Spencer Gets a New Heisler

Recently over on the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum someone had posted the topic “Locos you want to see produced?”  I had responded that I’d like to see a nice HO scale Heisler, and had mentioned that I wasn’t interested in the Rivarossi Heisler.  One respondent, Professor Klyzlr, questioned why I wasn’t interested in the Rivarossi model.  Since my opinion of the locomotive had been formed many years ago when the model was initially introduced, I decided to investigate the present state of the model before replying.

What I discovered was much more impressive.  In fact, during my investigation I found an especially good sale on one of the new sound equipped models and wound up purchasing the thing.

Rivarossi HeislerThis past weekend I put the engine through its paces.  Here is a brief summary of my initial reaction to the locomotive.

The good:  the model is much better looking than the original.  It has RP-25 flanges rather than the “pizza-cutter” flanges on the early model I had seen.  The couplers are now body mounted, rather than Talgo style (mounted to the trucks).  Most of the details are individually applied rather than cast on.  The paint looks good (though I’ll be re-painting it and adding decals for the Spencer logging operation on my pike).  It has a more refined, delicate look to it, and I’m pleased with its appearance.

The model now has a flat can motor (the original had the big 3-pole motor as I recall).  And it has the LokSound V4.0 sound decoder in it.  Running qualities are excellent.  It will really creep along at a pretty smooth pace.

The not-so-good:  The gear noise is disappointing.  The decoder’s sound levels have to be higher than I’d like so that they can be heard over the running noise.  I noticed while it was running very slowly that it has a slight bind in the running gear at the cylinders.  I will have to disassemble it when I get time and go over it carefully, cleaning up flash and burrs, and making sure everything is properly aligned and running as true as possible.  I might even put some Pearl Drops on the mechanism and run it a bit to see if that helps wear in the parts.  After cleaning, I will then do a good lube and see if that all helps smooth it out and quiet it down somewhat.

The decoder itself is jammed packed with features, and the overall sound of the engine is decent.  However, it is far and away the most complicated decoder I’ve ever seen to program, even using DecoderPro.  I’ve already invested quite a few hours fine-tuning the sounds and mapping the almost ridiculous number of sound effects to the various function buttons.

It is pulling nine cars up a 2-1/2% grade, and that without installing the (included) wheelset with traction tires.  That’s good because I’m looking for it to haul six (empty) skeleton log cars and a caboose up a 4% grade.

My overall initial impression: satisfactory . . . a nice model, and I’m happy to add it to my fleet.


P.S.  Love the whistle on that thing!