model train set on track

A Most Unusual MARX Sand (Coal) Loader

e*Train Issue: Jun 2006   |   Posted in: ,

By Dr. Paul Wassermann
[email protected]

This is a toy that I haven’t seen before. Actually it is either a prototype or a production sample model, made by Marx. It is a very sturdy loader that utilizes a rubber tread from a tank or tractor toy as a conveyor belt to carry the material dumped in the loading bin to a waiting truck or train.

I purchased this item in an Ebay auction. I envisioned that the loader would make a great accessory for my Marx Pennsylvania coal train that includes a dumping coal car and electric dumping station. Adding to my interest in the piece was the fact that, painted on the bottom, was the following: Model No. 789 Girard 4-13-39. I believe that identifies this piece as a possible prototype, and certainly dates the toy!

As I was cleaning and polishing the loader, something struck me. It had a very familiar look to it. It has a very striking resemblance to Lionel’s # 397 Diesel Operating Coal Loader which made its first appearance in 1948! Perhaps it is just a coincidence of design, or perhaps, Lionel somehow got a peak at the Marx piece I have and extended the concept to produce their very successful coal loading accessory.

I would be very interested to know if any of you have seen this loader. Was it actually produced (the fact that it was designated model No. 789 would make you think it was, but again I have never seen such a toy before)?