Marx Windup Motors...

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Marx Windup Motors...
Posted by JamesP on Friday, January 26, 2018 8:51 PM

Papa D started a very interesting discussion on another thread, one that I would like to explore further.  In order to continue the discussion without "derailing" the other thread, I thought I would start this topic so we can talk about Marx windup motors in detail!  Thank you Papa D!

First, the post that lead to this discussion:

Papa_D

The last of the CV production was in ’48, however Mercury production lasted to ’52. They used the same windup motor. “400” production started in in ’52 and lasted until ’76, although not continuous during this time span. Given the overlap between the Mercury and “400” windup production, in all likelihood the motors would have the same form and fit given Marx’s manufacturing approach that focused on saving half-pennies per unit. The windup key location and front attachment screw location looks to be the same based on the attached photo of a “400” windup.  

From the underside, the motors look to have the same form and fit. I grabbed the attached photo off of eBay. 

Finally, I have a “401” windup. Never thought of the motors being interchangeable until reading your post. Just tried it. The only difference is the front cross beam for the attachment screws is narrower for the “400” (on the left) vs CV (on the right). Also, the CV uses a fine thread screws while the “400” uses course thread screws (back to that fraction of a penny stuff).  

Easiest solution would be to just change out the cross beams. My “401” motor runs longer per wind-up than my CV, I might just have to make a change. The wheels certainly look much better.

Papa D

 

 

 

So, Marx made some different versions of the windup motors.  I split them into four basic types: Wheel Governor, Early Ratchet, Late Ratchet, and Riser Gear.  There are variations of each type except for the Riser Gear, which (as far as I know) only came in one style.  The ratchet motors actually have the mainspring hub (where the key goes) located about 1/16" further back than the Riser Gear motor.  If you swap them, it can sometimes cause the bump on the key to catch on the keyhole in the body in some positions.  That's not a big problem; sometimes it will slip past fairly easy, other times it helps to enlarge the keyhole with a round file.

If you look closely at the (windup) 400, 490, 533, and late 198 bodies, you will notice that some have the keyhole on the right side, some on the left.  If the keyhole is on the left, it originally came with the Riser Gear motor, if it is on the right, it originally came with a Ratchet Motor.  If you look at a 400 with the keyhole on right, and compare it to a 400 with the keyhole on the left, you will find the keyhole on the left is located slightly forward of the keyhole on the right to account for the minor difference in mainspring hub location between the two different types of motors.  The 401 Marx will have oval keyholes on both sides of the body (except for one very hard to find variation).  The Riser Gear motor and Ratchet Gear motors wind in opposite directions, but by inserting the key from the opposite sides of the motor, they both wind in the clockwise direction... and I suspect that is another reason for Marx changing sides for the different types, to keep the winding direction consistent.

There are also slight differences in the front crossmembers, depending on the loco.  As you noticed, some are different widths.  The later locos tend to have the screw holes a bit further forward than the earlier models.  That means that although a Riser Gear motor will go into a CV body, it can be hard to get the screws started in the front crossmember.  It may be replaced, or tweaked back slightly with pliers to make it fit.

Here is my V4.0 list of Marx motor types and variations.  Please note that it ONLY includes the basic motor variations, it does not cover variations in front crossmembers, drive wheels, mounts or brake levers:

 

Wheel Governor

1a)  Screw in key w/ brass hub, wheel governor, bell, sparker, and spring type ratchet.

1b) Non-sparking version of 1a.

 

Early Ratchet

2a (Transition)  Screw in key w/ brass hub, governor in motor (low), bell, sparker and spring type ratchet

2b)  Screw in key w/ brass hub, governor in motor (low), bell, sparker, and ratchet w/ fingers.

2c)  Reversing version of 2b: governor in motor (high), no sparker.

 

Late Ratchet

3a (Transition)  Square key w/ die-cast hub, governor in motor (low), bell, sparker and ratchet w/ fingers held in place by a brass spacer.

3b)  Square key w/ die-cast hub, governor in motor (low), bell, sparker, and ratchet plate.

3c)  Reversing version of 3b: governor in motor (high), no sparker.

3d)  CV Whistling version of 3b: whistle modulated horizontally, no sparker or bell.

3e)  Mercury Whistling version of 3b: whistle modulated vertically, no sparker or bell.

3f)  Puffer version of 3b: no sparker or bell.

3g) Plain version of 3b without sparker, with bell.

3h) Plain version of 3b without bell, with sparker.

3i) Two Speed version of 3b with bell, no sparker.

 

Riser Gear

4)  Square key w/ die-cast hub, governor in motor (low), bell, gear ratchet.

 

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Saturday, January 27, 2018 8:09 AM

JamesP

Great post with a lot of information. Will take me a bit to digest. Suspect you've given me a quest to find a windup motor type for each of your 4 catagories.

Papa D

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Posted by Papa_D on Sunday, January 28, 2018 11:05 AM

Dealing with the history of Marx mechanical steam engines is quite confusion. After looking through my reference material (Greenberg’s Guide to Marx Trains, Vol 1; Greenberg’s Marx Trains Pocket Price Guide, 9th edition; and Old Windup Trains by James Pekarek) I’ve been able to identify 21 different engines not counting variations. No one reference contained all 21. The 533, and 490 referred to by JamesP are somewhat obscure as I only found reference to them in Old Windup Trains. The only way to sort all this out is to describe each one with variations in chronological order as Marx numbering system seems extremely jumbled. First up (in a later post) will be the 232 Commodore Vanderbilt produced from ’35 to ’48 with interruption for WWII.

Papa D

 

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Posted by JamesP on Sunday, January 28, 2018 1:57 PM

Yes, the Marx numbering system doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to it.  Add to that the minimal amount of factory documentation, and it is hard to nail down the history on Marx trains in general, and their windup trains in particular.

When I wrote "Old Windup Trains", it was intended as an introduction and overview of the hobby of collecting O gauge windups, so you are correct that it isn't all-inclusive of the production of Marx - or any - manufacturer.  Perhaps someday I'll be able to write some more in-depth books about various Marx windups, along the same lines as my book on the mechanical CV's.  But, for now, here are the windup O gauge locomotives Marx produced... that I'm aware of... in approximate chronological order:

M10000

Commodore Vanderbilt

Bunny Express

M10005

Mercury

Canadian Pacific 3000

666 - Note that this is the windup version of the 999 electric with the open-spoke cowcatcher.  It is not the same as the postwar electric 666 locomotive.

897 - Prewar Lithographed locomotive made in both electric and windup versions.

833/898 - Same body as 897, but not litho'd.  I believe that the 833 designation is proper for the windup version, and the 898 number is actually proper for the electric version.

933/943/933M/994 - The BIG locomotive built to compete with Unique Arts.  Again, all the same basic body.  I believe that 933 is correct for a forward-only windup, 943 correct for a reversing windup, 933M is the Mickey Mouse litho'd windup, and I think 994 would be correct for the electric version.

198 Early/Late - The late version (circa 1960-65) is the most common.  It is identifiable by the bump between the sand dome and steam dome by the brake lever that is needed to clear the gearing on a Riser Gear motor.  The early version (circa late 40's) does not have that bump.

533/591 - Tin body w/ plastic boiler front, made with Ratchet Motors, Riser Gear Motors, and 2 speed Ratchet motors (very rare).  I believe that 533 is correct for a windup, and 591 would be correct for the electric version.

81 Monon Diesel

4000 Seaboard Diesel

400

490

Wm. Crooks

401

Those are all the ones that I am aware of; and note that I group like models together (such as 933/943/933M) with the exception of separating the pre-war litho 897 from the post-war 833.  Some models tend to get referenced by the much more common electric number even though the windup had a different number (such as the 591/533).  I try to refer to the windups using the windup number if I know it... and do my best with the others.

There are many variations.  The Commodore Vanderbilt had a bunch of changes and variations over its 13 year life (as a windup train).  Some of these locomotives are common, some - such as the Bunny Express, 666 windup, and CP 3000 windup - are rare and valuable.  Others are rare, but not so valuable - for instance, the reversing version of the 400 windup, or the smoking version of the 401. 

Let me know if I've missed any... looking forward to your posts!

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Posted by rtraincollector on Sunday, January 28, 2018 10:36 PM

Not trains but I have a set of wind-up Tin-plate Race cars by Marx. I've seemed to missplace the track it came with, but it will be found lol.

Life's hard, even harder if your stupid  John Wayne

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Posted by Papa_D on Monday, January 29, 2018 11:14 AM

JamesP

LOL, I didn't realize you were the author of Old Windup Trains. I also have your other two booklets, The Marx Mechanical Commodore Vanderbilt and Windup Train Repair. I already owned a mechanical CV and 401 before I bought your CV booklet which in turn lead me to buying the other two. All great reads and reference material. They kind of hooked me into looking into Marx mechanical engines and six-inch, four-wheel cars more seriously. So thanks (I think)!

Papa D

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Posted by JamesP on Thursday, February 01, 2018 5:23 PM

Glad you enjoyed the books, good to hear they are doing what I intended... introduce more people to windup trains!

If you've had a chance to look through the above list of Marx O gauge windup trains, I'm curious if you see any omissions?

By the way, you mentioned that 490 mechanical was a bit obscure... and that is a good word for it.  Although the electrical versions of the 490 seem to be plentiful, the windup versions were - as far as I have been able to tell - only produced for a year.  I have examples in both riser gear and puffer (ratchet motor) variations.  The bodies also seem to be brittle and prone to break around the mounting holes in the cylinders.  The limited production and relative fragility of the bodies seems to make these very hard to find.  They are nice looking locomotives, though...

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Posted by Papa_D on Friday, February 02, 2018 10:06 AM

JamesP: Not an easy task comparing your list with my list.  I primarily used Greenberg’s Guide to Marx Trains, Vol 1 to compile my list. I then used the Greenberg’s Marx Pocket Price Guide and Old Windup Trains to cross check for conformation and omissions. The resulting table is shown below. Note that I’ve only included steam engines.

 Here are the differences:

Your 933 is what GGtMT Vol 1 lists as a 994. You state the 994 is for the electric version.

Your 933M is what GGtMT Vol 1 lists as 734 Mickey Mouse Meteor.

You describe 198 as early/Late.  By early do you mean 235 Canadian Pacific produced in ’36 and ’39. GGtMT Vol 1 lists the 198 as produced only in ’62.

GGtMT Vol 1 lists a 999 Windup produced in ’49 as very rare.

OWT lists a 530 on pg 19. I assume that this is the same as a 400 with a bottom cover added after the Federal Regulation change affecting toy safety in ’72.

I know that the GGtMT Vol 1 contains errors and model numbers and production dates are hard to pin down for anything Marx. I’ll update my list based on an open period of a week or so for comments. For example, does anyone reading this post own a Marx 999 mechanical steam engine? 

Papa D

 

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Posted by JamesP on Friday, February 02, 2018 5:30 PM

I'll see if I can provide any clarity... 

"Your 933 is what GGtMT Vol 1 lists as a 994. You state the 994 is for the electric version."

 

"Your 933M is what GGtMT Vol 1 lists as 734 Mickey Mouse Meteor."

I would group all of those as one basic type of locomotive.  I do have reason to believe that Marx used the 933/933M/943 numbers for the windups, and the other number designations were the electric versions, but I won't state that as Gospel... Smile

 

"You describe 198 as early/Late.  By early do you mean 235 Canadian Pacific produced in ’36 and ’39. GGtMT Vol 1 lists the 198 as produced only in ’62."

No, that is two different locos.  The 198 is a plastic body locomotive that was available in electric and windup.  The 1962 date is incomplete, as Marx produced the late version for a few years in the early 1960's, overlapping the 401 production.  For instance, I have a scan of a Ward's catalog from 1964 with the 198 for sale.  The early version (as seen in the picture you posted, and hard to find) was - I believe - from the late 40's, and I'm not positive if they were only available as electric, or if they were also available as windups in that time frame.  I'll have to search my information again...

The Canadian Pacific locomotive was made in electric versions for many years, but I have only found evidence of the windup versions being available in 1938.  I've seen them in two different variations, with slightly different paint schemes, and different motors (reversing and non-reversing). They are very hard to find.

 

"GGtMT Vol 1 lists a 999 Windup produced in ’49 as very rare."

That line has puzzled me for years.  I've never seen a factory 999 windup in person, on the internet, or advertised in any contemporary adds.  Marx did make the 666 windup, which was also mentioned in GGtMT Vol 1 on the same page, yet doesn't give a date for it.  The 666 windup (same body as the 999 of the era) has a spoked cowcatcher, and although they are rare, they do exist (but, I don't have one in my collection).  A 999 windup from the late 40's would have had a solid cowcatcher.  I won't say that it absolutely doesn't exist, but I haven't found any other evidence to support their existence, and even GGtMT Vol 1 doesn't have a picture of it.  A prototype 999 windup from the factory is a possibility.  You can see my homemade version on p. 13 of OWT.  I would love to hear from someone that has one, and would like to see detailed pictures of it.

"OWT lists a 530 on pg 19. I assume that this is the same as a 400 with a bottom cover added after the Federal Regulation change affecting toy safety in ’72."

This is one I can explain - the caption on the picture says, "A late production Marx #530 Train Set."  So, #530 is the number of the entire set, which is powered by a 401 windup locomotive.  The 401 was used in different sets over time, I also have it in a #526 set, and the smoking version in a #478 set.  It was apparently numbered 401 whether it was the early version (black, no bottom cover) or the late version (gray w/ bottom cover).  Also, I know GGtMT Vol 1 lists the windup 400 as being made (in part) from 1965-'76, but I've seen no evidence of the 400 windup being made after the 1950's. 

I hope that sheds a little light on the subject - the history of Marx windup locomotives can be very confusing!

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Friday, February 09, 2018 9:57 AM

 JamesP

Still working on my Marx windup steam engine list. Waiting on a new reference I just purchased. In the meantime, based on the box, is this an early or late era 198 Marlines? Photos are off eBay, unfortunately no bottom photo so I can’t tell if it is a Late Ratchet of Rise Gear motor.

Papa D

 

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Posted by JamesP on Friday, February 09, 2018 4:43 PM

This is an excellent example to look at.  I'll start with the clue you mentioned first, the box.  I'm afraid I'm not very knowledgeable on dates based on boxes, but this style is typically seen in the late 50's through the 60's, so that gives a good clue about the time frame.

The second clue would be the cars - the UP Caboose was made from 1952-'72, the tender from 1956-'72, and the gondola from 1958-'72.

Third, the body of the locomotive.  If you look closely at boiler between the sand dome and steam dome (behind the brake lever) you will see a slighlty raised area.  That was put there on the late models to clear a gear on the Riser Gear motor.  Also, the keyhole isn't on the right side of the locomotive, so we know it originally came with a Riser Gear motor.  Both of those clues tell us that it is a late 198.

Fourth, it has the 17 spoke die-cast drivers, which weren't introduced until the early '50's.  Some ratchet motors of the era did come with those drivers, but by that time the sideplates were black, not shiny metal.  For some reason, Marx reverted back to the plated metal sideplates on the Riser Gear motor - I've never seen a factory Riser Gear motor with black sideplates - so that is a clue about the motor.  The final clue about the motor itself is hard to see on the small picture, but visible on the original pic on EBay.  If you look closely in front of the front drive wheel, just peeking under the siderod, you will see the end of a crossmember that holds the motor sideplates together.  That crossmember is horizontal, so it is definitely a Riser Gear motor.  A Ratchet Motor will have a vertical crossmember there instead.

So, all together, I would say the locomotive is a late style 198 with the correct mechanical motor in it.  It's in a typical set that was sold in the early 1960's.  Eventually, Marx would discontinue the 198 and use the un-numbered, somewhat homely 401 in its place.  I received a set like this with a 401 in 1972... the cars were the same, but it came in the next generation of box style.  

That poor little 198 has had a rough life.  The plastic windup Marx locos of that era seem to be brittle, and often have a lot of breaks in the body like this one.  Another thing that happens to the majority is that the cab floor breaks away from the body.  When the mainspring unwinds, it pushes the body up, and since the cab floor is also the rear motor mount, it pushes it down and breaks off the plastic studs where they are melted over to hold the floor in place.  I've repaired them by drilling pilot holes in the plastic studs and using short #4 sheet metal screws to hold the floor in place.

The little 198 is a neat locomotive!

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Posted by Papa_D on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 8:40 AM

Thanks for thoughtful and insightful comments above. They’ve moved me up the Marx windup steam engine identification learning curve significantly, but I still have a long way to go.

Recently I was lucky enough to purchase an “early” era windup 198. As you can see it’s a bit different from the “late era” version previously shown; it’s a shiny vs. dull black plastic and it has a bell on front. (Did the “late” era 198 initially come with and without the front bell?)  Also, the windup engine is a “late ratchet” with black side plates. 

The 198 is the smallest Marx plastic windup steam engines. Below is a comparison of the 198 (front) with a 401.  The size difference is primarily in the dimensions of the cabs. 

The 400 series plastic shell steam engines debuted in ’52.  Marx appears to have taken notice of the 198 rear platform attachment design weakness by using a slide in metal plate held in the front on the bottom by plastic molded-in side tabs and in the rear by a slot in the plastic shell. 

The drawbar was held in place by a hollow rivet that went through a molded-in plastic crossrib and the metal platform, which also prevented the metal platform from sliding out.

Here is a ‘60 Sears catalog ad for the “late” era 198. Similar ads appeared in ’61 through ’64; sometimes with and other times without mentioning sparks.  The engine graphics all showed the 198 with the front bell. The first two years, the ad mentions the engine being made from high impact plastic, while no mention of this is made in the last three years. High impact plastic was more costly than normal styrene plastic. Makes me wonder if a change in material was made to cut costs (and also lead to the breakage seen in the previously posted “late” era 198).

I could find no ads for the “early” era 198, but my catalog reference material only goes back to 1950 for Sears and Montgomery Ward. From what I gather Marx first dabbled with a plastic steam engine in ’48. I’m assuming this was the 198. I know the CV windup engine in ’48 came with black side plates, so this is a clue when my 198 might have been manufactured. Below is a photo from the web for a battery operated 198 that is ascribed to ’48. Is this from that year or is it from the early 70’s? 

Papa D

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 8:48 AM

I’ve updated my list of Marx windup steam engines and also arrange them by category based on previous thread posts and additional research. As something that all Marx enthusiasts know, Marx engine numbers and production dates can be very vexing since catalogs weren’t produced and, in many cases, engines didn’t carry numbers. So, it’s likely this table isn’t yet finished.

I’ve rearranged the table from chronological order to shell type groups as this seems to make more sense. Separating “Stamped Steel” and “Sheet Metal” shells into separate groups is somewhat arbitrary since the different is just the gauge of steel used. However, I think the CV and Mercury deserve a separate category. I’ve also tried to show engines that use the same basic shell.  Since I don’t have unlimited budget for trains (nor display storage space) this listing will help guide me on what to collect, hopefully others find it helpful too. 

Papa D

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 9:03 AM

 …more information on the Marline 198 windup engine. Currently there is an Allstate Set 9512 for sale on eBay. It contains a 198 Marline Engine with a bell on the front and what I believe is a ratchet motor. 

The other pieces are correct for this set. I’ve found another 9512 set for sale on-line that matches this set. This other set has a bell on front and a rise gear motor. 

Both come in a corrugated yellow box which is circa 1960’s. It’s unusual for a Marx mechanical set to come packaged in a corrugated box. The only difference between the two sets is the B&O 241708 is the common gray interior walls for the set for sale on eBay while the other set has the less common black (dark gray) interior walls. 

Trying to sort out Marx mechanical engines is certainly a challenge.

Papa D

 

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Posted by JamesP on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 8:42 PM

Papa D, I certainly enjoy your posts.  I have two of the Allstate 9512 sets, both of which have 198 locomotives with ratchet motors in them.  I don't have very many examples of the 198, but all of mine have bells... I can't recall ever having seen a 198 without a bell unless it was broken off, so I would be interested in seeing one that came from the factory without one. 

By the way, congratulations on the aquisition of the early 198 - that loco has eluded me thus far!  Big Smile 

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Posted by Papa_D on Sunday, April 15, 2018 11:13 AM

I recently purchased the Greenberg’s Marx Train Catalogues (GMTC) book in my never ending quest to nail down Marx mechanical engine production. (It’s a tough choice between reference books and mechanical engines.) 

Marx published a catalog of sorts for dealers with their train offerings from the early 50’s to ’75. In circa ‘54 they listed a set number 474-SM which contained a 400 mechanical engine with smoke. Other pieces of rolling stock included a tank car, gondola and caboose.

 GMTC then skips to ’62 when it shows the 474-SM was again listed. It’s impossible to tell from the photo if the engine is a 400 or 490. Other pieces of rolling stock include a State of Maine boxcar, gondola and caboose. The mystery of which mechanical engine is in the ’62 474-SM set is cleared up by the four photos below from a recent eBay listing. 

Clearly this set matches the ’62 description, so the Marx ’62 dealer catalog engine must have been a 400. Note also that the eBay engine has a ratchet type motor

The Marx ’62 dealer catalog also listed three other mechanical sets; set number 714 with the Wm Crooks, set number 453 with either a 400 or 490, and set number 526 with a 198. It’s unfortunate that the GMTC ’62 dealer catalog is a photo copy and not and original as the quality of the graphics is somewhat poor.

A couple of observations. First, starting in ’65 (the ’64 dealer catalog is missing) the dealer catalogs used a 401 mechanical engine in set 526. Similarly, in ’67 and ’68 a 401 engine was used in set 453. Marx was at least consistent at being inconsistent in how set numbers were assigned.  Second, the 490 mechanical engine was only produced in ’62 but other reference material states that it came in set 452 with and without smoke. So, how does set 453 fit in?

One other thing I learned from GMTC. The Marx dealer catalog didn’t necessarily list all the trains Marx produced in a given year. For example, there is no mechanical train set listed in ’63 or ’64 with the 198 engine even though Sears sold a mechanical set with a 198 engine in both years.

Papa D

 

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Posted by JamesP on Sunday, April 15, 2018 8:29 PM

Good information, great post!

I do have a couple of questions... can you post a scan of the '64 catalog 474-SM set?  The 400 and 490 engines are very similar, but there are two differences that can be spotted with most pictures.  First is the shade above the cab windows - the 400 shade goes down halfway over the window, but the 490 shade is much shorter.  The second is the headlight.  On a 400 the headlight is larger - in fact, it is actually a separate part that is inserted into the front of the boiler.  One of the changes Marx made going to the 490 was to eliminate the separate headlight and make it part of the locomotive shell - Marx was the master at shaving production costs, and this must have been worth the trouble to do!  

Thanks for the information!

James

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Posted by Papa_D on Monday, April 16, 2018 10:05 AM

 JamesP: Here are the best photos I could get of mechanical engines from the GMTC Marx ’62 dealer catalog. 

473-SM Five Unit Mechanical Steam Smoking Freight Set, 3 to a shipper:

No. 453 Five Unit Mechanical Freight Set, 6 to a shipper:

No. 714 Mechanical Old Fashion Train Set, 6 to a shipper:

No. 526 Four Unit Mechanical Freight Set, 6 to a shipper:

In the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, two of Marx’s biggest train buyers were Sears and Montgomery Ward. In ’59, Sears advertised 3 and Montgomery Ward advertised 4 different mechanical train sets. By ’62 Sears advertised just two mechanical sets; a 198 Four Unit Freight and a Wm Crooks. The last mechanical 400 set (bell with side rods but no sparks) advertised by Sears was in ’58. Montgomery Ward didn’t advertise any mechanical train sets after ’57. Their offering in ’57 was a single mechanical train set with a 591 engine, plastic front, bell & sparks without handrails or side rods.

Papa D

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Posted by Papa_D on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 9:35 AM

 Shown below is my current updated list of Marx mechanical steam engines

I plan to go through this list in this and following posts to provide the basis upon which it’s been complied. First, a little bit of history on how Marx marketed their trains. They never produced consumer catalogs and only started to produce dealer catalogs in the early ‘50’s. They used no salesmen per se.  Instead they provided a list of available items at the annual Toy Fair in NYC and booked orders after negotiating quantity, features and price. Other Marx toy train items could be added to create unique sets for a seller, making it difficult for consumers to compare prices from different stores.  First-tier buyers such as Sears and Montgomery Ward got better deals that second-tier buyers such a W.T. Grant, Spiegel, J.C. Penny, etc. Then came a whole host of third-tier regional and local department stores. Marx depended upon stores to advertise Marx trains being sold. This overall strategy worked well, resulting in Marx becoming the world’s largest toy manufacturer in the 50’s. However, it’s created a nightmare for anyone trying to pin-down anything related to Marx train production including mechanical steam engines.

First off is the Commodore Vanderbilt manufactured from ’35 to ’48, except for the WW II years of ’43 – ’45. I’ve found advertisements for all these years except ’35 and ’41.  As explained above, the Marx mechanical train advertisements I’ve come across are only a fraction of the advertisements from those years.

Even though I’ve not come across any ’35 advertisements, I do have a CV produced in ’35. It has a screw in key, peg drawbar and governor mounted to one of the wheels with a bell, sparks, side rods, handrails, and 2 domes. 

The sparks are created by a flint rubbing against a “grinding” wheel. 

Two tabs on one of one of the gears cocks a cantilever spring (also called a flat or leaf spring) every revolution which strikes a bell making a “ding ding” sound.

The following ad appeared in the ’36 Sears Christmas Wishbook for two Marx mechanical train sets:

Here is a photo of my non-reversing ’36 CV:

Externally the CV’s for ’35 and ’36 look similar. Both have a screw-in winding keys, a bell, sparks, side rods, handrails, and 2 domes. There are several differences however. The swing-peg drawbar was changed to a slot and tab

The dome shape was changed from sharp to blunt.

The front was changed from flat to rounded and a recess pressed into the headlight region. Both styles were used for several years.

Internally, the winding ratchet was changed from a spring to a finger type. 

Most significantly the wheel mounted governor was moved from an external wheel shaft mount to an internal gear shaft mount. This significantly increases the governor restraining torque which slows the speed and increases the run time of the train. 

Finally, a comment on the reversing motor. While it increases play value, a train headed by a mechanical steam engine still moves too fast for the reversing feature to be of much practical value.

More to come……

Papa D

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Monday, April 30, 2018 9:41 AM

Along the line of this thread, a very nice Marx 1935 green CV passenger set just sold on eBay for $744. 

I found it interesting that on one side the engine wheels were suffering from “rot”, “zinc pest”, or what ever else you want to call it.  

I wasn’t aware that this was a problem with Marx cast wheels in this time frame.

Papa D

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 7:48 AM

The number of variations to be found in the Marx CV is bewildering. In addition to the most common shell color black, they also came painted red, green, blue, gray and silver. Over time, items such as handrails, side rods, front name plate, and number of domes got stripped away to lower cost.

The ’37 Sears ad shows two CV similar to what was offered in their ’36 ad (see previous post). The sets are different enough to make a price comparison difficult. This is something that retails commonly did to make it hard for consumers to shop for the best price.

The Circa ’38 –’40 W.T. Grant ad showed a CV missing its handrails and with a single dome, but still with sparks & bell and a name plate on the front.

A ’39 Nerlich ad I came across while looking for an ad for the CP 3000 mechanical engine produced in ’36 & ’38, shows two CV sets that still had handrails, and side rod. A name plate is also visible on both CV’s. 

In contrast, a ’39 Eaton (Sears Canada) ad shows a CV without handrails and just a single dome.

The two CV sets shown in a ’40 Sears ad are the same reversing and sparking offerings of previous years except gone are the handrails, one of the domes, and the front name plate. 

Skipping to ’42 the Sears ad again has two sets; one with a simple spark & bell engine, and the other with a whistle with a red body and black boiler front. This latter engine might have been an attempt to use existing stock ahead of Marx switching over to war production. 

After the end of WW II, the CV made its return in ’46. The Sears ad shows a spark engine with no mention of a bell. Tough to tell from the ad, but it also appears there are no side rods.

  

The CV’s final year of production was ’48. In this Sears ad, again there is no mention of a bell and it appears there are no side rods. (The upper steam engine is a 833 produced from ’47 to ’52.)

The CV is one of the most prolific mechanical engines being sold on eBay. Most are black with a few red, green and grey mixed in. A red with black front and whistle was also recently sold. The other colors are somewhat rare. CV’s with reversing units are rarer than I’d expect given the number of years they were sold. 

Here is the last of my three CV’s. It has a single dome, no handrails or handrail holes in the shell, a NYC name plate on the front and 7 spoke stamped wheels. 

The motor uses an insert key for winding with a fingers type ratchet.

One other feature is the die cast drive wheel gear.

In trying to pin-down the year it was produced, here are some featured to be considered:

·         Single dome: Indicates ‘38 or later

·         Name plate: Indicates ‘39 or earlier

·         Side rods: Indicates ’42 or earlier

·         No handrails: ’38 or later

·         7 spoke stamped wheels: Indicates ’38 or later

·         Boiler front plate still has handrail holes: Indicates ??

·         Shell doesn’t have handrail holes: Indicates ’38 or later

·         2 holes in drawbar platform: Indicates ?

·         Die cast drive wheels: Indicates ??

While I’d like to pin it down to a single year, I think the best I can do is either ’38 or ’39.

Next up is the Mercury mechanicals…..

Papa D

 

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Posted by cnw1995 on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 12:55 PM

This sure is an interesting thread! As a fan of Hornby clockwork trains, I'm learning more than I ever knew about Marx's comparable wind-up sets. 

Doug Murphy 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...' Henry V.

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Posted by Papa_D on Monday, May 14, 2018 9:35 AM

Question: At some point, Marx added what looks to be some type of fiber board spacer next to the main spring on ratchet type mechanical engines (see photo). Does anyone have an idea when this was introduced? After it was introduced, did all subsequent ratchet type mechanical engines include this spacer? I believe that last ratchet type mechanical engine came in the ’62 400 with smoke. 

Papa D

 

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Posted by JamesP on Monday, May 14, 2018 10:07 PM

Papa D, that spacer is present in all ratchet motors.  It is actually a stamped tin part with a slight saucer shape that keeps the mainspring from interfering with the pawls of the ratchet (they stick through holes in the big gear).  The reason why it is noticeable in that motor and not in others is that it was a good part to reuse lithographed tinplate that wasn't up to par for its original use.  So, in some motors the spacer is bare steel, and almost invisible unless the motor is inspected very closely - it tends to blend in and look like part of the big gear.  But, if you took the motor in your picture apart, you would find that the spacer has lithography on it from some other Marx part or toy, which is why it is a light color and sticks out.  It does seem like a lot of the later ratchet motors have that part made out of re-used litho'd tinplate, whereas the earlier motors tend to have the part made out of plain steel.  However, I've taken countless ratchet motors apart, and I have never run across one that was missing the spacer.

 - James

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Posted by Papa_D on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 11:16 AM

Thanks JamesP for the information. 

Along this same line, I recently purchased another Marlines 198 cheaply primarily to get an example of the set box. The engine initially didn’t run even though the main spring was very tightly wound-up. After spraying the spring with some penetrating oil and manually turning the wheels I eventually have it working normally. My impression is the spring was “stuck” together having been in the wound-up state for a long time.

Anyways other than this initial issue, the engine is a bit of an oddity. First, the spacer between the spring and main gear is plastic proving there is always an exception to the rule when it comes to anything Marx. Second, the spark grind stone is actually a piece of wood with sandpaper glues around the perimeter. I’ve haven’t seen this before. The flint holder also is a bit different with a dimple pressed in the upper end.  My guess is this engine is from the last production for Sears in ’64. 

After ’64, my understanding is the only mechanical engine Marx produced was the 401. I don’t believe it came with either sparks or smoke, both of which only came with the late rachet type engine. Is this correct?

Papa D

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Posted by JamesP on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 5:32 PM

The 401 was available (my understanding just for one year) with as a smoker with the same ratchet motor based mechanism as the 400/490 puffers.  They are uncommon, but do show up occasionally.

The motor in your picture above is typical of late Marx ratchet motor production.  I'm not sure when they changed the flint holder design, but I have an original late 833 (came in a box set) with the same dimpled holder, so it was in use by the early to mid 50's.  Your motor is in nice condition, looks like very little use.  

I am curious how you determined that the spacer is plastic.  I downloaded the picture and enlarged it as much as possible, and the spacer looks identical to some of the lithographed metal ones in my collection.  Just curious, as I haven't seen a plastic one before, and would like to have more information.

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Posted by Papa_D on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 6:12 AM

JamesP- Here is a close-up of the spacer. I’ve put a couple of scratches in it using an Exacto knife. Also note the thickness and rounded edge. If I had to guess, I’d say it is something like Delrin (probably not Delrin itself because it is relatively expensive). 

On the topic of “smoke”, the Marx catalog for ’63 shows a 401 engine stating it is a “new engine”.

It is clearly a 401 except the smoke stack is also clearly that of a puffer.

All 401’s I’ve seen have a much taller, smaller diameter stack.

The puffer smokestack was a drop-in assembly with a large opening molded into the shell. It is easy enough to modify the mold to make this modification. That’s how the 400 shells with and without smoke were produced. 

I wonder if the 401’s with smoke were prototypes and not regular production. 

Papa D

 

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Posted by JamesP on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 8:57 PM

Papa D - Thanks for the closeup of the spacer.  I am still curious about it, hopefully I'll be able to examine an example in person some day.  You mentioned the thickness and rounded edge - I assume they are visibly different than the stamped steel parts you have examined?  From the picture it looks very similar in form to the stamped parts I am familiar with, but those things are hard to discern without comparing them side by side in person.

Concerning the 401 with smoke, I have three examples in my collection, one of which is in a boxed set.  The motor, stack and rubber bulb appear to be the same as those used on the 400 and 490 puffers.  Besides the opening for the stack, the only other difference in the details I've found between the normal and smoking versions of the 401 shell is the lack of a keyhole on the left side of the body on the puffer version.  

It is interesting that the loco in the catalog you posted is a smoker, yet that wasn't mentioned as a feature in the text.  My smoker set appears to be #478 (although the "8" could be a smudged "3"), while the catalog description carries the number 453.  My box also proudly proclaims it to be "Smoking Mechanical Train Set".  The cars in my set appear to be the same as the cars in the catalog set. Makes me think someone in Marx's art department accidently put the wrong loco - or may the wrong set - in the catalog, or perhaps the right picture and the wrong description.

Very interesting!

James 

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Posted by Papa_D on Friday, May 25, 2018 7:52 AM

JamesP

Thanks for the information on the 401 with smoke set. As previously mentioned, the last 400 engine with smoke came in set number 473-SM in ’62. It appears production of the 401 engines started the following year. The Marx Dealer Catalog showed photos of a 401 with a smoke type stack in ’63, (’64 is missing from GMTC), ’65, ’66, ’67, ’68, ’70-’71, and ’72. In ’69, and ’73-’75 the 401 engine is shown with a non-smoke stack. All these sets were numbered 5xx (mostly 526) except for set number 453 in ’63. It sure looks like Marx was using up residual “puffer” engine stock in that year.

On the spacer topic: Below is a comparison of similar spacers except one is plastic and the other is metal. The rim on the metal spacer is raised while the plastic space is much thicker.

It appears Marx was using up the late ratchet engine stock in the Marline 198 sets being sold through Sears.

Papa D

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Friday, June 01, 2018 6:08 AM

I recent acquired another Marx CV. My first three are from the pre-war period and my most recent acquisition is from the post-war period. Hopefully this is the last of my CV purchases!

It’s indicative of the late-years production: blackened wheels and side plates, no handrails or side rods, or even a bell. The shell, boiler front and draw bar platform also have no holes. I guess the bright red color was expected to make-up for what was missing from earlier years.

Surprisingly it still has the spark mechanism, and in true Marx “waste not” fashion the flint holder is recycled stock from a crossing gate sheet that probably had a defect than made it unsuitable for the original intended use.

Based on information in The Marx Mechanical Commodore Vanderbilt 1935 -1948 and the ad descriptions in an earlier post, it’s from a Red Flyer set, most likely the ’48 passenger version since it came with one play scared passenger car missing its wheels and sliding slot & tab couplers. 

Papa D

 

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