Category Archives: Marklin Z

Engineering Perfection: Marklin E 18 in ‘Z’!

I recently purchased a rare variant of the E 18 electric locomotive in Z by Marklin, it arrived as a used working model, but with a fair amount of dirt and hairs strangling the axles. Cleaning it up included taking it apart and removing the dirt and grime under the hood, but it also included removing excess oil that even found its way under the circuit board. No HOS (hardened oil syndrome) to deal with, but over oiling has its issues including attracting dust and damaging the motor, in this case not much damage occurred to the locomotive.

This post is not so much inspired by the normal reporting of mini-club locomotive maintenance instead it is one that was inspired by the brilliant engineering and design of the E 18 for mini-club.

Marklin does not apply the same rules and principles when designing a mini-club loco: same motor and chassis different shell, no Marklin designs each locomotive class from the ground up thereby insuring the prototype is accurate in 1:220 scale and operates as flawlessly as we have all come to expect from mini-club operation!

Marklin 88082: rarest E 18 variant from 2004

The E 18 is an example of one such mini-club locomotive design that incorporates unique engineering and casting that is also meant to be taken apart and repaired when the need arises.

Taken apart this locomotive has a lot of parts that work flawlessly in the assembled locomotive including two gears that sit on posts within the frame and two large gears allowed to float on their axles.

above photo: right- small metal gear sits on post within frame as well as a second one not pictured, 2 additional gears one synthetic with two sets of gearing sit posts that are inserted through frame body

above photo: left- drive wheels that float on their axles pictured left are assembled in slots on the motor end of frame, two drive wheels right use thinner gears that are permanently fixed in the center of axles which are thicker than floating axles.

The design concept is simple: gather electricity from the wheels by way of a circuit board, the turning worm gear (transmission) on the motor engages with gearing that engages all the way down to the wheels thereby making all wheels drive wheels except for the pilot wheels.

Note: plastic mini-club loco shells are removed without damage with super thin synthetic guitar picks, do not use metal screwdrivers famously illustrated in the Marklin instruction manuals boxed with the locomotives.

With the shell off the cast wheel details are carefully pulled off, they are simply held onto the frame with posts!

Circuit board is not held under clips as with other locomotives, and one screw is all that is required to hold it in place.

The motor is screwed to the frame with 2 brackets each installed with two screws. Note: if you are at this point in restoration it is advisable to remove the motor and clean the frame under it. It is also a good idea to test the motor out of the frame, inspecting the brushes is also a good idea at this point.

After cleaning all the gears replace in the frame with the two gears on posts first followed by the large gears (2 gears that are designed to float on their axles are installed on the motor side of the frame, thickness of these axles also match the machining on the frame).

Note: use care to prevent bending of the copper leads on sides of frame.

Final steps: clipping on the wheel detail sections and then shell: Voila!!!!!

Variants of the German E 18 in mini-club:

Marklin class E 18 for DB (88080) Era III:

Marklin class 118 for DB (88081) Era IV:

Marklin class 1018 for OBB (88082) Era IV:

Marklin class E 18 42 for OBB (81441: trainset with coaches) Era III:

Siding: no other Z scale loco is designed to be taken fully apart and easily assembled as mini-club: diesel and electrics are easier than steam and non articulated are easier than articulated.

Siding: all class E 18’s are sold out at the factory, but Walthers still has the 81441 trainset available with beautiful green livery and 4 skirted coaches.


German Federal Railroad BR 38: Marklin 88998

Marklin’s 2013 announcement of the 88998 was the last in a long line of P8 locomotive versions this one being the Era III class 38 with tub style tender painted and lettered for the German Federal Railroad. With a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement and operating number 38 1910 this locomotive has smoke deflectors installed indicative of later Era P8’s.

But this release was more than another version featuring new lettering and paint scheme it also featured improved side rods thus including partial new tooling of a proven design. Further improvements include LED headlamps.

Coupled to the locomotive is a large high capacity tub style tender a feature of post-war locomotives in this class.

The 5 pole motor works perfectly to move this locomotive effortlessly down the tracks even at slow speeds, but it is perhaps the last version of this locomotive type that will feature a traditional brush motor as Marklin continues to incorporate the new technologies of brushless motors into the mini-club line-up!

Grand Ducal Baden State Railways P8 Locomotive: Marklin 88999

Another version of the P8 steam locomotive was released by Marklin in the colorful 88999 for Bad. Stsb. (Grand Ducal Baden State Railways). The model was announced in 2009 in bright Prussian Blue paint scheme with hand painted brass boiler bands, it features a five pole motor and cast metal construction thus providing the weight and ballast for excellent pulling capacity. The P8 in Era I for Bad.Stsb. did not have smoke deflectors installed as with later Era locomotives in this class thus they are not present on this model.

The prototype was built in the years 1906-1923 for a total production of more than 3000, it would prove to be a hugely successful locomotive in service in some cases as long as 5 decades. Prewar P8’s were coupled with small capacity tenders whereby post war P8’s were coupled with tub style tenders authentically modeled by Marklin in other mini-club locos of this class.

The running performance of all versions of mini-club P8’s is outstanding even at low speeds.

Siding: numerous versions of the P8 exist in the mini-club line up including trainsets, it was even updated with improved side rods, but it still uses the proven 5 pole motor with traditional brushes and armature: brushless motors maybe on the horizon for future versions of the P8, but I hesitate to wholly endorse this improvement.

ETAT Class 231 Express Locomotive

The 2008 mini-club release of an Era II French State Railways (ETAT) class 231 express locomotive was included with trainset 81080 (“International Long-Distance Express Train”) which also included 4 coaches and a baggage car painted and lettered for International Sleeping Car and Dining Car Company (CIWL).

The operating number for this locomotive (231-997) indicates it was originally a class C Wurttemberg with 4-6-2 wheel arrangement. Following WW1 three class C’s were given to France with operating numbers 231-997, 231-998 and 231-999 assigned by Chemins de Fer de l’Etat. In service until 1937 all three locomotives were destroyed by bombing in 1944, Marklin’s 81080 locomotive preserves the prototype of the class 231-997.

The model is beautifully painted and lettered with hand-painted bands. Excellent weight and 5 pole motor make this a locomotive with very good running performance even at slow speeds.






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.

Marklin Insider 88507: cab forward BR 05 DRG

One of the more interesting Z items released in the past few years was the 2014 Marklin Insider “Fine Art” edition 88507. The release of the BR 05 Era II cab forward steam locomotive marked the first and hopefully not the last special “Fine Art” releases, it was produced in brass with numerous add-on parts and filigree spoke wheels. Motive power is provided by new coreless motor with bell shaped armature. Available to Insider Members, the release was presented in special packaging including wooden box and certificate. Possibly due to the high price of this locomotive some were not delivered and a few are still available from dealers including Reynauld’s in IL.

Built in 1937 the BR 05 003 was the only cab forward design produced of the class 05, it resumed post war service in 1950 after restoration work was performed by Krauss-Maffei, it was retired in 1958. Cab forward steam locomotives are a technical marvel which allow better visibility but require larger crews.

The Marklin model is 5 inches in length over buffers, due to brass casting it is heavy featuring a robust motor thus mechanically sound and smooth running. If the locomotive is displayed it can be fitted with full skirting provided with the model or skirting can be removed for running on track with maximum radius of 195mm, with full skirting the locomotive can only go straight. Spacing adjustable between locomotive and tender. As with past historical releases Marklin has included a cast metal builder’s plate for Borsig.

BR 05 003 was scrapped in 1960, photographs and technical models provide the historical record of this interesting locomotive.

Siding: joining the Marklin Insider Club is less than a $100 a year, member benefits include the annual Club Car in the scale of choice, Marklin Insider Magazin, Insider Model reservation certificate, Insider Club News, annual catalog, laminated club card with member’s name, and “Year of Marklin” DVD.




Railex versus Z-Modellbau: Kof II showdown

Until Z-Modellbau took the challenge to manufacturer a Z Kof II with a Motor (!!!!) our choice was limited to mechanical rolling non-motorized Kof’s by Schmidt and Railex.

The Railex example here is cast brass (red paint scheme lettered for DB with open cab and black running boards) with fine detailing inside the cab, it was a very good example of a Kof II that Railex produced along with variations of this type.

Headlamps are non-working in both locomotives but Z-Modellbau rendered them white in perfect circles versus Railex which are hand-painted silver.

What to do with a non-working model train: use it of course! Before brushless motors manufacturers of Z gauge had certain limitations placed on their ambitions. Z gauge is already small in size so therefore modeling the smallest prototypes yield problem after problem including where to put a motor and gears. The solution with their larger steam locos and tenders was locating the drive mechanism within a passenger or freight car hence they were called “ghost cars” because they became hidden locomotives, but they allowed the locomotive to pull cars so to speak figuratively not literally. I collect Railex, they are beautiful and fun to behold. As for ghost cars I have never owned one, I understand they can be temperamental and many I see for sale are offered “not working”. Ghost cars can be built by industrious engineers with a clever creative side which describes most of us Z-scalers, if you choose the to take the challenge the rewards are big and stalled trains from 19th century Germany may come to life on your railway line.

Photo: no couplers on Railex, Z-Modellbau uses Marklin compatible couplers of their own design that unobtrusive in this small loco

Now the time is ripe for ambitious manufacturers to create smaller locos in Z that function, today brushless motors from Switzerland are available in a variety of small sizes so releasing new locos with this motor should be easy? Wrong. From idea to final market ready model is a design and manufacturing “Matterhorn” so to speak. Having the idea is the first step followed by researching the prototype’s blueprints, putting into scale, designing the parts and assembly. Every step is time consuming and difficult with a fair share of creative thinking, ingenuous problem solving and sheer expertise in tooling and production. The latter always flabbergasts me, how can anyone be gifted with such abilities that tiny tiny tiny details appear in such small locos at the same time concealing their build.

With the Railex Kof which is cast with add-on parts in cast brass the model is beautiful with a securing plate screwed to the undercarriage that simply holds the wheel-sets on: simple and beautifully designed. This example does not have couplers thus making it a stand alone model train.

Photo: Railex Koff hauling livestock boxcar both lettered for DB

The Z-Modellbau Kof II for NSB has an enclosed cab with glazed windows and their own unique design for a Marklin compatible coupler. A 10 volt coreless motor runs the show including gearing that allow smooth acceleration and deceleration but without working headlamps. Headlamps are beautifully modeled as if lit. Locomotive is weighted and balanced due to its metal nature throughout so pulling power is very good.

Photo: Railex Kof II is true to prototypical scale giving the boxcars the impression of great size

Small locomotives serve very important functions including shunting and branchline while others not covered here serve MOW (Maintenance of Way) service, they (speeders) are still smaller than the kofs  with one purpose: track inspection.

Siding: seen here are the two livestock boxcars comprising the Marklin 2 car freight set: 86602. For the first time this car type features interior detailing in the form of gates, it also includes laser cut build kit for loading ramp and movable fence sections.

Z-Modellbau builds the legendary ML 2/2 in Z!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maffei built the ML 2/2 steam locomotive in 1906-1908, Z-Modellbau built it first as a Z scale model. The observation has been made many times equating the appearance of early German steam locos with toy trains, but the ML 2/2 was a hardy locomotive that proved it’s worth.


Built for the Bavarian State Railways the ML 2/2 was equal measure to the PtL 2/2 built by Krauss. Service duties included all such description on branchlines, and it could be operated by a single driver due to its semi-automatic gravity fed firebox. 24 locos were produced until it was retired in 1924.

Z-Modellbau has done it again with one of the finest Z scale locos ever available, the fine detailing of this loco has no rivals. And it is very small and true to scale with the prototype’s external cylinders modeled with smooth moving side rods of an ingenious design. This little gem is all metal construction featuring brushless motor and window glazing in the cab.

The ML 2/2’s place in history has been preserved in Z by Z-Modellbau, every inch of this is a masterpiece even though it’s total length is less than inch.

Running performance is superb at slow idle through full throttle.

Marklin’s 82391 (2005) high capacity coal hopper lettered for K.Bay.Sts.B is a perfect choice for this loco as well as Marklin small loco repair shed 89805.

Photo: here the ML 2/2 details are seen with coal bin in cabin roof and Marklin compatible coupler.

The scaling of Z-Modellbau locos creates a dramatic appeal on the layout due to their small size. Juxtaposed next to larger more powerful stream loco the ML 2/2 will stand out next to those towering express locos. Train sheds and buildings will also offer interesting juxtapositions and already there are buildings by Archistories and Marklin that fill in this time-frame for authentic prototypical railway scenes.

Photo: on a siding or near a loco shed the idling ML 2/2 will have great appeal on rural railway lines hauling passenger and/or freight.

Marklin’s New Brushless Motor: Good News Follow-up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The other day I submitted a post for your review which posed questions about the new brushless motors making their appearance in Marklin Z locos. And one example of a new release steam loco that had an operating issue that I included in that review.

The steam loco is the Bavarian 88923 with the very detailed running gear and side rods, out of the box it inexplicably stopped in the forward direction but ran well in reverse. Today I decided to problem solve the running performance and discovered some interesting things about the new motor.

Note: roller stands are great on those occasions a loco needs testing, they keep it in place so inspecting what is wrong is easy. Many companies make roller stands, this one is by Marklin (89932).

The new motor for the 88923 is a solid case brushless type that attaches to the end of the loco chassis in much the same way as the former 3 and 5 pole mini-club brush motors: a permanent gear mounted to the motor engages with the transmission gear whose other end is the worm gear which engages with the gears that move the wheels. The motor is secured to the chassis with a single screw like before, but the new motor has two alignment pins that engage in the end of the chassis which place the motor and chassis in precise alignment. Out of the box this loco ran rough in forward and stopped, but it ran well in reverse. I took the loco apart and removed the motor and transmission gear, I carefully reinstalled the transmission gear after applying a drop of oil on the worm gear and opposing gear, I was careful to align the two pins on motor with chassis applying a little pressure. It took 4-5 tries after moving the gears a little bit to properly seat the chassis and motor, but the tolerances seem to me to be more stringent with this new motor. The old motor assembly of the brush motors seem to have a little wriggle of the shaft and transmission gear alignment which suited that design well, but I believe the new motor assembly is a tighter system at this connecting point between motor/transmission gear/chassis. The glitch I experienced I believe was a very slight misalignment during assembly. I am happy to report that the loco runs like a dream, it is quiet and runs at very low speeds.

Photos: under the hood of the 88923 shows wire leads from motor soldered to chassis pick-ups which are taped down to facilitate removal and installation of shell. Note: solid motor case with no access points for oiling, this is a maintenance free system. Normal sparse oiling of wheel-sets still applies. Hiding wires will be part of this new world of mini-club, but this example has deep channels on each side to hold the wires flush and out of sight.

The new loco for Kay.Bay.Sts.B is not only a great runner, it is a wonder to watch the lively action of the side rods. The shell detailing and paint scheme complete this work of art, it is spectacular!!!!

Note: instructions that were packed with my loco show it with the old 5 pole E251 202. The installation of the new motor in this loco may not have been originally planned, but you will know which motor you have in this loco by looking at it: solid case is that of the new brushless motor original 3 and 5 pole motors had a center bushing that required a very lite drip of oil periodically.

Link: original instructions for the 88923 showing 5 pole brush motor thus incorrect oiling instructions are outlined

Photo: view of two Bavarian class S 3/6’s with new brushless motor (bottom: 88923) and former brush motor type (top: 8108)

Siding: motor upgrades have been available for all the mini-club locos since the 5 pole was introduced on the BR 143 in 1998 with some requiring soldering, I don’t think future upgrades with the brushless motor will be available to convert this locomotive class in former releases due to the machining of the frame with the 2 motor alignment holes.

Group Effort: introducing E 69 electric Z-Modellbau

Faller and Marklin will help me introduce the superb Z-Modellbau E 69 02 “Pauline”  electric locomotive for DB (article #2101).

The prototype was built in variations starting in 1905 culminating in 1930. A beautiful model of the prototype never offered in Z except by Z-Modellbau.

I will be posting some interesting research on electric locos coming in the future but for now many photos and not many words.


Handrails and add-on parts bring great detail to this loco that is not surpassed by any manufacturer.

Metal construction with brass gearing and brushless motor are standard features of Z-Modellbau.

Z-Modellbau locomotives are delivered in a small blue box lined with foam and small instruction sheet noting this locomotive is maintenance free and should not be taken apart.