ALCO RS-11 by Rapido Trains

in the spring of this year i was able to pick up my long ago pre-ordered Rapido Trains ALCO RS-11 on my favorite dealer. This was contained in the very last shipment across the big pond my dealer received, before Covid-19 lockdown and the following drying-out of air traffic.
For me it was the first model from Rapido Trains und my first ALCO RS-11. As far as i am knewing, the RS-11 never before was done in a high end design.
To avoid hassle with ESU and their politics, i ordered the DC - DCC ready version. Too i have my own view of sound in H0 locos. Here in this thread i will describe what in have done with a brand new loco until it meets my utter satisfaction. Allowedly I have rather sophisticated standards concerning reliable running of H0 rolling stock.

First read the manual which is in the package. Do it!
For mounting a decoder and sound the shell has to be taken off the running gear. Begin with loosening the handrails on the cab as described in the manual. Then prying (and praying) until the cab can be lifted off.

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This should be visible when the cab is lifted off. I presume the cab floor is in the right height, so here no personnel with amputated legs is necessary. The inner front and rear panels are mounted onto the inner cab walls.

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Next task is to remove the short hood. The photo shows were the snap-fits are placed. You have to pry the sides outward to release the rear snap-fits. There is a further one on the middle of the front of the hood which can be freed by tilting the short hood.

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Then you are able of loosening further snap-fits which were hidden under the short hood. Here also tilting of the long hood will free more snap-fits.

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A closer look onto the running gear. In front there is the clavilux, fully acessible only with "their" special decoders. But fortunately not so devout as Scale Trains used to be with their "Special-Scaletrains-ESU-Loksound-Decoder".
So here it is possible to remove the analog buddy and plug in a decoder of your own choice.
A original i-phone speaker is already mounted. It was said to me these are very excellent outstanding speakers, so why not give this speaker a try?

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So i simply plugged in my favorite decoder. Then testing with still not mounted shell. The decoder is readable, there are no shorts and I remounted the shell parts. Taking the loco to my programming track, started the laptop and the SPROG3 and then started Decoder Pro.
The next hours i was busy with decoder adjustments until the sound sounds right for me.

The thread could be finished here now, but I discovered some bugs.

Nice step-by-step Lutz. Last year I got myself one of Rapido's SW1200rs units and it runs and looks great. I was lucky though as a friend of mine had the same engine and it too had a few issues that required a warranty repair.

the next steps were sound contests in special aspects to the speaker. My impression of this i-phone speaker was not bad (remember German ratings which are different from US / Canada / GB ones! The rating "not bad" is meaning a middle class approach.)
But you may call me profiligated or over-sophisticated, i was meanwhile accustomed to better ones speakers.

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So i missed my favorite Zimo G-Scale speaker. But how to get it squeezed into here?

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At first removing the motherboard and then the weight.

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Then fetch the hack saw out of the tractor tool box and take some coarse actions.

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At least 2 cuts were done in the weight.

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Let's see if it will fit now. Dimensional checks of the actual height above running board and the available height space under the shell were showing, that it will fit here.

That's quite a radical modification, Lutz, and very well-executed, too.  I am impressed, but not at all surprised. Worship 

I'm tempted to send Jason a link to this thread.

Hello Wayne,

wait a little bit, this thread is still not done. But what comes next may be a little displeasing for Jason.
As said, may be i am little over-sophisticated.


some further modifications:

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When the RS11 was halfway in pieces, then let's do some work to eliminate the diagonal stiffness.
The photo shows the direct suspension of the trucks. Both trucks are done equal in this manner. Not bad and standard practice not only by this manufacturer.
On the main frame you see the cast on kingpin. This pivot point is only responsible to guide the main frame in all horizontal directions and take all resulting forces.
But for the vertical component there are these 2 half round nubbies responsibe as seen at the ends if this little cantilvers left and right on the top of the gearbox housing.
So this truck is able to deflect and able of rocking along the horizontal transverse axis, but is not able to stagger along the horizontal longitudinal axis.
For one truck this is o.k. But both trucks built equal in this manner this is resulting in diagonal stiffness. The trucks are not able to compensate distortions of the track. Of course you can say, oh it does'nt matter because my tracks all all super even laid. But i am a person who likes switching and somtime there are some "secret" reasons of stalling on apparent even track. And more worst, on unven track are likewise secret derailments seemingly without any cause. These are big big killjoys.
So, what can you do to get rid of these killjoys?

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First, grab some washers, rings and so on.

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Second, stack these washers, rings etc. on top of the gearbox of one of the trucks until the summed up height of this collcetion reaches the height of the nubbies.

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Third, cut the nubbies off. Eek

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Fourth, stack the collection of washers onto the kingpin of the main frame and fix it there by some glueing.

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Fifth, cut or file some material from the lower ends of the lugs of the worm housing cover. In some cases this in not necessary, but in some cases it will be. This enables then this truck pivoting freely on all 3 axis.

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This loco model has gotten now an all wheel stay permanently onto tracks by the means of an 3-point suspension. And for my experiences, the reliability of uninterupted current pick up has a significant enhancement. And derailings on worst laid track are tending to zero.

This is a modification done after sales by the customer.

There are possibilties to do this during the construction phase. The key therefor is not to alter the trucks, both are still produced as before using the same mould cavity of the same mould.
The trick is to modify the main frame. On one end of the main frame the truck suspension will stay unchanged. The weight of the mains frame will be beared by the nubbies as before which will also act as staggering suppports.

But the suspension for the other truck:
- instead a stack of washers machine the mould, especially the part of the cavition for the kingpin
- a shoulder should be originated by drilling out the bore for the kingpin about half of the depth
- this results in a kingpin with a step
- make space for the nubbies in the main frame
- this enables the nubbies to "dive" into the main frame
- for the mould it will be meaning to fill up material here
- may be too late here for the RS-11, but think of it when you are designing the next mainframe fpr the next project
- the weight of the main frame here will be beared by the modified king pin


Not really, here is a example out of the past:
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Roco/Atlas 1970's.

When it could be done 50 years before, so why not today too?

As said: Think of it!
The costs for this kind of 3-point suspension are near Zero. (if done during the construction phase and thought of it)

Do i have knowledge about designing model railroad locomotive?
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Definitely yes. I was involved into design and costruction of this truck of an European prototype.

So, now you can send the link. Although i am not finished here.


let me show you what i have found too and how these bugs can be easily eliminated. The bugs here are not the electronic ones, but real mechanic ones.

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At first the loco is standing even onto an even ground. There is a collision point between bell and brake cylinder when the truck is turning.

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To fix this bug is easy, remove the bell and glue it a little more to the end of the loco. May be this is not the 100% exact placement, but there is no more danger of a collision.

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The second type of bugs is concerning both trucks. Here is hardly ever space between the brake hangers and the gussets of the tank mountings.
I have looked intimately if i have something mounted in the wrong way. But this was not the case. On not so plain flat tracks the trucks will collide with the gussets.

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The elimination of these bugs is simple too. Take a file or a motor tool as i had done and the gussets will became, i call it so, a little more "gussety".

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The result are freely turning trucks and this on bad uneven track too.

Still not done here

Lutz, I just want to mention that I did send Rapido a link to this thread, and it is being forwarded to someone in project management.  We may (or may not) hear back from them, but if I do get any feedback, will let you know. 

I think that your suggested improvements will make for better-running models, so let's hope that they're paying attention.


o.k. let's wait if they will give an answer.

To tell the story further:

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This will be an investment into the future, it is my personally device for me.
This kind of current pick up was done by several manufacturers, i believe Sandakan was the first of them who made it. When it is new and clean it works flawless. But when these locos have had a certain measure of runtime, the reliability of an uninterrupted current pick up drops down. So it is known from Athearn Genesis, P2K, Atlas and others. The cause or better the causes are:
- oil or grease had found it's way into the axle bearings
- dirt also
- fibers wound around the axle blunt ends
All of them cause a certain amount of electric insulation and thus is resulting at worst case in a stalling loco. Of course I can demount the truck as shown there in the photo above and clean finicky all blunt ends and bearings. The loco will run then for another while. But once a day I was tired to do so again and again.

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My answer and because I am lazy, were additional wipers. Here 0.3mm Bronze wire was soldered onto the copper frame.

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Then bend the ends down. They will wipe on the blunt ends.
Here I have done it to prevent hassle in the future and yes I am some over-sophisticated. 

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Time to reassemble the loco.
The Speaker was glued firm onto the frame. This is to eliminate clattering and whirring.
The 2 remaining parts of the weight were mounted.
Kapton tape was used to prevent shorts and to restrain the wires.
Hope I had packed up all wires, parts and other stuff.

And then:
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Pipe down and the shell was fitting again without squeezing onto the running gear.
The couplers were replaced by Kadee Scaleheads #158.
The i-phone speaker will stored for another project.

And here the rest of the story:

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She is looking great, to my knowledge this was the first time an H0 model of an ALCO RS-11 was realized in high end style.

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Note the illuminated tracings of the dashboard.

And how it runs:

And the last post because only one video per post is possible.

So it runs:


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