the 2400 number on Rapido’s early sample model and EF-640b on the cab of prototype 2419. In “EF-640,” the “E” stood for General Electric, “F” for freight, “6” for six-axle, and “40” for 4,000 hp. CN differentiated its two orders by an “a” and “b” on the ends of the class label. — Glen Courtney photo, Kevin EuDaly collection

The cowl design, known as a Draper Taper made its last appearance with this collection of GE Dash 8s. The name comes from CN’s William L. Draper, who as the road’s assistant chief of motive power was instrumental in the notch-behind-the-cab design. Bombardier’s HR-616s in 1982 first introduced the Draper Taper, which went on to see use with General Motors Diesel SD50F and SD60F and Canadian Pacific’s “Red Barn” SD40–2F diesels. CN’s desire for a full-width cowl body came from a combination of mechanical and operational needs. The Draper Traper first disappeared with CN’s 1994 order for Dash 9 locomotives.

rapido-drapertaper-07The minority Dash 9-40CM buyer was Quebec, North Shore & Labrador. QNSL bought three Dash 8-40CMs (401–403), which went to The Andersons in 2013. In its initial release, Rapdio includes various BC Rail and CN models, but QNSL fans will need to look to future runs for models of these specific units. — Kevin EuDaly collection

For Canadian National, the first group of Dash 8-40CMs came in 1990 in a group consisting of 30 units (2400–2429). The first 30 became CN’s EF-640a class. The road added 25 additional units (2430–2454) in 1992, which received EF-640b classification. BC Rail bought 22 examples of GE’s Dash 8-40CM in 1990 (4601–4626) and four additional units in 1993 (4623–4626). Arriving in March 1994, QNSL purchased a trio of Dash 8-40CMs (401–403). The 26-member BC Rail fleet became CN units in 2004 when Canadian National took over BC Rail. The QNSL units sold to The Andersons (100017–100019) in 2013.

rapido-drapertaper-03This view captured at GE’s Erie, Pennsylvania, facility in the spring of 1990 shows the notched contour of the long hood on a Draper Taper cowl body. While a cowl unit includes mechanical and operational advantages, the view backward from the cab isn’t among the positives. Angling in the hood was the concept of CN’s William Draper. His Draper Taper design presented an improved view from inside the cab, allowing a reverse view without hanging out a window into the elements to see behind. — Al Gorney photo, Kevin EuDaly collection

Before Rapido’s announcement, availability of this Canadian prototype was limited for HO modelers. Overland Models imported brass examples from Ajin in Korea in the early 1990s and again in 2005. The other way to have an HO Dash 8-40CM was to start with a resin shell from Kaslo Shops.


Pre-production, hand-assembled, hand-painted model shown.

The coming Prime Movers by Rapido release will contain a number of great features, including an access door on the bottom of the model. This access door, which will look much like a traditional battery compartment in its appearance, will give operators the ability to install a Digital Command Control (DCC) decoder in the model with amazing ease — no shell removal or worry about damaging or disconnecting wiring with this decoder install. You’ll find the dummy plug inside the access hatch on the bottom of the fuel tank on standard DC releases. Removal of that plug and installation of a 21-pin DCC decoder will be a simple procedure. Sound-equipped Dash 8-40CM models will include a four-function factory-installed decoder and audio system.

rapido-drapertaper-02This hand-built pre-production Dash 8-40CM sample illustrates Rapido’s access hatch that you’ll find on the model’s fuel tank bottom. Inside, the operator will find this release’s DCC electronics. A 21-pin socket with dummy plug will be inside on standard DC models, ready for installation of a DCC decoder if desired.

Though budget-priced, Rapido’s Dash 8-40CM model will include door and walkway handrails factory installed, and you’ll find grab irons, sun shades, and windshield wipers provided with the model. Rapido’s tooling will provide drill starter holes for instal ling grab irons on this model. Variations between Dash 8-40CMs include a bell mounted over the windshields on select examples, and the notched space behind the cab differed between BC Rail and CN units. Rapido will address these road-specific attributes and more when producing its HO models.


Pre-production, hand-assembled, hand-painted model shown.

Additional features will include working front and rear headlights, plus illuminated number boards. The correct length HO-scale Dash 8-40CM will ride on accurate six-axle Dofasco trucks and will navigate 18-inch radius curves. Rapido will power the new Dash 8-40CM with the same motor and drive system found in its regular releases. Metal Macdonald-Cartier knuckle couplers will come on this new diesel.

This coming HO scale Dash 8-40CM represents Rapido’s first modern diesel model, plus the launch of the manufacturer’s budget-priced “Prime Movers by Rapido” series. Model images are pre-production hand-built and hand-painted samples and do not necessarily reflect the appearance of regular production units due late this year. Rapido expects its first release to arrive during the winter of 2016.

This limited production offering has a pre-order deadline of August 2, 2016. Coming paint schemes will include Canadian National “stripes” with six angled white stripes down the long hood, no stripes with “wet noodle” CN on long hood, “North America” appearance with CN and gray continental outline, and CN with web URL (www.cn.ca) on long hood. The web URL version will also be the scheme for ex-BC Rail units in CN service. The other road name is BC Rail in its striking red, white, and blue scheme.

Prime Movers by RapidoBC Rail and CN stripes and “North America” models will receive no road number releases with provided decals to allow hobbyists to create additional numbers outside of Rapido’s announced releases. Multiple road numbers are coming for all schemes. Rapido will also release an undecorated Dash 8-40CM model in both standard DC and DCC-sound versions. At press time, Rapdio had not announced its DCC and sound system electronics source. Watch for news on this in future editions of Model Railroad News or visit Rapido’s website. The standard DC model carries a $159.95 suggested retail, while the DCC/sound offering sells for $249.95 in the U.S. Canadian pricing is $174.95 for standard DC and $264.95 for DCC/sound models.

Rapido Trains
500 Alden Road, Unit 16
Markham, ON L3R 5H5 Canada

This article appeared in the May 2016 issue of Model Railroad News

This article was posted on: May 1, 2016