New Rivarossi Heisler Review

A few weeks ago I posed a question re the current Rivarossi Heisler in HO scale. I was wondering if it was much different from the older one. One reply said it had new mechanism. Well I got my new one today from Trainworld, and there are many differences. In some instances it almost looks like an entirely new model, but in others it is still the same.

The cast on piping on the sides of the boiler in the original is now separate. The bell is different, somewhat larger. The pop off valves and whistle on the steam dome are new. My model came with a wood burning type smoke stack, but the parts package has a straight stack. The package also includes an oil bunker cover to replace the coal bunker in the tender area, and older type lights to replace the modern front and rear ones, as well as some handrails.

The ends of the cylinders in the new one are flat, while the older ones had rivet details and were depressed in the center. The cab side windows in the new one are closed, with many panes of glass; the old one is half opened. The new Heisler has a different, smaller sandbox at the back of the tender, complete with piping going under the rear pilot. The new engine has a larger air pump, and includes piping to the air tank and to the cab.

I haven't taken the new one apart, but the motor looks like a flat can model, the old one is round. The bottom plates on the trucks are different on the two models. The original model had a rather large builder's plate cast onto a flat area above the front truck. The new one has the plates printed in brass color ink on the frame near the front pilot. The parts bag includes etched brass plates to be installed if desired.

The new one comes with Kadee coupler clones. I recall having to add Kadee coupler boxes on an area of built up styrene to the original one when I first got it, as there was no way to mount them.

There are probably more differences and improvements that I have yet to notice. The new model came in a rather large box with plenty of heavy foam packing, like those that Bachmann Spectrum uses. It included a rolled up certificate re the model, wrapped in a bright red ribbon. The instructions included a history of the Heisler locomotive, an exploded parts diagram, hints on breaking in and lubing the model, and info on installing the added parts. These parts included an extra pair of driving wheels with traction tires on them. The instructions tell how to replace them on one of the trucks.

So all in all, I am quite pleased with the Heisler. If it did not say "Made in Italy", one could assume it was made in China like all of the other recent fine models from Bachmann and others. The copyright notices on the instructions say 2002, so I assume this is how old the model is.

I paid $75.00 Canadian for my original Heisler about 18-20 years ago. This one cost me about $135.00 Canadian, including postage and taxes (U.S. $89.95). Considering inflation over the past 20 years, I'd say this is a good deal. Too bad Rivarossi is no more.

Now what to do with the older Heisler?

Bob Boudreau Canada

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