EMD SW1200, Plymouth W-Series 35-ton, & Plymouth ML-8 Switcher Comparison

Note: This post is currently a work in progress.

I recently acquired the following engines and thought it would be helpful to review them for anyone else looking into getting one of these switchers for their layout. 

First they are significantly different from each other in price and quality. 

Great Northern EMD SW1200 by Rapido is a great little engine. I got the version that came with DCC and sounds. 

The Undecorated Walther's ML-8 has had 2 runs and is not currently in production but if you dig around enough online you might be lucky enough to find one. I was able to find two 1 DC and the other DCC. 

The Broadway Limited Imports Plymouth W-series 35-ton switcher is currently available in DC/DCC. 

Broadway Limited Imports Plymouth W-series 35-ton switcher

My only complaint about the three is that the BLI Plymouth Switcher's couplers are to floppy, that is have to much play in the vertical direction which effects how well it pulls something heavy.

The DCC features include control of the headlight but now cab light which would have been a nice feature to add. With the default settings the engine starts to move at about 15% throttle.

From my research Great Northern never had 35-ton 3 axle switcher. I don't run a prototypical railroad so not a big deal but just a point to consider if your are trying to keep all your motive power true to the road.

Walther's Plymouth ML-8 Switcher DCC - Green

This is a quality built little engine. It has not problem navigating Atlas Mark IV switches that don't have the frogs powered because of its capacitor which helps it navigate short interruptions in electricity. It even works fine on their curved turnouts.

The DCC features include headlight and cab light control. The engine will start moving at 1% throttle.

When ordering pay attention to which DCC unit you get, there were two different runs. The first run had the SoundTraxx decoder and the second one has an ESU decoder. The ESU decoder can run on both DC and DCC while the SoundTraxx cannot from my understanding. Both unit include the current keeper feature.

Walther's Plymouth ML-8 Switcher DC - Yellow

When I originally ordered this I ordered the DCC version but the hobby store didn't double check there numbers and sent me the wrong one. Offered to make it right by having me return the unit for the correct one. Since shipping would have been a quite a loss for them I offered to purchase it and they sent me the right one with a free decoder for the DCC one. 

Rapido EMD SW1200 Great Northern

This engine is obviously larger than the other two and in a whole different level in regards to being prototypical. 

The DCC features include control of the headlights, cab light, and track inspection lights. It includes sound control for the engine, horn, bell, break squeal, coupler clang, and more.

While extracting the engine from a tunnel I accidentally knocked the bell off and promptly lost it. Rapido quickly sent me a replacement, great customer service. So be careful with the details. 

Rapido EMD SW1200 Undecorated

The undecorated version is the same as the Great Northern version except without the paint and a whole lot of extra parts. They include the parts to make any variation of the versions that they have to offer. Including both types of trucks. This version is not for the faint of heart or beginners as it will require a lot of work to bring it to a finished product. It also has the advantage that if you want to run it without all the extra details on it you don't have to worry so much about breaking off the little details. 


Would I buy them again or recommend them? 
  • EMD SW1200 Great Northern by Rapdio - Yes
  • EMD SW1200 Undecorated by Rapdio - Yes
  • ML-8 Plymouth Switcher by Walthers - Yes
  • W-Series 35-ton Plymouth Switcher by Broadway Limited Imports - No 


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