Arnold-Rapido (Germany) Baldwin Switcher

Introduced: circa 1962

This was one of the first locomotives produced by Arnold (and consequently, one of the very first N-scale locomotives ever). It was first mentioned in Model Railroader magazine in a couple of different ads (7/62 and 7/63), and then again in a Trade Topics blurb in the 1/64 issue ("Small gauge railroad equipment imported by Chas. C. Merzbach Co"). The next issue of MR (2/64) featured a large article discussing the new "OOO" scale equipment and mentioned this loco (along with the Arnold F9 and the Lone Star line). In the next issue (3/64) it appears in an AHC advertisement (described as being "Pee Wee 1/2 HO scale"). That same advertisement appeared for a number of years (finally vanishing when "N" scale took off in the late 1960s). By 1969, Arnold-Rapido had revamped their entire N scale line and this primitive loco was ultimately dropped.

I'm not sure what specific prototype this model might be based on as I've never seen it referred to as anything more specific than "Baldwin Switcher". In any case, it obviously doesn't belong on a real model railroad. The shell is simple and toyish, the paint is best described as garish, and the performance characteristics are terrible. All eight wheels provide pick-up, but only four of them actually propel the model. It's extremely loud, it goes very fast, and it has a nasty tendancy to hop the rails whenever it feels like it. Worse still, the wheel flanges are beyond huge, so traversing any kind of turnout is a virtual impossibility. So, yeah, basically of interest to collectors and N scale historians, but not much more than that.

The original version (produced until 1964) did not have end platforms. The later versions (produced until 1969) did. The very earliest versions had a silver label on the bottom bearing the legend "Rapido 200" (referring to the model's scale - 1:200). And rather than employing the now familiar "Rapido" style coupler, they simply had bent metal hooks -

Arnold's famous Rapido coupler was introduced circa 1963-64. And although similar in appearance and function to the now standard version (introduced a couple of years later), these early couplers had tall verticle shafts (for backwards compatibility with the earlier bent hook couplers) -

Trivia - this same basic chassis/mechanism was used for all of Arnold's early diesels and electrics (F9, V200, and Re 4/4) -

To remove the shell, find the two small corner screws (one on each end) and remove them. The shell will pop right off after that.

Grade: D

(Thanks to R. Young of Scotland for the first release photo)

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