Rivarossi, Bachmann and Branchline Pullmans Compared

Copyright 2001 – 2010 Thomas C. Madden


This composite image was assembled from 1:1 scans of the sides of Rivarossi, Bachmann and Branchline Pullmans. Included on the left is a portion of a 1:1 scan of an HO scale drawing of a prototype Pullman side. All scans were done at 300dpi, and all sides were scanned against the scale rule.

The individual images were cropped after verifying that the scale rule was the same width on all images. The scans were not re-sized. The Branchline Pullman scan (complete with scale rule) provided the underlying image, and two-section portions of the Rivarossi and Bachmann sides (without the scale rule) were merged onto the Branchline side. The Rivarossi and Bachmann windows were centered on the Branchline windows, and the lower side edges were aligned with the top of the scale rule. The drawing image was likewise merged atop the Branchline part. The prototype drawing was done from a Pullman cross-section drawing of a narrow-clerestory Plan 3XXX sleeper, and all features are accurate to within 1/8 inch of true location and size. (The drawing was done from the same CAD information I provided to Branchline, so it’s heartening to see the molded part matches the design intent.) Click on the image, or on the link below it, for the full-size composite.

Full Size Image

Side height measurements:

  • Bachmann: 1.043"
  • Rivarossi: 1.088"
  • Branchline: 1.045"
  • Prototype: 7’ 6-7/8" (1.044" in HO)

The sides on my Coach Yard brass Santa Fe "Tribe" sleeper measure 1.040" tall.

In analyzing the full-size image, keep in mind that at 300dpi each pixel is 0.0033" square. In other words, the difference between the Bachmann, Branchline and Prototype scan heights is less than one pixel, which can't be seen at this resolution.

On the prototype the edge of the roof overhangs the side by 1-1/8". This means that in a square-on view of the prototype, the side would appear to be only 7’ 5-3/4" tall, and the rivet batten along the top edge of the side would be half concealed. We don’t generally look at the prototype square on, though, but from below, where that batten is fully visible. I don’t think anyone has offered an HO model in any medium with overhanging roof edges. Even my CIL heavyweight Pullman diner, as fine a model as there is, has a flush roof and fully exposed top rivet batten.

The Bachmann side is the correct height, but the windows are taller than they should be. This puts the belt rail too low, and makes the upper and lower side sheets too narrow. The Rivarossi side is too tall by 4 scale inches, with the extra height almost entirely in the lower side sheet. Neither the Bachmann nor the Rivarossi has a continuous drip molding over the windows. The Bachmann is lacking a rivet batten strip running the length of the side at the top edge. The rivets in the row running the length of the side at the bottom are directly in the side sheets, but the Rivarossi has them in a batten strip. The prototypes for these models have six rivets in each vertical row below the belt rail. The Rivarossi has nine, and the Bachmann, five. Bachmann put a vertical rivet row below the center posts of the paired windows, which is not correct. (They were removed from the scanned Bachmann part in a still-born conversion attempt. Their locations are visible in the full-size image.)

When the Bachmann Pullman was introduced it was heavily criticized by many, including me. Some of it was justified – selecting an oddball prototype, heavy-handed rendering of rivets and other features. But much of the criticism was based on it not looking "right", that it didn’t look good alongside the Rivarossi model we’d come to know and love. This analysis shows  that it’s not the Bachmann that’s way off, but the Rivarossi.




Tom Madden

pullmanboss (at) yahoo (dot) com