Category Archives: Maintenance of Way

Shapeways: New Directions in Z Modeling

3-D printing is all the rage these days, any manner of thing seems to be offered by this new technology. And now Z items are available through the company Shapeways. I hadn’t even thought about searching for such things but a few months ago I came across the Shapeways website. My Wife and I had a day off in some far off land so I had time to check out the 12 pages of Z gauge offerings by a number of designers, and I found it very enjoyable and ordered one. The item I ordered was a German class 701 catenary maintenance locomotive, it arrived packed in a sturdy box by the time we got home from our trip.

It is interesting to order from Shapeways, items are printed on demand with the disclaimer that the order maybe cancelled if Shapeways feels the item is too delicate to print so presumably not everything is available. The item I ordered was printed, and I am very happy with the finished shell. The plastic is translucent with a slight texture that will take paint well. Because of the translucent material lighting the loco will be disappointing unless a solution is made by masking (later problem to work through).

The locomotive came in two parts including the main shell and service platform. Detailing and design is quite excellent including warning beacon lights and roof top observation window. Shell has the same specs as the standard Marklin railbuses so adding a chassis and motor will be easy. A small hole is included in the roof to accommodate the single arm pantograph. Challenges for completing this project include painting and thus masking for three separate painting phases: safety yellow, gray and silver. Note: I find it easier to paint the dark color first inside and outside shell, finishing the roof as the final paint is what I do. Brushing the silver hardware for windows and black paint for buffers plus any touch-ups before following up with the final matte clear coat. Much easier to airbrush using water based paint diluted to flow through the airbrush used. Attaching the work platform permanently with 5 minute epoxy only, but the cool loco is designed for a pivoting work platform secured with a screw.

The prototype well depicted by the 3-D printed model as can be seen with two paint schemes by Marklin and Trix, and the roof observation hood as seen in the third photo of the prototype:

photo: Trix N scale class 701

photo: Marklin HO class TVT 6219 Esn

photo: prototype class 701

Notes on Shapeways products for Z: many curious items are offered including autos and loads as well as buildings, locos and rolling stock. These are projects that need to be completed and some that are offered will be more successful than others.

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!

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.


FR 46.809.12 SJ Hydraulic Side Dump Cars


As freight cars go “maintenance of way” wagens are everywhere along the railroad right of way, they are on sidings awaiting deployment to tunnels, tracks, signals, catenary, crossings or accident clearing. Maintenance is the name of the game for every railroad due to the daily impact heavy trains bear down on track and equipment plus weather is a harsh foe of the same. In Sweden weather is a factor on railroad right of way electrical equipment and track beds thus cars with the intended purpose of aiding in daily maintenance is required. FR’s side dump cars with a load of gravel or ballast is one such example, it is based on the prototype Eo hydraulic side dump car and used on the Swedish State Railways (SJ).

Although this car type can be used for various types of loads it can be included in MOW service if it were carrying ballast as a load. Full metal construction this set includes two cars with brakeman’s platform in prototypical red/brown paint scheme.

FR 41.332.02: SBB low side gondolas for MOW service

Rolling stock representing MOW service cars can be found for Swiss Federal Railways manufactured by FR. The FR 2 car set with item number 41.332.02 includes 2-type Xs71 low side gondolas used in this example for hauling away old wood sleepers.

Featuring authentic weathering and aging the sleepers in these loads look like perfect examples to be removed and replaced with new ones. Maintenance of way operations are as important in Switzerland as with any other railroad in the world, but their exemplary track maintenance practices excel far and above other countries including the United States.

As with all FR rolling stock the chassis is constructed of metal, and body is constructed of injection molded plastic (*some FR freight cars are constructed entirely of metal, the rule for FR seems to be utilizing the correct materials for the design build). FR insignia is incorporated on the underside of chassis.

This set combined with FR’s and Marklin’s Sersa sets round out a track maintenance trainset used in Switzerland.

Marklin 88692

Marklin 82517

FR 41.331.12

Siding: Sersa is a privately owned company for the repair and maintenance of railway right of way in Switzerland.

Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik (FR) : SJ Tc307


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.


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.


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


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.


FR website:

Marklin: Maintenance of Way

Marklin’s ‘maintenance of way’ rolling stock and locos is an ever expanding area of collecting including regular releases and limited ones. The daily respect and observance of track, roadbed and signals is an experience we have in common at least keeping track clean for good electrical contact. Railroads around the world perform various levels of maintenance some more than others. Incorporating some of these interesting locos and rolling stock in a layout further represents what railroading is all about, maintenance is key to everything running smoothly in scale or prototypical operation.  This is a very interesting topic for collectors and a number of manufacturers produce some great items including Railex and FR. Check out their sections on this blog. And definitely take a look at FR’s website which seems to include several examples of MOW vehicles from SJ and SBB including a snowplow loco coming up!


  1. 87741- German Federal Railways (DB) type ‘fast measurement’ coach lettered “Messwagen Versuchsanstalt Minden”. Limited European release.


2. 8657.H.F.WIEBE- ‘MSI’ (Marklin Special Imprint) type Krupp-Ardelt crane car and low sided flat car with boom rest lettered for H.F.WIEBE. Car set originally sold with train set 81782 in a limited number of 500. Produced for Conrad Electronic.                                                                      3. 8657.3- German Federal Railroad (DB) Era IV type Krupp-Ardelt crane car and low sided car in yellow with boom rest (Version #3) produced 1991-2008. *two versions proceeded this version with color variations                                                                                                                         4.86571- German Federal Railroad (DB) Era III type Krupp-Ardelt crane car and low sided car with boom rest.

*Note: a single type Krupp-Ardelt crane car with boom rest was released as 8621 in three blue color versions, it was produced 1986 – 1987. All crane cars have working crane, pivoting boom, and swivel cabin.



Marklin Railbuses

Marklin Z Railbuses were introduced in 1988 with model 8122 and MSI model “McDonalds” followed in 1989 with 8816. Model 8122 was a railbus and trailer set decorated and lettered for the regional line “Cheimgau-Bahn” and 8816 was a standard class 798 railbus (*trailer was sold separately). In 1991 another MSI model was released, this one was made by Railex and lettered for RAG Germany’s largest coal mining corporation, special edition RAG railbus and trailer set was sold unpowered which included the shell only for the powered end unit. Next came the 8802 in 1991 (released in two versions) and later (1999) replaced by the 5 pole motor version 88021. 8802 and 88021 were very interesting MOW railbuses, but in Z they are used for cleaning track with the unique and very interesting design using a buffing wheel that successfully dislodges large dirt, grease, oil and oxidation needs to be removed with a pass of denatured alcohol on a clean cloth. Not pictured in this collection is the MSI 88161 with imprinting for        5. mini-club Treffen Speyer 28./29. September 96: One Time Series 1996. The Austrain railbus 88162 was a One TIme Series in 1998, it is much sought after today. From 1994-2008 the 8831 lettered for “Jagermeister” enjoyed the longest run in railbuses from Marklin with early ones employing the original 3 pole motor and late ones with the 5 pole motor installed. Two MSI’s followed in 2001 and 2002: 88164 + 88165. In 2008 a One Time Series for the MHI program was released in a special edition, the railbus and trailer were lettered for Doorncaat and included two Doorncaat glasses. Finally the limited release of the railbus and box car set 88313 in 2010.


from top:

  1. 88701 – Special imprint class 798 railbus lettered “McDonald’s voll in Fahrt,” Koll’s #88701, edition size: 1000. Originally sold as a starter set with track and 9 volt battery throttle.
  2. 8112- Chiemgau-Bahn class 798 railbus and class 998 railbus trailer. Build date: 1988-1994.
  3. 91702 – Special imprint class 798 railbus and class 998 railbus trailer lettered for                RAG (Ruhrkohle AG). Collaboration between Railex and Z-Club International. Class 798 railbus included shell only and boxed in a standard Marklin plastic case with trailer.


4. 8802.2- SCHIENENREINIGUNGSWAGEN class 724 rail maintenance railbus for the DB. Build date: 1991-1995.                                                                                                                                            5. 88021- Indusi – Messwagen class 724 rail maintenance railbus for DB AG. Build date: 1999-2010.                                                                                                                                                      6. 8816.5 + 8817- German Federal Railroad (DB) class 798 railbus and class 998 railbus trailer. Five versions of 8816 were produced with subtle design changes in lettering.                                 7. Austrian Federal Railways (OBB) class 5081 railbus and class 6581 railbus trailer. One Time Series 1998. Originally sold with 3 pole motor.


8. 8831- German Federal Railroad (DB) class 798 railbus with advertising for “Jagermeister.” Build date: 1994-2008.                                                                                                                                    9. 88164- Prignitzer Eisenbaum GmbH class 798 railbus and class 998 railbus trailer, privately owned and lettered for Prignitzer Eisenbaum regional rail Berlin. One Time Series 2001. Originally sold to dealer members of Eurotrain/idee-spiel cooperative.                                               10. 88165- Elbe-Weser GmbH (EVB) class 798 railbus and class 998 railbus trailer, privately owned and lettered for Elbe-Weser (EVB), Lower Saxony German regional line. One Time Series 2002. Originally sold to dealer members of Eurotrain/idee-spiel cooperative.


11. 88311- Elmshom-Barmstedt-Oldesloer Railway (EBOE) class VT 98 rail car and class VS 98 control car. Painted with advertising for spirits of the sixties, lettered for “Doornkaat.” Includes two Doornkaat schnapps glasses. One Time Series 2008.                                                                      12. 88313- Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB) class 798 railbus, type Gos-uv 253 box car, and type Gbrs-v 245 box car. Limited production. Released 2010.

Siding: Marklin Z railbuses are easy to repair and upgrade. Check out Marklin Z Repair Notes category.

Railex: 19th century German MOW

Railex not only produced some superb 19th century German steam locomotive, they also produced rolling stock to go with them. The Railex “Work” train comprises 5 cars for the maintenance of way train set. More cars can be added by 5 are the number of car types. The Railex locomotive that pulls the work train is K.Bay.STS.B Vils C II. The “Vils” in green/black/gray color scheme is most appropriate. Some of the cool features of these cars is the full metal construction, filigree spoke wheels, crisp lettering, and interesting car types. Hard and dangerous work was in place for a day on the work train, and workplace accidents abound from steam, gas, and saws to name just a few. The impregnation wagon was probably prone to explosion along with scalding temperatures. Railroading has never been the safe affair especially in the 19th century.

_DSF9344 _DSF9345

from top:

  1. K.Bay.STS.B Arbeitswagen Der K.Bay.STS.B. Type “X”: low side car with steam engine load.
  2. K.Bay.STS.B Niederbordwagen mit Kreissage: low side car with heavy duty table saw load.
  3. K.Bay.STS.B Leuchtgaswagen: tank car for lighting gas.
  4. K.Bay.STS.B Fahr Schwellenimpragnieranstalt mit Dampfmaschine: sleeper impregnation wagon with steam compressor.
  5. K.Bay.STS.B Schienenwagen Type Ssm-Wagen Nr. 4 rungenwagen: stake wagon with brakeman’s cab.
  6. K.Bay.STS.B Schienenwagen Type Ssm-Wagen Nr. 4 rungenwagen: stake wagon with brakeman’s cab.


Railex + Z Club ’92: Maintenance of Way

Railex and Z Club ’92 have collaborated on a number of z items two of which can be categorized and MOW (Maintenance of Way) cars. Cars 9335 + 9340 are early MOW cars employing cast metal parts.


from top:

  1. Railex/Z Club ’92 #88609 – Royal Wurttemberg State Railways (K.W.St.E.) type low rise car with Epoch 1 crane. Released 1993. One Time Series for members of Z Club International.
  2. Railex/Z Club ’92 #88623 – Royal Wurttemberg State Railways (K.W.St.E.) type low rise car with track maintenance equipment and tools. Released 1988. One Time Series for members of Z Club International.