Märklin, GmbH

In the beginning, it was only Märklin.  Z-Scale was Märklin’s idea, and when the trains were first shown at the Nürnberg Toy Fair, Märklin needed to provide a complete product line to give Z-Scale credibility. In addition to the trains themselves, there needed to be track, transformers and things to place the trains into a realistic world.  So, there needed to be structures.

The genius of Z-Scale has always been that it can be both very small and very large at the same time.  Obviously, it is the smallest electric powered train in the world, but at the same time, this gave Z an advantage that other scales could only dream of.  While other model railroad scales need to do selective compression to create a model railroad layout, Z-Scale allows you to model a structure exactly as it is built in the real world. That is to say, many model railroad items are modified in such a way that the modeled item is not impossibly huge.  Selective compression creates a model that has the flavor of a particular structure but one that has been made smaller so that it doesn’t dominate the model railroad scene. With toy trains, manufacturers often made locomotives and cars shorter in length so that they would go around toy train curved track.  The train itself looked similar enough in comparison to the real train that you knew what you were looking at, but it still had concessions made to insure its ability to operate without requiring a train layout the size of a real house.

Z-Scale did not have that burden; it was possible to literally model something on an exact scale proportion, and Märklin used this advantage to its best. Consider the 8960 train station model.

Photo courtesy Märklin

This station building is relatively large in comparison to many other model railroad stations.  Yet, like most other models, this structure is based upon a real building, in this case, it is the train station in Märklin’s hometown, Göppingen. Here is the real building on which their model was based:

Photo: Riley O’Connor

In this case, Märklin modeled their large station building almost exactly.  I say almost because I have not taken measurements and compared the model to the prototype, but if there was any compression of the model, it is not immediately apparent.  Likewise, the station platforms (8961) have been modeled almost exactly as they appear in the real world:

Photo: Riley O’Connor

Photo courtesy Märklin

One concession that was made is with the clear roof of the train platform canopy.  It is possible that the canopies were clear at some point, but they are now covered. Presumably, the clear plastic was used to allow better viewing of the trains on a Z-Scale railroad. But the platform model includes a representation of the stairway which leads up from a subterranean corridor that leads from the station to the individual tracks. These platforms can be joined end-to-end to make a longer structure. If memory serves, the Göppingen station has a total of seven tracks (with four platforms), so it is quite possible to model the Göppingen station exactly on an average model railroad.

Märklin also offered a small station, the 8962. This station is based upon a real station just south of Göppingen. In earlier times, there was a branch line railroad which left Göppingen to the south, heading to the town of Boll, in the heart of apple raising country. Some of the Märklin passenger cars carry destination signs for the Göppingen - Boll route.  This smaller station was midway between Göppingen and Boll in a town called Dürnau:

Photo courtesy Märklin

Selective compression is not necessarily a bad thing, and even Märklin did it in Z-Scale. Consider the 8965, a model of the signal tower in Göppingen:

Photo courtesy Märklin

In comparison with the actual signal tower at the east end of the Göppingen station, you will note that the length of the tower has been slightly shortened, removing six windows, but the overall character and appearance of the tower is retained.

Photo: Riley O’Connor

In 1976, Märklin added another station, the 8970. Called Wintersdorf, this station could be combined with a freight shed, No. 8971, to form a longer single structure. Wintersdorf is a small town located on the Rhine, west of Stuttgart. The station still exists, but passenger service there was abandoned years ago. The model of the station is almost an exact replica of the real one.

The base plates of each structure had a thin line which allowed for a small amount of the plate to be broken off; the two structures were then glued together for a larger building.  The left side of the freight shed would connect to the station.  This long combination passenger / freight station represents the real station at Wintersdorf.

Both photos courtesy Märklin

Märklin produced a variety of other railroad structures.

Locomotive Enginehouses

The 8966 is a modern facility for electrics and diesels. This engine shed was offered in three variations, with internal differences that are not visible except through close examination.  This structure could be used by itself or with the 8994 transfer table.

The 8981 is a single track enginehouse; the doors can be controlled remotely with the built in solenoid mechanism located in the top of the structure. This building could also be illuminated internally with the 8953 light insert; small locating holes are in the base plate of the kit.

Three photos courtesy Märklin

The 8993 roundhouse was meant to be used with the 8998 turntable. It could be combined with additional roundhouse buildings and it also could be used as a free standing structure.  In certain situations, the railroad would remove the turntable but retain the roundhouse building.

Both the 8991 and 8993 represent brick structures. The mortar lines of the brick work are cast in place; making a thin paint wash of white or light gray, brushing over the entire sides and then wiping away the paint will fill up these mortar lines, creating a more realistic appearance.  I often use liquid white shoe polish to create this effect.

Incidentally, the roundhouse is more appropriate for steam locomotive maintenance, since, in real life, the locomotives were run forward into the house. Because of the wedge shape of the engine stall, there was more open area around the front end of the locomotive, the area where more repair and maintenance was performed. The locomotive's tender, parked in the smaller end of the wedge-shaped stall closest to the turntable, usually needed much less maintenance. Diesel and electric locomotives, because of their design, require more square-shaped work areas. Needless to say, these are general rules, since electric and diesel locomotives are sometimes repaired in roundhouses. The Southern Railway, by the way, repaired steam locomotives in a rectangular building in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1970s and 80s.

There are a number of engine service facilities:

Both photos courtesy Märklin

One odd problem that happens while assembling the 8982 coaling station for steam locomotives is that the baseplate tends to warp along the long dimension of the structure. There are a variety of ways to minimize this problem, but it seems to be a good idea to clamp the corners of the baseplate onto a piece of plywood while assembling this kit. Once everything has thoroughly dried, the clamps can be removed and everything should stay in place. I’m not sure why this problem occurs, but it may be because the baseplate is too thin. Once the complete structure is in place, all the glued pieces seem to provide the necessary support to keep things square.

Märklin also offers several station accessories, such as a container crane and a pedestrian bridge, as well as a nonfunctional car scale and loading gauge. The loading gauge is a metal frame that allows the train crew to determine if a particular car, or a flatcar with an oversized load, will be able to pass unimpeded over a particular railroad line. Sometimes, a railroad is unable to avoid a restricted clearance area, such as a low bridge or a narrow tunnel, and the train crew needs to determine if their train will be able to pass this spot before they leave the yard.

Photo courtesy Märklin

Since railroads charge by the ton hauled per mile, car scales (such as in the lower right of the photograph above) are found in many key railroad terminals. Likewise, loading gauges are found at junctions between major railroad lines and branch lines.  Woe be to the crew that neglects to use the load gauge before heading off onto the branchline where the tight spot awaits. Once on the road with that oversized load,  accidents occur as the car wedges itself in, or the top of the load gets sheared off.

Conductor to Engineer:
Why are we slowing down?
Engineer (notching the throttle open wider for more power) to Conductor:
I don't know.

 

Meanwhile, back in the train, the air is filled with the sounds of splintering wood and the squealing of metal rubbing against metal.  Or worse.

Residential Structures

The Märklin residential structures are typical of buildings found in the vicinity of Göppingen, Märklin’s hometown. As you ride the train up the Fils River valley from Stuttgart to Göppingen, you will see countless residences. The 8964 is quite typical of these homes.

Photo courtesy Märklin

Likewise, the 8963 is similar to apartment structures in Göppingen. This structure has recently been produced again in different colors.  This building has a penthouse with roof garden, along with retail space at street level:

Photo courtesy Märklin

Photo courtesy Märklin

Two of my personal favorite structures are the 8968 and 8969 terrace houses.  They are classic Bauhaus, stark and severe:

Photo courtesy Märklin

One of the interesting aspects of these two kits is that they are modular, which allows for multiple kits to be joined together to form a larger structure. The 0299 brochure describes in detail the various ways in which this can be accomplished using the various guide lines cast into the plastic base and roof.  These kits are no longer offered, but do appear at auction or on dealer’s shelves from time to time. This photo from the 1973 catalog shows the modular aspect of these kits:

Photo courtesy Märklin

Notice the combination of two 8963’s to make a 10 storey apartment house and the hillside of 8968’s on the upper left.  That’s a lot of plastic kits!

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