Opinions on Athearn Genesis units?


Hello all,

I am considering purchasing a new locomotive for my HO scale fleet, and wanted some advice from those that are familiar with the Athearn Genesis line. The loco in question is a GP38-2 in CSX livery, as seen here... http://www.athearn.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=ATHG40832.

I have purchased Athearn models before, and I have to say, I was not impressed. One was from a 2003 run, the other 2008. The operation of both was very shoddy, and they were not very reliable. I know their products have improved since then, but to what degree I have no idea. Since then, I have acquired mostly 6-axle Kato locomotives, and their quality is superb. I'm now looking for a few more 4-axle locomotives to switch some of my industries, and the last thing I want to do is drop a couple hundred dollars for a sub-par engine. I've never owned a Genesis model, so I have no idea what their quality is compared to some of the old-school products.

Thank you.
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I have a large fleet of Athearn Genesis units from their early 2001 units up to the CSX ones you mentioned. Across the board they all seem to run well, however, the QC is hit or miss sometimes. If possible buy local and carefully inspect AND run the engine before you take it home. I had to swap 2 CSX GP38s due to damaged power wires to the trucks. Once you get one that works though, they seem to run well for quite some time.
I have two late model Athearn Genesis locos in my fleet, both SD70ACe, one in UP livery and the other is CNW Heritage (UP1995). Apart from DCC decoder issues (one of my TCS T4X decoders recently died), I have to say that the locos are great. The one thing I, and others in my local train club, have noticed is that the Genesis models tend to run really well with other Genesis models, but not so well with anything else. Regardless, I would still recommend the Genesis locos.
I have two more recent Athearn Genesis units in NS, an SD70ACe and a SD70M with the Flared Radiators and they seem to run well for me. One complaint some people have is the lighting and Athearn's non-use of LEDs for lighting but to each their own there. Justin has a few SOU/NS high hoods from Athearn too and I havent heard any complaints from him either on his units. They sure do look nice!

Personally what I've done is gathered manufacturer specific loco consists. I have two BLI, Athearn and Intermountain locos so I'll commonly just run manufacturers together to save myself the speed matching mess between manufacturers.

I personally like Athearn Genesis, over MTH but not over BLI or KATO. I highly dislike MTH's decoders, and the non-molded details, as they fall off, even if they don't get bumped into or whatever. I have an Athearn GP9 in Western Pacific 'Zephyr' livery, and it has a very nice drive in it. The handrails are very flimsy, however, and it seems like they could've used stronger plastic while still retaining prototypical thickness, like MTH and BLI do. It still is one of my favorite locomotives out of my collection. I actually prefer some of the Athearn RTR units, over the Genesis models as far as operation goes (price, too). The new RTR SD40-2 is almost as detailed as a genesis model, just missing the Tsunami sound. I absolutely love Kato USA models, however. They're drives are the best in the industry, and I have Athearn RTR (ok drives), Athearn Genesis (ok drives), MTH (bad drives, bad decoders, beyond superior sound), BLI, IHC (also has good drives, also Japanese), Walthers Proto (also great drives), Walthers Trainline (bad detail, great drives), and Atlas, to name a few. Kato is made in Japan, and the detail, and the drives are excellent. I have a Kato SD40-2 Mid in Burlington Northern colors (No. 6770), and I love it. Once I put a decoder in my Athearn SD40-2, I'm gonna get one for it. BLI has excellent sound, and their handrails are great. I am getting a BLI ES44AC (Southern), when it is released later this month. I would recommend BLI Paragon2 to anyone in the hobby. Best manufacture out there, except for maybe Kato. If you get that GP38-2, I'd go for the Athearn. If you want an SD40-2, BLI or Kato. Kat makes BNSF H1, BNSF H3, CN NA Map, BN White Face, and ATSF. BLI makes ATSF, BNSF, IC&E, DM&E, BHP Iron Ore, NS, and probably more. Both are made w/sound and DCC, while Kato is made without, but DCC Ready.