Monthly Archives: August 2016

Repair Notes: Marklin’s 8829 – SBB Class Ae 6/6 Stadt Basel

If you are lucky enough to find an older Marklin Z loco in ‘new’ condition chances are likely it has HOS (hardened oil syndrome). It is a great day when a collector grade loco released years ago becomes available, but restoring it to running condition is to be expected. The Marklin 8829 electric locomotive has a number of parts and unique properties. Original equipment for the 8829 was the three pole motor 261920 with brushes 8988. The brushes are installed directly mounted to the circuit board and secured by clips, all 3 pole railbuses use the same brushes plus several other locomotives. The 5 pole motor for this loco is the 211901, but finding one could prove quite difficult, Walthers lists it as “sold out” and unavailable. But I don’t think much is gained with the motor upgrade in this case, I just completely cleaned one, and its noise level is quite low with slow idling.

For repair of this style locomotive of which there are several including 8849 and 8850 you will need a little more patience than others due to the increased number of parts under the hood.

FullSizeRender Total: 38 chassis and running parts

Oil during assembly very sparingly with a plastic compatible oil for ‘Z’ gauge, I use Labelle 108 which is plastic compatible thin synthetic oil that will not harden.

Trucks of this loco require special care, each incorporates 3 geared wheelsets, 3 gears and 2 pins; most locos use one retaining pin per truck. Steps for assembling the trucks follow these three steps: 1. locate short pins and assemble large gear in truck frame with retaining pin (repeat for 2 large truck gears and 1 short retaining pin) 2. pinch together electrical pick-ups and place geared wheelset for each and 3rd one in middle of truck 3. carefully place coupler and spring in place and attach truck side frame securing it with countersink screw (each truck goes together with a screw on one end after being clipped on the other)

Motor, chassis and circuit board go together similar to all other Marklin z locomotives with one special note: the transmission gearing (there are two) need a little extra pushing into place, the bushings fit more snugly than with other locos, check to make sure all gears move freely with motor before attaching plastic insulator/circuit board frame, do not over tighten this part. Attach circuit board with care to avoid cracking it. At this point the brushes are installed, run a couple of leads to the brushes to double check motor moves freely when powered. Next attach trucks securing them in place with the 2 long retaining pins.

Marklin new 2016 Fall items in Z


Just announced in Marklin’s New Fall Items catalog are coaches, tank cars and a new class 110 loco. And a new Christmas car edition featuring the newly tooled type Eanos gondola. Furthering the heavy weathering releases of the past few years one of the new releases include type funnel-flow tank cars lettered variously for VTG, Wascosa, Ermewa, DHL, and GATX. From the release photos these cars look to be realistically weathered with the oily grime associated with frequently used petroleum tank cars. What’s next in the weathering department at Marklin? Perhaps the next release might be a loco? Also announced is an interesting set of passenger coaches that will be available individually each with its own item number. Featuring Eurofima cars from SNCF, DB and SBB this set is an MHI Release thus a “One Time Series”. Also the just announced MHI Release of a new class 110 electric loco with item number 88412. This class 110.3 loco is Era IV in cobalt blue paint scheme with “pants crease” streamlining on each cab end.

Here is the link to the new catalog:

Book Review: Buses, Trolleys & Trams

Buses, Trolleys & Trams thrived for a time in the 20th century throughout cities of the world, today buses are the main mode of transport alongside subway systems in certain cities and monorails too. At one time a rich variety of transport for the people could be seen traveling down the streets of any city each had their day, horse buses supplanted by steam trams supplanted by electric and petrol. By the end of World War II interurbans reached their end of life for many reasons: politics, auto ownership and road construction, and the high cost of maintaining infrastructure. All good things come to their end in the name of progress, but it is fun to think back on other days when very interesting vehicles transported people to work, shopping errands, sightseeing, and otherwise. Can we bring back some of this charm and excitement from yesteryear, at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine we can certainly try. Featuring the largest collection of trolleys and buses from around the world the Seashore Trolley Museum is also the oldest of its kind. A destination for some but for all others who visit the great state of Maine consider a stop here before heading up to Acadia National Park. Here you will see the only surviving “Liberty Bell Line” trolley from PA or a double decker trolley from Scotland. And you can ride the trolleys all day with the price of admission.

Buses, Trolleys & Trams, The Hamlyn Publishing Group LTD, 1967 is one of the very best anthologies on trolleys, trams and buses written with flair by Chas. S. Dunbar the book is supplemented by beautiful photos and illustrations. It is also an easy to locate book and attractively priced.


Book Review: Railway Magazine and Commercial Journals – 1839 +1840


Okay so this is cool! Forget about a book review, this is a post about something very special I was lucky enough to find. One day when I was visiting a town near Cooperstown, NY I stumbled onto a used bookstore, I love books, but I never expect to find anything of interest. The shop had a whole section on train books that surpassed any of my best expectations. The train books were concentrated on 19th century rail, and I came to understand that all came from the collection of a former superintendent of trains in that part of New York State; he obviously loved trains and was well suited to his job. The books that interested me the most were two copies of Railway Magazine and Commercial Journal from December 7, 1839 and January 11, 1840: “Published Weekly at Half-past Six on Saturday Morning, and Goes Post Free”. These magazines chart interesting details at the start of the railway boom in the 1840’s. Already in 1839 facts and details concerning rail traffic and construction of railroads are coming in. The Greenwich Railway was recording passenger traffic at roughly 3200 per day at the end of November in 1839 with the yearly average per month for 1839 being 3777 1/2, I hate to have been the 1/2 a person! Lists of patents including improvements to steam locomotives by John Bourne of Dublin. The Croydon Railway by 1839 had constructed 10 1/2 miles of track with daily passenger averages of 924. December 7, 1839 a Mr. Labouchere received a payment of 35,000 pounds to cover the inconvenience and annoyance of the Eastern Counties Railway crossing his estate. Further objections to the new rail sytem were those regarding fees. In one such article titled “Sad Effects of High Fares” the author is quoted as saying: “We have ever been advocates for moderate fares. The only advantage of railways is reasonable charges and rapidity of transit, and the only base upon which they can hope for success.” He goes onto complain about rail versus omnibuses: “The railway gives the public trouble of going to and from the stations at London-bridge and at Greenwich, while the omnibuses take them up and set them down at their own doors and almost wherever they please in London at the same price (as the railway).” Timetables are always fun to review thus those provided in the Railway Magazine provide interesting insights as to how long a rail trip took from a London departure to Birmingham arrival, in 1839 passengers departed London at 6 AM and arrived in Birmingham at 11:30 AM. I calculated a rough estimate of 126 miles between the two stations. Calculating stops in Watford, Tring, Leighton, Wolverton, Blisworth, Weedon, Rugby, Coventry, and Hampton with few minutes passed at each station (passenger coaches of this era featured doors directly to cabin sections thus trains stopped only briefly averaging less than a minute, this was not a time of indecision, you were expected to board promptly) I calculate the average rate of speed to be roughly 20-24 miles per hour double the speed of horse and carriage. An improvement yes and probably unnerving to travel at that speed considering most people had not traveled that fast before in carriages that bumped and tossed! How exciting to have experienced this for the first time.

FullSizeRender-4 FullSizeRender-2

Book Review: Riding the Bell


Okay so you think you have seen this book reviewed on this site before, and you are right! This book deserves a second nod because it covers some important local railroad history in my neck of the woods in Lehigh Valley, PA. And the author is a friend and passionate fan of trolleys, buses and the “Liberty Bell Limited” that served the three connecting cities of the Lehigh Valley, PA with runs to Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell was owned and operated by the Lehigh Valley Transit Company, it met the same fate that other trolley systems experienced namely the car in every driveway and our robust expansion of the highway system. The author Ron Ruddell spent 10 years patiently researching the material and writing a lively text that accompanies numerous photos and illustrations. Some densely populated cities in the United States have brought back the trolleys but here in Eastern Pennsylvania a trolley system that provided transport to rural and city dwellers is long gone, books like this help us preserve the history of the interurban rail systems in cities like our’s in the Lehigh Valley.

Book Review: Presentation Book for 2006


Here is a book that on the surface appears to be out of date, but collectors will find it a handy reference book for their collections. Produced for 2006 the Presentation Book for Z was included in a slipcase with presentation books for that year in Gauge 1 and HO. It is an excellent hardbound catalog with 176 pages. The mid 2000’s were big years for mini-club similar to today with all the cool new releases now and forthcoming. This catalog includes an accumulation of releases that occurred over several years thus giving it a broader appeal than the annual catalog. Dealers may still have copies available, but they may not list these on their websites so check directly with them before giving up. I highly recommend this book for collectors and expect to pay $15-$20 for a copy.

Book Review: Marklin Publication-Track Layout Book 0296


Printed in 2005 this invaluable guide to the mini-club system is long out of print, but it can still be had on Ebay, Amazon and Marklin dealers. Every piece of track and track accessory is pictured and described with English text included. Wiring signals so that they function prototypically is covered. Even the reverse loop is covered. But following the book’s title layout plans are included with complete lists for what is needed for construction of each plan. Big layouts include placement for extra feeder tracks to account for voltage drop. And the layout plans are all excellent with the most of amount of function and topography efficiently designed for maximum fun! And fun is what it’s all about when you get round to making a layout. Careful not to proceed to quickly making your layout, half the fun is making it! Please note: this is the most recent edition of this book, it was published earlier with the same track plans and bound with a plastic spiral binder.

Book Review: Model Railway Engines + World Locomotive Models


Small companies and individuals produced their own model trains some small and some big enough to ride. Those that operated in the 19th century even employed live steam. If you were a talented type of railroader interested in preserving history with a gift for machine craft you too might have produced one of these rare 19th century models we look at with amazement today in museums. The closest we might all get to these rare gems if not for a museum collection is through books. Two books that I like on this topic were published by an American and British firm, but both were printed in Great Britain with a particular slant toward British prototypes. Model Railway Engines covers working models, museum display models, small commercial models and large commercial models with photos of the famous Davy Paxman workshops of the 1920’s. World Locomotive Models overlaps somewhat with the other book in this post, but offers a broader scope with regards to scale model museum quality steam locomotives.

Model Railway Engines, Octopus Books Limited, 1973

World Locomotive Models, ARCO Publishing Company, Inc., 1973

Book Review: SJ 1856-1956 + SJ 125 AR


Few books are available on Sweden’s SJ Railway, but of those few two are exceptional: SJ 1856-1956 and SJ 125 AR. The 100 year anniversary of SJ is documented by lavish photogravure illustrations with a particular photographic styled referred to as ‘reportage’ thus the SJ Railway is celebrated as a national treasure that links the people and the country. A beautiful hardbound book that was originally delivered with a glassine dustjacket. The second book for this review is SJ 125 AR thus an updated anniversary publication for SJ at 125 years featuring an English text on the history of the SJ 1856-1981. Similar to the 100 year anniversary publication this one is entirely illustrated with color plates and gives a broader historical perspective for the Statens Jarnvagar Railway. Two great books on one great railway!

SJ 1856-1956, published by Nordisk Rotogravyr, Stockholm, 1956

SJ 125 AR, published by Jarnvagsmuseum, 1981

Book Review: Koll’s Spezial Katalog 1996 + 1997



Pubicity wagens and locos are a particular sub-group category of collecting Marklin Z. Rolling stock, locos, and trainsets produced by Marklin through private commission date to nearly the beginning of Z with examples starting in 1975. Limited to 100, 200, 300 or 500 publicity wagens were always and only available through specialty dealers with few residing in the USA. Before Ebay one had to rely on a good dealer source for collecting these rare items, but today they become available every once in awhile due to increased internet connectivity with dealers and collectors who have these for sale. In 1996 and 1997 Koll’s assembled two concurrent and unique catalogs which archived the publicity cars up to and including 1997, they assigned their own numbering system since none had been provided by Marklin. Koll’s numbers are five digits, the first two on the left refer to date produced (example: 87 is 1987 and 90 is 1990) and the three numbers on right refer to chronological sequence for that year, but chronological numbers jump broadly an example from 1990 are cars ‘005’ to ‘701’, I have no explanation for why the numbers jump in this way only to explain that they follow from less value to greater value suggesting an order of production. The Koll’s catalogs ordered up an archive at a time when Marklin was not thus collectors could now research this category of collecting. And it is a rich category of collecting with numerous company logos printed on the sides of standard Marklin design cars: 8600, 8612, 8615, 8626, 8661, 8656 and others. No other reference exists like the Koll’s catalogs for this timeframe which includes edition size and illustrations. Another useful archive for this category is the chronological sequence by Gilles Monk of Belgium thus a second numbering system exists called the Miba/Monk Liste, but the Koll’s catalogs are much easier to use for research up to and including the year 1997.

Siding: Marklin Special Imprint 8656 Swiss Hbis cars are only covered in the 1997 Koll’s Spezial Katalog.