Category Archives: Steam Locomotives

New SJ L5 steam locomotive build kit from FR: Part 2

Not long ago I posted about FR’s recent release of the class L5 steam loco for SJ, it is a build kit, and I just received mine today! The kit is a well designed precision kit, it provides a rarity for Z modeling.

The kit comes packaged in a plastic container with numerous parts enclosed along with visual instructions. It is a kit that requires a Marklin 8801, 88956 or 8803 for motive power along with modification of the side rods and painting the wheels black. The cylinders were placed within the locomotive chassis in the prototype thus the cylinders are removed for this model.

Note: Marklin tender is not required for this kit which provides the correct prototypical tender for the loco.

For those experienced with building rolling stock in Z or working with nickel silver this kit is self explanatory, but for the inexperienced modeler this kit should not be the first. Accumulating some experience with building etched metal buildings should probably come first for new modelers: gaining soldering experience with bigger parts first will be invaluable for assembling the small parts in this kit. I am in the process of learning to do these kits starting first with the excellent non powered Behnke kits offered by Scandinavian Galleries Quality Toys. Behnke kits do not provide instructions and careful interpretation is required to fully understand how they go together, but they are excellent kits that combine gluing, soldering and bending of small nickel silver parts; they provide a good place to start before tackling the very interesting L5 kit.

The packaging of the L5 kit separates parts according to their purpose instead of throwing everything together thus taking care of the guesswork. The beautifully cast metal boiler and cast plastic tender trucks are included with etched nickel and add-on parts such as the buffers which are brass. The tender also includes a tiny circuit board to allow it to pick-up power with its three axles.

Note: The age old technique of picking up additional power from the tender’s wheelsets is a very effective way to increase performance of small steam locos through turnouts and the like!

Some of the add-on parts are super tiny so I highly recommend a very fine tip soldering iron as well as 5 minute epoxy which work hand in hand on models. Until I build this kit I won’t exercise a preference for using glue over solder and vice versa for specific steps, suffice to say solder will be used more.

Paint finish will be applied with airbrush and water based paint followed by decals provided.  A finish coat of clear water based acrylic is always required otherwise the finish and decals would wear.

The kit is FR Item #46.140.91, it is currently available.

What you need to complete the locomotive: 1. Marklin 8801, 88956, or 8803 2. water based paint best suited for airbrushing 3. patience 4. time 5. soldering iron and/or 5 minute epoxy 6. tweezers 7. Xacto blade for cutting parts from sheet 8. time 9. patience 10. magnifying binoculars

Be the first kid on the block to own an L5 SJ steam locomotive in Z!

Stayed tuned for my future post on the completed L5 along with some tips on building the kit.

 

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.

 

 

 

SJ L5 Locomotive: FR’s new release build kit

An important new release for SJ railroading in Z is FR’s L5 steam locomotive, it comes in the form of a build kit with etched metal parts, cast boiler, and SJ decals. Note: I ordered mine and in a follow-up post I will review the kit and step-by-step photos. If you are new to soldering and assembling nickel silver/brass etched kits either buildings or trains the right tools make all the difference for this fun and rewarding extension of Z railroading: stay tuned!

FR L5 locomotive item #46.140.91 is available directly from FR for a little more than $100 USD including shipping. Ordering from FR is easy and shipping to the United States is fast. Visit FR’s homepage http://fr-model.homepage.t-online.de/ and set-up an account. Note: 19% VAT is reduced from posted Euro pricing for United States buyers.

The finished model includes loco shell only and tender without wheels, to complete the project Marklin class 24 or 74 locos provide the motive power. At this time I am not sure the recent release class 74’s are appropriate for this kit due to their new side rod design, perhaps the class 24’s with tenders are better choices due to the inclusion of the tenders and its wheelsets(?). I will follow-up next week after receiving my kit!

As is always the case with FR postings, I wish to announce new releases by this small high precision manufacturer because their offerings quickly sell out.

Prototype: class L5 locomotive built by NOHAB in the 1930’s was designated as a branchline passenger and freight locomotive of which 5 were built in Trollhattan.

 

 

New Propulsion: Marklin’s foray into brushless motors

This isn’t the first, and it won’t be last post commenting on the new motors for Marklin Z. With progress comes nervousness and apprehension about the future, and the new Marklin motors for Z are one such progression.

Oiling the wheel sets and keeping the wheels clean is all that is required for maintaining these new motors and locos. The new generation of Marklin Z includes numerous new item releases, re-tooling of older designs, greater detail of running gears, pantograph screws moved to the inside of electric locos, and new propulsion. In some cases the new propulsion replaces 3 and 5 pole motors used in older well known locos, and other newly tooled locos are designed with the new motor types. Brushless motors have been used by numerous manufacturers of Z with excellent results including FR, Z-Modellbau and Archistories.

My open question: Should Marklin start using this new technology? On the one hand the 5 pole was a very positive replacement for the 3 pole: quieter with smoother running performance, but the brushless motors are supposed to be even more quiet and smoother with lower idling speeds. There is more maintenance with the 3 and 5 pole including replacing brushes and unlocking transmission and running gears when oil hardens from prolonged storage. Everything seems to support this new advancement, but for some maybe not. The traditional motor is strong and durable winning the Guinness World Record for continuous running: 1219 hours in 1978. If it isn’t broke why fix it? Which takes me to the impetus for this post and my personal experience with the new steam loco 88974 featuring the new motor. Inexplicably this loco stops dead in its tracks on a clean oval test track after running well for a few minutes, it will resume running in the opposite direction before returning to running forward until it stops again. Problem solving with the traditional motor is easy with the new one it is more elusive. Possibly more precision is required to align the new motor and gearing owing to the precision hand assembly at FR and Z-Modellbau and their mastery with this new type of motor? Collectors of Marklin Z are in the early stages of acquiring Marklin locos with the new motor and maybe this is simply the “learning curve” phase.

Side by side comparison of the same class loco (new and old) shows the adaptation of the new motor in an older mini-club loco type. Locomotive Serie 231 Pacific lettered for SNCF from Orient Express set 8108 (1988-1997 released with 3 pole motor which can upgrade to 5 pole) photo: top shelf and Class S 3/6 lettered for K.Bay.Sts.B (One Time Series 2015 New Releases with current brushless 5 pole motor) photo: bottom shelf.

Note: larger physical presence of new motor extending outside the cab than the older brush motor.

Siding: Google brushless motors for detailed description versus brush motors and share your insights with me, I would enjoy adding to my understanding and education with this new technology. Cheers to Marklin for the continuing evolution of Z gauge.

 

Marklin 88893: BR 10 with experimental paint scheme

The rarest of the BR 10’s in ‘Z’ is the 88893, it was only available from the mini-club Center upon release. This One Time Series from 2004 features the experimental paint scheme proposed by Krauss-Maffei, they also proposed a unique angled smoke deflector with large proportions. This was another paint scheme that was not adapted for the new DB BR 10 instead black was the chosen color. The 88893 was released in an attractive wood box, it features a 5 pole motor.

Siding: one of Marklin’s Era III DB coach sets will complement this loco and look great to boot!

Marklin 88892: BR 10 Experimental Paint Scheme

A special cast gold BR 10 was released as the 3rd of this loco class in 1997 as item number 88891, in 3 years the 4th BR 10 would be released as 88892. The Era III 88892 was a One Time Series for the MHI Program in an experimental paint scheme, various designs were floated before indecision landed on the black paint scheme represented as 8889. The attractive blue with white pinstripe would have been a stunner in the late 1950’s representing a new loco with “forward progress” suggested by the innovative design, but this and other paint schemes were shelved when a consensus of opinion could not be reached. Model originally delivered in an attractive wood box.

Siding: all BR 10’s are Era III, it was a short lived locomotive type with just two prototypes, Marklin released 5 models of this loco but only one was based on the prototype, the others included a special Marklin cast gold model and 3 experimental paint schemes that were proposals only.

Marklin 8889: BR 10 Steam Locomotive

Following the release of the 8888 for the MHI program a second BR 10 (8889) with the same operating number was delivered in the same year: 1994. But unlike the one time release of the 8888 the 8889 would remain in production for 14 years ending its run in 2008. During the long tenure of the 8889 in the mini-club line-up a significant upgrade occurred with all Z locos, in 1999 the 5 pole motor was introduced which has since become standard equipment in all ‘Z’ locos. For collectors of Z here is an example with two variations: one with original 3 pole motor and another with 5 pole motor. Color scheme for 8889 is black with white pinstripe lettered for DB with operating number 10 001.

Siding: for collectors buying BR 10’s today it will be rare to find one directly from a Marklin dealer in new condition, the secondary market is the more viable place to find these locos. Buying tip: be sure the loco includes cap that hides screw on top of shell, this is a very hard part to replace and downgrades the value and appearance.

Marklin 8888: BR 10 Steam Locomotive

The first BR 10 loco was released in 1994 as a One Time Series for the MHI Program: product number 8888. Sporting a very attractive paint scheme the 8888 was delivered in blue and gray with bright red wheel spokes and matching tender trucks. A heavy cast metal shell with operating number 10 001 for the DB. Design and styling seems to scream Era III in the age of streamlining as a emblem of progress and modern aesthetics. The model produced by Marklin is a very good runner with plenty of weight to maximize the pulling potential of 4-5 coaches easily.

photos: 8888

Side Rods: Correct alignment to make steam locos go!

Sometimes the repair of a steam loco is necessary thus taking one apart can be cruel and unusual punishment for the uninitiated, but quickly it is realized that repairing a mini-club steam loco is achievable with a few general rules.

When I first got into collecting mini-club I remember a dealer offering repair services for all locos except for steam locos, they are too difficult was this much awarded USA Marklin dealer response. Through the course of my collecting the repair and maintenance of steam locos is part of the fun! When I use the word fun I really mean it, what better way than to quietly sit at the workbench on a Saturday afternoon taking apart a loco that does not work and bringing it back to life. The problem solving with a positive resolution is key to excitement of returning a loco to service such is the case with correct assembly of steam locos.

All of us will have a turn removing hardened oil from around the pilot wheel pivot point or wheel set gearing and even the worm gear all requiring a disassembly of the oil pan below the engine. Removing hardened oil is simply achieved but reassembling the steam loco can be the hard part for some locos including ‘mallet’ type or others with more than two pairs of driving wheels. All reassembly of bogies follows the same advice and that is to start at the front drive wheel followed by the intermediate gear followed by the next drive wheel and so forth. The pick-ups that make contact with the drive wheels can be a little tricky but keeping pressure (not too much) to each assembled wheel set in the chain works best otherwise with no pressure the pick-ups would spring outside the wheels. Add side rods to the mix and the assembly gets a little more tricky. Some side rods simply sit in a groove in the cylinder block while other designs allow them to be inserted in slots. The BR 10’s (8888, 8889, 88892, and 88893) side rods are of the latter type, the side rod sits in a groove and the shell holds it in place. Applying pressure to the side rods until the shell is in place adds a layer of complexity to this locomotive type.

Correct orientation of the wheel sets follows that all weighted sides of the wheels are aligned at the same spot to achieve this end one must turn a pair of wheel sets until it aligns. If the wheels are not lined up correctly the loco does not run properly if at all. Inexplicably in the case of the BR 10’s the wheel sets can be out of alignment and still work well on an operating loco, go figure!

photo: incorrect wheel alignment on 8889

photo: correct wheel alignment on 8889

Once the loco is taken apart it is a straight forward matter of putting it back together, it will always go back together because Marklin makes them that way. As soon as patience has left the room perhaps one should leave the project to come back to later. Always start from the front of a bogie and leave the pilot and trailing truck for last, they can be slide under the loose oil pan before screwing it together.

Note: before making any such repair organize the work bench with good light and a surface to work on, I use a foam bench made for z by www.z-hightech.de featuring a tool holder, flat area for holding parts, wedge shape section to hold a loco upside down and on angle, and a channel for securely holding the loco in place. This is the very best accessory I have found for train maintenance. I got mine on Ebay from gps_97 under the heading “GPS-5000 maintenance pad”.