News & Reviews Product Reviews Staff Reviews Rapido HO scale Alco RS11

Rapido HO scale Alco RS11

By Cody Grivno | May 2, 2024

New release features many upgrades

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Color photo of green-and-yellow diesel on scenic base.
The Rapido HO scale RS11 features many upgrades, including an easy-to-remove shell, new lighting features, and railroad-specific details. Cody Grivno photo

A new run of HO scale Alco RS11 diesel locomotives is now available from Rapido Trains. The model features many newly tooled, railroad-specific details; illuminated number boxes, class lights, and control stand lights; and a new five-pole, skew-wound motor.

Prototype history

Alco produced the RS11 from February 1956 until May 1961. During that time, it built 327 locomotives for railroads in the United States and 99 for lines in Mexico. The 1,800hp road switchers were fitted with a 12-cylinder 251B engine.

The sample we received is decorated as Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific No. 3600, part of the railroad’s 3600 through 3614 series. The unit was originally painted in parent Canadian National’s green-and-yellow scheme. It was later repainted in the 1962 black-and-orange scheme with large DW&P lettering on the long hood.

Starting in 1979, DW&P’s RS11s were transferred to sister road Central Vermont. Today, the 3600 is on the Depew, Lancaster & Western, where it’s the carrier’s No. 1800.

Model features

The Rapido Trains RS11 has a multi-piece injection-molded plastic body with a heavy, die-cast metal chassis. The side handrails are metal with plastic stanchions. The end handrails and stanchions are plastic.

The model features many free­standing details, including wire grab irons, see-through steps, and metal diamond plate on the walkways. Railroad-specific details on the DW&P model include a recessed brake wheel on the long hood, etched-metal chicken wire instead of a grill over the intercooler, and a conical exhaust stack. Plastic cab sunshades and an oval exhaust stack are included with the model.

One of the biggest upgrades to the RS11 is how the shell is attached to the chassis. The original version required a multi-step disassembly process, outlined in a video on the manufacturer’s website. On this run, all you have to do is remove the front and rear draft-gear boxes and two screws flanking the boxes. Wires from the printed-circuit board are tethered to the cab interior.

On the test track

Our review sample is decorated in Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific’s as-­delivered green-and-yellow scheme. The paint is smooth and evenly applied, and the yellow is opaque. The separation lines between colors are crisp.

I compared the Rapido Trains RS11 to drawings published in the 1956 Loco-motive Cyclopedia of American Practice (Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp.) The model’s dimensions accurately match the elevation drawings.

The sample we received has a dual-mode ESU LokSound Select V5 decoder. I tested the locomotive in our workshop with an NCE Power Cab. At step 1, the four-axle road switcher moved at less than 1 scale mph. At step 28 the RS11 achieved a top speed of 77 smph. The full-size units had a top speed of 65 to 92 mph, depending on the gear ratio.

Then I took the locomotive over to our staff layout. The unit ran without incident leading a pulpwood train on the Wisconsin & Southern. The RS11 was able to take 10 50-foot insulated boxcars up the 3% grade between Bay Junction and Skyridge.

Rapido took the lessons it learned from the first run of the RS11 and made the four-axle road switcher even better.  From railroad-specific details to authentic Alco 251B diesel engine sounds, this HO scale model is an all-around winner.

Watch this video to see the Rapido Trains HO scale Alco RS11 in action.

Facts & features

Price: Direct-current with 21-pin connector, $225; with dual-mode ESU LokSound V5 sound decoder, $335


Rapido Trains

500 Alden Rd., Unit 21

Markham, ON, Canada

L3R 5H5

Era: February 1956 to 1980s (varies depending on paint scheme)

Road names: Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific; Burlington Northern; Central Vermont; Delaware & Hudson; Maine Central; New York Central; Nickel Plate Road; Portland Terminal; and Seaboard Air Line. One to four road numbers per paint scheme.


  • Metal couplers, at correct height
  • Metal wheel stubs mounted on plastic axles, correctly gauged
  • Weight: 13.1 ounces


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