Category Archives: Electric Locomotives

FR New Release: Prototypical SBB Pantographs!

Marklin Z electric locomotive pantographs are of two types: older scissor style and single arm. Variations include silver, black and blackened. Plus a third prototypical pantograph made just for the GG1’s. Marklin’s Swiss and German electric locomotives have been installed with these two styles of pantographs even though they vary with the respective prototypes. Marklin’s pantographs are an excellent standard style universally supplied on all electric locos with more recent single arm examples in black or blackened finish.

An exciting new release by FR is an upgrade for Marklin Z Swiss class Re 4/4II and Ae 6/6 locomotives with a newly designed pantograph accurate to the prototype. Here is a part described by FR that is an exact copy of the original pantographs for these locos that is easy to install. I want to share this information as it has just been announced, how long they will be available is unknown. I have already ordered 10, when they arrive I will add another post describing the installation with photos, but it looks like a unique opportunity to upgrade these Swiss locomotive types.

Re 4/4II



Check out other FR Swiss freight cars each equipped with standard mini-club couplers, this company has been the first to release a number of interesting freight cars including K3 boxcars. Marklin’s foray into freight cars for Swiss modeling in Z is very good but limited to few examples, FR offers freight cars that have not been offered by Marklin in Z.

Marklin 88687 BR 101 Electric Loco: Simple Repair

A quick note concerning Marklin’s line of BR 101’s. I just received the older 88687 which is a member of the Bayer series of class 101’s, it arrived with one buffer off.  Sooner or later you might come across this and maybe the first inclination is to glue it back on, but please don’t! The original and brilliant design included a clip system without any glue entering the mix. The black part that holds the buffers works also as a clip to hold the LED’s in place, two prongs on the black buffer part engage with tiny holes in shell and wow its back together again. It is of course part of the natural occurrence with Z to have something come loose, but rarely if ever is this due to broken or defective parts so stay away from the glue unless the loco dropped to the concrete floor and cracked, in this case 5 minute epoxy is the way to go.

Hot New Release: FR’s Autotransportwagen Hccrrs 47.819.01 + …02

FR continues to offer unique items for ‘Z’ including the new forthcoming release of a two car “auto-transport” set for the Norwegian State Railway (NSB). The 2 draw-bar coupled cars are full metal construction representing fully enclosed auto-transport cars to protect from harsh weather and vandalism as described on the FR website. A bellows enclosure unites the two cars that conceal their contents without openings except for unloading gates on car ends. Privately owned by MOTORTRANSPORT A.S. Drammen this car type is classified as Hccrrs and registered with the NSB. Could these be one of the more unique railway cars, they certainly are designed for their country of origin! Lively colors make Scandinavian trains a real eye catcher to assemble and run in the countryside!

FR is accepting pre-orders for this carset with proposed release of May 26, 2017. And as with all FR releases this will be produced in small batches thus selling out fast. For buyers in the United States simply register on the site and price will be reduced automatically to reflect the deduction for Germany’s 19% VAT tax.

This carset is also available in two pairs with different reporting numbers under item number 47.819.02.

Harald Freudenreich is in a class of his own. Without FR Scandinavian railroads would only be represented by a few freight sets and NOHAB locos all of which are great pieces but small in number compared with Marklin’s production of Swiss and German.

Siding: FR locos brandish a unique coupling hook that engages seamlessly with standard Marklin couplers thus allowing for the much needed snowplows at each end. Freight cars are equipped with standard Marklin couplers thereby allowing remote uncoupling on Marklin’s specialized track section for this purpose.

Siding: Can motors of current design practice are installed in FR locos, combined with mostly metal construction FR locos have the ability for pulling very long train consists.

BR 94, BR 194, BR 1020: Marklin 5 Pole Motor Upgrade

Marklin’s 5 pole motor upgrade for 8812, 8822, 88221, and 8824 uses Marklin Part #E211906. The original motor for these listed locos was 3 pole with part number 268200, the original 3 pole was a good motor for this loco design which featured cast metal frame and end units thus making for a well balanced and heavy locomotive. Improvements with the upgrade include finer slow running performance and quieter operation.

This upgrade will be performed on 8824 which is the BR 194 lettered for the DB with turquoise and cream paint scheme. 8824 was produced for 5 years starting in 1989. If your loco was stored for many years without running it may need a full restoration in addition to the motor upgrade. If nothing moves, the motor does not run, and just the lights work it could have “hardened oil syndrome.” Restoration of locos with hardened oil require complete breakdown and cleaning.


Motor upgrade for this loco will require a little patience and time, but generally speaking it is a fairly easy repair. To start: 1. pull off middle cast plastic shell with very thin plastic guitar picks.

2. Note: circuit board does not have a retaining screw as other mini-club locos have, it is held in place with 4 clips. Carefully release the circuit board from clips with gentle pressure using a small screwdriver.

3. Wires soldered to either end of circuit board should be carefully pulled from center between pick-ups to outside of pick-ups. Solder points maybe brittle due to age, there is the possibility at this point that one may break necessitating soldering.

4. With circuit board gently pulled to one side unscrew clips holding motor to chassis.

5. Note: original motor and new 5 pole motor are basically the same with differences including heavier gauge wire for capacitor and different coating on capacitor. I have made this upgrade a few times already, and I have noticed manufacturing differences with this motor including a larger coating on the capacitor plus varying length of wire for the capacitor. The nature of the capacitor with this motor can create a few challenges for the repairman. It is required that the capacitor is bent low enough to not impede placement of the circuit board, and the new motor with heavier gauge wire is more difficult to bend than its forebear. Plus manufacturing differences with capacitor coating may add another layer of difficulty. In this example the capacitor is of normal size, but one I recently installed in the 8812 was large which made for a challenging placement of it just above the worm gear while still being low enough under circuit board.

Note: black housing in the new motor.

Note: original motor’s capacitor wires are bent with a slight curl near motor with capacitor nearly touching worm gear.

6. Next: add one drop of oil on each worm drive before installing clips. Circuit board and wires should return to their original position with great care to avoid bending pick-ups. Circuit board clips back into place and then shell goes back on with catenary screw peaking out of hole in shell.

Siding: a brief break-in period for the motor is recommended before installation at low, medium and high throttle for a couple minutes both directions.

Repair Notes: Marklin 88221 OBB BR 1020 Electric Locomotive


Marklin released the exquisite OBB BR 1020 in 1996-1998, this Era IV electric locomotive was delivered with the 3 pole motor 268200. In this post I will go through the step by step process for installing the current 5 pole motor E211906. The new motor also fits all 3 pole German versions of this loco which there are several including the DR 8812, DB 8822, and DB 8824. Featuring an articulated frame this locomotive type has been nicknamed the “German Krokodil” following its likeness to the SBB Be 6/8 with its articulated frame and pronounced design resembling a crocodile. As for the Marklin ‘Z’ versions of this loco each vary only by paint scheme and railway designation. It was only in the past few years that any tooling changes were made with the releases of 88224 and 88226 which feature LED headlamps and hidden catenary screw.

Onward with instructions for installing a new 5 pole motor in this locomotive type, but first does the loco with 3 pole really benefit with the 5 pole upgrade? No necessarily, the original 3 pole motor is a fine and powerful motor powering a loco of some heft, it features metal frame plus metal ends giving the locomotive good weight for pulling a large train. The loco is also so well designed that its original running performance is outstanding even with the 3 pole motor. The 5 pole motor replacement is also expensive with a list price of $109 at Walthers, it is also listed as ‘sold out’ and unavailable, but the one I am installing was recently purchased for $60. Others can probably be had from German dealers. The benefits of the new motor include a much quieter motor and slow idling, but no real increase in pulling power. I would have been happy and content if no 5 pole motor presented itself, in its original delivered condition these are beautiful locos and excellent runners.

If you have a loco of this type with HOS (hardened oil syndrome) please refer to my instructions in the post dedicated to full tear-down and restoration of the 8824. The following instructions are for the quick motor change-out only.

Before you start check to make sure the new motor works and spins in the correct direction. Run motor in both directions for a minute or two to break-in brushes.

  1. Pop off center shell using the thin guitar pick method referred to in other posts, never use a screwdriver as Marklin indicates in their instructions or damage will result to the shell. FullSizeRender-13
  2. Notice circuit board is held tightly onto insulator frame by 4 clips, gently pry circuit board free of clips. Use great care to avoid cracking circuit board! FullSizeRender-14
  3. Circuit board will be loose from the insulator frames at this point, but it is still attached to solder points. Carefully move circuit board out of the way of the screws that secure insulator frames to the main chassis frame. Beware that the wires extending front and back do not damage electric pick-ups for both trucks. FullSizeRender-19
  4. Set aside insulator frames and carefully remove motor, remove any old oil on the frame and install new motor. Apply a small drop of oil to worm drive on each end of new motor. FullSizeRender-23
  5. Notice the difference in appearance between the original 3 pole motor and 5 pole motor: FullSizeRender-24 3 pole capacitor bent backwards/ 5 pole capacitor is bent forward
  6. Special Note: Notice original capacitor is bent backwards hidden under circuit board. The new capacitor is bent in the opposite direction and due to its small size is visible through the opening of the circuit board. FullSizeRender-20
  7. Reassemble and verify motor is aligned and level by running leads to the brushes. If everything spins well, and the motor is quiet the loco shell can be reattached.

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:

General Maintenance of the Marklin 88712: BR 406 DB AG or ICE III

Marklin has designed locomotives and train sets with unique properties sometimes custom to a particular model. Whether it is the TEE train sets and its many variants or the ICE 1 or 3, couplers and powered units have been rethought and redesigned. The 88712 was produced in 1999-2005, it is based on the Era V ICE III DB prototype. Two variations of the 88712 include version 1 with 3 pole motor (1999) and version 2 with 5 pole motor (2000-2005). This train set could be supplemented with 4 add-on coaches to make-up a prototypical train set: 87711, 87712, 87713, 87714.

The design of this loco includes a unique power unit located in the middle of the train, the BordRestaurant dining car houses the motor and circuit board, but this car does not receive the power from the tracks instead each coach picks up power that is sent to the middle car thereby driving its two geared trucks. Added efficiency is achieved by the heavy weighted chassis of the dining car giving its wheel sets much needed traction. Couplers used in this set are those created for the 88711 Max Liebermann which are characterized as flat plastic couplers faced on both sides with conductive metal. Couplers are held in place on one end of each car with clips accessed from the underside of car. In order to remove this semi-permanent coupler simply release clip.

Maintaining this ICE train set is easy. The pantograph end of the dining car is gently pried upwards thereby releasing the shell. The capacitor wires maybe soldered to the circuit board thus take great care to avoid breaking any wires. No problem with broken wires, but repair will take a little longer as the wires will need soldering. The trucks do not have electrical contacts so they come apart easily and go back together easily. You may opt to tear down to the gears to remove old oil and crud. I bought mine from a collector who never ran theirs and as a result it was caked with hardened oil (HOS!!!!!) throughout the trucks and gears to the transmissions and even motor. Whenever you buy used Marklin Z expect the worse, you may need to replace brushes at the very least, but you might need to roll up your sleeves and remove crud and old oil.  Not sure if I am a nerd, but I like tear downs and restorations!

If you own or are planning to buy an ICE III it will not disappoint, this is one of the finest Marklin Z’s for running characteristics and design true to the prototype.


4th Quarter 2016 release of the new “Krokodil” – 88563

The Swiss ‘Krokodil’ in scale model railroading is identified more than any other as a ‘Marklin’ model, Marklin produces it in all scales, it appears in their marketing as much as the German equivalent class E94, and its continuous appearance in the Marklin Z catalog since 1979 further reinforces Marklin’s dedication to this prototype.

The articulated Swiss loco type is a fascination for all railroaders: train spotting or model collecting. As a model in ‘Z’ it faithfully reproduces the action of the dual set of side rod wheel sets found in the prototype.

As for its history in ‘Z’ we begin in 1979 with the 8856: green paint scheme presented in the original mini-club wood-grain box. Four versions of the 8856 were produced ending in 2010 with a 5 pole motor version.

The 8852 version in brown paint scheme was produced 1983 – 1990. One other individual release was the totally lovely 2013 Nuremberg Toy Fair 88561 in black paint scheme.

In various intervening years the Krokodil was sold in train sets starting with 8115 “125 Jahre Rotes Kreuz” set that commemorated the 125 year anniversary of the Red Cross in Switzerland. Other sets included the 81423 “Schweizer Guterverkehr” Swiss goods transport set and 81433 “KNIE” circus train set. Along came the unique set 88888 “150 Jahre Marklin”: deluxe illustrated carton with two Krokodil’s including one New York Central ‘fantasy’ loco in white with copper patinated color scheme on roof.

For the first time Marklin is offering some new features in this newly updated version with item number 88563. Updated features include LED’s, hidden catenary screw, new road number, and correct Swiss headlamp/marker light changeover. This Era II class Ce 6/8 III electric locomotive is scheduled for release at the end of 2016, it will be one of the big highlights in mini-club history for this loco type in 37 years.

Marklin has this listed as a “limited run.”

Siding: early ‘Krokodil’s” with 3 pole motors can be upgraded with 5 pole motor part #211904.