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Rivarossi HO Scale Model Railroad Locomotives

The crown jewels of many model railroad collections are the locomotives. From steam to diesel, the locomotive sits at the head of the train and pulls the eye towards it. After Alessandro Rossi founded the brand in 1945, the Rivarossi brand quickly found fame for their model trains. Rivarossi trains were the first model trains from Italy, and they swiftly reached the top of the market. The company ceased operations in 2003, only for Hornby to revive and add it to their existing range.

What is HO Scale?

Originally named "Half O" because the trains and track gauge were approximately half the size of the earlier O gauge trains, HO trains very quickly became more popular than their larger cousin. Although most people think of the terms as interchangeable, HO scale and HO gauge actually refer to different things in the model train world.

  • HO Scale: HO scale refers to the relative size of the model in comparison full-size trains. An HO model Rivarossi steam locomotive is 1/87th the size of the original. OO Scale is similar in size, at 1/76th scale. In the early years, many manufacturers actually produced trains that fit between the scales as scale accuracy was less important than it became later.
  • HO Gauge: Where scale refers to the size of the train, gauge refers to the distance between the rails. An HO steam locomotive rides on rails 0.65 inches apart, the same tracks as an OO scale tender. The two scales are close enough in size that it wasn't worth creating a new gauge, and the existing gauge almost perfectly matches HO scale.

What Kinds of Locomotives Did Rivarossi Make?

In its heyday, Rivarossi produced a wide range of locomotive models for discerning buyers in all markets.

  • Rivarossi Scales: Rivarossi started off making engines in OO scale, but quickly moved to HO scale for the American market. The company also dabbled in O scale but for the most part focused on the smaller models.
  • Rivarossi Locomotive Types: While Rivarossi made a number of Diesel locomotives, the company's focus was always on steam, especially the "Big Boy" flagship steam locomotives. With their fine details, these locos looked impressive drawing a full line of passenger cars along a scale railway.

Rivarossi Features

Rivarossi trains first drew attention for their appearance and attention to detail. They were one of the first companies to produce locomotives that ran at accurate scale speeds. At first Rivarossi focused on metal locomotives, but later started using high quality plastic as it supported greater detail than metal. Rivarossi also focused on painted details rather than using decals, which could be visible to the user. Later trains, after the Hornby acquisition were released DCC ready so that they could be used with the digital controllers that enabled multiple trains to operate independently on the same track.