Category Archives: German Locomotive Numbering System

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!

The German Locomotive Numbering System Since 1968

In 1968 Germany computerized their locomotive numbers, they were the first in Europe to do so. A three part numeric numbering system replaced the former system that included a letter to denote the traction type. Current German locomotive numbering follows a three part system:  1. traction type/class type 2. three digit running number 3. computer check digit. Thus for one loco with number 151 036-1 its number translates to 1 (electric traction) 51 (class) 036 (running number) and 1 (computer check digit). Before 1968 this loco would be numbered E51 036 if it existed then.

Traction types are numbered 0-9: 0- Steam loco 1- Electric loco 2- Diesel loco 3- Shunting loco 4- Electric railcar 5- Battery Electric railcar 6- Diesel railcar 7- Diesel railbus 8- Electric railcar trailer 9- Diesel railcar/railbus trailer.

The last digit in the German loco numeric system is the computer check digit, it serves to double check that the other digits can be verified correctly. Thus a rather complicated computation follows: multiply class and running number digits alternately by 1 and 2, resulting digits are added together and their sum deducted from the next whole number.  For loco 151 036: 1×1=1, 5×2=1+0, 1×1=1, 0x2=0, 3×1=3, and 6×2=1+2 / 1+1+0+1+0+3+1+2=9 / 10-9=1 thus the 151 036 is identified as an electric loco, and its complete number is 151 036-1.

The German locomotive number is identified on the end of each locomotive and in most cases both ends, and a second identifying number is located on the sides of each loco called the European Vehicle Number (EVN).

Reference material: German Railways – Part 1: Locomotives & Multiple Units of Deutsche Bahn, published by Platform 5, written by Brian Garvin.