Thursday, March 6, 2014

LGB Uintah - Sumpter Valley

LGB announced the first Uintah Ry in 1994 and started delivery in 1995. It was the LGB # 20882  6-axle, 2-6-6-2  locomotive with leading truck and trailing truck. Chassis and body were in black. It was the engine "51" of the Uintah railway. Front boiler in silver. The loco had steam and  digital sound.  It is a 2-motor engine (Buehler) without the tender. The sales price was US$ 1,899.00. That translates to roughly US$ 3,000.00 in today's money. It was a heavy engine weighing in at 4,4 kg or almost 10 lbs. with an overall length of 620 mm or 24.4 inches. Today's value should be around US$ 1,600.00 to $1,900.00 for mint condition but you find offers ranging from $ 700.00 to 1,100.00
LGB # 20882 Uintah 51
Also in 1995 LGB sold exclusively to the US market the Uintah # 21881 with steam only- no sound. Same coloring as above. Worldwide sales started in 1996. Price was around US$ 1,600.00. Today's value should be around $ 1,200.00 but- again you can find offers starting at around $500.00 (used condition). The Uintah does not have any longtime problems. It runs properly- period. Extended long-term use will result in worn out  motor blocks which can be 'fixed' by Klaus.
In 1999 the Uintah 21881 was released in a digital version, smoke only- no sound : LGB # 21881.8. Same color scheme as above.
In 2009, after the bankruptcy of the old LGB, the new owners announced the LGB 23881, a green Uintah with steam only and a DCC interface, but no decoder. It didn't come onto the market until 2011, only 354 were made. A sign of times to come??? In addition the sales price was not in range with earlier versions, official price was Euro 529.00 or US$ 750.00.

In 1998 LGB announced and presented the Uintah Sumpter-Valley LGB# 20892. The Sumpter Valley locomotive was similar but not identical to the Uintah loco (no water tanks, cab vent open, no coal bunker) and featured a tender. Labeled "251" on front head light and cab. An 'special version' was offered in 2001 with the labeling "250" on front head light and cab. And a version with digital decoder was offered in 2001 with the LGB# 20892.8. Prices for the Sumpter Valley were $ 2,200.00 - $2,400.00.
LGB Sumpter Valley 20892/ 22892/23892 - difference by labeling door and front with "250" or "251"

Somewhere between 2004 and 2006 the LGB # 22892 was offered through the eXtra program. Obviously, some engines hadn't sold very well and leftovers were going 'on sale' - yes it had the "250" labeling and was the same color scheme as the 20892. One last attempt to sell Sumpter Valley engines came in 2011 with the LGB# 23892 (labeling "251"), this time all were sold. Now the market wants them, but they are not coming onto the market very often, so expect to pay anywhere from $1,800 - $ 2,400.00 (condition) or more if quality decoders were added.
Both, the Uintah and the Sumpter Valley are fine examples of LGB craftsmanship. They are durable engines and fun to watch in operation. When installing decoders be careful to open the loco correctly and with caution. Screws that are torn out or forcibly reinserted damage the housing and will  fail in doing their job. Consequences will be a loose or open housing and thus impacting operation of the loco. Some screws are hidden and will defer opening the engine body. Do check the blowup drawing before laying hands on your LGB engine. Or simply call Klaus and have him do the job for you!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LGB Mallet

LGB manufactured their first Mallet in 1982. The archetype was built in 1929 by Hanomag, a then famous German machine and steam engine manufacturer. The Mallet was built to especially operate on steeply inclined stretches of track with numerous bends. That made her a great choice for German Big Train model railroading. With what little space Germans had to lay their layouts, either in their small gardens or in their even smaller basements or apartments, the LGB Mallet was the one to conquer even narrow curves. With her boiler and cab finished in dull black paint and dark green saddle tanks she looked elegant and massive at the same time. Greenberg's Guide to LGB says about her: "Articulated steam locomotive with their double drive mechanisms, known as Mallets after their inventor, are a visual joy in operation. Note the large front cylinders, operating in the prototype (preserved in the Blonay-Chamby Museum Railway in Switzerland) from partially expanded steam that has already been through the rear cylinders of this compound engine. The model hinges both mechanism to accommodate the radically tight 1100 curves, whose 600 mm radius barely exceeds the 520 mm length of the locomotive."

LGB 2085 D -2
Presented in the 1983/84 catalog the LGB 2085D came with a smoker and her initial price was DEM 975.00 which was pretty steep. The average German worker made about DEM 940.00 a month. The next years saw two more Mallets (a) the LGB 2085 D-2 with high voltage signs on the steam dome, cabin and steam tank door and (b) the 2085 D-3 with chassis and steam tanks in gleaming black. Today's value should be around US$ 1,500.00 but you will find offers starting at US$ 500.00-$600.00 in probably not mint condition. Due to the design the front motor tends to overheat easily since it lacks ventilation under some circumstances like outdoor heat, extended operation and such. Be prepared to exchange the motor(s).
LGB 70685 with a 21852 Mallet and two Pullman cars 

Then in 1997 - and at the height of the US LGB market and fan craze LGB issued the special Limited Edition Orient Express, featuring a LGB 21852 Mallet locomotive with a blue and black color scheme and two Pullman club cars (type # 31685) with car # "31650" and "31653" in the traditional beige / blue color scheme. The set was LGB # 70685 and was first presented in the 1997 catalog. It sold anywhere from US$ 2,700.00 to US$ 3,500.00 and sometimes more. Today prices range from US$ 1,800.00  to $2,500.00 depending on condition and aftermarket installations.
LGB 22852

In 1998 the LGB 22852 was released, another all black model with red chassis and labeled " Deutsche Reichsbahn / 99 201 / 133 München". It had sound. It sold for US$ 1,400.00 in the US until 2000. Today's value in mint condition should be around US$ 1,200.00 but again, you can find offers starting around US$ 800.00. Same motor issues should be expected.

LGB 23851

In 2000 LGB issued the Brohltal Mallet (Ex OEG Mallet) # 23851 which also came in a digital version (digital decoder) as the 23851.8 It was another black model with the sticker/plate reading: "II / BEG" and golden bell, tank door lock and hand rails. Prices in USA were US$ 900.00 without the decoder and US$ 1,200.00 for the decoder version.
in 2001 LGB offered the LGB # 24852  CFV - ONLY for the French market. Only 200 were made. The cabin, saddle tanks and cylinder (blocks) were in red and she had a  loco plate"413" and a plant plate. Wheels in black. It is currently available in Europe for Euro 1,399.00 or US$ 1,960.00 plus shipping.
LGB 24852 CFV Mallet with digital decoder and sound
LGB 26851
From 2002 to 2006 the LGB# 25851 was sold and presented in the 2003-05 catalog. It was the same engine as the  22852 but had no sound. You would find offers starting at $700.00 which is still roughly their selling price in 2003. You will also find LGB 25851's digitalized with aftermarket products, ranging between US$ 1,100.00 and 1,500.00.00- but mostly on the European market.
The year 2005 saw the last Mallet by the old LGB owners, the LGB 26851 Mallet CFV in all black with red plates and digital decoder. It was made for the French market and specified as an Export Model by LGB.  Expect to see price request around $ 700.00.

The new LGB Owners issued another Mallet sometime after 2009 and it is now available under LGB# 26850. It is another all black model of the "DR 99.20" class. It sells for roughly US$ 900.00.

The Mallet never found the same audience in the USA as did the Uintah and/or the Sumpter Valley. Only the Orient Express edition of the Mallet was a great hit with the US LGB fans and the limited edition of 2,200 went almost solely onto the US market. Klaus doesn't see a lot of Mallets in his workshop. Not many of them were sold here to begin with and second, it is a sturdy engine with good operating characteristics. In case you are operating a Mallet and need spare parts- please contact Klaus.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

LGB Mikado

A loyal reader asked Yours Truly recently to talk about the Mikado and other Biggies from LGB. So, in the midst of one of the coldest winters on record in the USA here is some Winter Reading:

The Mikado was designed by LGB in 1999 and it took until 2002 to bring it onto the market. From the start it was meant to be an offer for the US market though it was sold in Germany and Europe as well. As with all big locomotives by LGB with the exception of the Mogul, the Mikado was made in small numbers. That said there were still   5,210   engines manufactured over the years. All engines until 2006 were manufactured in Nuremberg , Germany even though all other locos and stock was manufactured mostly in China from 2000 on. Today under Märklin,  most engines and stock is manufactured in Hungary. The Mikado suffered from some 'early childhood'- malfunction due to a design flaw in the body construction which was then redesigned in 2002. Please read our blog "Mikado 1,2,3" published on 11/6/12 for further detail on the subject.
The Mikado LGB numbers are LGB 20872 for the first engine type in 2001 to LGB# 22871 for the last engine in 2004. The numbers in-between are LGB# 21872, 22872,23872, 24872,25872. The numbers do NOT represent a continuous time frame when issued or offered.
LGB 212872
In addition to the pure LGB Mikado made in Germany there is a LGB authorized LGB Aster G 21832 Mikado White Pass in metal.

Value wise the Mikado has lost a bit of her steam in the last two years. You see offers anywhere between US$ 1,200 to $ 2,400.00 for the LGB versions and from US$ 1,800.00 to $ 4,000.00 for the Aster Mikado. That said, if you buy a Mikado that has had some run time at all you might need to take into consideration that a few parts need attention and might add to your 'final' purchasing costs. Gear wheels are at the core front as are motors. Operation of the earlier Mikados leads to developing play on the first drive shaft in the motor block which should NOT have play And since all Mikados came with sound except the SNCF (green French) Mikado 22871, the sound boards wont keep another 10 years either. Unfortunately, the Mikado was made under Rolf Richter's regime and there were no upgrades made to an already very outdated sound module used in the Mikado. On the other hand, with fantastic sounds available from either Phoenix or ESU you might just have saved enough on your purchase price to spend a little on a really great sound that is modern, update-able, and top-of-the-line.
The very rare LGB 22871 French Mikado
Repairs: For working on or replacing motors, checking the drive shaft, greasing the drive shaft connections or check for play on the first drive shaft  work on the motor blocks is required. It is best to separate the drive train from the loco body. To do this the generator should be removed first so you can place the Mikado on its back without damaging the generator (highly recommended from Yours Truly, too because due to a sparse spare parts situation, generators go for US$ 38.00 currently with a trend to increase in price). The drive train is attached to the locomotive with 3 screws only. Two in the rear on the left and right hand side of the motor and 1 screw all the way in the front, hidden behind the pilot. It is strongly recommended to use the correct screw driver ( for small screws) so you can re-attach the screws again and not damaging them or their thread for good with a wrong tool.
With these screws removed the drive train comes off the body in one piece. Watch for the cables: one red, one black to quick-disconnect cables for the chuff, bell+whistle; and one set of cables, black and brown, connecting the motor to the electronics inside the body. Please make notes which wire or connector goes where and make sure that the quick dis-connectors will be re-connected in the same direction - otherwise your sound will not work.
Sounds complicated? Yes, it can be. That's why you have Klaus. And Klaus can actually repair play on the drive train which is a complicated matter and needs parts made on his 3-D mill.
Parts: as for parts, Klaus carries the Mikado gear wheels, motors, generators, wheels, traction tires, push rods, and hand rails. Just call with your needs- he will find what you're looking for.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Battery Operation for LGB Trains

 LGB locos initially were designed for track power operation. So, to switch from track power to battery power requires some major changes for your LGB loco.

LGB was designed as an outdoor model train to be run in your backyard or garden layout. The tracks were built to withstand weather and climate influences. Track accessory and the LGB locos were also made to withstand those influences like sun, wet morning dew, temperature changes etc. Track power supported these challenges best. In the beginning of LGB (the late 60’s) there were no batteries around that would have supported such power needs. Nor were there any control systems available for battery operation.

That all changed in the early 2000’s with the first wireless handheld controls to come onto the market, first for track power and shortly after for battery powered model trains. However, the supply side kept being limited to only a very few manufacturers. In addition the availability of suitable batteries was indeed very much limited. LGB locos and the garden layout would require batteries being capable of supplying at least 1 Amp at 14 to 18 Volts for a duration of at least 3 hours or more. Regular batteries like gel cell batteries or NIMH batteries were too bulky and required a trailing car to carry the power pack. 
Within the last five years lithium-ion batteries and polymer-Li-ion have entered the market fulfilling the power requirements and the size requirements in one. Now it is possible to install a battery pack into a properly sized Diesel loco (like F 7 or Alco Diesel-- Switcher Diesel locos are yet missing out, but see below) or into a tender of a steam loco (like a Mogul or a Mikado, a smaller steam loco like the Forney is still missing out, but see below). 

A Mogul #  22194 w/ Vanderbilt Tend before installation
Nowadays, battery operation may be a real alternative to track power. Especially outdoors and with excessively large layouts, keeping the tracks clean becomes a growing challenge and a time consuming job. Being independent from track power makes operation possible at any given time without any track cleaning. Battery power control systems presently do not catch up to the versatility of a grown digital control system with up to 28   functions, various consists possibilities, and switch operation.  Battery operated systems often give only limited access to additional functions. 
The # 22194 w/Vanderbilt Tender
after installation and TLC by Klaus

For the analog operator the battery operation adds 2 or so more functions to his loco-control ability.  For the digital train operator, especially when comparing to “fully blown DCC-systems “ like Lenz (with 29 functions), ESU (20 functions) or Dimax (16 functions), battery operation with the Revolution (by Aristocraft)  throws you back significantly to 6. The AirWire set  is a bit bulky but delivers more functions.

Klaus installs battery operated wireless controls into LGB locos – so far into Moguls and Stainz w/tender. His customers are VERY happy with the results. It is not that easy to put all the components into the LGB loco since you need to remove the LGB electronic first and then install e.g. the Revolution components. The Revolution comes with an interface 'pack' which is a bit bulky and needs to find its space in the loco or tender. And of course the battery pack needs to go somewhere, too. That's why the large LGB Steam and Diesel locos make it possible to install into the loco or tender. However, for smaller engines there is always the possibility to install the components into a boxcar which then 'fuels' the train.

 It takes a bit of time to get the job done. A decoder support plate is also required due to space and installation reasons. Klaus manufactures those plates in his workshop. Once all is in place Klaus checks for proper functioning, test-runs the engine and control system, and off it goes to its customer-based layout.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Buying Used LGB Moguls

With LGB/Märklin in insufficient supply of new locomotives the LGB fan is driven to the estate and collectors's market or simply to used locos.  LGB locos have always been made with great care and especially those still made in Germany come in a material that will last for decades or better say more than half a century. When buying from an unknown source like from eBay, or dash follow some simple rules: ( below see 4 examples of damages with a broken smoke stack below left and transport damage on the right)

dirt and abandonment lead to this poor sight

This loco was simply slaughtered
by a previous, untrained installer

are all decorative parts in place or are some listed as missing? The Mogul sports some decorative parts that are very hard to come by these days among which are the flag poles, the stanchions, the generator, the bell and bell holder, the cow catcher and/or the snow plow. If any of these are missing that should reduce the price by about 10% (of the original price when new).
  • does the Mogul come with its tender. The Mogul loco and the Mogul tender are considered "one locomotive" and cannot be separated. The tender has a cable connection to the front loco for power pick-up, cables for lights and were installed the sound preps 

This Mogul was NOT packed well at all.
The cow catcher needed replacement
  • does the Mogul show wear and tear? Take a look at the loco wheels and the power shoes if the buyer provides such a photo. Can you detect signs of worn out wheels? Or worn power shoes? Then the loco had a lot of operation time and maybe the gear wheels and the motor are also about to expire. Take an additional 15% off (of the original price when new). Mogul loco wheels are (almost) no longer available (except at TrainCraft By Klaus - we carry them for restorations) and the same goes for intermediate gear wheels and the Original Buehler motor (which we also carry)
  • is the smoke stack in proper condition and does the smoker work? All Moguls came with a smoke generator (Seuthe 5 Volt smoker - made in Germany) whether in the wood version (diamond or balloon smoke stack) or the coal version (elongated smoke stack). especially the ballon smoke stack is prone to cracks and breaking of. Some just glued the stack 'back together' with improper glue, leaving either bad glue marks, cracks or real damage leading to non-operable smokers. Smoke stacks are sometimes available (TrainCraft carries them!) but pretty expensive these days. If the smoker is not working deduct 20% of  the original loco price when new.
  • is the Mogul very dirty and shows scratches or missing lamps/lights? Then the loco had not only a lot of operation time but has also been left outside or been generally not taken care of. Other essential parts may be damaged then as well - see all of the above. Then check also for possible damage on the connecting rods. If you have all parts at home or access to it and the Mogul is offered for less than US$ 300.00-go for it anyway.
  • does the Mogul come in its original box that matches the number on the loco? Is the box in good condition? These days the collector's market is growing and the original LGB box is becoming as important in collecting LGB as the loco itself to appraise and determine the total value of the LGB loco/set.
Then there is wear and tear or simple damage that can only be detected if the Mogul is opened by a professional. Over the years your "Famous Klaus" came upon oxidized  lead weights spreading this "salt" within the motor block , burnt gear wheels due to an owner's try to 'improve' the traction way to much with added weight...,and badly worn-out bearings which lead to general motor and body damage.

Now for the good news: LGB Moguls and other fine LGB German made locos are made out of very durable materials and very high-class plastic. They will survive A LOT!! And Klaus is always near to get any Mogul back to its Original glory and operation - even if the radiant shine of a brand-new- out-of-the-Nuremberg-factory loco sometimes is a thing of the past. -- So- go call Klaus (770-886-6670) or email him at  with all your LGB Mogul needs!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Motors and Gear Wheels

LGB locomotives are getting older. After all, LGB driving stock has been around for more than 45 years now. Most of the locomotives were made to run for about 800-1200 hours which would loosely translate into 5-10 years of operation. NOW- we all know by now that a German made LGB loco runs much longer - 'way much longer' in Generation X speak... But there comes a time after maybe 20 or so years.... that the material will run its course. And today's topic is about the relation between the Buehler motors and the gear wheels.

Motors: There are 2 types of Buehler motors. The older one was utilized for the very first LGB engines starting from 1968. It was custom-made for Lehmann by Buehler back then. In the early 90's Buehler changed the design of the long and short shaft motors to achieve better cost-profit margins. Some of those 2nd generation motors might die earlier than the first generation. But what leads to the demise of those motors other than old age? And why do the gear wheels play such an important role in this?

 'dead' Buehler motors
Motor Demise: One of the coils fail (mechanical overload, bad soldering spot or else), thus the motor runs rough. With that it puts an excessive mechanical strain on the gear wheel. The collector then gets clogged up with carbon dust shorting the other collector segments. This results in a large heat production inside the motor which travels to the gear wheel via the axle and the worm gear. Now the worm gear eats itself into the plastic gear wheel. Result: the loco stops running. And you might think it is a faulty gear wheel because that is what you see first when you check.
Mechanical overload :  too many additional lead weights in the loco (thinking to improve loco traction...), loco is running unattended, derails and gets stuck still running, human weight from above ( a 2-year-old lies on top of the loco trying to ride it...). If the loco is blocked suddenly then the plastic of the gear wheel gets damaged by the worm gear because the motor keeps running. The damaged plastic wheel results in a rough driving characteristic and a higher electrical load to the motor which eventually kills the motor.
Small selection of LGB gear wheels
Gear Wheel: There are about 15 different gear wheels. Different LGB locos use different gear wheels and one LGB loco may have more than one type of gear wheel. All LGB gear wheels are made of plastic and were manufactured in Germany. Three colors are prevalent: white, grey and black. The color does not define the type needed.

Gear Wheel Demise: In case the loco runs 24-7 or similar - like in doctor's offices, in children's hospitals, in public parks or exhibitions - the axles work themselves into the motor block body thus widening the bearing of the axle (See also our blog about Operating 24/7 in Feb/2013). The axle starts to wobble thus changing the precision position of the gear wheel. The plastic gear wheel wears off , and the worm gear cannot grab it as before thus either the loco just stops or the motor gets too much load resulting in a slow demise.
In case the gear wheel is connected to the intermediate gear wheel this intermediate wheel then gets damaged as a result of the wobbling and the motor gets damaged in the long run as well. If this happens in a steam loco the wheels that are interconnected with a connecting rod loose their synchronization and start binding. The connecting rods get damaged and the motor will get a devastating overload.

What to do: Call Klaus ( at 770-886-6670) and discuss your loco operation mode with him to determine what parts you need and how to prevent similar damage in the future. Klaus has Buehler motors and all gear wheels in stock to keep your LGB trains running.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hand Cars -- Part 2

20032 Fiery Tom 2001-2002
"Fiery Tom" was first displayed in the 1998 catalog accompanying a set of fire engines, trucks and related figurines. It was made in Nuremberg/Germany in relatively small numbers. Selling price is starting at US$ 250.00 but may be too low by the time you read this
20030 Fiery Tom 1998-2000
It was followed by # 200323 which looked the same but had a German fire siren sound and a blue flashing light on the side car. Again, production numbers were pretty small. Selling price is at US$ 300.00 and increasing

In 2001 LGB issued the 21020 Christmas/Santa Fortuna Flyer  exclusively for LGBoA.  This Fortuna Flyer was followed in 2002 by # 21030, the Santa rail-motorcycle,
FORTUNA Flyer 21020
Santa Cycle 21030

 also an LGBoA exclusive. Both were made in small numbers, about 25% of a regular train "edition". While each of them sold for roughly US$ 90.00 in 2012 they sold for $ 1,250 the pair about 4 weeks ago.

LGB 20040 snow plow DR Cottbus
From 1999 to 2003 LGB also issued a snow plow used by various Narrow gauge train lines, this one being used by the "DR - Cottbus" with DR for 'Deutsche Reichsbahn' (German Railroad Line dating from 1920-1945/49). They gave it the LGB # 20040 and issued the same with sound in 2001-2002 with the # 20040.8. Auction/Estate prices are anywhere from $ 80.00 to 150.00 but may blow up fast...

The next 'generation' of hand cars / flyers came in 2004 with the # 24020. It was the Snoopy Flyer and was made in small numbers. It is selling around $ 300.00 with prices probably going up fast.
LGB 24020 Snoopy Flyer
LGB 22030 Peanuts Cycle
Then the LGB as we know it was about to 'expire' with declaring bankruptcy in 2006. The models they made before the final curtain came were the LGB 22030, the Peanuts motor cycle with Charlie and Lucy riding and Snoopy & Woodstock on the back bench. The market price currently wobbles between US$ 350.00 and  $ 500.00 with a clear upward move. It was announced as an LGBoA Exclusive but was obviously sold to other markets as well later that year.
The same 2005 catalog also displayed the LGB # 20050 Snoopy Joe Cool as draisine (hand car) which goes for about US$ 400 to 500.00 as well.
LGB 20050 Snoopy Draisine/ hand car
Then came the Disney Draisine # 23010 in 2006 with only 500 built the price goes up on a weekly base currently at US$ 470- $ 500.00
LGB 23010 Disney Draisine

Then in 2006 LGB's Rolf Richter tried another 'pull on Coca-Cola' by having made a hand model (# 24010) and advertising it without having secured the rights with COCA-COLA company. You guessed it- it  was never manufactured. It would have been cute though with the Coca-Cola polar bears carrying snowballs and a Coke bottle...

If you like more information on any of the above listed items or want to buy or sell one - please contact Klaus at  770-886-6670 or email at