Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I'm looking for a part and I can't find it on your website. Where do I go?

A: The parts listed on our website are only the mostly frequently purchased common mechanical parts available to ship from our warehouse in Champaign, Illinois. Our complete stock of Athearn repair parts, located in our Long Beach, CA office, is substantially larger but unfortunately not shown and not searchable on the website. If you can't find the part you are looking for please call or email us at When requesting part(s) please remember to provide as much information as you can, including the part number(s) and description(s) from your parts explosion that came with your product, as well as the Athearn stock number associated with your Athearn model (found on a label on the end of the original box, and usually begins with ATHxxxxxx or RNDxxxxxx). Please allow 24-48 hours and we will respond with pricing and availability for the requested part(s), including additional instructions for placing a purchase order for the available parts.

Q: How do you ship parts orders? How much is shipping?

A: All US parts shipments are dispatched via USPS priority and our shipping and handling fee is a standard rate of $10.00 regardless of order size or exact destination within the US. Additional freight charges will apply when shipping anywhere outside of the US specific to each location (although we do ship to many overseas locations). Tracking numbers for international shipments are available upon request, however additional freight charges will apply for this service. Warranty replacement parts are dispatched via First Class mail.

Q: I placed a parts order a while back and I have not received it, what gives?

A: While we work hard to answer your communications and deliver parts as quickly as we can for every customer, the business of repair and service parts is often seasonal and subject to periods of high demand that can exceed our capacity. We appreciate your patience and we apologize if your order takes longer than you expect. We are normally able to ship parts orders within two weeks of receiving payment, with shipping time in addition to that.

Q: I put my DCC and Sound equipped locomotive on the track and it will not respond to my DCC system, what do I do?

A: Sometimes it's best to attempt a hard factory reset of the decoder. This will remedy any programming errors that might have been accidentally set on your decoder by any method. Before attempting a factory reset, we suggest consulting the manual that came with your DCC system and research the necessary steps to change CV's with your system.

The following is an excerpt from Sountraxx's (most Athearn DCC & Sound products are Soundtraxx equipped) manual on this subject: Resetting the Decoder to Factory Defaults

All Tsunami2 (as well as Tsunami and Econami) sound decoders can be reset to their factory values easily. If you have changed some CVs and are not happy with the results, or your locomotive is not responding normally, this is the first troubleshooting step that you should try.

To do this, set CV 8 to a value of 8. Once you have done this, cycle the DCC system's power off for approximately 5–10 seconds, then turn it back on. You should observe the locomotive's lights blinking 16 times after a delay of about 10 seconds, indicating a successful factory reset. After a successful factory reset, your locomotive will respond to address 3 and all CV values will be returned to their factory supplied default values.

Q: How do I know if my model is under warranty?

A: Athearn's warranty policy is located here :

We classify models for warranty coverage as those purchased one year or less from the date of claim, and announced less than 6 years prior. Announcement dates for models can be found on the website by searching for your particular product page. Proof of purchase from an authorized Athearn retailer is required. Please note that models purchased second hand (for example at train shows or on e-bay) do not meet our requirements for warranty coverage, while those purchased new from an authorized Athearn retailer at these sales outlets do.

Q: I received a locomotive with damaged parts and they need to be repaired/replaced. How do I get them?

A: The best thing to do in this situation is to get in contact with our parts department by email at . You may send an email direct to this address along with the affected item's Athearn stock number and clear photos as an attachment showing the extent of the damage/missing part location on the model, and a brief description of the issue. Please include your full contact information including complete physical shipping address, email address, and telephone number in the email in case we have questions, and so we know where to send the part(s).

Q: Where can I go to find more information on your factory installed decoders?

A: On the Athearn Website under the DCC tab, we have PDFs available for download, we offer both the technical reference and User manuals. If your model is factory equipped with a Tsunami 2 or Econami decoder, you may also go to the "manuals for factory installed decoders" on Soundtraxx's website here : for additional info.

Q: Your handrails are quite delicate, what's the proper way to secure them to my model and how do I handle them properly?

A: Our handrails are made of a thin flexible engineering plastic which has different chemical properties than the plastic(s) used to construct the rest of the model, but are quite durable and prototypically accurate. The best adhesive to use to secure our handrails are hobby tacky glues used to secure clear plastic canopies on model aircraft (several fine examples may be purchased here : ) and clear windows to structures. This can be applied with a needle point tool to the pinholes along the walkways. As for handling, we suggest keeping the foam inserts between the hood of the engine and the handrails and holding the locomotive by the fuel tank and carefully placing the engine on the track. Then remove the foam handrail inserts with a pair of tweezers.

Q: I received a damaged locomotive and it must be sent in for a warranty repair. How do I do this?

A: Please make sure to contact our help desk to receive authorization for a warranty repair, we want to help fix the issue the fastest and most convenient method possible for your satisfaction. After contacting us we will ask several questions to try to work with you to resolve the issue and to get an idea of what kind of repair is needed to resolve the issue by the most expedient method. Should we be unable to assist you with the issue via phone contact, we will then provide additional instructions for sending in your model for a warranty repair. The helpdesk can be contacted by email at: or by telephone (310)-763-7140 ext. 122. Please have the actual product and Athearn stock number immediately at hand along with a copy of a valid purchase receipt or invoice when contacting us.

Q: Will you ever produce this _____ model? Please consider producing ____ model!

A: We thank you for your enthusiasm and your recommendation! Selecting a model for production is a complicated and lengthy process that includes months (sometimes years) of research. Sometimes new molds need to be cut to make custom parts for a particular model further lengthening time needed before we can even announce a new model! One thing that can shorten development time on new models is offering any personal research materials such as photographs and historic data along with your suggestion. Customer provided research is helpful to our efforts!

Q: Do you offer a printed catalog?

A: Unfortunately, we no longer offer a printed catalog, however all of our future, in stock, and soon to arrive products are in our online catalog at All new product announcements are posted under the "What's New" section on our website, and we update it with new announcements the last Friday of each month. We also email a newsletter with new announcements - to register for our email newsletter please follow this link and sign up - it's free!

In addition, you can always check new products arriving into stock here :

And please follow Athearn on Facebook!

Q: The model I'm looking for is discontinued, what does this mean exactly? Will it be produced again?

A: After we deliver a production run of a particular model to our warehouse and it is sold out, we change the stock status indicator to “discontinued” on . Please keep in mind that just because Athearn no longer has a particular product in stock, these products are still available from our dealers and online (search for a dealer here :

Discontinuation of any particular roadname or model does not mean the entire model type is discontinued. For example, if Santa Fe GP9's are discontinued we will continue to produce other models in the GP9 range!

Q: How does pre-ordering on your site work? Are there any up-front charges?

A: When placing a pre-order through us at or through an Athearn Authorized Dealer (found here :) be sure to finalize the pre-order before the posted deadline order date shown on the product page, and in the announcement sheet for guaranteed delivery. When placing a Pre-order on our website, after you select the desired model(s) and go to checkout, you will be automatically directed to our parent company's website "Horizon Hobby". You will then be asked to enter your billing information (Credit Card/Billing address). Your credit card will not be charged until the item is in stock and ships to you from our Champaign, Illinois warehouse, which may be several months in the case of new announcements.

Q: How do I become an Athearn dealer?

A: We appreciate your interest in and enthusiasm for Athearn products! For more info on becoming an Athearn dealer, please visit the dealer portal on our parent company's website below. Athearn Trains is a proprietary brand of Horizon Hobby LLC.

Q: I have an older Athearn model, can you tell me the value of my model(s)?

A: Unfortunately we do not provide appraisals on vintage models – value is often determined by the global marketplace. The best way to appraise your model is to do a google search and describe the model as best you can. You may also check E-bay to see what similar items may have sold for as well. For earlier Genesis, Roundhouse, and RTR models you can search by stock number and check the box for "discontinued models" and many times the item with original MSRP will be listed.

Q: What happened to Blue Box kits? Will you ever offer them again?

A: We certainly owe a lot to our old box kits, at one time they were a staple in the model railroad industry. In the early 2000's when we started offering Ready to Roll models we noticed a sharp decline in the demand for blue box kits. Model railroaders wanted highly detailed pre-assembled models and these models quickly became the new cornerstone of our product lines. When this happened the demand for blue box kits continued to fall as the quality and accuracy of our RTR models improved. It got to the point where pallets of blue box kits were crowding our then Compton warehouse and they sat idle while the RTR models sold well. As a result we currently have no plans to revive blue box kit line, though many of the original blue box models have survived into our current "Roundhouse" product line as inexpensive, entry level models for the economically conscious model railroader! A healthy supply of Blue Box products still be found at every train show we've ever attended, at many dealers around the country, and on E-bay by searching “Athearn Blue Box”.

Q: You bought Roundhouse and MDC, do you still have parts for their kits?

A: We did purchase the Intellectual property of both these companies 25 years ago, but over the years many of their models did not last and many were discontinued gradually, especially older MDC steam engines. The tooling necessary to produce these models are no longer economically viable for production. As a result, parts for such models are no longer available. We recommend checking with Precision Scale, Cal Scale, and Northwest Shortline for aftermarket replacement parts.

Q: This model was announced ____, when will it be delivered?

A: Generally most announced models take between 8-15 months for delivery. This allows us necessary time to coordinate with our factory's production schedule, and any necessary changes or corrections to this model can be made long before it goes into production. Sometimes it takes longer if last minute changes to the model have to be made to ensure we can deliver a quality, accurate model that meets our standards and your expectations.

Q: How do I match a color you guys used on a model.

A: The paint applied to our models at the factory is totally different than scale model paint purchased at hobby stores. It is similar to paint used on home appliances, and the texture is completely different rendering an exact color match impossible. One thing to keep in mind is when we select colors for our models we use photographs of the prototype to create the pantones, and quite often have original paint chips available. In the real world, we have found railroads' paint varied depending on when the paint was ordered and the vendor that sold it to them. Color photograph reproductions are notoriously variable depending upon the age of the locomotive at the time, service type, time of day, angle to the subject and lighting, weather and cloud conditions, reflected light and background colors, and the age of the medium. All of these variables make precise color matching impossible, and our best suggestion is to match our color or weather the model as best you can, or match your model to a favorite prototype photo!

Q: I want to buy a DCC ready model but I don't know what decoder to install in this model. Do you have any decoder recommendations? Or what if I want to install a sound decoder?

A: The built in DCC ready board is designed to accept either an 8, 9 (or a 21 depending upon model) pin NMRA approved decoder. Your decoder choice is a highly personal one, and we recommend doing some research on the different decoder brands such as Digitrax, ESU, Soundtraxx, and TCS to find a decoder with features that best suit the desired operational objectives for your locomotive. As for sound decoders, please note some may not fit inside the locomotive underneath the shell and may require removal of the DCC ready board and hardwiring the decoder directly to the individual components in your locomotive. In addition to this, the built-in DCC ready board may not support separate accessory lighting features such as ditch lights or beacons when a decoder is plugged into its 8 or 9 pin socket. Before getting into DCC we always recommend doing as much research as you can before spending any money. Kalmbach Publishing makes a series of entry level model railroad guidebooks that provide invaluable info if you are looking to jump into DCC!

Q: I am from Europe/Asia/South America/Australia/other, I love your trains and I want to buy them! Is there anyone near me that carries your models or do I have to buy direct?

A: Yes! In fact there are many train stores that carry our models in various parts of the globe which can be locatedhere :

Q: Are you capable of producing a custom run of a model? If so what are your requirements?

A: We are capable of producing custom runs but we have stringent requirements before we invest in such a task, including single item volume requirements in the hundreds when produced along with other production of the same model. Delivery dates are normally dependent upon the schedule for our production run. For more info on custom model production please send an email with specifics about the model you are interested in (please attach a link to the page of the model or a similar model) to and we will direct you to the correct people to help with this request.

Q: Why don't you switch to LEDs? Everyone else already has them in other models.

A: For a long time we felt LEDs did not meet our strict requirements for prototypical lighting features we desired for our models. The illumination was either too bright or too dim and the colors were either too blue or orange to properly mimic full sized incandescent prototype lights used on the real thing! So, we refused to change our light sources... until now... LEDs have now been developed that closely replicate the lighting effects of an incandescent light that can also be retrofitted to our current models! Starting with the SDP40F, the SD60E, and now the SD70Ace models, we will soon incorporate LEDs in most all future models.

Q: How do I install a smoke unit in your steam engines?

A: Although many of our HO scale steam locomotives were designed to accept Seuthe smoke generators, we do not find them to be suitable as they are difficult to connect and keep operational. We have received many complaints from users and unfortunately can no longer recommend installing smoke units of any type into our steam locomotives. Please be advised smoke units or any damage incurred in their installation and operation is unfortunately not a warranty coverable expense.