Category Archives: Railex

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.

Railex: 19th Century Wurttemberg Coach Set

German railway history began in 1835, but Z-scale modeling includes few examples from manufacturers before 1910 leading up to WWI with the exception of Railex Modelleisenbahn GmbH. The obvious reason would seem to be further complexities of manufacturing even smaller steam locos than those proposed and manufactured by Marklin since 1972. Current can motors of small sizes could offer the future possibility of 19th century locos with their own propulsion, but time will tell if such things are in the ether!

Railex is widely known and unknown too! I have been collecting Railex primarily from the secondary market, I started collecting it late, but if I had collected early I am not sure any would have been available in the United States; I have spoken with many dealers here who never sold Railex maybe due to poor availability and small market for this avenue of Z railroading. Railex has its limited audience who have an audacity for things unique and exemplary. And pricey! Mechanically sound but without a motor is a hard justification for many a railroader’s budget, but leaving practicality aside eccentrics like myself pour over the fine detailing, mechanical perfection and splendor of these tiny trains. And yet there are methods for enabling these motor-less locos the respectability they deserve for each can be equipped with a “ghost loco” or modern diesel to bring them to life. Such justification for propping a Railex with modern equipment can be argued if you include a museum railway on your layout or you feel the “railway record” includes all trains and it is just a matter of appreciation versus historical/prototypical fact?

I have gone way off my topic here even before starting, such is the case with me and Railex. There are several gaps in ‘Z’ for coaches, we all wish Marklin would make coaches for our beloved Commodore Vanderbilt or EWII coaches for SBB as an addition to the really good coach sets made available over the years. As for the 19th century Railex is the only answer with their Wurttemberg Set.

The release date for this coach set is unknown to me, it was released as a set of three in a clear plastic box with paper label with the following inscription: “Kassette NUR LIEGEND offnen! ———-OBEN———— “Wurttemberger Zug” Set 1 (Z) -Railex Modelleisenbahn GmbH.

Included in the set are three coaches for the Wurttemberg Railway K.W.St.E.: 1-3rd class (brown), 1-2nd class (yellow with roof venting) , and 1-1st class (green with window details including curtains). It is easy to deduce classification for these coaches simply by exterior coach appearance.

Manufactured entirely of brass with filigree wheel spokes, fine detailing and precision painted surfaces the coaches also carry the Railex insignia on underside. There is the obvious heft to these cars that is quite noticeable in comparison to plastic but to be expected from all metal construction. The trucks alone are works of art with filigree wheels closely paired within the finely detailed truck housing.

Rail travel in the 19th century was a new delight with its own challenges including safety and comfort. One could imagine wooden bench seats in these coaches, no steam or electric heating perhaps blankets over laps, and maybe pinch gas lighting if night travel occurred.

Siding: European railroad antiques can be found here and there even in the United States due in large part to a long time interest for European trains. A ‘Z’ collection can be supplanted with railway badges, lanterns and loco plaques to name just a few. This Wurttemberg railway badge was found in late 2016 on Ebay:

Railex: Auto Transport BLS

The BLS operates an auto and people mover through the Lotschberg Tunnel connecting Kandersteg and Goppenstein. Passengers drive their own cars onto the rail cars which they occupy for the brief trip through the Lotschberg Tunnel. A quick and efficient means for travel in Switzerland are the many tunnels that have been well engineered and maintained. Railex was up for a challenge with this car set that features all metal construction with filigree metal roof supports and numerous details that are true to the prototype. Features a simple coupling system compatible with Marklin that allows distance adjustments between cars.

_DSF9348 _DSF9352 _DSF9355 _DSF9357 _DSF9361

Railex – Autotransportzug der BLS,  5 car freight set for transporting lite vehicles through the Lotschberg Tunnel: “Kandersteg – Goppenstein.” Full metal construction with numerous separately applied parts.


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.

Railex: Maintenance of Way

Maintenance of way rail vehicles comprise all equipment that performs some type of track maintenance. In the 19th century a weighted tender fitted with a plow and lanterns was used for snow removal. Advancements in snow removal have been made in a variety of ways for the past 150 years, Railex’s Epoche 1 snow plow looks a bit primitive by today’s dedicated snow plow locos and snow blower locos.

_DSF9326 _DSF9327 _DSF9330 _DSF9332 _DSF9334

Railex – K.Bay.STS.B. type weighted tender with fitted plow. Epoch 1.


Siding: For modern snowplow locos take a look at FR’s SJ Tc/DLL snowplow loco.


Railex: Locomotives

Railex locomotives are not known as good runners primarily because they don’t have motors! Pure mechanical master pieces made of brass with working side rods. A company with very little web presence also makes some of the finest “Z” items, but it is challenging to find them anywhere for sale except of course online. Not having a motor is no problem, that solution was cleverly found with “ghost’ locomotives which are coaches or box cars modified with motor and transmission. These locos chug right along with a little help from a big brother. Thus far 19th century German steam has only been modeled by Railex who also make early era rolling stock and coaches. Every Railex item is identified with their logo, but build quality is also a signature identifier. Take a close look and you will also see the engineer peering from around the cab.

_DSF9315 _DSF9320 _DSF9323 _DSF9324

from top:

  1. Railex – K.Bay.STS.B B VI Kreittmayr steam locomotive with peat burner and tender.    Epoch I. Working life 1869-? Beige color scheme. Loco used for Ludwig II royal trains. Operating number 425.
  2. Railex – K.Bay.STS.B Tristan B VI. Epoch I – 1865 version. Working life 1865-1912 (scrapped). Beige color scheme. Operating number 316.
  3. Railex – K.Bay.STS.B Vils C II Bavarian freight loco with tender type C n2 3T class CII, named Vils. Epoch I. Maximum speed: 45km/h. Working life: 1867-1900. Green/black/gray color scheme. Operating number 362.

*Siding: Railex items come packed in a black box with gold foil label. 19th century German steam locomotives have often been compared to toy trains in appearance. Or vice versa!