Category Archives: Diesel Locomotives

Railex versus Z-Modellbau: Kof II showdown

Until Z-Modellbau took the challenge to manufacturer a Z Kof II with a Motor (!!!!) our choice was limited to mechanical rolling non-motorized Kof’s by Schmidt and Railex.

The Railex example here is cast brass (red paint scheme lettered for DB with open cab and black running boards) with fine detailing inside the cab, it was a very good example of a Kof II that Railex produced along with variations of this type.

Headlamps are non-working in both locomotives but Z-Modellbau rendered them white in perfect circles versus Railex which are hand-painted silver.

What to do with a non-working model train: use it of course! Before brushless motors manufacturers of Z gauge had certain limitations placed on their ambitions. Z gauge is already small in size so therefore modeling the smallest prototypes yield problem after problem including where to put a motor and gears. The solution with their larger steam locos and tenders was locating the drive mechanism within a passenger or freight car hence they were called “ghost cars” because they became hidden locomotives, but they allowed the locomotive to pull cars so to speak figuratively not literally. I collect Railex, they are beautiful and fun to behold. As for ghost cars I have never owned one, I understand they can be temperamental and many I see for sale are offered “not working”. Ghost cars can be built by industrious engineers with a clever creative side which describes most of us Z-scalers, if you choose the to take the challenge the rewards are big and stalled trains from 19th century Germany may come to life on your railway line.

Photo: no couplers on Railex, Z-Modellbau uses Marklin compatible couplers of their own design that unobtrusive in this small loco

Now the time is ripe for ambitious manufacturers to create smaller locos in Z that function, today brushless motors from Switzerland are available in a variety of small sizes so releasing new locos with this motor should be easy? Wrong. From idea to final market ready model is a design and manufacturing “Matterhorn” so to speak. Having the idea is the first step followed by researching the prototype’s blueprints, putting into scale, designing the parts and assembly. Every step is time consuming and difficult with a fair share of creative thinking, ingenuous problem solving and sheer expertise in tooling and production. The latter always flabbergasts me, how can anyone be gifted with such abilities that tiny tiny tiny details appear in such small locos at the same time concealing their build.

With the Railex Kof which is cast with add-on parts in cast brass the model is beautiful with a securing plate screwed to the undercarriage that simply holds the wheel-sets on: simple and beautifully designed. This example does not have couplers thus making it a stand alone model train.

Photo: Railex Koff hauling livestock boxcar both lettered for DB

The Z-Modellbau Kof II for NSB has an enclosed cab with glazed windows and their own unique design for a Marklin compatible coupler. A 10 volt coreless motor runs the show including gearing that allow smooth acceleration and deceleration but without working headlamps. Headlamps are beautifully modeled as if lit. Locomotive is weighted and balanced due to its metal nature throughout so pulling power is very good.

Photo: Railex Kof II is true to prototypical scale giving the boxcars the impression of great size

Small locomotives serve very important functions including shunting and branchline while others not covered here serve MOW (Maintenance of Way) service, they (speeders) are still smaller than the kofs  with one purpose: track inspection.

Siding: seen here are the two livestock boxcars comprising the Marklin 2 car freight set: 86602. For the first time this car type features interior detailing in the form of gates, it also includes laser cut build kit for loading ramp and movable fence sections.

Z-Modellbau: NSB shunting locomotive

Well covered in other scales is the small shunting locomotive types, Marklin has yet to release a motorized/non-mortorized version of the the Kof, but with new advancements in brushless motors perhaps they will in the future.

Z-Modellbau like other small precision ‘Z’ manufacturers offers locos and rolling stock Marklin does not.

Engineering masterpieces of the smallest size Z-Modellbau has lead the field in releasing not just Kof locomotives but also railbuses and steam locos.

Years ago Railex and Schmidt were the first to release non motorized Kof’s, but Z-Modellbau is the first and only to offer motorized versions.

Impossibly small size without limitations on operating characteristics these are precision locomotives with brass gearing and 10V motors.

The manufacturer cautions taking these apart, but they also explain they are maintenance free so no oiling just cleaning the wheels and track is sufficient to keep things working well.

Aesthetically these have a 5 star “WOW” factor, they are beautiful to behold with separately applied nickel handrails and brake hoses plus crisp lettering and flawless paint. This loco has window glazing too!

Description of the model: painted and lettered for NSB (Norwegian State Railway) class Skd211 (Kof II). Enclosed cab with non working headlamps. Maintenance free brushless 10V motor. Marklin compatible couplers of unique design. Z-Modellbau article #3113.

Perfect Partners: Archistories, FR, Z-Modellbau

Three manufacturers from Germany are probably the best small manufacturers in Z gauge today, each complementing one another with prototypical accuracy, precision engineering and design plus high quality material build. Each has their niche filling in where Marklin has not including early Prussian building kits, Scandanavian locos and rolling stock plus small locomotive classes untouched by any other manufacturer of Z.

The smallest operating locomotive in Z is represented in the offerings of Z-Modellbau, here is a Kof II painted and lettered for the NSB Railway coupled to FR Freudenreich’s container car for the SJ.

Far smaller in length than a single container car this locomotive features a brushless motor and brass gearing with metal shell.

In another photo a Prussian car-shop is juxtaposed alongside the tiny Kof II locomotive classified Skd211 for the NSB.

Siding: Kof style locomotives are essential for shunting and regional service with simplified operating procedures, a no nonsense locomotive with many useful duties. I plan to operate this one along a pier for shunting harbor freight.

quality-toys-trains on Ebay is the only USA dealer for FR and Z-Modellbau, Andreas is a trusted seller of rare Z!!!

VT 11.5 TEE Railcar: Improving Performance

Improving performance can be a bit of a misnomer when the talk circles around modifying a Marklin Z loco or other article in the mini-club line-up. Upgrading 3 pole motors to 5 pole motors is a significant boost to performance, but other improvements may deserve further research and discussion with other railroaders and their experiences.

One improvement I have heard about for many years is actually one I heartily suggest, Glenn and Sandy Stiska of Florida rewired several sets for me in the late 1990’s with this same repair. The modification I am talking about is the addition of two wires to each powered end unit of the VT 11.5 (8873) and the 2 ICE trains including the special release “Amtrak.” For many years this modification has been used with multi-train sets with more than one powered unit. Wired in parallel these early sets were poor runners because they relied on something close to perfection, if the electrical chain was broken between head loco, coaches and end unit the train would not go.

The 8873 used an early conductive coupling which connected the coaches to the powered end units that has since been redesigned: all railcars now use a new flat conductive coupling versus the early spring copper one.

photo: 8873 powered end unit with first generation coupler on left and 88731 Max Liebermann with next generation coupler on right

The original wiring included a pair of diodes for each circuit board which dropped the voltage to each powered car and only allowed each powered unit to go in one direction a contributing factor for stalling the train and/or flickering coach lights if power was interrupted which it readily did. The solution is to bypass the diodes by soldering a wire around each diode thus making it possible for each powered end unit to go in both directions.

A fine point soldering iron is recommended for the repair and just enough wire because too much would interfere with installing the shell.

Try this repair if you have a set of this type that does not run well, the results will blow you away!

Six versions have thus far been released with the last being the “Blue Star Train” with its very striking paint scheme.

Siding: removing the shell of the 8873 is accomplished by removing coupler if it is present and carefully inserting a small screwdriver in the coupler box, if the shell does not easily pop up it maybe stuck to chassis due to hardened oil which will require finessing to unseat it from the chassis, removing the shell from all other VT 11.5’s will require lifting the front of the shell and wriggling it around the permanent coupler. Caution: do not pull on a permanent coupler, it is not removable unless circuit board is removed first.

 

 

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!

BANVERKET Snowplow Locomotive

FR Freudenreich released two SJ snowplow locomotives last year that quickly sold out, they were only available to customers who pre-ordered the locomotives. A build kit including the motor is currently available for expert modelers skilled with soldering and painting small intricate parts. NOHAB the company familiar to many railroaders built the 20 Tc’s ordered by SJ in 1970 they are represented by FR as item 46.135.11 (top) and 46.135.21 (bottom) lettered for BANVERKET:

BANVERKET the government entity responsible for SJ’s railroad and infrastructure existed between the years 1988-2010, its lettering and paint scheme is the inspiration for this SJ locomotive (FR 46.135.21).

Featuring all metal construction this locomotive type includes 4 snow plows, it falls under the designation ‘MOW’ (Maintenance of Way) due to its snow clearing specialization, but it was originally used as a 4 season specialty loco, following winter months it was used for regional freight service under the class designation: Tc DLL.

Later in its history the original TC DLL was repainted and lettered for BANVERKET (1988-2010) as DLL 3124C for their MOW service for SJ.

 

Z Club 92: MWB trainset

In 1992 a very interesting collectors group was formed in Italy to promote ‘Z’ gauge railroading: Z Club 92, it later expanded to worldwide membership and featured an annual car for members. These annual offerings included some interesting freight cars that are available on the secondary market, produced in limited numbers these cars have become true collectors’ items.

To mark Z Club 92’s 10th anniversary a club train was announced in 2002, and the first annual car was released and lettered for the firm MWB Mittelweserbahn GmbH which was founded in 1998 as a rail transport company (Bruchhausen-Vilsen) and later (2013) merged with Elbe-Weser (EVB). The first car released was a low sided flat car with yellow and blue paint scheme which would be the basis for future releases.

In 2004 the release of a former V60 diesel locomotive included shell only, it was delivered in the standard printed Marklin Z carton.

Nine cars and a loco comprise the complete Z Club 92 club train lettered for MWB with the final release in 2008 of a passenger coach.

DR Class 01 Steam Locomotive

The Class 01 Express Steam Locomotive awaits passengers one morning in the summer of 1968. The older design baggage car and “Thunderbox” coaches were still used at this time by the DR at reduced speeds, the 01 was capable of 80mph, this photograph carries an inscription that the locomotive operated at 60 km/hr (37mph) in the Hornbach region. This Ostdeutschland BR 01 is operating accordingly in East Germany, the photograph’s inscription records the location as Hornbach. Operating number plaque indicates this locomotive to be 01 527, it varies in appearance to the DB class 01’s with the appearance of a continuous cover for the dome which gives evidence that this was one of 35 locomotives rebuilt in 1962 by the Reichsbahn Repair shop in Meiningen, the rebuild included Witte smoke deflectors, new cab and boiler positioned higher on the frame of the locomotive. My research does not verify the disposition of this locomotive so presumably it was scrapped, but the class 01’s operated for the DR until 1982, their service displaced with the advent of the diesel ‘Ludmilla’ introduced in the 1970’s. Marklin has not produced the DR version of the class 01 in Z, but maybe it will be a further development of those so far offered for DB: 88010 (Insider) and 88011, we will wait to see if it is included in the ambitious plans at Marklin.

Siding: The Soviet built ‘Ludmilla’ diesel locomotive was introduced to the DR in the 1970’s thus eventually ending the long career of the class 01 locomotives. Marklin’s last version of the Ludmilla in Z was 88134 based on the class 132 prototype from 1982.

Marklin 88134

Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik (FR) : SJ Tc307

tc307_1

Harald Thom-Freudenreich just released a z gauge 2 axle loco with new tooling and design of a unique Scandinavian diesel-hydraulic snowplow: Tc307 for SJ Railways.

tc307_5

Built by NOHAB from 1969-1971 there were a total of 20 Serie Tc locomotives lettered for SJ bearing this paint scheme. In 1988 SJ’s Tc locomotives were transferred to Banverket and thus repainted and lettered for Banverket: yellow car body with white roof. A specialty locomotive for clearing the ever present snowfall in Sweden during winter it doubles as a general purpose loco in months without snow whose duties include maintenance of way and regional freight service.

tc307_6 tc307_4tc307_3

The model features superb detail and coreless motor, but due to its unique design lights were not possible.

tc307_2tc307_8

Sharing the rails with the Tc307 is the FR SJ Rc2 1103 which is comparatively larger than the Tc307.

tc307_9

Released this month FR’s 46.135.11 will be available in the future as kit form only for advanced modelers who have attained a high level of soldering and air brushing skills.

tc307_7

FR website: www.fr-model.homepage.t-online.de/