The S Scale Journal

The Online Journal of the S Scale SIG
Volume 1 No. 4, February 12, 2012

River Raisin Model’s USRA 0-6-0
First Look

reviewed by Ed Loizeaux
photos by Dick Karnes

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see and handle River Raisin Model’s newest brass imported steam locomotive – the USRA 0-6-0. When this project was first announced, I expected to see one loco in several different paint schemes. Instead, I saw six different locos and six different tenders in six different paint schemes – plus the painted, but unlettered version as well. To start with, the locos shown in the photos are “production samples” which means the pilot model has already been evaluated and corrections made. These production samples have also been evaluated and corrections made. The production models are expected to be shipped to customers in late February or early March of 2012.

Dan Navarre, sole proprietor of RRM, says he has a few unsold models of some versions. So if any of these look appealing, it would be best to order them promptly. The NYC version is sold out. I learned that one of Dan’s favorite remarks is, “If you wanted that version, you should have ordered it during the reservation period.” The versions seen include the NYC, B&O, UP, NKP, GT and PRR.

The amazing part of this project is that each loco and each tender is designed and built to be “road specific” which means the detailing and features are different for each railroad being modeled. Here are some of the unique features for each version:

1. Builder’s Plates – Each loco has a builder’s plate that is correct for the actual builder. Thus, the Baldwin-built locos have a round builder’s plate; the ALCO locos have a rectangular one and the Altoona Works (PRR) have an oval one. If that was not enough, each builders plate has the exact same number as on the side of the cab. How much accuracy can we tolerate?

2. Most of the smokestacks look similar, but the B&O version is noticeably shorter and fatter. Dan assures me this is not an error, but prototypically correct.

3. Between the six locos, there are five different headlights. Each headlight is correct for the road being modeled. If that were not enough, the number boards and number plates are also correct for the prototype railroad.

4. The NKP version has the unique “front end throttle” used by no other of the six. How many in S-land know the difference between a “front end throttle” and a “dome throttle”? Ask Dan. He can explain it to you.

5. All clear vision tenders are different and each is correct for the road being modeled. The USRA standard tender has a coal pusher included which Dan says has never been done before in any scale.

6. The GT version has a very unique and interesting handrail arrangement on the front. All versions have different handrail arrangements to be correct for the road being modeled. In addition to the handrails, each loco has different piping to be correct for the road being modeled.

7. Each version has a different whistle location to be correct for the road being modeled.

8. The prototype GT version had number plates (made from sheet metal) attached to the cab sides. The RRM GT version has 3-D numbers etched into the cab sides. The thickness of the numbers can be seen and felt. No Optivisor needed.

9. The GT 0-6-0 prototype tenders had different logos for each division. The size and case (upper vs. lower) were unique for each division. RRM got it correct for the road and division being modeled.

10. The GT version has handrails on the cab roof per the prototype.

Features common to all versions are listed below:

A. All versions have working headlights, backup lights and cab lights.

B. The defacto DCC standard 9-pin connector with shorting plug is wired in place.

C. The tender floor looks like Swiss cheese to let the sound out. Customer has to put the sound in.

D. A very high quality MAXON motor was used for high torque at low rpm. Slow switching speeds should be excellent (in theory). Note: I did not operate the locos. This is a visual report only.

E. All drivers have stainless steel drivers. No more nickel-plated brass! Personally, I am very happy to see this become a new standard. Thank you to Boo-Rim (and Dan).

Dick Karnes clicked a few photos on the Bay Area S Scale (BASS) modular layout. They are included here for your visual enjoyment.

As usual, the question for RRM is now: “What’s next, Dan?”

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