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
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
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.