Category Archives: DRG

Under the Hood: Marklin Z Rotary Snowplow

A brief look under the hood of Marklin’s “Rotary Snowplow” in z scale reveals engineering that is both functional and well conceived.

Two worm gears meet up at 90 degrees to turn the cutting wheel that is powered by the 5 pole motor. A heavy metal frame is the foundation for the motor which receives its power directly from the rails without the need of a circuit board, the motor leads are soldered to wires leading to trucks: one wire to each truck soldered to a power pick-ups in the form of spring copper. A unique solution that I haven’t seen in any other mini-club train except for the 3 Rotary Snowplow sets. The overall weight of the snowplow is equal to a locomotive thereby giving it good traction.

To access the interior of the snowplow simply lift off shell, it slides on snugly without clips, I recommend working front and back gently until it lifts off thus allowing the brushes to be replaced: part number 89891.

More than 8 1/2 inches in length the mini-club Rotary Snowplow is an impressive machine.

Take a look at part two of the post featuring customization of the loco and repair notes.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Marklin 81001: “Leig-Einheit” Train Set

If you happen to own the Z Collection Book from 2015 you may notice this train set cataloged as DB, it is actually an Era II DRG train set. I have poured over this book which is a useful aid in researching Marklin Z and this is the first typo I have noticed.

Produced in 2011 – 2013 this train set included two pairs of GII “Leig-Einhart” Dresden box cars permanently coupled together. Coupled to a class 86 tank locomotive this lightweight train as it is referred formed a goods train in Era II, its development followed the need to procure lightweight trains for fast freight service with speed approved to 100 km/hour. This trainset would last until 1978.

The locomotive at the head of this train is the BR 86 tank locomotive as can be seen in the photos the tanks run either side of the boiler, this design cleverly allowed for some preheating of the water tank at the same time adding stability to the locomotive operation, its limitation was only the amount of coal it could carry.

Fifteen years of production starting in 1928 yielded 775 total units for regional and branch line service. One of Germany’s longest serving steam locos the class 86 served variously throughout Germany for 60 years.

Marklin’s 81001 BR 86 locomotive is painted and lettered for Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG), it features a 5 pole motor with 4 pairs of driving wheels and cast metal body with many detail features.

The 81001 train set is sold out at the factory but a recent search shows these to be available through various dealers.

Good luck and have fun!

Siding: an excellent resource for regular production Marklin Z is the 800 page catalog Collection Marklin Z, published by modellplan GbR, 2015. Its author Thomas Zeeb has provided the “go to guide” for collectors of Marklin Z. This number one source was included with the release of the 2015 Toy Fair loco: BR 111 with experimental paint scheme. The book and the loco were delivered in an attractive black box illustrated with its contents. Marklin item number for the set is 88422.

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 39 Steam Locomotive in its year of retirement: 1967

BR 39 for the DB sits idling along the tracks in Esslingen, Germany, it appears to be in very good condition following many years of service owing to excellent maintenance. This locomotive started out as a Prussian P10 of the “Mikado” type 2-8-2 for passenger service. A total of 260 locomotives were built in the years 1922-1927. Built by Borsig the P10 was designed with the squared off Belpaire firebox. Following the merger of the state railroads with Deutsche Reichsbahn the P10 was reclassified as DRG 39. Eventually the DB operated the class 39 who fitted it with Witte smoke deflectors and pairing it with T 34 tenders. By 1967 the DB had 3 BR 39’s in service which were stationed in Stuttgart, in this year “The Star of the Rails” was retired from service.

Marklin 88090 DRG’s BR 39

Marklin 88091(Insider) KPEV BR P10

Marklin 88092 DB’s BR 39

Marklin 88093 KPEV BR P10

Marklin 81362 DB BR 39

Photographic Gray Paint Scheme and Mini-Club

Marklin 88091

We are probably all familiar with builders’ photographs of steam engines depicted in black and white photographs and some of us may have had the rare opportunity to buy one. Usually large and well produced photographs depicting a recently built locomotive captioned with all the technical specs and dates of production accompanying such photographs. The commissioned photographers were charged with producing a record in crisp detail for the builders’ record as well as publicize locomotives built in their shops. Although the age of steam has passed these photographs help us understand and research the locomotives that were built a 100 years ago, and the incredible achievements and innovations that were made. The photographic record is just part of the research tools available to manufacturers of model trains, but Marklin has treated this part of railroading history as an integral part of Mini-Club’s offerings including locomotive prototypes modeled in “Photo Gray” as they would have been seen for the first time.

Marklin 88981

Photo gray or works gray is a particularly interesting paint scheme, it seems to coincide with the middle gray zone between highlight and shadow referred in photographic literature as 18% reflectance of the visible world. This being a speculation of mine, my research does not point to an exact paint formula that measures its reflectance, but I would place the reflectance of locomotive photo gray roughly as middle gray if one starts with black on one side and white on the other. Why is this important? It was important from the standpoint of recording as much detail as possible through reduced tones within the range of “low contrast” without dark and light tones. Lighting is also a factor with this discussion, and the photographer’s choice between overcast skies or sunny days would have been overcast skies thereby keeping the tonality of these photographs on the flat contrast range. Isolating the locomotive in the composition was also a consideration with few seen near train sheds and yards, manipulating the photographic negative could have achieved this effect as well. For a follow-up post I will be recreating builders’ photographs of two mini-club class 52 locomotives, one with photo gray paint scheme and the other painted black. Photo ready locomtives were not dressed in photo gray paint scheme for long, after the photographs were made they were painted in most cases in engine black which was chosen to minimize the appearance and dirt and grime thereby making the photo gray paint scheme a primer coat for the eventual top coat.

Marklin Z steam locomotives in photo gray: 88040 (“Franco Crosti”) – BR 42.90 DB Insider 2003, 88091 – BR P 10 KPEV Insider 2003, 88832 – BR 52 DRG Insider 1997, 88836 – BR 52 DRG, 88841 – BR 50 DRG, 88981 – class G 8.1 KPEV MHI Insider 1998.

Created for photographs, the photo gray paint scheme adorned the first examples of prototypes with some offered in mini-club.

Repair Notes: mallet locos 88290-88294

A very interesting Marklin Z loco of the ‘mallet’ type was introduced in 2004 as Insider Model 88290.

The class 96 loco has been released in 5 versions to this point in time, but Marklin did not limit the release of a ‘mallet’ type loco to this class, they also introduced the class 53 in 2007 as Insider Model 88053.

What characterizes a mallet locomotive is first an articulated frame along with two independent wheel sets. Invented by the Swiss engineer Anatole Mallet this type of locomotive was highly successful in mountain railways, and in the United States this loco type was used in coal trains. The articulated frame allowed for negotiating sharp turns while high and low pressure steam powered two sets of driving wheels. The front set of driving wheels form the ‘Bissell’ truck which received low pressure steam through a receiver after high pressure steam powered the second set of driving wheels first. Variations between European and American ‘mallet’ locos follow the basic design principle, but each varies by other factors including length and power. Marklin’s two mallet designs represent very large and powerful locos one of which never existed beyond blueprints as is the case with versions of the class 53: 88053, 88054, and 88055 (pictured).

To repair the mallet locos of class 96 some patience and practical experience in the repair of mini-club steam locos is required. Marklin Z steam locos have one set of driving wheels, the mallets have two sets and therefore one must treat each as independent by repairing one at a time. These are complicated locos, but they are so well designed that taking one apart and reassembling is relatively easy for those with some experience repairing locos with side rods. Note: wheels must be correctly orientated to allow free movement of side rods, side rods bow out when wheel sets are improperly installed in all locos with side rods.

This post came about rather by accident, I recently purchased an 88291 thereby completing my collection of this type loco, but it arrived with hardened oil syndrome which can be expected with dealer old stock. Tell tale signs of hardened oil syndrome are lights that work without a hum of motor or movement of wheels. The oil Marklin uses will harden over time which is compounded by improper storage. Hardened oil gums up the gears not allowing them to move, it looks like a crust, but it can also be sticky to the touch.

Note: white gunk near center of photo

To remove hardened oil a mild solvent is required, toothpicks work to loosen up crustiness and soaking NON PAINTED surfaces in “Original Windex” (blue). Improperly storing locos includes side down, they should always be stored wheels down. The one I just received was one such example of a loco stored long term on its side: hardened oil pooled on one side throughout gears and truck housings.

One can see the appearance of hardened oil as white crust, it can otherwise be fluid or congealed as a sticky substance all in the same loco: weird!

One gear is sometimes the culprit at least with this example. Part #226 646 is an interesting gear that sits mounted on a post cast into each truck frame of this loco, thus two are included in this design.

Note: gear can be seen mounted inside truck frame in two photos with yellow background

I have come across this gear on more than one occasion, Marklin’s class E 94 and 194 locos including all versions have this same gear in their design so repairing this loco is a good primer for repairing those. Time and time again it has been proven to me that if the German “krocodil” isn’t moving this gear is completely stuck due to hardened oil. Very careful attention needs to be applied to wriggle off this gear from its post, I use a toothpick over a dish to catch the part.

The transmission in this loco is very long with two worm gears, it comprises two extensions attached to the the tip of the motor (226 631).

So many parts that are required to move in the smallest space comprise a flawless design that includes a sensible tear-down and reassembly design.

Reassembly includes close adherents to correct order of things: no matter loco type small connecting gears always go in truck frame first followed by driving wheels.

Photo shows one truck’s correct assembly without oil pan attached. Note the two connecting gears which are standard with all locos in Marklin ‘Z’, and because they are small it is a good part to have spares of (part #226 645). Coupler and spring are not illustrated in photo, but they would be located on the right side. Side rods slide into black housing and only work one way: side rods of the third pair of wheels are orientated correctly in photo to allow correct distances in the truck mount for all gears. After coupler and spring are placed into their mount the oil pan slides over coupler end, and it is attached by a single screw.

It is always a good idea to keep an inventory of spare parts even though you may never need them because we are talking about the brilliant engineering and manufacturing by Marklin. That being said the motor for this series of locos is part #226 631, it is soldered directly to the pick-ups and solidly held in place to operate the very long transmission.

After each truck is cleaned, oiled and reassembled test it to make sure all gears move freely with the retaining pin and nylon gear installed too! Note: the nylon gear comprises two sets of teeth, one set engages with the worm gears on the transmission and the second is small running on one side of the nylon gear and engages with the post mounted gear previously mentioned. Recommendation: the nylon gear is another part to keep spares of, it is part #223 493.

Last note: if you know the loco is new and never run. And you have the loco taken apart, this maybe a good time to break in the motor and brushes independent of the motor’s engagement with the gears. Break-in: slow speed followed by medium speed, followed by high speed, and then reverse order. About 5 minutes of varying speeds will do.

Good luck and have fun!

Siding: required tools for repairing Marklin Z locos: pliers with micro tips, magnifying goggles, set of jewelers screwdrivers, foam work cradle, dish for holding parts, and guitar picks can be used to help remove plastic shells or shells without retaining screws.

BR 52: Marklin’s 8 versions in Z

German steam locomotive BR 52 for Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) is the “Kriegslok” or war time locomotive. Germany intended to build 15,000 of these locos during wartime, but only 7000 were actually produced in car shops across Occupied Europe. The 2-10-0 wheel arrangement comprising small wheels allowed for heavy freight haulage on lightweight tracks. After the war the class 52 which was never intended as a long lasting locomotive design thrived in service in many countries after World War II, it is still claimed to be in service today (74 years as of 2016). The design of the locomotive included several operational as well as economic build characteristics including the fully enclosed cab which allowed a level of comfort in cold weather climates most notably for Germany’s incursion into Russia during the war, tenders that recycled exhaust steam back into water, and water tanks built frame-less to cut costs. The original BR 52 included smoke deflectors, but versions also existed without the deflectors as can be seen in Marklin’s mini-club versions.

BR 52 specs: wheel arrangement- 2-10-0, designer and builder- Hauptausschuss Schienenfahrzeuge, 1942 (1st one of approximately 7000 built), 2 cylinders/232 psi (boiler pressure)/ 55 inch wheel diameter, maximum speed 50 mph.

Marklin translated the BR 52 locomotive into 8 versions for Z including examples from Germany, France and Austria with examples from Era II-IV.

Marklin’s 8 versions include: 8883 (1996-1998) BR 052 DB, 88830 (2015) BR 52 DB, 88831 (1997-2003) BR 52 DB, 88832 (Insider-1997) BR 52 DRG, 88833 (1998) Serie 150 Y SNCF, 88834 (1999) BR 52 OBB Epoch III, 88835 (Insider-1999) BR 52 DB Epoch III, and 88836 (2001-2008) BR 52 DRG Epoch III.

88833: Serie 150 Y SNCF 88833_2

88834: BR 52 OBB  88834_2

88836: BR 52 DRG 88836_2

Siding: under repair notes see 5 pole motor upgrade for 88833 + 88834