NEB&W Guide to Rivarossi Steam Locomotive Models

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Rivarossi has long been the manufacturer for the models imported by AHM and then IHC, but has since broken out on their own. (The company was started right after WWII by two Italians, Rossi and Riva.) They have reduced the size of the flanges, although still not down to RP-25 size. (Idiots - how long has RP-25 been the hobby defacto standard?!)

Also see AHM and IHC.


  • 5433 MP 0-8-0 Switcher - This was one of AHM's first locos. The hobby could have used a standard USRA 0-8-0 back then, but AHM chose to model a unique and very heavy Indiana Harbor Belt switcher, the U-4a class built by Alco in 1927. Unlike the standard switchers with 51 inches, this class had 57 inch drivers (although AHM made the drivers undersized to accommodate the oversized flanges, so the model might have had 51 inches wheels). The loco even had a tender booster. Supposedly this Rivarossi version can run on Code 70 rail, but I bet the drivers are still undersized.


  • HR2006 2-6-6-6 C&O Allegheny - Class H-8, lettered no. 1633, built first in 1941. This class of locos were very unique in that they had a firebox so big, it had a 6 wheel trailing truck. If dieselization hadn't come along just at this point, we probably would have seen all the popular wheel arrangements (such as Hudsons, Northerns, and Berkshires) being upgraded from a four wheel trailing truck to a 6 wheel one. But alas, only the C&O (and VGN) had locos of this wheel arrangement. (On the other hand, you could sort of freelance a version by replacing the trailing truck with a four wheel one and hoping nobody notices the firebox would be too big.)
    Lima built 45 for the C&O in '41, class H-8, nos. 1600-1644, and another 15 in '49, nos. 1645-1659. This model is numbered 1633, representing the class of '41.

Lima built 8 similar engines for the VGN in 1945, class AG, nos. 900-907. (Eight locos compared to 60 for the C&O.)

According to an article in the June '49 Railway Mechanical Engineer, one of these locos could accelerate 160 loaded cars (over 14,000 tons) from zero to 19 mph in just one mile and reach 29 mph in 11 minutes.


  • 2-8-2 Mikado - Based on the USRA heavy Mikado.

Berkshires 2-8-4's


  • 1593 N&W 2-8-8-2 - Numbered 2174, a Y6b class.
    Based on a specific N&W class of locos, which in turn were copies of the USRA standard design of the same wheel arrangement. The N&W Y-class of locos date back to the original USRA locos and over time they got a total of 191 of these. The model is of the last class, the Y6b. The model scales out to be 116 feet long.

According to Steve Orth (Dec. 2005 Railmodel Journal), the N&W, Virginian, and Clinchfield got the original engines. After WWI, clones were acquired by the D&RGW and NP. The Pennsy and Santa Fe got original USRA Mallets second-hand from the N&W.
Perhaps the biggest difference between a USRA Mallet and the Y6b/this model is the cab. The USRA loco had a pretty standard looking style cab, while this version had a shorter slanted-front cab. If you were desperate, you could backdate this model by substituting a cab from the USRA Pacific or Mikado. The tender, too, is more modern looking and using a USRA tender, the so-called long version, would help.

  • 5400 B&O 2-8-8-0 - Numbered 7165, an EL5 class. Said to be based on the Baltimore & Ohio's EL-3 class of locos built by Baldwin in 1917. Rivarossi simply took their N&W Y-6b 2-8-8-2 model (see aboe), left off the trailing truck, modified the front end and substituted their B&O 2-10-2 Vanderbilt tender. This model was originally imported by AHM around 1978.

Apparently there was the similar EL-5 class on the B&O, built by Baldwin in 1919-'20, nos. 7145-7170.

American 4-4-0

The Reno and Genoa models came out around 1965, and both are based on the locos of the same name on the Virginia & Truckee. The Reno was the V&T's first loco, built in 1872 and the Genoa, the following year. And both are very famous, I believe, because the V&T locos were stars in many a western. (The Genoa was on display at the 1939 World's Fair to represent one of the two locos at the gold spike ceremony completing the transcontinental railroad in 1869.)
The models are oversized - the review in the Feb. '65 Model Railroader said about 6% too big. For instance, the balloon stack tops out at 17 feet, two feet higher than Plate B clearance of almost a century later, while the prototype was 13 ft. 9 ins. I'm not that familiar with the prototypes, but the models differed mainly in the type of stack, headlight, and pilot (cowcatcher).

  • 5419 Reno - Kansas, St. Louis & Chicago 4-4-0
  • 5420 Inyo - Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0
  • 5421 Inyo - Kansas, St. Louis & Chicago 4-4-0
  • 5422 American - ATSF 4-4-0
  • 5422 American - UP 4-4-0


According to the review in the February '73 Model Railroader, only 20 locos were built to this plan, and all went to the Erie. After WWI, other roads basically copied the design, such as the C&EI, B&O (P7), and Southern (Ps4). Even the PRR's famous K4 were similar and I think the Rutland's K2's were also akin. The Erie also got more after the war. However, all these had cosmetic changes that were of little concern to the prototypes, but represent major changes for us hobbyists. For instance, the Erie added a feedwater heater hung off the front of the smokebox in the later 1920's, and many of the Southern version had a feedwater heater on the top of the smokebox. The C&EI and the Rutland had a shorter cab - starting with the Mantua/Tyco cab would be a good starting point, while the B&O had their own distinctive cab - take the one off the AHM 2-102 or even the 0-4-0 switcher. (Changing a sheet metal cab for a real road, or relocating a fixture like the air pumps doesn't give them a moment's pause, but drives us into a panic.)
While the light USRA Pacific had 73 inch drivers, the heavy had 79 inch ones. The review pointed out the AHM model had .045 inch wheel flanges, deeper than the NMRA standard of .035 and much deeper than the hobby's de facto RP25 standard of .025. To compensate, they made all the wheels smaller by about five to 6 inches. (The Southern's version had 73 inch drivers and the Rutland, 72.) I believe the Rivarossi model has reduced flanges, only .039 inches deep, but did not increase the driver diameter at all.
Despite the popular conception, the heavy Pacific and heavy Mikado were not the same except for the wheels. The heavy Pacific used the LIGHT Mikado boiler with the firebox of the heavy Mikado. Since the boiler sat up higher, the domes were not as prominent, the same look as the heavy Mikado and doesn't LOOK like the light Mikado.

  • 5401 Southern 4-6-2 Pacific - Painted in the Crescent Limited scheme.

  • 5402 Milwaukee 4-6-2 Pacific

  • 5403 B&O 4-6-2 Pacific - Painted green.

  • 5404 B&O 4-6-2 Pacific - Painted blue.

  • 5406 Alton 4-6-2 Pacific

  • 5407 ATSF 4-6-2 Pacific - Numbered 3423.


  • NYC 4-6-4 Hudson - For years, Lionel made freelanced O gauge steam loco models, but around WWII, they took a brief plunge into scale by producing a model of the NYC's J3a Hudson, a class just recently produced and a loco from Lionel's neck of the woods. While this foray into scale went no further, this particular model was drooled over and thus bringing this specific prototype into the public spotlight.
    The first Hudsons were the J1, built in 1927. Basically it had a straight boiler. The J2 class (20 locos) were built for the hilly Boston & Albany and had 75 inch drivers instead of 79 inches.
    Alco built 50 of these J3 Hudsons in 1937-'38, nos. 5404-5454. No. 5344 was the first loco to be streamlined, given a "bathtub" shroud in '34, but five years later, in '39, was rebuilt to have the same type of streamlining as the other J3's. In 1945, after a grade crossing accident, the shrouding was removed. This loco was the prototype of the famous Lionel O-gauge scale model.

  • HR2007 4-6-4 NYC streamlined Hudson - Lettered no. 5442. A total of 13 of the 275 Hudsons were streamlined. The first looked like an upside down bathtub and two more were given stainless steel cover to match the Empire State Express. Ten of the J3 locos, nos. 5445-5454, were built with streamlining in '38 and it is this version AHM duplicated with their streamline model of this loco. The locos were painted light gray with a dark band to match the original NYC two color scheme, but this was reversed, I believe in 1941, to dark gray with a light gray band. I have to check if the Hudsons were repainted to match.

According to SteamLocomotives dot com, the streamlining on these 10 locos were removed in 1945. (I have to check this out - I might be misreading this - but we had been planning on having a streamline Hudson in our 1950 operating session.)


  • 1592 UP 4-6-6-4 Challenger - Numbered 3979.
  • 1596 UP 4-6-6-4 Challenger - Numbered 3985, in excursion service.

  • 1597 Clinchfield 4-6-6-4 Challenger - Numbered 670.

  • 1598 D&RGW 4-6-6-4 Challenger - Numbered 3800.
  • 1599 D&H 4-6-6-4 Challenger - Numbered 1519.

  • 5455 UP 4-6-6-4 Challenger - Numbered 3985.
    According to SteamLocomotives dot com, the UP came up with this wheel arrangement in 1936. Railroad officials watching a test run said "that is a challenge for any locomotive" and the next day, a memo went out saying the loco was to be called "Challenger". There were a total of 252 such locos built to this design, of which the UP got 105. Other roads include the Clinchfield (18 total, 12 new, 6 second-hand), D&H (40 locos), D&RGW (21), GN (two second-hand from the SP&S), NP (47), SP&S (two), WM (12), and WP (7). The AHM represents the UP prototypes. All but the D&H, Clinchfield and one of the classes of UP locos had a slanted front "sports model" cab, which would have been a useful variation to this model.


  • 5471 4-8-4 UP FEF-3 - Lettered for no. 844, as used in excursion service (i.e., post-steam).
  • 5473 4-8-4 UP FEF-3 - Lettered for no. 840, as used in revenue service in the '50's.
    The locos were built in late 1944, nos. 835-844. The class designation was for the wheel arrangement (Four-Eight-Four) and the third series. Built for passenger service and in an appropriate lively, they were also used in freight service, more and more, until repainted in a solid black.
    According to SteamLocomotives dot com, the first 20 UP Northerns (FEF-1) were built in 1937 with 77 inch diameter drivers, nos. 800-819. The FEF-2 class, 15 locos, came in 1939, nos. 820-834 and were said to be very similar to the 10 locos of the FEF-3 class, both with 80 inch drivers. All were built by Alco.

The FEF-3 class had a multiple smoke stack (but not the FEF-2's). The sand box and steam dome were combined into one large casting and they had the massive-looking centipede tender.

Cab Forwards

  • 5426 SP 4-8-8-2 Cab Forward - Numbered 4294.
  • 5430 SP 4-8-8-2 Cab Forward - Numbered 4274.
    These were locos on the SP that were built to run cab first, because of the many and long tunnels and snowsheds. This kept the crew in front of the exhaust, not trailing it. These engines burned oil which could be piped to the firebox. Otherwise they couldn't have separated the firebox from the tender.
    According to the review in the June '66 MR, there were several classes of cab forwards, AC-4 through AC-12. The first three series (AC-4 through AC-6) had a flat front to the cab, while the rest had a rounded front. The AHM model was based on the plans of AC-11 no. 4272 in the June '48 MR and reprinted in Steam Loco Cyclopedia. This class of 30 locos (nos. 4245-4274) were built by Baldwin in 1942-'43.

The first cab forwards were the MC-2 class ("Mallet - Consolidation) built in 1910. "AC" stood for "articulated - consolidation", probably meaning they were not compound engines. The SP had a total of 256 cab forwards and no other road is known to have had any.

There was the AC-9 class, 12 locos built by Lima in '39, which being coal burning locos, had to have the cab back by the tender. These locos looked like backwards cab forwards - the article in a '39 Railway Age even mentioned this. (And one could suggest these with the model turned around, although these had a streamlined skyline casting). These locos were used in the southwest, burning low grade bituminous coal from Dawson Field, NM. The driver diameter was 64 inches on these.

Big Boys

  • HR2005 4-8-8-4 UP Big Boy - Lettered no. 4003. These were constructed in late 1941 (nos. 4000-4019), with five more built in '44 (nos. 4020-4-24). Legend has it that the name came about when some unknown worker at Alco chalked "Big Boy" on the smokebox front. The locos stayed in service until 1962 and a large number (proportionately) were preserved. This model has smaller flanges than the original AHM version, but still not RP-25. By many attributes, this class of locos were the biggest steam engines ever produced. Only the UP had ones like this.