Arnold/Rivarossi (Germany/Italy) EMD E8A

Introduced: 2000

This model was the last hurrah for Arnold-Rivarossi in N scale (Rivarossi having gone bankrupt circa 2006). As far as I know, these short-lived models were imported exclusively by Walthers. The shell is actually the same moldy old E8 shell that Rivarossi produced for Atlas (and later Con-Cor) starting in the 1960s. However, the mechanism is all new -

The chassis is a single metal casting and quite hefty. The motor is an open-sided, skew-wound 3-poler. Ten of the twelve wheels provide pickup (the other two wheels being equipped with traction tires). Current is ferried from the trucks to the motor via miles and miles of wiring. All gearing is plastic. A non-directional headlight is mounted to the front of the chassis. Couplers are truck-mounted Rapidos. Wheel flanges are overly huge, so Code-55 track is not an option.

Only the rear truck is powered (with all three axles being geared). This is strange because it looks like all you'd need to do to power the front truck is add another driveshaft extension / worm gear and then replace the ungeared truck with a geared one. I'd be tempted to say that this was some sort of cost-cutting measure, but these locos were ridiculously expensive when they first came out (something like $90 for a powered/dummy A/A pair).

Performance is surprisingly good. They run smooth and quiet, pickup is great, slow speed creep is fine, and pulling power is strong (despite the single truck propulsion). I'd say they're easily the equal of the Life-Like "plastic chassis" E units of the 1990s (better even, since the couplers are more easily converted to Micro-Trains). In fact, I'd go on to say that these are probably the best running diesels ever made by Arnold (or Rivarossi).

Unfortunately, despite the "A" level performance, I can't quite rate these models "A" overall. The beyond-ancient shell still features ugly molded-on detailing, the couplers are still truck-mounted Rapidos, and then you have the whole "wires running everywhere" problem. All moldy holdovers from the 1960s, and definitely not "state of the art".

As mentioned previously, these models were only sold in powered/dummy A/A sets. Dummy units are equipped with working headlights and lack the extra weight that the powered units carry in the fuel tank area. Both of their trucks are ungeared (ala the powered unit's front truck).

Shell removal is simple - spread the shell sides apart at the fuel tank and then lift it off.

Grade: B

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