Category Archives: Marklin Train Sets

Streamlined Tank Locomotive BR 61 001: “Henschel-Wegmann”

The legacy of Marklin Z collecting is the historical heritage charted with unusual locomotives such as those we can no longer see in person. Germany’s BR 61 001 was one of two locomotives used for express train service for the Henschel-Wegmann trainset: Dresden-Berlin Route. Two versions of the BR 61 001 have been produced by Marklin for Z gauge: original prototype version (81436 trainset) and post-war version (88610).

photos: Marklin 81436 – Henschel-Wegmann BR 61 001 (DRG)

Built in 1935 the BR 61 001 (DRG) was a carefully designed locomotive for speed and efficiency, its lightweight and streamlining including coaches allowed increased speed, plus hauling just enough coal and water for one-way travel allowed further weight limits thus replenishing supplies in Berlin or Dresden was an efficiency standard implemented by its design.

photos: Marklin Z BR 61 001 (DRG) *originally released by Marklin as the “Henschel-Wegmann” trainset 81436 included 4 streamlined coaches with matching paint scheme not pictured.

Note: Marklin 81436 was the 2005 One Time Release for Insider Members.

Speed was everything in the mid 30’s with the BR 61 001 competing with the speed record set by the 1932 “Flying Hamburger” of 99mph seen here as Marklin 88870: 

 

The BR 61 001 was no slouch setting a record 109mph which would remain unbroken for the Dresden-Berlin route through the next century.

photos: Marklin 81436 – BR 61 001 (DRG) original prototype

Post War the BR 61 001 was repainted and lettered for the German Federal Railroad and allocated to Bw Hannover. Its use was limited to 6 months in the late 40’s followed by 1 year of service logging thousands of miles between November 1950 and November 1951 whereupon it suffered serious accident damage, a year later (1952) it was retired and finally scrapped in 1957.

photos: Marklin 88610 – BR 61 001 German Federal Railroad (DB) post-war version

Streamlining of early German steam locos was perfected with the class 61 incorporating the tank locomotive concept with bold body contouring which allowed fast express train service, it was state of the art in the mid 30’s whose life was cut short in the early 50’s. Another example of preserved railway history in Marklin Z.

photos: Marklin 88610

Note: fine detailing and large brass steam whistle

Will there be a BR 61 002 released in mini-club? The more powerful locomotive built in 1939 featured larger water tanks, smoke deflectors and 3 axle bogie, such a release would complete the historical record of this locomotive class.

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.

 

 

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!

Repainting Marklin 8135 for the SJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Part 1

photo: FR 46.130.31 – RC-2 locomotive for SJ

Marklin has paid little attention to Scandinavian Railroads in z gauge. There have been releases such as the 4 MY locos (brilliant series!!!!) and a few interesting freight cars, but never has there been attention paid to Sweden, this country’s railroads are left up to the never ending achievements of Harald Freudenreich at FR.

photo: FR 46.816.01 – Kis 950 sliding roof car for steel slab transport on SJ

Marklin has covered the SJ railway in HO only while FR has devoted much of their time in recent memory to SJ and other Scandinavian railroads. FR offers some Swiss, German and Austrian items currently, but Harald’s devoted fans come to him for Scandinavian trains.

photo: FR 46.132.01 – Ra 987 Express Locomotive of the SJ

Some of the most interesting railroads in the World are located in some of the most interesting natural wonders in the World. Light, geography, and climate combine to create the beautiful Scandinavian landscape, but for trains it is challenging, cargo has to be protected from a rather brutal climate with some box cars lined with heavy insulation to protect from permafrost and autos transported in closed boxes. More on this topic at a later date.

photo: FR 47.812.00 – insulated box car for the NSB

The topic today is a project I have been interested in starting for awhile now, it is the repaint of Marklin 8135 coaches for the SJ Railway. Although FR has paid much attention to freight rolling stock, they have not released coaches for the SJ as of this date with one exception. An announcement was made earlier in the year that coach sets are coming to market later this year, but in the meantime I am making my own custom set using dry stencils provided by FR a couple of years ago. The exception was a proposed project of many years that was finally released last year, it was a Marklin coach modified for SJ. The prototype was based on German built coaches used in ferry service in Sweden.  In order to model the prototype FR repainted and stenciled the coach after cutting the shell to remove a window thus shortening the coach. I own this coach and the craftsmanship is flawless.

photo: FR 46.299.00 – type litt AB8k 1st and 2nd class coach for ferry service to Germany. The top coach is the modified Marklin for SJ by FR, and the bottom coach is the original standard coach by Marklin.

Why refinish the 8135 coaches and not another set of coaches? Good question! Set 8135 was released in 1991 and included coaches built in Germany that were also used on the SJ. The historical perspective was provided by FR who also provided the stencil kit for relettering the coaches and a paint chip for the correct shade of reddish brown used by SJ. Painting and other details will be discussed in Part 2 and 3 respectively.

photo: deluxe box train set “Dompfeil” of the DB

The first installment of this project is disassembly of the coaches. It is okay to be a little nervous disassembling Marklin coaches, but all things Marklin are built to take apart, each part is snapped or clipped together without glue. Repainting projects in Marklin Z are not necessarily recommended by this railroader, they potentially will diminish the collectible value, but in my case I own two 8135 sets which I like very much, turning the second set into SJ coaches is a bit necessary since I collect SJ locos built for express service.

On with the project! First step is identifying the set for repaint, in this case the historical background was already researched by FR. The set for repaint is Marklin 8135 released with a BR 03 express loco in a deep blue paint scheme. The set was released in 1991 with three 2nd class coaches and one DRG dining car. This was a deluxe boxed set presented in a high gloss illustrated carton. The running performance of this loco is superb, and it looks great to boot!

photo: 8135 locomotive and tender – BR 03

photo: 3 coaches disassembled with their respective parts including shell, trucks, weight, roof, and window glazing.

Step 2 includes the removal of the roof which is easily accomplished by very carefully pulling it off, the roof is clipped on and starting from one end seems to be the way to do this successfully.

Step 3 involves the removal of each car’s pair of trucks, carefully swivel each truck to the side for leverage and using a small screwdriver gently pry the truck off by moving back and forth around the pivot point, it will snap off. Note: torquing as seen in the photo is necessary for removal of trucks, but please use care.

Step 4 using a small pair of tweezers and starting at one end gently loosen the window glazing held in place with prongs in the base of the coach. Take note of the indents that line up with the roof clips for reassembly later.

Step 5 is removal of the weights. Using a small screwdriver remove the plastic heat points holding the weights down, weights will lift off easily from the posts in the bottom of shell.

This is one of those projects that allows a railroader to tinker with their hobby.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Siding: this set contains parts that are snapped or clipped in place, but older coaches used glue to cement the window glazing, in the case of older coaches window glazing will more than likely pop out with gently wriggling. Reassembly of early windows is accomplished with 5 minute epoxy only, other glues use solvents that might melt plastic. NEVER use a soldering iron in and around enclosed plastic parts, micro soldering irons should only be used on heat points to attach shell to frame and coupler housings with caution!

German P8 and BR 38 Steam Locomotives

Photo: Former Prussian P8 given as war reparation to SNCF following WWI.

Marklin reached back into German railroading history and realized the legendary P8 and BR 38 in ‘Z’. Note: before unification it was the P8 and after unification it was BR 38. In the Marklin line-up there are plenty of variations of the P8 and 38 steam locomotives but the tooling remained the same until the side rods and brake equipment were upgraded with the 2013 release of 88998.

So what about the history of this 4-6-0 locomotive? Nearly 4000 examples were manufactured for 18 years starting in 1908. Retirement came in 1974 after a 50 year career with 627 having been given to other countries as war reparations following WWI. Its top speed of 110km/hr was suitable for passenger trains, but it was a reliable goods train also. In my research the top speed of 110km/hr was never fully achieved in the Prussian examples due to poor running performance of the Prussian ‘box’ style tenders instead it would seem that 100km/hr was the top speed in the early years. It is noted that larger tenders were not used by KPEV due to the burdens of turning a longer loco and tender on turntables of the time. Eventually the DB fitted war time ‘tub’ style tenders to this locomotive class after WWII.

8899 is the first BR 38 produced in mini-club, 1982 to be exact. This Era III BR 38 for the DB featured the original Prussian ‘box’ style tender and 3 pole motor, it was produced until 1995. The large smoke deflectors would eventually be replaced with smaller ‘Witte’ deflectors.

88991 (photo) is virtually identical to 8899 with two notable exceptions: 5 pole motor and post-war ‘tub’ style tender. This locomotive was produced from 1998 until 2003.

The P8 painted and lettered for KPEV (Royal Prussian Railroad Administration) as a One Time Series was 88994 (photo). Released in 2006 as part of the MHI program the 88994 represents an Era I P8 with original Prussian ‘box’ style tender. KPEV locos in the Marklin line-up are heavily detailed with distinctive paint scheme, they can go with passenger or freight cars, or both.

Jumping ahead to the new era at Marklin is the 88998 (photo) BR 38 for DB. An Era III steam locomotive featuring Marklin new design concept that includes lively side rod action and detailing including well conceived brake equipment details. The movement of the side rods on this loco are elegant! Note the correct style tender for Era III and ‘Witte’ smoke deflectors. First retooling since 1982!

Rolling back the clock to 2009 is the 88999 (photo) P8 for Gr.Bad.Sts.E. (Grand Ducal Baden State Railways). This Era I locomotive was in the Marklin mini-club line-up from 2009-2014. Original Prussian box style tender and 5 pole motor. Paint and lettering in Prussian Blue with boiler straps painted to highlight the prototypes original brass ones. Note: no smoke deflector was incorporated in the early design of the P8, other design changes would happen over time including two types of smoke deflectors and tub style WWII welded tender.

Marklin’s first release of a P8 in a train set was 8130 from 1989 – 1992, the 8128 (photo) included an Era I KPEV loco and tender paired with four freight cars.

The Marklin 81420 (photo) Grand Ducal Baden State Railways train set from 2000 – 2002 included a Gr.Bad.Sts.E P8 in striking Prussian Blue paint scheme detailed with brass boiler straps, it was boxed with a 2nd class and a 3rd class coach as well as a privately owned Swiss tank car and beer car with brakeman’s cabin. Locomotive is equipped with Marklin 5 pole motor.

The 2002 One Time Release of “Sylt Auto Travel Train” 81428 (photo) was another example of a train set with mixed rolling stock, freight and passenger coaches comprising the consist. This train set from Era III included a DB BR 38 with ‘tub’ style tender, 2- coaches lettered for “Hamburg – Altona, Husum – Niebull, Westerland plus 4 low side cars with autos, camping trailers and vans as loads. An interesting train set for vacationers traveling to camping destinations, this train removed the inconvenience of driving a camping rig to the vacation spot thereby delivering rested passengers at the start of their leisure vacations. Note: first time Witte smoke deflectors used on this ‘Z’ loco type.

The Era II “Ruhr-Schnellverkehr” (Ruhr Express Service) train set 81437 (photo) was released in 2005, it was produced until 2008, but it is unlikely many were produced through this period owing to the rarity of this set. The BR 38 locomotive was joined in the set with three coaches of Prussian design: 2- 3rd class coaches with and without brakeman’s cab, and 1- 2nd/3rd class coach with brakeman’s cab (notice the colorful paint scheme on center compartments denoting 2nd class). Please take note of the Prussian design compartments each accessed by exterior doors, in express coaches of this design passengers had little time to find their compartment and climb in, less than a minute is all you were given! The Marklin coaches in this set are stunning, they are full of detail including full length running boards and decorated brass hardware. The locomotive (photo 2) also featured destination boards: Ruhr – Schnellverkehr.

Siding: to describe the brilliant running performance of this loco type in ‘Z’ as anything less than superlative would be a mistake. If you are new to collecting Marklin Z steam this loco type in any example is highly recommended: perfection on the rails!

 

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.

Repair Notes: Marklin 88992 Swiss class A3/5 express locomotive

Marklin 88992

Marklin 81035

Note: photo 1 depicts the 88992 loco and tender in Marklin’s original marketing literature, photos 2 and 3 depict the train set 81035. The original Marklin photograph varies greatly from the actual loco: paint finish not as glossy, side rods not as dark and wheel/spoke design more typical of other steam locos produced by Marklin in ‘Z’.

 

A ‘One Time Series’ locomotive from 2005 is the Swiss Federal Railways A 3/5 express locomotive based on the 4 cylinder compound prototype from Era II. Marklin released the locomotive with tender as item number 88992, they also released the train set 81035 in 2007 with this loco and tender plus 3 coaches called by Marklin “The Old Timer Train” in celebration of 125 years of the Gotthard Line. Both items are very hard to find for sale, but if you model Swiss trains and find one it might be of interest for your railroad. Having the luck to find one might come with some disappointment with running performance ‘out of the box’ which is the topic of this post. I own both the train set and the loco, each was purchased new, but the loco is a recent acquisition, it arrived with working headlamps and ‘HOS’ (hardened oil syndrome). The locomotive was dead on arrival which also indicated it was never run and the original Marklin oil was dried up. Marklin oil over time dries out, it acts like glue in this condition. Does it always happen? No! Marklin may have varied the oil used during assembly so sometimes there is HOS and sometimes no evidence of HOS with older locomotives.

More than likely 88992 will have HOS, one dealer I have seen is selling the locomotive with replaced wheel sets leading me to believe the original was traded out because it was mucked up, thus making it easier to trade out the chassis than making this rather tricky repair.

Removing HOS from this loco presents a few problems that are easily overcome with those with experience. First the loco has to be fully taken apart including un-soldering the leads to remove motor. The leads will spring away from motor which is easy at this stage but more difficult when re-soldering later in the repair. The problem which is relatively unique for this loco design are two gears that are attached directly to the frame, they are not easy to remove, but they don’t need to be removed. The gears in my loco were solidly stuck in place, I used ‘Original Windex’ (blue) and applied it with a dropper to both gears. Eventually the mild solvent loosened the gears that I worked back and forth with a toothpick until they were freely moving. At this point I dropped a few more drips of Windex and let the frame sit. When the Windex appeared to be dry I reattached the motor and ran it with a fresh oiling with synthetic plastic compatible ‘Z’ gauge lite oil. At this point the loco can be reassembled and tested on the track.

In summary: 2 frame mounted gears frozen in place by old dried oil will more than likely be the cause of this loco not working, removing the hardened oil will bring success!

Siding: If your headlamp works but the motor is silent chances are you have HOS, overly testing the loco in this condition will do no good for the motor.

Gottard Tunnel: 1872 + Marklin’s Swiss Steam Loco 88992 + 81035

The Gottard Tunnel opened to freight trains January 1, 1882 after 10 years of construction and deaths of 200 workers. It was the longest tunnel ever built when it opened with a total length of 9.322 miles. Used by steam trains until 1920 when it was electrified the private railway Gotthardbahn operated the tunnel until it was incorporated with the Swiss Federal Railways in 1909. The proposal for such a tunnel as part of the project to link North Italy and South Germany was first proposed in 1848, but the Gottard was a difficult tunnel to build with construction starting in 1872, workers used the recently invented dynamite (1867), pickax and shovel. The pace was slow at just under 5 meters a day for a proposed budget of 2830 Swiss  Francs per meter but that cost would increase by 11%. The lives it cost included the Swiss engineer Louis Favre who overseeing the project died of a heart attack inside the tunnel.

The Gotthard Tunnel one year before completion:

The Gottard Tunnel in 1890 as recorded by the Italian photographer Giorgio Sommer (Napoli) who was well known for his photographs of Switzerland’s geological formations:

Postcard view from 1900:

Postcard view from 1900:

Today with view from Goschenen station platform:

Siding: Marklin produced two Swiss early steam locomotives who’s prototypes would have run through the Gotthard at the beginning of the last century: 88992 + 81035.

88992 – Serie A 3/5 Era II loco with builder number 613 and paired with type T 20 tender. One Time Series 2005.

81035 – “Swiss Old Timer Train” Era I loco with builder’s number 605 paired with type T 21.5 tender with three coaches. One Time Series 2007.

 

 

Insider Locomotive 2012: 88010 – BR 001 DB

Marklin’s Insider Model for 2012 was one of the first of the new generation of steam locomotives featuring completely new tooling with impressive detailing of side rods and LED’s.

Based on the prototype, BR 001 161-9 is an Era IV locomotive following the German Reclassification of 1968 which added an ‘0’ to the operating number.

Built in the mid 1930’s this locomotive class was the first to be “standardized” thus parts were universally available throughout Germany. More than 200 class 01’s were manufactured from 1926-1938 with some continuing in service for the DR until 1982 and the DB until 1973.

Marklin’s 88010 represents the prototype from 1968, the appropriate coach set for this locomotive is Marklin 87401 comprising 5 cars in ‘pop’ colors with destination boards “Braunschweig – Aachen.” Pairing 88010 and 87401 will create a prototypical trainset with associated destination boards for Braunschweig – Aachen from Era IV.

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.