Atlas/Rivarossi (Italy) Fairbanks-Morse C-Liner

Introduced: 1967 (discontinued circa 1977)

Here's another reason (along with their E8) why Rivarossi should've stuck with steam locomotives back in the early days of N scale. Although, truth be told, apart from Kato's PA, I guess back then there wasn't much good news in the diesel department coming from anybody else either. So, let us not judge them too harshly... Or, on second thought, let's!

Frankly, this is a pretty terrible locomotive. Pickup comes solely from the rear truck, while propulsion is limited to the forward truck. The motor is a cheap 3-pole job mounted vertically over the powered truck (a mounting scheme that made it particularly susceptible to melting down). Current is ferried around via wires. And, well, basically it sucks. It's fairly loud, it looks and sounds like a toy, pick-up is iffy, the traction tires on two of the four driving wheels make for a very wobbly ride, and despite the giganto-huge chassis, it's really not much of a puller. Yeah, it can make it around my layout without tripping over itself, so no "D" or "F" here. But honestly, it's a pretty crappy locomotive.

Apparently there were a couple of slightly different versions of this mechanism. One (presumably later on) had a couple of sprung contacts added to the pick-up truck, along with a smaller headlight bulb -

I have the (presumed) later version with the additional springy contacts, and trust me, it still sucks. (Thanks for the pictures, Rob).

Dummy (non-motored) versions were also available:

Some of the early Atlas C-Liners were assembled in Yugoslavia by Mehano (using Rivarossi parts). These are stamped "Atlas Yugoslavia" on the bottom of the fuel tank. The ones actually put together by Rivarossi are stamped "Atlas Made in Italy by RR" -

This locomotive dropped off the face of the earth circa 1977 (when Atlas severed their relationship with Rivarossi). And apparently it was such a crummy model that not even the trash collectors over at AHM/PMI/Model Power were interested in rescuing it from the scrap heap.

Trivia - Back in the 1970s, a Detroit-area company called "Flint Models" produced brass shells for the Atlas/Riv C-Liner, 0-4-0, 0-8-0 and 4-6-2 models, along with Arnold's 0-6-0. The original concept was to improve traction/operation, what with the added weight allowing the engine to pull more and maintain better electrical contact. Rumor has it that these Flint shells were actually "lost plastic" castings, IE a plastic shell was destroyed for each brass mold produced. From what I've been told, the shells were actually made in Canada, and at some point the boys over at Flint actually got caught smuggling the brass across the border and went out of business rather suddenly.

Collector Note - If you have the original Flint Models box that the shell came in, hang on to it like grim death. Apparently they are harder to find than the castings themselves. FWIW, I'm told they were black plastic with a clear plastic hinged lid.

Prototype Police Alert - Based on the three-axle rear truck, these models are evidently based on the somewhat obscure passenger version of the C-Liner. But oddly enough, Rivarossi never released them in paint schemes for any of the railroads (CN, CP, NYC, LIRR and NYNH&H) that actually had them!

Grade: C

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