USRA Pacifics (4-6-2s)    

I know, I know, Pacific 4-6-2 is redundant, but that's the way it's usually denoted to make absolutely sure there is no doubt, right? And I did put 4-6-2s in parentheses. Be that as it may, this A1G locomotive is probably the best known of the bunch. When the U.S. entered World War I, the government "commandeered" the railroads, so to speak, to consolidate efforts. This organization was known as the United States Railroad Administration, or USRA. One of the outcomes of all this was an effort to design some steam locomotives with standard, interchangeable parts so availability and deployment of replacement pieces would be more effective. Unlike some government-run entities, the USRA was pretty successful and the steam engine designs highly successful. So much so that railroads, after the war, copied the USRA designs. So, this engine was a good choice for Atlas to have made to model. To quote the November 1968 Model Railroader review of the Pacific (hmmm, they got one before Atlas released them), "The USRA prototype is a particularly good choice for Atlas to have made because many locomotives were quite similar to it. This makes it credible to use it - with appropriate lettering - to represent many roads." This is the "light" version of this Pacific and Rivarossi would later release a "heavy" version, but not with the Atlas name. Of the roadnames offered, Atlantic Coast Line did actually receive the USRA designed engines. The ACL and Grand Trunk Western later built engines based on the same design. The Santa Fe never had these but I'm sure some AT&SF fan will let me know if they had one similar. Atlas offered these as Undecorated, Santa Fe, Grand Trunk Western, and Atlantic Coast Line. The release price was quite a jump from previous models - $27.98 but, to Atlas' credit, they never really increased the price over the available years (it went to $28.00 in the early seventies).

Construction generally follows the 0-8-0 with a plastic boiler/cab over a zinc alloy frame. There are differences, however. In the 0-8-0, the worm is mounted directly onto the motor shaft. In the Pacific, the worm is mounted in its own housing in the frame and is connected to the motor through a two piece plastic coupling. Also, the headlight bulb in the Pacific is mounted in a brass housing in the shell and contacts flat springs when the shell is placed over the frame rather than being mounted in the frame itself as in the 0-8-0.  The light bulb used is the same as used in the later C-Liners, Mikado and Atlas' illuminated passenger cars. The side rods are attached to the first and second drivers only, the front connection being a slot as in the 0-8-0. Current pickup is the same as with the 0-8-0. The shell is an excellent representation of the prototype with all major piping included, There is even piping to the air compressor that is in mid-air! How'd they do that?

Atlas Identification: Locomotive: "ATLAS ITALY" molded into the underside of the pilot attached to the frame. There is no Atlas logo in the shell, just the number 10502 molded into the underside of the right side of the cab roof. Tender: "ATLAS" (in the "graduated" logo) molded into the underside of the tender floor on the left front side. "MADE IN ITALY by RR" molded across the underside of the tender floor at the rear. "ATLAS" (in the "graduated" logo) molded into the right rear underside of the tender shell. The number 10340 molded into the center rear underside of the tender shell. "MADE IN ITALY by RR" molded into the left rear underside of the tender shell. These locomotives were sold by other importers after Atlas so, again, you have to look for the Atlas identifiers to be sure you have an Atlas version.

Variations: One variation I've seen in these (other than the different mold numbers on the motor caps) is that sometimes the wheel centers of the uninsulated sides of the pilot wheels are painted black and sometimes they're not.

There are variations in the lettering and striping on the Grand Trunk Western version. As reported in the Greenberg guide supplement (it is stated that the variations relate to the tender):

(A)  White sill stripe; rectangular herald, not tilted.

(B)  White sill stripe; tilted herald.

(C)  No stripe; tilted herald.

Viewing the image of my version, however, makes it apparent that there are variations in the striping on the locomotive too. The Greenberg guide supplement implies that the loco itself always has white striping. Obviously some don't. So that would be:

(D)  No white stripe on locomotive or tender; rectangular herald, not tilted.

Of course, Zamac deterioration is a problem with some of these as with other Rivarossi locomotive frames.

Please contact me with any additions or corrections:

Links to images of the available liveries. Click on the description or thumbnail to view a full sized picture:
#2115 UNDECORATED (OK this isn't a genuine undec. It's one from which
 I stripped a bad paint job.)
#2116 SANTA FE Road #3484 (on tender)
#2117 GRAND TRUNK WESTERN Road #5629
#2118 ATLANTIC COAST LINE Road #1523 (I only have the tender from one of these so
                          I paired it up with the "undec." from above.)  

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