Proto 2000 SD60

By Michael Benolkin


The SD60 was first introduced in the mid-1980s as a natural evolution of more tractive power blended with computer-controlled technology. Employing the new 710 series prime mover developing 3,800 horsepower, the SD60 was more fuel efficient than the earlier SD50. EMD's selling edge with the SD60 was that three SD60s could do the work of four SD45s.

The SD60 has been a big seller with most of the North American railroads purchasing one or more variations of the SD60 family. The SD60M introduced the wide cab for increased comfort, visibility and crew safety. The final version, the SD60MAC, replaced the DC traction motors with AC powered motors, providing smoother acceleration and power management. EMD stopped production of the SD60 family in favor of the current SD70, SD80 and SD90 series, but many SD60s are still in service today.

The Engine

Lifelike's Proto 2000 series of engines have been nothing less than stunning, with each release more impressive than the last. This trend holds true with the SD60, clearly the nicest offering to date. While I haven't had a chance to run this engine yet, the test run at the hobby shop was impressively quiet with excellent low speed response. Let's take a close look at the engine:


As with the more recent Proto 2000 series engines, the GP7, GP9 and GP30, the Lifelike engineers have managed to cram as much weight under the hood as possible. Despite the hefty weight (25.9 ounces on my SD60), there is still room for a dynamite can motor with dual flywheels, a smooth power train to both of the three-axle trucks, with all six axles producing tractive power.


The engine is DCC ready, equipped with an NMRA standard plug. There is a circuit card pre-installed to provide constant and directional lighting to a standard 1.2 volt bulb on each end of the engine. They've added a nice shield to the cab-mounted light so that the headlights and numberboards are illuminated, but the cab interior is not.


As I said earlier, this is the nicest release in the Proto 2000 series for details. Features include:

  • See-through dynamic brake grillwork on the sides.

  • See-through grills over the cooling fans on two of the three rear fans.

  • The grab irons, coupler lift bars, MU hoses and many other details are pre-installed, but definitely not molded on.

  • The trucks have brake lines and sand pipes pre-installed.

There is a batch of optional parts included for you to model the specific configuration that you are interested in. These include:

  • Snow Plow

  • MU Stands

  • Ditch Lights

  • A variety of antennas

  • Sun shades

  • Winterization hatch

While I don't doubt that there will be aftermarket detail sets available in the future for the SD60, I honestly don't know what Lifelike could have forgotten.


While my primary interest is with the AT&SF (and they were one of the few lines that did not adopt the SD60), I was so impressed with this Proto 2000 offering that I grabbed the Union Pacific release. Take a look for yourself - the details and engineering in this release rival anything offered in a plastic HO engine.

I highly recommend this engine to anyone! I'll be adding the TTX-DCC decoder to this engine and wiring up the ditch lights. I'll give you a look at the process and any lessons learned in an upcoming article.

I purchased my SD60 at Hobbyland.

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