Rivarossi Disaster!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by ed acosta, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    I often heard that fatigue of metal castings was fairly common in earlier kits. Yet, I’ve had no such experience with the many old cast metal freight cars that I own. So, I was surprised to find that the cast metal mainframe of a Rivarossi manufactured between 1974 and 1980 had disintegrated. I don’t know enough about the process or type of metal used in these casting and what makes one lot of castings more susceptible to cracking than another. I own several other Rivarossi (AHM) locomotives and I find no evidence of failure in those, but I wonder if any other forum members have experienced similar failures with Rivarossi.

    I always loved the early “Flat Faced” Southern Pacific Cab Forwards (AC-4,5,6) but I just could not see spending $1500 for a brass model, so I didn’t think I would ever own one. Then, several years ago, a friend sold me a Rivarossi AC-11 Cab Forward in pieces for twenty bucks. Here was my opportunity to create a flat faced cab forward with a bit of modification! The original rectangular tender was missing as were other small parts. Soon, I found a Bachmann Vanderbilt tender that was exactly correct for my AC-6 (how lucky can that be). I removed the front of the cab and created a ‘flat’ one from sheet styrene. Then I shaved off many cast-on details and replaced them with brass parts. I was proud of my AC-6 and have enjoyed that loco for about 15 years. Then it happened. Last week I picked up the engine and the rear powered truck fell off!

    Cab Fwd2_edited.jpg

    I discovered that the single piece cast frame was beginning to disintegrate and the kingpin holding the rear truck was the first indication. Once I removed the shell I was able to see the extent of the damage. The entire casting is cracking. Unfortunately, that loco has seen at least four configurations over the past thirty years making it nearly impossible to order the correct replacement part. So, I proceeded with a short-term fix. I found a different Rivarossi frame with a cast-on kingpin in my parts drawer and by careful measuring and cutting, was able to remove the kingpin section and mount it in position on the AC-6 using a small screw and lots of epoxy. The original frame also served as an electrical bus, but now, due to metal separation, a wire jumper was added to electrically connect the rear truck to the front. However, this is only a short-term fix. I am now on the lookout for another Rivarossi (AHM) Cab Forward to cannibalize!

    Cab Fwd1_edited.JPG
  2. Sarge_7

    Sarge_7 Member

    wow that sucks:cry: I have seen frames for Rivorrosi on ebay, maybe you could find one or modify one to work. Nice lookin' loco though, definatley don't give up on it:thumb::thumb:
  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I had a similar experience with a Varney 0-8-0, of early 1950's vintage. The poor critter started to desintegrate in the mid 80's. I also have a Mantua 4-6-2 of the same vintage, and that one is still as solid as the day it was cast. Go figure....
  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Ouch, sorry to hear that. I did a thread here some years back on a similar fix. Mine had warped and so I broke it in three places then pieced it back using JB Weld. Works like a charm, so much so that I haven't bothered looking for a replacement which, as you've pointed out, is a crap shoot.

    Nice work on that flat nose:thumb::thumb::thumb::thumb:

  5. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Do you think vibration was the culprit?
  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    It's a malady affectionately referred to as "Zinc-mites" or "Zinc pest" among old train collectors. It's a crystallization caused by the poor quality of zinc used and is aggravated by humidity and temperature. Thought to be dealt with at one time, Rivarossi brought it back for some of their models with poor quality castings. Once found there is no way to stop it. Owning a few post war Marklin pieces myself, I can tell you it stops your heart when you see it show up.
  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Shaygetz is correct about the zinc pest, a common malady in some zinc castings. To repair your good-looking cab forward, you may be able to fashion a new part from brass bar stock, although you may have to look beyond the hobby shop for some of suitable size. Besides the usual hobby tools, a hacksaw and some mill files will probably prove useful, and a large-capacity soldering iron may be needed, too. If you've got the will (or sometimes, the money) ;), nothing is irreparable. :-D

  8. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    But first...you have to get over the shock:eek::thumb:

    My near mint Marklin HO tinplate 346/1 coach was recently found with a spot of it on one wheel...sigh...wall1


    At least it's only the one wheel, it's still in one piece and there is no sign of it anywhere else.:thumb:
  9. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Good to know, I guess, but a real downer for the modeler. Is there any practical way to get someone to cast a new frame from the original, without taking out another mortgage on your home? Seems such a shame to lose such a fine loco.
  10. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    What I ended up doing in my Cab Forward was to break it into three peices then glue them together with JB Weld. Once together, I filed it to shape and painted it with a heavy coat of paint. It's worked fine ever since though, like you said, I could now make a mold of it to cast from later.
  11. bubaiva

    bubaiva New Member

    Many Thanks for your post because I see on pics "missing" truck for my O-1C brass!!!!:thumb:

    Only need to know length between axles,truck under the cab!I have little work with bearing boxes(sorry if is not proper word),also I need to find looking better than Rivarossi.I will contact BLI and Intermountain for spare parts ,this truck from his Cab Forwards.
    I don't know how many versions have Cab Forwards,4-8-8-2,think for this under cab truck?

    Thanks again:wave:
  12. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Never heard of that happening.
    Now I'm afraid to take the shell off my Big Boy.
  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Hi bubaiva, and :welcome1: to the Gauge.
    PSC offers the lead truck for a cab forward: it's Part #31552 or, from Walthers, Part #585-31552.

  14. bubaiva

    bubaiva New Member



  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There's another recent thread on Rivarossi disintegrating.
    Zamac was sensitive to impurities and formula errors in production. Hornby's 1930's production was notorious for wheels disintegrating -- it even made Antiques Roadshow.
    (They were also notorious for "Liverpool Rust" under the paint on tinplate.)
  16. VunderBob

    VunderBob Member

    Any chance you can have someone mill a new frame out of brass stock?
  17. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I love the "flat faces" too - I hope you can get this one fixed.
  18. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member


    Hi, bubaiva! welcome to the forum! It does my old heart good to see people from other countries on here!:wave:
  19. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Model Railroader had a six part article on scratch building a USRA light Pacific in brass by Gordon Odegard back in the late 1970's or early 1980s. I think in the 1990's they had another series on scratch building a 4-6-0 NYC prototype in brass. You might contact Kalmbach for reprints of those articles to see how to make a brass frame for your cab forward.
  20. Dave Harris

    Dave Harris Member

    The article was about a USRA Mikado . It might help him to understand scratch building & working with brass but the frame for the Mikado bears no resemblence to the chassis for his cab- foward. It would be easier to use a piece of flat ground steel guage stock as a starting point to fabricate a new frame .

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