Category Archives: Collecting

SBB CFF FFS class Ce 6/8 III: Marklin’s new release 88563!

The iconic articulated Swiss loco “Krokodil” has long been associated with Marklin in all their scale models, but the new 88563 is a further development of this Era II loco in technological terms for ‘Z’ collectors following numerous releases of this loco in special editions and other variants since the first 8856 (green paint scheme) serie Be 6/8 in 1979 and the 8852 (brown paint scheme) serie Ce 6/8 in 1983.

For the first time changeover headlamps/trailing lamp in LED. Plus partially new tooling including the incorporation of catenary switch below the hood as it were and the removal of the roof top screw formally used to switch power on the circuit board from track to catenary. Removing the catenary screw from electric locos has been a continuing design function of the new locos just as improved running gear and side rods on the steam engines, it is a good time to get into the Marklin mini-club hobby!

Photo: 88563 (top chassis and bottom hood) and 8856.4 (green loco chassis and its hood showing hole through roof to support catenary screw)

A brief look under the hood between the new release and an older 8856 variant is a new circuit board supporting wires for the LED changeover lights thereby obscuring the motor, as can be seen in the photo the circuit board is solid and does not support engagement with brushes, this new motor is identified on the parts sheet as E279 138. Is this a new generation motor? A quick google search revealed nothing!?! When I have more time I will be taking this one apart and reporting what I find! Note: runs great out of the box!

Photo: Marklin 88563 (top) and 8856.4 (version 4: 2009-2010)

Note: switching to catenary power is achieved by carefully pushing the slider switch on the circuit board, in earlier versions this switch was a slotted head that extended through the roof of electric locos.

Follow-up: The new 88563 reveals a new generation motor! I couldn’t wait to find the time to conveniently take apart 88563 to reveal its workings so first thing this morning I opened it up. On first inspection of the circuit board I missed noticing the black and tan leads soldered to the circuit board which descend through holes in the board to the motor, which sits in a newly designed chassis. As with all 8856 variants the articulated locomotive design is comprised of three parts including mid section containing motor with two worm drives and front and rear driving wheel sets, in this new locomotive the mid section chassis is newly designed and dispenses with circuit board clips as well as any visual access to the motor. The circuit board is further redesigned in function but also appearance with two retaining screws and a much thinner board.

Future repair: Any future repairs to this locomotive will be difficult for any but the more advanced modeler. Due to its thin construction the circuit board will be prone to cracking and replacing the motor will be a skilled operation requiring un-soldering of points on the circuit board. How often are future repairs expected on Marklin Z in general? ZERO in my experience except for the cleaning of gears and motor upgrades of the traditional 3 pole/ 5 pole variety.

Closing: Thru advancements in technology and detailing closer to the prototype Marklin is producing some truly outstanding trains, but more intricate parts and complex wiring schemes could be seen as challenges to overcome on the workbench.

Siding: If you have an SBB Krokodil that runs rough perhaps after cleaning and reassembling it maybe due to the front and back side rods being out of alignment. If the loco runs well in one direction but rough in the other reassemble side rods so they are high on one end and low on the other.

 

Blast from the Past: Marklin 88035 “Bumble Bee”

If you are an American railroader the “Bumble Bee” loco may already be in your collection, it has been released in many versions and many scales by numerous manufacturers. In 2004 Marklin released their “Bumble Bee” loco and tender for the mini-club line-up, it was cast in brass with metal tender. This “One Time Series” featured fine detailing and add-on parts with non working headlamp.

Founded in 1870 the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) was originally a narrow gauge railway who’s motto was “Through the mountains, not around them.” The history of this railroad spans more than a hundred years from its founding as a coal and mineral narrow gauge mountain railway, in 1988 it merged with the Southern Pacific.

The Louisiana & Nashville Railroad built the first 2-6-0 locomotive of this type in 1864, it was a record setter due to it being the largest locomotive in America at that time. The Marklin 88035 could be said to be modeled on a later version with independent front bogie. Service span for this locomotive type was 1860-1910. Operating number for the Marklin “Bumble Bee” is 136. Baldwin Locomotive Works built the narrow gauge 2-6-0 locomotive for D&RGW 1881-1902.

Note to collectors: Marklin’s 88035 is sought after by Z gaugers but also N scalers due to its slightly larger size. 88035 is the first and only mini-club locomotive modeled slightly bigger than scale. Produced as a One Time Series in 2004 it quickly sold out, today it is high on the list of sought after secondary market locomotives. Pricing for this loco range from $500-$1000 (new/mint), but before you buy consider condition as a big part of the price, average used ones in working condition and 80% cosmetic condition should be in the $250-$350 range. Very careful buying trains online without seeing them in person unless you are dealing with a reliable seller or store. Reynauld’s in IL,  ZTrackResale and Z Scale Hobo are recommended sources for secondary market.

Note: to go with this fine loco is the 4 car coach set lettered for D&RGW: Marklin 87910.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Siding: The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA owns a Baldwin 2-6-0 locomotive for their collection. One of the finest collections of American railroad equipment can be found in this museum: http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/

Marklin Z: One of the Last Great Collectibles!

Photo: Insider Model 2012: 88010 – BR 001 for DB (no longer available)

Are we collecting or are we acquiring: that is the question. When Marklin Z comes into a collection a bit of railroad history is preserved and a commitment is made by this generation to future generations that hold that Marklin’s history and the greater history of railroading is worth preserving.

Photo: Special Imprint (SMI) 88820: “Swiss Cheese” class Am 4/4 pictured with type Hbis freight car also featuring “Swiss Cheese” paint scheme. (no longer available)

Marklin Z gauge is one of the last great collectibles, it will persevere well into the future, and what has been released thus far since 1972 are limited and rare. Rarity is well liked by collectors of all types, but collecting Marklin mini-club (Z) is truly unique from all other collectibles due to their leadership and innovation in z gauge. There are other companies some small and some large producing z gauge products but Marklin is linked to z gauge by the very fact they invented it in 1972, they continue that history today with innovations including true catenary operation through roof equipped pantographs on their electric locos, realistic working side rods on the steam engines, and numerous diesel loco types including the Russian Ludmillas.

Photo: Export Model for France 2003: 88063 – Reihe 232 TC (no longer available)

Many collected “toys” (only time this word will be used on this blog because railroading is serious business! I’m kidding its loads of fun too!!!) these days are secondary market items from long defunct and beloved companies such as Buddy L from the 20’s. It is exciting to dig around a find some rare item that has not been made for 80-100 years or more, but with Marklin anyone can jump in and start collecting from a company in business since 1859. Buy a mini-club loco today and within a year or two or even a few months it will be out of production and already a collectible. Keeping the condition of your new train pristine is part and parcel to collecting anything, but with Marklin this extends to keeping the box in good condition. Want to run a train on a layout simply select the railroad you want to model and keep the other fine locos and rolling stock on display, displaying is just as much fun as driving those trains.

Photo: Marklin Magazin Edition 88953: BR 74 with lettering and Prussian Blue paint scheme for Marklin Magazin (still in production). Note: 1st locomotive release for the “Marklin Magazin” editions.

For collectors Marklin Z new releases are limited and rare falling into several categories: MHI Releases, Special Imprinted Editions, Export Models, Insider Models, Museum Editions, Marklin Magazine Editions, and general releases. Marklin Handlers Initiative includes releases only available to dealers that subscribe to the MHI program, this subscription includes ordering everything Marklin releases, MHI’s are One Time Series. Export Models are limited to distribution in the given country the release represents thus Swiss Export Models are distributed to Swiss dealers in a One Time Series. Insider Models are available only to Insider Members who maintain year long membership in the insider Club for about $100/ year with many benefits. Museum Editions are car sets inspired by companies with ties to Goppingen, Germany the home of Marklin’s headquarters. Usually housed in a specially printed tin box museum editions include a freight car and sometimes a cast metal truck or van. Marklin Magazin Editions are distributed in the United States by Walthers, these One Time Series freight cars usually depict a new car type, they are always painted Prussian Blue with Marklin Magazin insignia, and sometimes the car designs are inspired by the magazine’s printing production including one car that included a load of reams of printing paper. General Releases are those cars and locos that are announced by Marklin and commonly distributed throughout the world, but aside from the perception of wide distribution these items are still very limited and rare with popular releases selling out fast. Of the categories so described Special Imprints and Export Models are the most difficult to collect with secondary market dealers being the only source for these with the exception of direct purchase from German dealers including those with listings on Ebay.

Photo: Marklin MHI release (2016) 88216: BR 212 (diesel) for DB AG (out of production: still available)

Photo: Marklin regular release (2013) 88998: BR 38 Era III (former Prussian P8) passenger loco with tub style tender (no longer available). Note: BR 38’s have been in the Marklin mini-club program for years including trainsets, but the 88998 was the first generation of this loco type with highly detailed side rods and running equipment. This is one of favorite mini-club locos, it is a real pleasure to watch pulling Prussian coaches its action on the rails is melodic.

Part of the fun of collecting Marklin Z is rarity, this singular aspect of this hobby is underscored by small productions of one time series in multiple categories: Marklin Z the readymade collectible!

 

Trains are Trains – Marklin Models of Trains are something different and greatly so!

Marklin 88855: BR 03 Express Locomotive of the DB

A subtle thought occurred to me the other day, I was thinking about my last post on Scandinavian snowplow locos of the SJ in Sweden while having a brief moment of reflection during work as a photographer of architecture and interior design. My Wife and I work together so moments of repose sometimes happen during brief interludes moving equipment from the shot just taken to the next.

Marklin 88063: Serie 232 TC of the SNCF

I am very impressed with the offerings of Marklin and their z gauge line in the last five years, the following is a brief post and interlude in the normal technical and historical postings thus far presented at ZTrainsWeekly. This post is dedicated to the type of collector I have met on many occasions hanging out in train stores across the country, train meets and clubs, those that have taken on collecting expensive tiny trains because holding them in their hands and marveling at their striking detail and charm make them happy.

Marklin 88833: Serie 150 Y of the SNCF

So what does a Z gauge railroad loco or rolling stock have in common with the prototype railroad equipment of a particular railroad. First they are in a scale of 1:220 so every 1 inch translates to 220 inches in prototypical scale thus accurately reduced by Marklin in length, height and width dimensions. Graphics and lettering are correctly rendered by Marklin fitting accurately in historic timeframe. Detailing of trucks and equipment appear to show few differences with the prototype. Working headlamps and running lights are sometimes designed into the model and for some vary little with the prototype. But if we start with the prototype and compare it to the Z railroad model of Marklin few similarities can exist including actual equipment operation those being sanders, air brakes, working engines and the like. I hope I haven’t lost the interest of my readers, I am close to making this posting worth while if you have been queried by those that have yet to be bitten by the railroading hobby.

Marklin 88134: BR 132 of the DR

The model can only be a version of the prototype, but an impression of the prototype is far better than real diesel model locos running on diesel fuel throughout your house killing your houseplants and annoying your wife or steam and arcing electric ones. The comparison between the prototype and the model resides in the idea that the prototype surfaces on the rails in front of us and embodies history, design and awe whereas the model railroad elicits its connection to the prototype but also triggers our imagination thus connecting us to the models in serious and creative ways. All model railroad collectors are connected in this way, we can study the history of the prototype and marvel at its representation as a model as something else thus collecting the miniature is our railroading connection not limited but expansive.

Marklin 88106: BR 05 of the DRG and Marklin 88075: Class J-2 of NYC

Models of trains and their prototypes were built side by side since railroads began in the 19th century, Marklin was the first to successfully manufacturer commercially available miniature trains. Cheers to Marklin and another 158 years of outstanding trains!

DB BR 44 Steam Locomotive: 044 665-8

After WW II the DB acquired 1242 class 44 steam locomotives of a total 1989 locomotives produced from 1926-1949. The attached photographs document the original DRG Class 44’s, a variant was produced for this class during the war, the class 44UK construction was limited and simplified and included but was not limited to the eliminating the smoke deflectors and cab side windows of the original class 44 as a matter of cutting costs. Latter in the 1950’s OBB gave the DB 9 locomotives and the DB gave SNCF 291 for war reparations. According to my calculations a total of 316 were scrapped or destroyed at war’s end. Originally designed for goods trains of 1200 long tons for the hilly Mittelgebirge region. In the late 50’s the DB converted 32 44’s to oil firing, these variants were reclassified as BR 043 for the DB. The class 44 3 cylinder steam locomotive proved its worth and continued in service with the DB until 1977. On October 26, 1977 the last steam locomotive for the DB made its last run: BR 043 903-4.

The operating number proceeded by ‘0’ indicates this photograph was made “on or after” Germany’s reclassification of locomotives in 1968. According to the documentation that came with these photographs this BR 044 665-8 was working on this day in Crailsheim, Baden-Wurttemberg.

Marklin 88973 with operating number 44 1374 (released 2012 – 2014):

Note: buffers painted with warning stripes!

Siding: Marklin has thus far released three Era III BR 44’s: 88971 (operating number 44 494), 88972 (MHI Release with operating number 44 100), and 88973 (operating number 44 1374).

Siding: many excellent Era III freight loads are available for this locomotive including the GI 11 boxcars depicted in these photographs. Marklin’s recent release of weathered GI 11’s can be found in the 10 car set (available individually from Walthers): 82559_1-10. These cars feature beautiful weathering!

Marklin 82559

 

An Introduction to Marklin Z American prototypes and rare small batch imprints

Marklin has brought to life American railroading prototypes in small measure if one compares the total entries of European ones: lot’s of F7’s, Mikado’s and GG1’s along with respective rolling stock. The eras portrayed are mid century primarily with a few earlier exceptions. Micro Trains is stronger in the field of American prototypes with their exhaustive survey of various rolling stock each boxed with a well researched and charted description. American prototypes are not a strong category for Marklin Z, but when they release something new like the GG1 it is a superlative example. And the F7 sets or individual ‘A’ units are widely collected in their infinite variety. But one type of a rolling stock example in each category makes life a bit challenging if you collect exclusively Marklin, and you are serious about railroading. Some collectors have opted for trading out couplers so MicroTrains rolling stock and locos can be used with Marklin and vice versa. It is a good trade off, but those of us lucky enough to own the Commodore Vanderbilt are still stuck without a coach set. Other manufacturers are on the scene producing high quality models including but not limited to AZL, and their current collaboration with Marklin  in the production of three variations of the E8 maybe the first of more collaborations, who knows?

If you are a tried and true collector of Marklin Z American models like me you may already know about the small batch special imprint rolling stock. In coming months I will be including examples of these rare offerings that little information has thus far been known. Hopefully with the help of others in this field of collecting I can shed more light on this topic until then stay tuned and happy railroading!

To Ebay or Not to Ebay? That is the question!

This has happened to us all, we miss out on a Marklin release perhaps due to life’s many complications and distractions. Now the item is “sold out at the factory” and no longer available. For those who see gaps in their collections they would like to fill there is the secondary market, but first check out all the dealers that are on your radar, they may have that train you want behind the counter thus “dealer old stock” can still be found and had.

A few online auctions sites exist online including the site we all know that goes by the name ‘Ebay”. I was inspired to add a post because it occurred to me that much has been addressed by Ebay to curb unhappy buying experiences, but listings for Marklin ‘Z’ that don’t seem to me to be good deals linger. We as buyers need to apply common sense when reviewing items from afar having to base buying decisions on a written description and photos. Here are a couple of pointers based on my experience:

  1. If the seller tells you more about the box than the contents something might be wrong with the loco or train. One recent example was a trainset, the seller went into elaborate detail about the box (whole paragraph) and the only statement about the trainset was that it was ‘fine’ even after asking for specifics. And the single photo did not help either.
  2. ‘New’ is a catch all describing the best possible condition but sometimes it is mixed in with descriptions with phrases like “it appears to be in unused condition.” People who get caught up in the new condition box being checked and not read the text might be in for disappointment.
  3. Closely examine exploded views of photos as part of the description, I have looked at auctions that list an item as ‘new’, but the large viewing photos show 3 years of dust and maybe broken parts. Carefully examine those photos for what they really tell you.
  4. One blurry photo, single word description and ‘no return policy’ these are the auctions to stay away from.
  5. Sometimes a well informed buyer is looking at auctions listed by a misinformed seller. There are a lot of these on Ebay, through no fault of their own sellers maybe selling the collection of a relative or a lot they acquired from who knows where. Marklin knowledge takes years to acquire and bidding on auctions may require applying your experise.
  6. The best buys come from trusted sources that are dealers with Marklin knowledge who base their living on selling Marklin. The worst deals are sometimes sellers who have 10-30 Marklin items who move onto the next thing after selling those. And who you may never buy from again because who needs another tube sock or funny hat. Disclaimer: the latter might yield a really good deal for those with Marklin knowledge. Work out at the gym and hone your Marklin knowledge in your spare time!! Life without risk can be boring!
  7. Lots of photos are better than lots of text! A listing can include up to 12 so carefully look at them all for what they show versus what you want them to show.

Cautionary tale: just as I am writing this post in comes my Wife with a box containing the complete Marklin z Amtrak coach set: 8760- 8765. I bought this from a trusted dealer, and they described them as ‘new’, but what I received are boxes with magic marker writing and coaches with various defects: 1 with a broken truck and 2 missing 3 wheelsets and others with marked roofs! So this nonsense came happen to us all including myself who is trying to help and advised others about buying on Ebay:(

Special note: Ebay offers a “Money Back Guarantee” to protect buyers even for auctions without a return policy, you will have to expend time and energy but you will be protected up to certain limits.