Alco IHB 0-8-0s                                           

This was the first N scale steam locomotive based on an American prototype in the world! True if Lone Star's Treble-O-Lectric Baldwin based 0-8-0, released in 1963, is not included. Technically, that locomotive was not N scale because it was made to a scale of 1/152 but ran on 9 mm track. Introduced in early 1968 as Atlas' third, it was another rather unusual choice for Atlas/Rivarossi to have made since there were only three prototypes built and for only one railroad, the Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. (that's why I included IHB in the title). Originally priced at $16.98, the price jumped to $19.98 when the loco was actually available. To quote Atlas' advertisement in the May 1968 issue of Model Railroader, "...which is slightly higher than originally announced many months ago. However, this new deluxe locomotive incorporates many new production and tooling changes to make it a truly superior product..." What those new production and tooling changes were, I have no idea. The locomotive was offered in IHB and Santa Fe (what else?) roadnames.

I remember that I wanted one of these so badly when they first appeared, but I didn't have the money at that age. It would be about two years before I finally got one.

The construction is, again, a plastic shell over a zinc alloy frame. The same basic "dependable" Rivarossi can motor is used ,with modifications, to suit the drive in the new steam engine. The motor is mounted horizontally in the cab area and a longer shaft is incorporated with a worm on it to drive the worm gear. The worm gear drives various spur gears to eventually drive all four drive wheel axles. Thus, quartering is not critical and, in fact, the side rods are connected only to the first and third drivers. The rods have a slot at the front to connect to the first drivers to allow mechanism slop. Electrical pickup is with the four left side locomotive drivers from the left rail for the ground side of the circuit and with the right side wheels of the tender from the right rail for the hot side. The hot brush holder on the motor has an extension which reaches down to insert into a hole in the drawbar and a spring contact pushing against the extension conducts current to the brush holder. The headlight bulb socket press-fits into a recess in the front of the frame and this serves as the ground contact. The circuit is completed by a wire from the hot brush holder soldered to the center socket contact. The same bulb and socket is used as in the E8s.

I'm not sure of the exact manufacture period for these (my IHB version has a date of 5-70 and Santa Fe version 4-69) but they were on the market for many years. America's Hobby Center was selling them throughout 1975.

Atlas Identification: Locomotive: There is no Atlas logo on the chassis, just the number 10122 molded into the underside of the pilot. "ATLAS MADE IN ITALY" and the number 10120 molded into the underside of the cab roof inside the shell. Tender: "ATLAS (in the "graduated" logo) MADE IN ITALY BY RR" molded into the bottom of the tender floor. "ATLAS (in the "graduated" logo) MADE IN ITALY by RR 10146" molded into the rear underside of the tender shell. "ATLAS (in the "graduated" logo) MADE IN ITALY by RR 10147" molded into the underside of the tender shell coal load (the coal load is a separate piece).This loco was marketed by others after Atlas so, again, look for the Atlas markings.

Variations: There were no major variations with these locos throughout the production period (early units have black motors and later units have silver, and, of course, there will be different mold numbers on individual motor caps) although there have been reports of lettering differences. For instance, in the Greenberg guide, it is reported that some of the IHB units have road number 102 on the cab side and some don't. However, there is a notation of "verification requested" so it may or may not be true. Also, in that same publication, it is stated that the Santa Fe units have the road number 3484 but the one I have and others I've seen have a big 102 on the tender. In fact, 3484 is the road number on the side of the Atlas Pacific tender.

Some of the frames, of course, were subject to Zamac deterioration, like all the other Rivarossi locomotives. My IHB version developed this and I spent a lot of time fitting all the little pieces that had crumbled off back into place and gluing with super glue. Then I had to file it back into shape so the other parts would fit correctly again. At least the effort was successful!

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

Links to images of the available liveries. Click on the description or thumbnail to view a full sized picture:
# 2111 SANTA FE Road #102 (on tender)
# 2112 INDIANA HARBOR BELT Road #102 (on cab side)

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