A Marklin Christmas
By Ronald J Vance
I would guess that the majority of “older” TCA members had their first experience with toy trains via Lionel, Flyer or even Marx.
My early memories of Christmas layouts were ruled by little funny looking engines from Germany.
Mom had six sons and four of them, including me, had the opportunity to serve in the military in Germany. My oldest brother was there at a time when the last thing thought about was toy trains, Normandy beach, and landing on Omaha beach. But my next oldest brother was sent there in the immediate post war period.
My father had been interested in trains for years and when he heard that his son could purchase Marklin items very cheaply, my brother Bob send home a few Marklin items.
These were, for some reason, two SK800 streamline engines and a single RM800 which is a little 0-6-0 with a tender. Along with the SK800s were the passenger cars that came in the sets.
This Marklin layout is interesting in that my father hand spiked a third rail in the center of the fiber tie flex track. Marklin, of course, being three rail and AC current. He even did this with the many track switches (turnouts) throughout the train platform. He also had to rig up a 220 volt current source so we could use the Marklin 220v transformers.
Times were a little different back then.
When my next older brother, Bill, was shipped off overseas a few years later, my Dad sent a list of items to buy and send home for the expanding Marklin collection. These included a G800 freight engine and the nice F800 Pacific. Also coming to the house were a TM800 and little CM800 which were 0-6-0 tank engines. About 8 cast metal freight cars were also in the package.
If you look at the pictures you will note that this Christmas layout only includes the early Marklin equipment. This was taken before the second group of trains were sent home. Dad could only use the engines and passenger cars as we had no German freight cars at that time. To make up a freight consist we just hooked up early American cars using Mantua couplers. These couplers would mate up with the Marklin latch type coupler easily.
When my father died in 1971, brother Bob had stored all the Marklin equipment safely away. As my interest in Marklin and Fleischmann trains increased, brother Bob figured I should be the caretaker of the family Marklin. About a year or so ago I was handed a couple of boxes with the old Marklin trains all rolled up in early 70’s newpaper.
I have done a little repair work on the SKs and actually had to locate a set of smoke deflectors for one engine since I had removed them, as a boy, to make that engine look more American.
Now I have added to the early Marklin collection and still find them interesting bits of toy train development.