Something about the BR 42 Steam Locomotive

Something about the BR 42 Steam Locomotive

By Ulrich Albrecht

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My father began building a model railroad in 1957 when my mother was pregnant with me. He was absolutely convinced that the child was going to be a boy.  Somehow, I suspect that the real motivation was his long standing desire to build a layout, and he finally had found a valid excuse to do so.

In the late 50s, model railroad customers did not have the variety of options we enjoy nowadays.  Instead, there were only three major manufacturers, each of which offered their own proprietary system:  Maerklin, as the market leader, used a three track system where the two outer rails were connected.  The tracks were made from metal, and the center rail had just been changed to small studs.  All Maerklin locomotives were powered by AC; an internal relay was used to change directions.

Trix Express also used a three rail system, similar to Maerklin, but the two outer rails were electrically isolated.  This allowed Trix Express users to run two trains independently without an overhead catenary.  Moreover, Trix had just converted to DC simplifying control of the locomotives.  Finally, Fleischmann championed the standard 2-rail system and used DC.  Unfortunately, many of its locomotives were made in 1:82 scale which made them appear rather large.

My father chose Trix Express for his model railroad because it allowed operating three locomotives at the same time with an overhead catenary.   Moreover, Trix offered the best detailed cars and locomotives, at that time. They were quite ahead of its competitors.  Especially, their heavy Class 01 Express steam engine was a wonderful model. Perhaps, it was the best model of this engine until Fleischmann released theirs in the late 60’s.  In retrospect, choosing Trix Express proved to be a mistake since Trix discontinued developing its HO offerings, but concentrated on developing their N-scale Minitrix line, instead.


BR 01

Besides the 01 class already mentioned, Trix’s other steam locomotive star was a heavy 2-10-0 freight locomotive.  Since Maerklin already had the heavy 44 class in its program, many modelers were hoping that either Trix or Fleischmann would offer the lighter, but very numerous 50 class.  Instead, Trix chose the 42 class, also known as the third of the war steam locomotive series.  This was a strange choice indeed, since all 42s had been withdrawn from service in West Germany by 1955, two years before the model appeared.  Although an additional 20 joined the Bundesbahn in 1957 after the Saar territory was returned by France; all were gone by 1961.  In spite of this, the 42 was the dream of every Trix fan.


Since my father preferred electric locomotives, steam engines did not appear on our layout until the early 70s.  By then, the 42 had been taken out of production.  I spent quite a few years hunting for one, and finally found one in 1978.  For the next 30 years, it was one of my favorite freight engines.  Although I had operated both NEM and Trix Express engines on the same layout since 1983, it took till 2008 for me to decide to convert my layout to NEM only.  The most painful part about this conversion was that I had to give up two of my favorite locomotives:  A Maerklin BR 50kab converted to Trix Express and my favorite 42 class.


BR 50 kab

After three years without a 42, I finally found a used one made by Liliput when it still was an Austrian company.  Without doubt, this Liliput engine, just like my Roco engines, has much finer details than my original Trix 01 and 42. I enjoy their realistic appearance on my new layout.    However, sometimes I miss my Trix engines since they were made completely out of metal.  Weighing in at about 1kg (almost 2 lbs) each, they truly resembled a “heavy” steam engine.

After years of painful separation, me and my BR 42 were finally re-united. Praise the Lord!


One Response to Something about the BR 42 Steam Locomotive

  1. Roger Heid says:

    I can wholeheartedly sympathize with Ulrich. In my case, it is the Uerdingen Rail Bus which I rode a lot during my youth. In 1962, I got one for Christmas. In 1964, I sold the whole works, missing my Rail Bus the most.
    Christmas of 2008 brought it back, after 44 years of separation.

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