Athearn Genesis GP9

Many Trains Jan 19, 2021

  1. Many Trains

    Many Trains TrainBoard Member


    I'd like some opinions/advice regarding the Athearn genesis line GP9. I normally model in n-scale, but am looking to get a locomotive for use on a family members HO layout. I have found a GP9 that looks good, but I have not kept up with HO - better quality manufacturers/prices to expect etc.

    The unit I am interested in is an Athearn Genesis. I can get one Tsunami equipped, or I can get one without decoder.

    Is the genesis line good quality? (I hope so for the price, almost $300 for the Tsunami equipped). Is the non-decoder equipped a headache to install a decoder in, sound/no sound?

    I haven't had an Athearn in decades - the old blue box was the last one I had.

    I'd appreciate any feedback/advice.

  2. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I really enjoy all my Genesis models. The F45 in my profile picture is Genesis. A major complaint most modelers have are the incandescent bulb headlights. The newer runs (last 2 or 3 years) will have LEDs, so if the bulbs bother you, make sure your model is a newer run. The new models will have a blue LED logo on the box end label.

    Other than that, there is very little to complain about in the detail-department. The models usually do not have lit number boards, which may be another thing that bothers certain modelers, but for daytime-ops, this is not a big deal. Grab irons, separate piping, fan blades, they have it all. Some of the new Genesis 2.0 models have etched steps, which was the one detail I was waiting for them to improve.

    Most of my locomotives are sound-equipped, but the DCC Ready models are pretty straightforward to upgrade. I think Athearn uses the 21 pin DCC socket, which is becoming more common these days. All the new lighting features like ditch lights and step lights quickly overwhelmed the NMRA 8-pin. If you want sound, they come equipped with Tsunami. There is a heated debate between Tsunami and ESU, but if you like ESU, buy the DCC Ready version and install the new V5.0 decoder yourself. Some people think ESU motor control is better, but if you mess with the BEMF and momentum settings on the Tsunami, you can get your model to operate just how you want.

    I think the GP9 is the best out-of-the-box GP unit out there. The Life-Like (now Wathers Proto) is another option though. I have seen some people do some crazy custom jobs with the Life-Like model, but I would only do that if I was upgrading an older model. I wouldn't do that to a DCC/sound model because most of the features are already there.
  3. dti406

    dti406 TrainBoard Member

    I have 7 of the Athearn GP-7/9's and am really happy with them, they are all well detailed and run great. I do not have the sound versions as I believe sound is a gimmick and not all realistic for the scale involved. A couple of my club members have units other than my NKP/PRR/PC and they also look and run great.

    Rick Jesionowski
  4. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Genesis GP7's and 9's are among my favorite, I have two with three B&M GP9's on order. The newest releases have LED and are a big improvement. All of mine have the Tsunami 2 and out of the box the sound is good, but if you go over to the SoundTraxx website, check out George Bogatiuk's webinars on improving the sound for operations. My HO scale layout is small operations so the sound is a big part of the realism. The see through steps, lighted number boards and ground lights are all Genesis 2.0 features and are currently on the bigger, more modern six axle offerings, SD70ACU, SD70M-2, SD80MAC etc.

    For what I do, small industrial switching, the locomotives perform well in slow speed operations and the details are specific to the prototype so I spend more time with the layout now then I used to as I don't have to detail and custom paint as much.
    Martin Station likes this.

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