Marx Windup Motors...

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Posted by Papa_D on Sunday, June 10, 2018 7:44 AM

The other mechanical engine in the stamped steel category is the 635 Mercury produced from ’38 –’42 prewar and ’46 –’52 post war. They were produced in a multitude of colors: black, gray, red, and blue. Based on eBay listings, they are not nearly as plentiful today as the CV’s except for the version with whistle. This last artifact is mostly due to the CV with whistle only sold in ’42 while the Mercury with whistle version was sold for several years both pre & post war. GGtMTs states that the cost of the whistle quickly lead to it being abandoned. This statement is incorrect. Mercuries with whistles were produced prewar all the way through ’52. 

My advertisement coverage for the Mercury is sketchy. The W.T. Grant circa ’38 –’40 advertisement lists a Mercury with sparks, bell, handrails and side rods. Note this is an articulated passenger set which means a talgo style drawbar.

This Mercury version is also shown in a ’39-’40 Eaton ad.

The next ad I’ve found is a ’50 Montgomery Ward ad for a red whistling Mercury with handrails and side rods. This was the last year Montgomery Ward advertised a mechanical Mercury in their Christmas Year Book. Note that the set is no longer articulated.

The last ad I’ve come across is a ’52 Sears Christmas Book ad for a black whistling Mercury with handrails (and I assume side rods since handrails seemed to be one of the first things to go). The Sears Christmas Book didn’t advertise a Mercury in either ’50 or ’51.

Recently a post-war whistling Mercury with a working whistle and normal play wear sold for $122.50 plus $12.40 shipping while another post-war black Mercury in similar condition (but status of whistle not stated) sold for $90.88 plus $18.12 shipping. It included a tender and 5 cars all in excellent shape.

I got my Mercury with whistle for a reasonable price because the whistle wasn’t working. 

A quick inspection found the whistle impeller drive gear was spinning freely on its axle. I’ve read elsewhere that this is not uncommon. A couple of small dabs of red Loctite carefully applied quickly repaired this, and the whistle now works great. 

The whistle sound/sequence (long-short-short) is controlled by tabs that raises a flapper. The flapper falls back in place just by gravity. This is by far the best extra mechanical engine “gimmick” compared to a bell dinging or sparks, and much more practical than having either reverse or two-speeds capability.

Next up are the Die Cast mechanicals….

Papa D

 

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Posted by The Gnome on Sunday, June 10, 2018 8:27 AM

My wife called me from an estate sale yesterday and texted me some photos.  They had four tin plate cars that looked like the black CV, a tanker, a caboose and a PA box car.  I had her put in a bid for thirty dollars and the bid was accepted last night.  She will pick them up today.

here is the question: if the winder key is missing, is there a substitute that will work?

Jim R https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voS6dePOx3c&feature=share
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Posted by JamesP on Sunday, June 10, 2018 8:33 AM

I've always wondered why Marx made the Mercury, when it is so close in appearance to the Commodore Vanderbilt.  At first glance, it appears to be a CV with a different nose, but the shell is actually different than a CV - the most obvious difference being the smooth cab roof of the Merc, compared to the small angles that are present on either side of the CV cab roof.

Although it is hard to tell from the black and white picture, 1950 MW is likely the famous blue Mercury set, as the frames on the passenger cars are the same light color as the car body.  In that era, the red passenger cars had a black frame that made a stark contrast to the red carbody, whereas the blue passenger cars had a similar color on the frame.

Some of the very latest Mercury locos can be found with the die-cast 17 spoke drive wheels instead of the stamped steel 7 spoke drivers that were used for most of the Mercurys.  The early 17 spoke wheels mount the siderod to a diecast post on the driver that is swaged, but Marx quickly went to a siderod with a Z-bend in the end that engages a hole in the driver instead.  The Mercs that I have seen with the 17 spoke drivers have the early version, with the late version showing up on the 533/591 windups.

Looking forward to the die-cast mechanicals...

 - James

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Posted by Papa_D on Sunday, June 10, 2018 9:25 AM

The Gnome

The screw-in type key was used on the ’35 and ’36 CV’s, with the square insert key used after that. The square key is basically 1/8” bar stock. It’s important that the key fully inserts into the hub to evenly distribute the wind-up force. Replica keys can be bought from Robert Grossman Company for under $5 plus shipping or off eBay for around $10 with shipping.  

 Papa D

 

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Posted by The Gnome on Sunday, June 10, 2018 11:37 AM

Papa D, thanks for the info about the key.

Jim R https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voS6dePOx3c&feature=share
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Posted by The Gnome on Sunday, June 10, 2018 12:06 PM

Papa D,

i think mine looks most similar to your third CV, except there is no name plate on the nose.  Only two domes.

the wheels turn, but it dies not spark.

https://www.shutterfly.com/picturepicker/viewTabletPicturePicker.sfly?fid=f16e0777eb9ef0646d9889752d9a603c

 

Jim R https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voS6dePOx3c&feature=share
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Posted by JamesP on Sunday, June 10, 2018 3:57 PM

The only thing that I will add to Papa D's key info is one caution: Sometimes, people will wind up the motor using a small straight blade screwdriver inserted into the mainspring hub.  I don't recommend doing this - even for a one-time test - as the stress will be concentrated in just a couple of corners of the mainspring hub, and will usually end up cracking it.  It most likely won't fail immediately, but it does compromise the part and may cause the motor to suffer a catastrophic failure down the road.

1/8" key stock can be found at hardware stores if you want to make your own key, but the Grossman keys are a top-notch product for just a few bucks.

James

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Posted by Papa_D on Sunday, June 10, 2018 4:06 PM

The Gnome

i can’t open your attached photo. A CV without an name plate is from ’40 or later. if you remove the motor you’ll be able to see if it has the spark mechanism or not. All the sparks engines I’ve purchased were missing the flint. Flints can also be purchased from Robert Grossman or any local shop that sells lighters. 

Papa D

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Posted by The Gnome on Sunday, June 10, 2018 5:06 PM

Jim R https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voS6dePOx3c&feature=share
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Posted by The Gnome on Sunday, June 10, 2018 5:10 PM

this is the bottom  https://www.shutterfly.com/picturepicker/viewTabletPicturePicker.sfly?fid=eb63ef31e73269e3f12f12eb75ef82b5

I give up.  How do i make pictures appear from shutterfly?

Jim R https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voS6dePOx3c&feature=share
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Posted by The Gnome on Sunday, June 10, 2018 5:26 PM

 

Success!?

Jim R https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voS6dePOx3c&feature=share
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Posted by Papa_D on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 7:40 AM

The Marx die-cast mechanical type is an oddity. One (666) was made in very limited quantity, reportedly less than 100, and the other (999) most likely a custom-made or less likely a factory prototype. Both used the electric 999 shell which had a “keyway” feature on the right side of the shell. This “keyway” is the notch seen along the bottom edge in the photo below.

  

Background on the 999

The 999 was Marx’s first die-cast shell. It was produced in limited quantities in ’41 & ’42 and again after the war from ’46 to ‘54. The only pre-war 999 ad I’ve been able to find is from the Spiegel ’42 Christmas catalog. Note that is shows an open cowcatcher.

  

After the war, the Sears ’46 Christmas catalog showed a 999 also with an open spoke cowcatcher. 

The open spoke cowcatcher was reportedly easily broken.  Since Marx’s philosophy was to made low cost but rugged toys, this design was quickly changed to a solid spoke cowcatcher and then probably to save a few pennies to a solid cowcatcher as shown in this Sears ’47 Christmas catalog ad.

The 999 last appeared in the Sears Christmas catalog in ’50.

Montgomery Ward’s last Christmas catalog ad for a 999 set appeared in ’54.

The Marx ’54 dealer catalog in GMTC also  lists a 999 engine.

Recently on eBay there were 33 electric 999's being offered with the following cowcatcher types:  1 cut-off (aka broken), no open spoke, 1 closed spoke, and 31 plain (see photo). Marx sure sold a lot of 999 electric steam engines for them to be so plentiful over 60 years later.

 

666 Mechanical Engine

The 666 mechanical steam engine was a 999 with the number board and stamping turned up-side down.  Mechanical engines were always budget priced. Since the 999 die-cast shell commanded a premium price when first produced, economically it didn’t make a lot of sense to use it for a mechanical engine shell. Add to this, the less than 100 quantity is something that Marx didn’t do. They made their money based on volume. So, my guess is the mechanical 666 was some type of promotional item perhaps given to the major buyers at the annual Toy Fair in New York City to tout the Marx’s first die-cast steam engine offering. Since it’s reported these engines were produced with an open cowcatcher, in all likelihood their production year was ’41 or ’46. Promoting it in ’42 would seem unlikely given the coming war restriction. So, my guess would be ’46 as most likely. GGtMTs has no production year specified for the mechanical 666.  Like many things Marx, we’ll never know the 666 mechanical steam engine story for sure. 

 

999 Mechanical Engine

The existence of a “999” mechanical steam engine is described GGtMT.

Since all 999 shells had a cutout that could accommodate the wind-up key, all someone had to do was figure out how to accommodate the brake lever. Easiest solution would be the described “protruding rod” from the cab. It’s pretty easy to write-off the 999 mechanical engine as either a prototype or more likely a custom.

 

Next up are the short sheet metal mechanicals…. 

Papa D

 

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Posted by Papa_D on Friday, July 06, 2018 10:54 AM

The short sheet metal type mechanical engine consists of three distinct shell types; the 235, 897/898/833, an 591/592/593. The latter two types will be discussed in follow-on posts.

The 235 is the Canadian Pacific body type, commonly called the 3000. Greenberg’s Guide to Marx Trains, Vol 1 (GGtMTs) lists versions under both the 235 and 3000 designations. The 235 listing gives two production date for the 235; ’36 and ’39. No production date is given in the 3000 listing nor is a photo provided for either listing.  One thing I’ve learned is GGtMTs, at least for mechanicals, it’s full of errors.

My understanding is the 235 was first released in Canada in ’36 as part of their Jubilee celebration. Unfortunately, I’ve not come across any ’36 advertisements for it.  Two '36 production year CP-3000’s recently sold this spring on eBay.  One in excellent condition with a reversing motor and screw-in key went for $155 plus shipping. Another in good condition with a non-reversing motor went for $79.99 plus shipping.

A ’38 Montgomery Ward advisement depicts a mechanical 235 freight set.           This is similar in appearance to know mechanical 235’s with blue side boards with yellow trim and lettering.

Adding a mechanical 235 to my collection lies off in the future. Next up are the short sheet metal 897/898/833’s.

Papa D

 

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