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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