Many of the steam locomotives covered on this web site are models of German engines. In many cases, models of the same type of steam engine were produced in different scales by different manufacturers. Even in the 1960’s, the steam locomotive models represented the modern German railroad scene. In fact, Germany in the 1950’s had developed a number of new steam locomotive designs, called “Neubaulokomotive”. At the same time, North American railroads were retiring their steam locomotives as quickly as they could. By 1960, American mainline steam locomotives were largely out of service. So, from a North American perspective, the presence of steam locomotives in the different manufacturer’s lines is a bit of an anachronism.
In fact, the steam locomotive was still quite present on the Deutsche Bundesbahn at that time. In that era, Germany was still in a state of recovery from the debilitating effects of World War II, and the German Federal Railroad was very cost conscious. While diesel fuel came from imported petroleum, the steam locomotive used coal from the Saarland. As a consequence, the steam locomotive remained on the German railroad scene until the mid-1970’s. While the last mainline steam locomotive was manufactured in the United States in 1948, the last German mainline steam engine was built in 1959, a Class 23 2-6-2. And serious preservation of steam locomotives started a lot earlier in Germany than it did in the United States.
Because of the DB mechanical department’s practices, German locomotives were colorful. The red color on the wheels and frames of their steam locomotives had a practical side in that the bright color made it easy for locomotive inspectors to examine the engine’s running gear for metal fatigue and cracks. This practice appears to date back to the 1920’s, when the German railroads unified into one major company.
There’s something about that red running gear......