Locomotive Roster: Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) E.424; Mehano 23946 & 18939

The search is over! After much hunting I was finally able to acquire not one, but two of these very interesting electric locomotives from Italy.  With their striking, angular looks and both the sublime brown paint scheme or the very 1970's stylistic striping, and with obvious rivets in the body, they have an industrial look to them that modern locomotives just don't have.
These models come from Mehano, and were originally produced (as far as I can tell) about 10 years ago in the 2000-2001 time frame.  As such, they don't include any provision for adding a DCC decoder without some difficult modifications and wiring.   I was able to find a helpful guide to show me how it could be done, and yet this was still one of the most difficult conversions I've ever had to make.

There are two big challenges converting this locomotive to DCC, the first is that you will have to mill out some of the metal chassis to make room for the decoder, and the second is that you will have to weave your wires to the circuit board located on the bottom of the locomotive - which was very different as typically you find the circuit boards mounted on top of the motor and chassis!

The below two photos show the Navetta version, in grey with the orange and yellow stripes, which I discovered to my surprise in the bottom shelf of the N Gauge locomotives display case at Les Cheminots on the Rue de Douai in Paris last summer.
Its a great little looking electric locomotive (there is something about the smaller electrics that I find really appealing.  Like my BLS 420, the small size is something very endearing) and makes me want to invest in FS rolling stock to look more at home!
In addition to the Navetta, I also now have the e.424 in the brown Isabella scheme, which I was able to get by begging a seller in Italy to agree to ship to the states!  I also have the old Lima version....I picked up a non-running Lima model of this same locomotives for $5.00 just for fun.  Compared to the Mehano, the years have not been kind to the Lima as the more modern Mehano version certainly seems to out perform its predecessor in just about every way.  The Lima version is show on the right, with the Mehano on the left:
For those who love angular lines (and I know there are quite a few, given some of the preferences I've heard voiced for the older TDV Sud-Est versus the sleeker design of the newer TGV (and all newer high speed trains for that matter)) this is a great little locomotive - and the rather utilitarian yet also elegant brown paint scheme really gives this little electric a very nice, rugged, industrial look!
Both of these locomotives come with a separate pack of add-on grab irons that need to be applied to the model, its something that I've yet to do, but as I look at the locomotive, the empty holes where these would go cry out for me to get this task done....
I say a lot more about the performance of this locomotive in the video review, and despite my admiration for the look and appearance of these locos, they don't live up to the performance expectations of most of my fleet (and the ranking I give in the video will reflect this!)...they are really slow geared-no high speed here!- and my Navetta version has some really bad gear issue which forces me to run it in only one direction!  As I mentioned above, converting to DCC was a headache!

It appears that Mehano is again marketing these locomotives (after a hiatus of several years as they went through their own bankruptcy drama), and if you have a passion to add these unique locomotives to your fleet then no obstacles will stand in your way! 


  1. Wow ! Nice review ! With all the new locomotives you now have I think it would be cool to make a 2nd overview, a movie, or something like that to see them running with other trains !

    I've never really been interested in the Italian railways until now, neither in Mehano for the reasons you said in the video, but I am now thinking about buying this train (the newer version, though) and the G 2000. But in the part where you showed the locomotives running, I have 2 things to say :

    1- the last car of the cars that the Isabella was hauling was derailed. LOL !

    2-Can I ask what the bullet train in the yard is ? (I think it's the Shinkansen, but I'm sure it isn't )

    Other then that, great review, I'm hoping for more soon ! :-)

    Happy Trains !
    Mark F.

    P.S. I realized you haven't put up a box for the Kato TGV Sud-Est, I'm having trouble finding it

  2. Hi Jerry,

    very nice review again!
    These are nice locomotives which remind me a little bit of the german BR110 or 140.

    One remark about the speed, which you said might be maybe a bit too low. On the video they seem to run quite fast. The real thing has a max speed of only 100 km/h (the brown unit No. 073) or 120km/h (the 424N) according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FS_Class_E424
    So I think the speed of these models is actually ok, while most N scales locos run too fast.


  3. @ Mark F

    Hi Mark! Thanks for your comments!
    1. Yes, that car is a problem! It seems to come off and on the track all the time! But its one of the few older style wagons I have so it made it onto the layout...but it needs to be fixed!
    2. Yes! It is a Shinkansn! Its an E3, and will be the subject of my next review!

  4. @ Joerg -

    Hi Joerg! Thanks for your comment! I think you are right about the speed being correct for this locomotive...however, in comparison to so many others (as you point it) it seems slow! I actually prefer the speed to be closer to the prototype, but I know for some people they like to run all their trains like a TGV! :-)

  5. Before I rediscovered Mehano, I ran the old Lima FS E424's modified with a Jap Kato chassis.
    Enter Mehano, the Lima's now in scrap row and have acquired 3 Mehano "prestige". Never took much interest in the old style Italian electrics, but these were so ugly, I had to have one!! Just bought a new Mehano G2000, not a good runner, but the body to date is too challenging to remove for any analysis.

  6. It would be a real surptise if Mehano started remarketing its E424 and E444 R... Unfortunately I'm afraid it's not going to happen.

  7. Hi Marco! I thought that I did see Mehano re-releasing the 424 and 444 in last years 2012 catalog, but I don't think anything has been released yet. I am still hoping! :-)