I have a certain affection for the early Märklin Gauge 1 trains. They’re toys, pure and simple, big toys that have a presence. Märklin had been in large scale trains before. Their 0-Scale line was discontinued in the late 1940’s / early 1950’s in favor of their smaller 00 / H0 sized trains, but it was Märklin that had established the notion of standardized sizes of trains. Their early trains ranged from 0 to Gauge I, Gauge II, Gauge III and some very large items were manufactured in Gauge IV. Their Gauge I line was discontinued in the early 1930’s, with the earlier large sized trains being discontinued even earlier.
By the late 1960’s, a market for large scale trains began to emerge. In 1968, the firm Ernst Paul Lehman, a toy manufacturer located in Nürnberg, introduced its line of trains called Lehman Gross Bahn (Lehman Big Trains). LGB trains operated on a track gauge of 45mm, that same gauge which Märklin had established in the late 1800’s. LGB trains were different, however, since they were proportioned to a scale of 1:22.5. Earlier Märklin Gauge I trains were proportioned to a scale of 1:32.
The Märklin company of the 1960’s was a dominant force in model railroading worldwide, and Mother Märklin felt that it was necessary to produce a large sized model train line, which brings us to the subject of these pages. While the earlier Märklin Gauge I had been stamped metal toys, the new Märklin I was largely plastic in composition. They were still toys, but there was a nod toward realistic representation of German trains.
There were initially two locomotives in this fledgling line of large scale trains. The 5700 was a model of the classic Class 80: