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Railway Models


Marklin the Manufacturer

DB class 85 2-10-2 Tank Loco
SBB class Ae6/8 1'C+C1'

Marklin's motto - Marklin HO - die Modelleisenbahn mit dem klaren System - (Marklin HO - the Model Railway with the distinctive System). The trains are unique in that the most common scale - HO - was invented by the company, and has continued with the original theme of using a three rail pickup system with the motors being fed from alternating current. The third rail enables trackwork to be developed without the complexity of polarity switching in loops. Alternating current motors use field coils rather than the permanent magnets which weaken their field strength with time.

Marklin is based in Germany as the world's largest manufacturer of model railways and has a history stretching back to 1859. The beginnings were devoted to the manufacture of dolls furniture by Wilhelm Marklin and his wife Caroline. Production has included model airships, ships, steam engines, carousels, automobiles and a proprietory Meccano. The original locomotives were primitive tinplate 'carpet runners' without track, and developed into clockwork and steam powered models on track. Older toys have become collectors items and have auctions with devoted followers.

Railways now dominate Marklin production in three scales:

HO (scale 1:87.1 or 3.5mm to the foot) was invented by Marklin and introduced in 1935. This scale ratio originated from when the prototype plans were in Imperial measurement and the scale models built in Metric. Before the second world war models were exported to Britain painted in the big four colour schemes.
Z (scale 1:220) was invented by Marklin and introduced in 1972 with a track gauge of 6.5mm, smaller than N scale. The smallest Z scale locomotive will fit inside a walnut shell - as proudly demonstrated in company literature.
No1 (scale 1:32) was introduced in 1925 with electric motors, to the detriment of the companys production of clockwork II and III gauge models.
Marklin has continued development of models with the concepts of digital multiple train control and on board sound. The oldest digital setup was originally developed for control by a Commodore 64. A Z gauge digital system was available for two years, but proved untenable. Catalogues are now available on CD format.

Some Compatible Manufacturers for the HO scale 3 Rail AC system

Other companies produce compatible models for the HO system, with a third rail pickup for the locomotives and a special reversing chip to handle the Marklin reversing impulse. Wheelsets are usually exchanged to obtain wheels with deeper flanges and non insulated axles. Please Note: These web sites are mainly in German. If you use Internet Explorer, point to the page and right click your mouse, then select 'Translate into English'. Google Chrome will do the translation automatically. See the above section for the links.
Marklin - Built to last, but expensive. I still run my first trainset from 3 years of age - a 1958 0-6-0 tank loco with three tinplate carriages.
Primex - The supermarket brand of Marklin. Now integrated into the mainstream Marklin catalog as the Hobby series. Marklin with simplified detailing and lower cost.
Piko - Originally East German models, now modern European electric and diesel locos, and German steam. Competitively priced but less detail than Marklin
HAG - Prototype electric locomotives and railcars from a small Swiss firm. Ruggedly built and extremely reliable with slightly less detail than Marklin. Very expensive but collectable.
Roco - Accurate models of North European trains, but appear to be delicate. Locomotives are modifications of 2 rail models. Moderately priced.
Fleischmann - Well built competitor for Marklin. Locomotives are modifications of 2 rail models. Expensively priced.
Do It Yourself - You may be able to convert your own 2 rail loco to the Marklin system with the inclusion of a third rail pickup shoe and a reversing mechanism. I have succeeded in operating a Lima 44 class on Marklin track with a home made reversing circuit featured on the Projects page.

Internet Links

Railway Clubs Marklin Modellers of Sydney The web site for the Sydney Marklin Club
Marklin Users Net Marklin Modellers on the net. English
Helmut Kern: Marklin Marklin locos available on the Helmut Kern website
Online-Modellbahnclub German Online Model Railway Club. German
S.E.A.K. Schweizerischer Eisenbahn-Amateur-Klub Zurich
Adventures in Miniature Some interesting Dutch models and projects. English
British Railway Modellers British Railway Modellers of Australia
GWR Modelling Modelling resources for those who model the Great Western Railway
Australian Public Transport Photos of Buses & Trains around Brisbane, Melbourne and Hobart
Australian Shops Woodpecker Toongabbie, NSW. English models, digital installation, friendly family staff
Bobs Hobbies West Ryde, NSW. (ex Toms) Australian (Trainorama & Austrains) English & USA.
Train Trader Pymble, NSW. Marklin & Others - New & second hand, rare items
Hobbyco Sydney, NSW. English and USA, occasional bargains, has buyers club
Frontline Hobbies Newcastle, NSW. Marklin, Australian, English & USA. Worth visiting
Frey Import & Export Langwarrin, VIC. Marklin and European. Wide range of hard to find stock
Overseas Shops AJCKids Wichita Falls, Texas, USA. Very friendly family business. Occasional bargains
Micro Macro Mundo Inc Miami, Florida, USA. Well laid out site, good prices and expensive but fast courier
Reynaulds Euro-Imports Illinois, USA. Very well laid out site with sort facilities, good prices
Euro Rail Hobbies Vancouver, BC, Canada. Well laid out site, good prices, $Can & $US prices
Manufacturers Marklin Shop Online Goppingen, Germany. Compare factory prices with shop prices
Austrains Australian HO high quality models of diesels and steam locos
Eureka Models Australian HO high quality models of diesels, steam and railcars
Hornby Trains, UK British OO, many Great Western Railway models. New DCC system
Bachmann, UK British OO scale Bachmann & N scale Graham Farish, Liliput European
Marklin, USA Marklin Model Railways North American English site
HAG, Switzerland HAG HO scale prototypes of DC & AC Swiss Electrics. German
Roco, Austria Roco HO. DC, AC European prototype, detailed but fragile. German
Fleischmann, Germany Fleischmann HO. DC and some AC European prototype. German
Piko, Germany Piko HO. DC, DCC and some AC European prototype. German
Rail Software Auran/Trainz Australian website for Trainz Railroad Simulator software
PC Railways Two Tasmanians trying to model the whole 150kM Emu Bay Railway
Steam4me Microsoft Train Simulator with Australian add-ons
UK Train Sim English and some European add ons to Train Simulator in the UK
Softrail Supplier of 'Train Despatcher', 'Train Master' and 'Track Builder'
Rail DVDs, Books Series 567 Rail Video Australian Railway DVDs. Australian, European & American videos
Tasmanian Steam Alive Tasmanian Railway Videos. Good selection of subjects and prices
ARHS Bookshop Australian Railway Historical Bookshop. All books and periodicals
Ian Allen Superstore English Railway Publisher, Midland books, great to order from

Buying From Overseas

Several attempts have proven fruitless at obtaining special Marklin models, due to lack of suitable local stock and/or excessive prices. I decided to investigate purchasing from overseas. A Google search for "Marklin Trains" immediately revealed several American and European shops. I ruled out the Europeans due to language difficulties, although some are in English with prices in Euros and $US.

Micro Macro Mundo Inc (is this "Little Big World" in pig Latin?) in Miami, Florida turned out to have good stock and reasonable prices. A search of the 'Electric Locomotive' listings revealed a rare NSB class EL18 (Marklin #34635) for $169.00 US. This was too good to refuse as the loco is unavaible in Australia, so I bought the loco under their secure credit card purchase system.

Four days later I received a notification to pick up a parcel at my local Post Office. The loco arrived securely packaged and undamaged. Apart from a requirement for lubrication, it performed beautifully.
Here is a breakdown of the costs:

Component $US Exchange $AUS
Marklin model 34635 $ 169.00 1.3150 $ 222.23
Handling Fee (packing, paperwork, export form) $ 4.50 1.3150 $ 5.92
Cost of article ex America $ 173.50 1.3150 $ 228.15
Bank Currency Conversion Fee for Model $ 5.70
Postage America to Australia $ 33.20 1.3035 $ 43.28
Bank Currency Conversion Fee for Postage $ 1.08
Total Cost from American shop $ 278.21

The shop applied a $4.50 Handling Fee, noted in the fine print on the web site, to take the American cost to $173.50.
Note the exchange rate varied between the time of purchase and the time of postage.
Four discrete charges were applied to my credit card by the bank. They were:
1. The cost of the article ex America
2. A foreign currency conversion fee for the article - St George bank charges 2.5%
3. Postage of the article from America to Australia - note ALL postal charges are expensive.
4. A foreign currency conversion fee for the postage.

Here is worked example for an early Marklin Swiss class Re460 with CIBA logos. The unique Australian example was located interstate, so I have added postage. The American example is from MMM Inc.

Component $US Exchange $AUS
Australian normal stock price $ 583.30
Postage from Australian shop $ 10.00
Cost from Australian shop $ 593.30
American normal stock price $ 300.99 1.3150 $ 395.80
Handling Fee (packing, paperwork, export form) $ 4.50 1.3150 $ 5.92
Cost of article ex America $ 305.49 1.3150 $ 401.72
Bank Currency Conversion Fee - Model $ 10.04
Postage from American shop $ 33.20 1.3035 $ 43.28
Bank Currency Conversion Fee - Postage $ 1.08
Cost from American shop $ 456.12
Saving by buying overseas $ 137.18

This is quite interesting when comparing the normal stock prices - the saving alone would be enough to buy a couple of carriages.
Also note that M.M.M.Inc. currently have the loco on special at $199.99 US. Do the maths yourself. Note that since these calculations were done, the $AUS exchange rate sat over $US parity for six months, and made for a bonanza in overseas purchases.


The local shops have good reputations, give access to warranty, service and parts plus the occasional bargain - keep your eyes peeled to the shop web sites. Prices are on a par with European catalog prices converted from Euros. You can also test any article before you buy, so if possible support your local shop.

For anything slightly exotic (say a Swiss model) you may need to buy overseas, where you might still find high prices due to the exchange rate - rework the equations for the present exchange rate. Extortionate postage costs and the occasional fictitious stock level may add problems. Bear this in mind should you consider buying overseas, and do your homework by contacting the shop before purchase. Note the overseas shops still have the same warranty conditions; merely pay for post back to the shop.