model train set on track

Dorfan 3930 Crocodile

e*Train Issue: Oct 2002   |   Posted in:

by Bradley Kaplan

{Editors Note: Brad is also the website designer for the new Dorfan website}

The reason I got involved in developing Dorfan’s website is because of my continued interest in the reproductions. After I bought my repro Dorfan #70 crane, I wanted to learn who was behind it.

The #3930 Crocodile is designed to run on Dorfan “Wide Gauge” track. “Wide Gauge” is the name Dorfan used for “Standard Gauge” since “Standard Gauge” was a Lionel trademark. You can run this engine on any Standard gauge layout.

Working on the website, I am fortunate enough to have one of the prototypes for the reproduction Crocodile. This prototype was made from the original tooling that will be used to make the regular production version. It can be (and has been by me) run and abused just like the production version will be able to. In fact, I have a set of original lithographed Dorfan passenger cars and have been using this engine to pull them. I have had the engine for about a month and it has not left my layout. Sadly, I am going to have to return the prototype at York.

For those that do not know the history of Dorfan, they where a pioneer in die-casting. Unfortunately, they had problems with impurities in their die-cast material. Most original Dorfan engines, if they have not crumbled completely into pieces yet, the piece will have too much deterioration or warpage due to the impurities to run. The die-cast bodies are warped, pushing the motor, gears and wheels out of alignment. Obviously this new remake will not suffer from metal fatigue problems.

This reproduction engine is the first opportunity for many Dorfan enthusiasts to finally run their pieces. In fact, on my lithographed Dorfan cars that I am pulling with this engine, I had a Lionel coupler installed so the cars could run with a Lionel engine. This was done since I assumed I would never find a working Dorfan engine to pull them.

The tooling for this prototype was made by using a laser to measure the body and parts of an original. Then, the readings from the laser were used to create the new tooling. The body is actually 2 huge die-cast castings and all the parts mount inside the castings in mounts cast into the body.

The only difference between this and the original was that a more reliable can motor was installed in place of the original open field motor.

This engine has a Dorfan male coupler on one end and a female on the other end and has run for hours on end with ease. The only gripe I have with the engine is it takes off like a rocket at the low voltage settings. But don’t worry, this is a problem that the people at Dorfan are aware of and will be fixed for the final version! A different intermediate gear will be use so the power range will be evenly distributed through-out your transformers’ power range.

I wanted to see the pulling power, so I took a bunch of Lionel standard gauge 200 series cars and tied them to the coupler of this engine. (Since Lionel uses different couplers than Dorfan they have to be tied together). I was able to pull eight 200 series cars. I never lubricated the axles on the 200 series cars so I would imagine that it could pull a handful more if properly lubricated.

The lower speed intermediate gear will give more traction on the new production version.

This prototype has a manual reverse unit with the two-finger design Dorfan developed. The final production version will have this same reverse unit, but instead of reversing the engine, it will turn on and off an electronic 3 position E-unit. The production version will also have directional headlights. The headlights are black on this prototype but will be painted brass on the final production.

Passenger cars will be manufactured after the engine is produced and will be painted to match the engines.

See the Dorfan website for details on the cars and other future products.

The new Dorfan production is manufactured by Korean Brass for T-Reproductions sold exclusively through JFP’s Fun Stuff.

The engine is being offered in Orange, Black, Gray, Green, Red & Floridian (ivory yellow with red roof). The production is limited to a total of 300 pieces! (this is not 300 of each color, but 300 total!)

The price is $499 + $25 Shipping
To order call (877) 271-9448

You can see the Crocodile this month at York and place your order there if you like!

For more product information go to The website even has a video of the engine running!

Photos of 2 of the other color choices for the 3930 Crocodile