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Quality of older Rivarossi Steam Engine

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  • Member since
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Quality of older Rivarossi Steam Engine
Posted by stocksj on Thursday, June 03, 2010 7:21 AM


 I'm looking a some Rivarossi Y6b Mallet locomotives on ebay and was wondering what was the quality of the modeles producted. Plus what years were they made. Are they considered good runners and could they be converted to DCC?





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Posted by UP 4-12-2 on Thursday, June 03, 2010 8:08 AM

As I have owned, run, and unfortunately, repaired them, I must respectfully say I do not consider them to be good at all.  They have plastic wheel centers, which after some operation come loose on the axles and freely turn--thus messing up the valve gear quartering, etc., such that it won't run.

I've replaced all the drive axles on one before (the store, my employer, had the parts).

They were made from some time in the late 1960's on.  The miserable ones I'm talking about were made through the '70's.  They have 3 pole motors, and are quite common still today.  The only good feature is with brushes sticking out of the back of the cab, they are easily replaced when needed.

You would be much better off to go on Ebay, spend the $250, or $275, or even the mid-1980's retail price of $350 to $375 for the Oriental Limited Powerhouse USRA 2-8-8-2 steam engine.  Sometimes you can find them at only $250, new.

It is a "brass hybrid" from the era before hybrid steamers.  It has a diecast, zamac boiler with brass details--is really good looking--and was offered in the As-Built USRA Version and the 1930's rebuild (with large BL feedwater heater on the left side) N&W version that also went secondhand to UP, ATSF, and third-hand to Virginian during/after WWII.

Most importantly, the Powerhouse 2-8-8-2 has the exact same Samhongsa mechanism found in the $2000 brass articulateds of the period--excepting possibly the soldered on crank (which is good--it can't come unscrewed).

Alternatively, go to the BLI website and buy the factory refurbished Y-6B at $330 (mine was perfect, good as new, and being "refurbished" was thoroughly checked out by BLI).

"You still get what you pay for."

My 2c.



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Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Thursday, June 03, 2010 8:40 AM

 For some unknown reason there seems to be a lot of nostalgia connected to old Rivarossi engines from people who owned them "back in the day" Maybe because at the time next to high dollar brass engines they were affordable state of the art perhaps?  It boggles my mind to see the prices people ask for them at train shows and some of these online sites. I used to have a large number of them and have since sold off every one with the exception of one Y3. Most recently I sold a fully restored cab-forward with a new motor, new tender trucks and a fresh pain job for $80. Why so cheap because thats all their worth. Besides not having can motors on them they also have small wheel flanges which is probably their biggest short coming the small flanges lead to derailments almost guaranteed every time you pass through a turnout.

If your looking for articulated locomotives there are a lot better choices for the money. Proto Heritage 2000 series are pretty nice for the money, they have nice detail, run well and for all intents and purposes are worth what you pay for them. Some complain of poor pulling power but this can be remedied very easily. I would say even the newer generation Hornby Rivarossi is a much better choice then the old clunkers except they do not make a Y3 or Y6 version.

You can get a BLI class A  2-6-6-4 for around $280 an Intermountain AC12 for around $310 A BLI Paragon Y6 sells for about $350  just to give you some idea of what other articulated's sell for if you did already know. The bottom line is by the time you purchase a Rivarossi Y^ upgrade the motor to a can motor and then have dcc and or dcc with sound decoder installed resulting in a mediocre engine at best you can get a lot more for your money

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, June 03, 2010 9:46 AM

 I never understood the craze about old Rivarossi engines from the 1960´s and 1970´s. Their running characteristics were at best doubtful, whereas their detailing was quite OK for the time. In Germany, Rivarossi never enjoyed much of a reputation, as their quality was much below that of Fleischmann, Trix or Marklin in those days. There has been a lot of improvement, since Hornby took over the reigns. But you don´t get big bargains anymore.

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Posted by UP 4-12-2 on Thursday, June 03, 2010 10:11 AM

Lots of people try to sell the old Rivarossi Y-6B for $100 or more--and some unfortunate souls buy them.

They are not worth anywhere near that.

Also--the Oriental Limited Powerhouse USRA 2-8-8-2 will out-pull and generally out-perform the P2K Y-3.


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Posted by fredswain on Thursday, June 03, 2010 3:42 PM

My n-scale Rivarossi Y3 is a rough runner. I've had to fix it as the center of one wheel melted and the tire wouldn't stay on. Fortunately I found parts and fixed it. No matter what I do it is loud and rough compared to my newer engines. Saying all that I wouldn't trade or sell it for the world. To me it's value is in the fact that my grandfather gave it to me. If it weren't for that I may have gotten rid of it long ago. It is really more just a display piece than anything now.

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Thursday, June 03, 2010 4:14 PM
I have a late '80's early '90's "Red Box" Cab Forward AC 12 (really an 11). It sat in a drawer for almost 20 years. It rans smooth as silk without any new lube (initially). My friend installed a Digitrax motor decoder in it and it runs great so far. I considered adding a Tsunami Heavy Steam decoder but so far feel that it's probably not going to be worth it.

The loco is MUCH lighter in the hand than the BLI AC4/5 I also own. Mine has wheel flanges between RP-25s and the pizza cutters. It runs fine on code 83 and through #5 turn outs. I WOULD recommend going with BLI or Paragon's upcoming AC 4/5 release instead though.

If you find a Rivarossi in the $80 range it might be worth it to you but run it on your layout's code/size rail lst to be sure. The electrical pick up isn't up to modern standards either if you run unpowered frogs although mine only hesitate for a nano second and isn't uber noticeable. Hope this helps. Considering the money involved in decoders, speakers, installation, etc. I'd recommend BLI or other alternatives.

I like some of Proto's products but refuse to pay their (in my view) ridiculous prices-so far.

I think that there is no mystery surrounding the continued nostalgic popularity of Rivarossi locos. When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s the double paged adds and very attractive pricing ($39 for a Challenger or Cab Fwd.) every Xmas with more detail than most was a no brainer. ON code 100 rail with DC, I never had any problems.

There are better alternatives these days. It's too bad that Hornby hasn't revamped their line. Rivarossi got the respect it deserved back then. They could compete with BLI, Proto, etc. IF they'd upgrade/update. Especially the meager electrical pick up.

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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Posted by farrellaa on Thursday, June 03, 2010 6:02 PM

I have  owned 3 Rivarossi Big Boys and 2 Y6B mallets and 2 Challengers. The first ones were the old 1970 version with large flanges and they didn't run very well. I sold them and replaced them with the newer versions with RP25 flanges and can motors. What a difference. My  Y6B is a vey smooth running engine and goes through all of my turnouts (including a #4) without a problem. I ususally pull 10-15 cars up 1.5% grade with no hesitation. I also have a couple of BLI Hudsons that are in another league, But the newer Rivarossi's are still great looking and running locos. My only complaint about the Big Boy and Challenger is the rubber traction tires that keep coming off. I have tried ACC to keep them in place but some still work their way into the valve gear. I never paid more than $100 for any of them, which is why I like them. Cant' afford $200+ for  any engine.

Bob....retired and loving it!

Life is what happens while you are making other plans!

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Posted by jwhitten on Friday, June 04, 2010 2:28 AM

 I picked one up off of ebay awhile back. It sat on my shelf for several months because it didn't have a decoder. Then I picked up an articulated DCC sound module w/motor control and figured that'd be the thing to put in it. So I started out on what seemed like it would be a straight-forward install... and ended-up on my own "three hour tour"... if you know what I mean. I built the speaker enclosure okay, and made some small mods to improve / upgrade the lighting. And I thought I was okay with motor isolation-- but nope, I'm gonna have to spend some more time on that. I've checked around and it looks like you can get a better 'can' type motor for it for about $25-35 bucks. Seems worth it, I only paid about $60 or so for the loco. I've also decided I absolutely *hate* the whistle on this sound decoder. Everything else is okay, but the whistle is a show-stopper for me. Its a Soundtraxx DCC sound module-- DSD150 or something like that if memory serves. I guess I'll leave it in there for now. It runs more or less okay on DC, or I should say ran. You could tell the motor was old-- you could smell it as it ran around the layout. I think I want to see if I can catch a deal on a Proto2K version at some point. Don't know if I'll try to continue the other project or not. I'm at a point at the moment where I just don't care if it gets completed. I've moved on to "car clinic" and have been upgrading couplers and wheels. Plenty to do there. When I get done with that I'll come back and see how I feel about the Y6b.



Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
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  • From: Southeast Texas
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Posted by mobilman44 on Friday, June 04, 2010 7:35 AM


I had 6 of the older Rivarossis steamers and have to say, at the time ('70s-'80s) they were the best steamer value for the buck.  My favorite one was the ATSF Pacific, which hauled a string of Athearn heavyweights.  At the time, my biggest problem with them was converting them to KDs.  A couple of them were "impossible" for me to convert, so I ended up having transition cars - with a KD on one end and an NMRA on the other.

About 7-8 years ago I sold them all on Ebay as I wanted an all diesel fleet.  While I had the original boxes and all were in excellent shape, I was amazed at the money I got for them.  And, 5 of them ended up going to Europe (Norway, Germany, Italy). 






Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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