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In-Box Review
DRG BR 80 Steam Switcher
BR 80 0-6-0 Locomotive Kit
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

history of Rivarossi
Rivarossi was founded in 1945 by Mr. Alessandro Rossi with a Mr. Riva.¹ An Italian company, Rivarossi was first distributed in the United States, briefly, by Lionel and then Athearn, and subsequently for decades through AHM (Associated Hobby Manufactures) until AHM’s demise in 1985. It is common to find older packaging marked AHM Rivarossi.

Releasing models of European and American prototypes known for detail, Rivarossi became a giant of the model railroad industry. For years Rivarossi was the company for affordable high quality plastic steam locomotives. Occassionally Rivarossi suffered some quality control issues which tarnished its reputation for years. The reviewer has several Rivarossi models which run without trouble.

Their stable of model iron horses was in the railroad scales of O (1/48*), HO (1/87), and N (1/160). There are four other O scale kits:
1. 0-8-0 Indiana Harbor Belt heavy switcher
2. 4-6-0 Illinois Central 'Casey Jones'
3. 4-4-0 "Genoa"
4. 4-4-0 "Reno"

In the 1990s Rivarossi acquired Lima (1992), Jouef and Arnold (1997). In 2003 Rivarossi went into receivership², the last of many times. In 2002 the US importer folded leaving debts greater than the capital value of Rivarossi. In 2004 Hornby Railways plc acquired assets from Rivarossi, in particular the brands Arnold, Jouef, Rivarossi and Lima. Since 2006 products are sold again under these brand names.³

The BR 80 0-6-0 Steam Locomotive

Nicknamed "Bulli" (little bull) for its stout dimensions and power, the BR 80 was designed for light switching (or "shunting") and entered service in 1928 with the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft (DRG). Using superheated steam, BR 80s developed 485 hp (356 kW) with 43.3 in. (853 mm) driving wheels and weighed 52.5 tons. Their tractive effort allowed BR 80s to pull 900 tons on level track at up to 28 mph.**

While their primary role was switching, BR 80s were also used in light passenger duty. Thirty-nine were built and all but one survived World War Two. Twenty-one worked in East Germany until 1963, and those in the West Germany served into 1965. Replaced by more efficient diesels, many continued in operation at industrial plants. Seven BR 80s have been preserved.

The model
Rivarossi designed this kit to be built not only as the German prototype, but also in an American style. The main difference is the configuration of the front of the engine. The pilot, beam, couplers, buffers, smokebox front, couplers, and headlight placement are very different. Sprue A and B contain the pieces unique to the German or American prototype. While the Americanized version is a reasonable mimic, it really has no U.S. prototype.

This model was also designed to be motorized. This is done with Rivarossi item 7283 M.

In seven steps Rivarossi’s BR 80 is built with 179 parts: 111 metal, 65 plastic (7 clear), and 3 metal and plastic wheel sets. The wheels and frame are molded in red so you do not have to risk painting ruining your motorizing the model. Included is a set of dry transfer decals. Most of the metal parts are the driving rods, linkage of the valve gear, and the gears, worms, and bushings for motorizing the model. Two metal preformed ladders are included, and the driving axle bearings are pre-mounted–thank goodness!

The plastic parts consist of five sprues, the steam chest, the chassis, and the superstructure. Complex tooling ingeniously molded these last two parts as single pieces with complex detail! The injection molded quality is high. A faint seam line is on the top of the boiler. A few others can be seen along the edge of a few other parts. Otherwise, the parts have no flash, sink holes, mold marks nor ejector marks.

The metal rods and valve gear are stamped metal. They are joined with screws and rivets.

The detail is sharp and elaborate. Unfortunately, most is molded on. Still, that is the standard for even many high-end plastic steam models today. Casting scale piping is just not feasible in styrene, today’s model companies using ABS or vinyl for piping and railing.

Impressive as the detailing is, the glaring disappointment is the cab. While a detailed backhead is provided, there are no other details. The cab is to house the electric motor should you motorize the loco. But for modelers who want a detailed static model, the cab is noticeably vacant. With reference photos or freelance "gizmology", a cab interior should be easy to create.

The coal is molded as a plug for the bunker. It does not appear realistic at all. It is easy to fix by adding real scale coal.

The windows are snapped into place as large multipane parts. This sample already has some installed and your reviewer is hesitant to remove them for the photographs. The concept is good as it avoids gluing individual panes of the cab glass with that inherent risk of blemishing the clear part.

As detracts from some models even today, the wheel flanges are too big for scale.

instructions, painting and decals
A large quarter-fold instruction sheet in several languages guides you through the assembly process. Red text highlights important information about motorizing the model. Rivarossi also included a catalog and pamphlets about other products.

Basic black livery for the American engine, and black with red running gear for the German Dampflokomotiv (Steam Locomotive). In the links provided below, one can find photographs of a gray BR 80. It is plausible that BR 80's were camouflaged during WW2.

The decals provide you with two choices:
• DB (German National Railways) lokomotiv number 80 038, with full stenciling.
• “60", for the U.S. locomotive.

Rivarossi ceased producing its O scale kits in the late-60s - early-70s. This kit, typical of Rivarossi’s O scale locomotives, is an exceptional model: intricate molding to a high standard of finish, great detail, and an operable design. Whether you want to run it on your layout or display it static alone or in a diorama, it should build into a wonderful model of the BR 80 “Bulli.”

footnotes & references

1.^ to 3.^ Wikipedia, Rivarossi.
* “O scale” varies from 1/43, 1/45, and 1/48 in Europe to 1/48 in the United States.
** WorldRailFans, German class BR80 (http://www.worldrailfans.info/Articles/Europe/GBR80).

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Clean molding and detailing of plastic parts, and metal parts for strength and motorizing.
Lows: Molded on details and sparse cab detail. The scale is a compromise between American O scale and European O scale.
Verdict: A 1/48 small steam locomotive that will fit into any subject from 1928 to 1965, whether railroading or to complement the growing line of 1/48 military models.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 7283
  Suggested Retail: Varies
  Related Link: Rivarossi
  PUBLISHED: Feb 21, 2010

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Neat piece...what's the price roughly?
FEB 26, 2010 - 01:45 AM
Hi Bob, I snared her for $78 including shipping. I never knew these existed until Feb., 2009. The first one I bid on sold for $120; the next for about $100. The third one was already built and went for $110+/-. This one was my fourth attempt. Hope you find and get one!
FEB 26, 2010 - 05:38 PM

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