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Rivarossi Steam locomotive engines

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  • Member since
    August, 2003
  • 14 posts
Rivarossi Steam locomotive engines
Posted by peterslocomotive on Thursday, May 29, 2008 1:59 PM

Gentlemen I would like your opinion on Rivarossi Steam locomotive engines in general.  From what I understand the older Rivarossi steam locomotives were fitted with a square 3 pole motor. In the mid to later 1970s the company changed over to a round 3 pole motor. As per listings the older 3 pole motor had several drawbacks namely poor slow speed performance and noise. What is the forums opinion of Rivarossi steam locomotives in general and are they any series or models where one should stay . Further is there any historical pricing where one could locate a proper price for models currently for sale.

regards Peter


  • Member since
    August, 2004
  • 2,844 posts
Posted by dinwitty on Thursday, May 29, 2008 5:53 PM

the 60's and 70s Rivarrossi was the big player for the plastic economical train line especially for steamers. They have generally good detail for the price. The bad side was deep flanges but they came out with RP-25 later versions of equipment. The models were slightly oversized to accomadate the flange size and drive wheels were slightly under-diametered.

Should you have their Allegheny like I do you know they can knuckle down and make a seriously good model.

RR is sold off now and are getting fresh engines back to market still in the Rivarrossi name under Marklin I believe who bought them.

For the older equipment Their fine, but todays new model steam overshadow them in quality.


  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • From: Carmichael, CA
  • 8,046 posts
Posted by twhite on Thursday, May 29, 2008 6:40 PM


Actually, it's Hornby who bought the Rivarossi line, but I agree, for their time they were pretty darned good economical large steam models.  The original Rivarossi steamers picked up like brass locos, from both locomotive and tender, however later runs only picked up from the locomotive, which tended to affect their running qualities (especially since one of the drivers was usually fitted with a traction tire).   Their original gearing didn't acclimate itself very well to slow-speed running, but I remember my first Rivarossi from the late '60's, the so-called 'USRA' 2-8-8-2, which was actually a N&W Y6, as being a very powerful, smooth running loco for its time, despite the NEM deep flanges. 

It would be nice if Hornby were to re-issue some of the older Rivarossi steamers with up-dated detail and motors, considering what an absolute Jewel the Rivarossi Allegheny is.   Especially an up-grade of their Espee AC-12 cab forward.  That was a pretty decent loco to begin with, and considering the problems I've heard about the Intermountain AC, a new Hornby/Rivarossi might not be a bad thing at all for fans that don't want to go into the expense of used brass. 


  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • 398 posts
Posted by msowsun on Thursday, May 29, 2008 8:59 PM

I have had 3 Rivarossi Big Boys. 2 older Square motors and 1 newer round motor. These are the 70's ones with deep flanges and the motors visible in the cabs.

They all had 14-1 gear ratios and ran reasonably well. The square motor ones have a lot of motor noise, but have a bit more torque than the newer round motors. So they run a little better but the noise is bad. Any you find now will probably have tired motors and will either be very noisy or not run so well.

I have re-motored both the square motor and round motor Big Boys with Mashima or Sagami can motors, and they turn into fantastic quiet runners with good slow speed performance. The problem is if you use the stock motor mount, the motor sticks out the back of the cab.

I was able to mount an 18 x 32 can motor inside the cab by removing part of the weight with the motor mount area and opening up the rear boiler and cab area to make room for the new motor location. Half the motor is in the cab and half the motor sticks into the rear boiler area. Not too difficult, but does require a little trial and error fitting.



  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 10,462 posts
Posted by wjstix on Friday, May 30, 2008 12:46 PM
After a long hiatus in O scale, I went back into HO in 1987 and my first engine was a Rivarossi 0-6-0 lettered for the Omaha Road. It ran pretty well (but caused a lot of interference on TV's in the house) but could only pull 3-4 cars and a caboose. Unfortunately it developed some motor issues (I suspect some oil or something got in there due to "pilot error" during lubricating the engine) and it was put aside as newer engines came along like the first run Spectrum GP-30 (which was considered a great leap forward in quality at the time). I still have it in the original box somewhere, should probably work on it and re-motor and see if I can get it to work. The detailing was pretty good on it, I would love to see whoever owns Rivarossi this month reis some of the old stuff from the 60's-80's in updated versions with better motors and even better detailing, like their streamlined MILW and NYC Hudsons.
  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • 398 posts
Posted by msowsun on Friday, May 30, 2008 5:14 PM

Hornby now owns Rivarossi and has released 2 locomotives so far:

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • 70 posts
Posted by AustraliaJim on Sunday, June 08, 2008 4:58 AM
I love the old Rivarossi locos. I currently have seven and have converted five to digital. All my locos are from the seventies and eighties and all run extremely well (now). I have added electrical wipers to all wheels that would fit including all tender wheels. My Big Boy has a Proto 2000 can motor with NSW universals and has a digitrax decoder with BEMF. The Y6B Mallett has the original round motor in the cab and the same digitrax decoder. My other locos the Milwaukee Rd Streamlined Hudson, NYC 21st Century Streamlined Hudson and my Blue Comet Pacific all have Lenz Gold decoders with the Power 1 Modules. They all run very smoothly and will crawl along the track at speed step 1. I have found that the original Rivarossi motors (round and can) respond well to DCC as long as you use a Decoder with BEMF and even better if you use the Lenz Power 1 Module. Get rid of the "pin" type electrical pick up's and use a phosphor bronze wipers. For the price they were very good.
  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Memphis
  • 931 posts
Posted by PASMITH on Sunday, June 08, 2008 7:10 AM
I have a Heisler from the 70's and it has been one of my most reliable locos on my home logging RR. I use it for switching cars at my saw mill. I've had an AC-12 for two years now which probably has 40 hours of running time on a club railroad without any trouble at all. Both are DC out of the box without any modification or repair. The AC-12 has been tested on my logging RR and although I have a 30 Inch radius main line, it negotiates all my 3.5% grades and back to back small radius Peco turnouts without a hitch. ( An out of the box Intermountain AC-12 could not make it once around the same route on my home layout)

Peter Smith, Memphis
  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • From: Ohio
  • 22 posts
Posted by HV Branch on Sunday, June 08, 2008 7:15 AM

I have One (1) Rivarossi, a 4-6-4 Hudson #303. I bought that engine in January 2002 for $170.00 and have had nothing but trouble with it. In May 02 I sent the engine to Tony's Trains to have DCC installed. Cost $54.95 for a NCE Power Pro D135R. In March 04 the engine was stalling and lurching, after very little use on the layout, I sent the engine back to Tony's for repairs and to have a sound unit installed. Tony's sent the engine back refusing to work on it.

April 2005 I sent the engine to DCC Plus for the repair and sound installation, the engine was returned in July, Cost $291.00. and the thing still does not run right. Total cost $ 515.95 and the hunk of junk is now sitting static alongside the coaling tower. It was either that or turn it into a planter. I will never buy another Rivarossi.


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