0-4-0 Steam Locos and Tenders                

Well, the availability history of this little steamer is certainly interesting, if not confusing. Model Railroader, in its May 1969 "New Products" section, announced that Atlas was marketing this locomotive. In the same issue, Atlas had it as "Coming Soon" along with the SD45s and Mikados. In fact, Atlas was still promising "Coming Soon" in December of 1969. Finally, in May of 1970, Atlas had it listed as available with the other ten locos and it appeared in the ads from America's Hobby Center that same month and throughout 1970. Odder still, in Atlas' ad in the May 1971 Railroad Model Craftsman, they stated "It's Here Now" and available at dealers. What was going on in these two years? Production problems? Marketing problems? Who knows? In addition, it wasn't reviewed in Model Railroader until May 1973!

I didn't buy one of these back then so I don't recall exactly when they actually were out there but the one I eventually bought second-hand has a Rivarossi production date of 3-70. So we know that they were at least being manufactured then even if the logistics went awry. This would be the last steam locomotive that Rivarossi would make for Atlas and the next to last locomotive overall. It was the other A1G engine (along with the Mikado) that was sold undecorated and supplied with a set of decals for different railroads that the modeler was to apply. Although there was an undecorated version of the Pacific, I don't believe it included decals. The decals included with the 0-4-0 were for the Baltimore & Ohio, Great Northern, Union Pacific, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, Pennsylvania, Reading, and Nickel Plate railroads. Here is a view of the decal sheet kindly furnished by Greg Lemon: 0-4-0 Decals The white-on-white is hard to see but here is a list of what is included:

In White:

A.T. & S.F. 102358

Union Pacific 480392

Great Northern 641475

Southern Pacific 542631

In Yellow

Reading 192780

Nickel Plate Road 2915486

Pennsylvania 137625

Baltimore and Ohio 96 99

The prototype started out as an 0-4-0T built by Baldwin for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as their class C16 in 1912. These original 0-4-0Ts have been modeled as the "Docksider" by other manufacturers and, in fact, Atlas released a Rivarossi-made model of this locomotive as catalog number 2187 everywhere, it seems, but in the US (thanks to Peter Moore for reminding me of this fact). Later, in 1921, the B&O removed the tank from around the boiler, changed the cab a bit, added the slope-back tender, and reclassified it as C16a. The B&O had two of these ( interestingly, the Atlas model has the number 96 cast into the badge on the front of the smokebox which actually was the road number of one of the units) and they were used in the manufacturing district in Philadelphia for many years. Their small size allowed them to negotiate the tight trackwork in the area and the slope-back tender allowed better visibility while switching. Known as "shifters" in East Coast railroad lingo, other railroads had similar designs, particularly the Pennsylvania Railroad with their class A5s.

The 0-4-0 construction is a little different from the other Rivarossi steamers. This undoubtedly has to do with its small size and requirements for current collection. The boiler shell is a zinc metal casting (something about which the Model Railroader reviewer was in error - he stated it is plastic) and the driver frame is plastic. The steam chest/cylinder assembly is another plastic molding. The tender shell is indeed plastic over a frame/weight of zinc alloy. The shell merely slips over the frame. There are no fasteners. This engine uses the same basic motor that Rivarossi put in all their other A1G locomotives. The plastic motor cap is different in that it is molded to represent the rear of the cab. For a view of this cap, see the Rivarossi motor page. The motor is mounted horizontally in the cab and a worm on the shaft drives the worm gear which engages gears on the two axles of the locomotive drivers. There is no headlight in this model.

Current pickup and conduction to the motor is via some rather ingenious designs. The ground side is provided by the left locomotive drivers and the left wheels of the rear tender truck. The hot side is the right driver wheels and right wheels of the front tender truck. Specifically, the rear tender pickup wheels are grounded to the tender frame through the screw that attaches the axle wiper and truck. The drawbar carries two conductors, one on the top and one on the bottom. The lower conductor is grounded to the tender frame also and is grounded to the locomotive shell through a screw at that end. There is a contact on either side of the plastic driver frame with wipers on them to contact the drivers. The left-side contact has two tabs which contact the loco shell when it is installed. The upper motor contact is grounded to the shell also and so, gets its current from the left drivers and left rear tender wheels. The hot path from the tender is from the right front wheels, through the axle wiper, through the attaching screw to a conductor which contacts the upper drawbar conductor, through the drawbar conductor, and to the lower brush contact to the motor. The contact on the right side of the driver frame has tabs that contact the driver retainer plate and this is also connected to the lower brush contact. Thus the hot-side pickup is from the right front tender wheels and right-side drivers. There are traction tires on both front drivers.

The crosshead guides/valve hangers are attached to the steam chest/cylinder molding with pins. If this were a prototype loco, there would be no drive to the front drivers because there are no siderods! This is probably due to the engineers' desire to keep the rods and eccentrics from sticking out too far as is the case with the Bachmann Docksider. At any rate, as the Model Railroader reviewer put it, "...the main rods are bulky enough to cover this unless the model is examined closely."

This is a surprisingly nice running little engine. Rivarossi had the can motor refined by the time of this release and the combination of driver and tender truck current pickup results in less susceptibility to stalling.

Atlas Identification: There aren't any identifying logos or numbers on the loco itself. However, on the tender is "ATLAS" (in the "graduated" logo) cast across the rear of the underside of the frame and "MADE IN ITALY BY RR" cast across the front of the underside of the frame. On the underside of the tender shell is "ATLAS" (in the "graduated" logo) molded into the right side, "MADE IN ITALY by RR"  molded into the middle, and the number 11901 molded into the left side.

Variations: I am not aware of any variations with this locomotive (other than the various roadnames that could occur from individual decal application).

Please contact me with any additions or corrections: dgosha@aol.com

Link to image (I got this one second-hand and it already had the Pennsylvania decals applied). Click on the description or thumbnail to view a full sized picture:
#2185 0-4-0 Steam Loco and Tender

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