The BR 98.3 (PtL 2/2) Steam Locomotive

The BR 98.3 (PtL 2/2) Steam Locomotive

By Roger Heid


During summer of 1953, I was still in Grade School, my class went on a field trip to Southern Bavaria. There I got to see the strangest looking real world steam locomotive I had ever seen. Our teacher kept close control over us, making us feel like sheep with a big iron balls attached to our legs. This made it impossible for me to take a closer look at this curiosity of a steam engine.

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This ‘thing’ is generally referred to as ‘Glaskasten’, meaning ‘Glass Box’. The first of three version runs were built by Krauss for the Bavarian Railroad in 1905 and 1906 consisting of six samples. They were of a super-heated design and used on local branch lines in Southern Bavaria and Franconia. They were known by the designation PtL 2/2.

The gravity fed coal tank made one man operation possible; the engineer’s cab was quite roomy. The water tanks were mounted on the gangway platform in such a way that crossing over to the coaches was still possible. The two axles were driven by a jackshaft and external drive rods.

In 1908 and 1909, Krauss supplied 29 specimens of the second run. Changes in the drive system made it possible to mount the water tank below the boiler, thus allowing more space on the gangway platform. In 1910, three of these locomotives were procured by the Prussian Railroad and designated T2.

In 1911 and 1914, two more batches of nine and four were supplied to the Bavarian Railroad. The jackshaft was left out and the overall length and weight were reduced.

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Third Version

After WW I, the DRG took over a total of 22 of these locomotives, re-designated BR 98.3. In 1942, two of them were sold to private industrial firms; on fell victim to WW II.

After WW II, one locomotive stayed in Austria where it was designated OBB 688.01. It was taken out of service in 1959. The remaining specimens were taken over by the West German DB. They were gradually retired during the 1950s with the last one put to rest in 1963. Two survived in museums.

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Maerklin offers a model of this little locomotive. Trix also has it but is currently sold out (April 2015). It will probably be re-introduced. These models make an excellent addition to an Era I and/or Era 2 layout. It is on my wish list.


Maerklin 36863

3 Responses to The BR 98.3 (PtL 2/2) Steam Locomotive

  1. Ernest H. Robl says:

    I think that as a child in Austria, I may well have traveled on trains operated by one of these locomotives.

    From time to time, my parents would go on a weekend outing to a small town on the Danube near Vienna. We went on a train called the “Pendler” — a shuttle train that simply ran back and forth between downtown Vienna and its destimation on the Danube.

    What was unusual about this train was that the engine was in mid-train. There were two two-axle coaches in front of the engine and two similar coaches behind. The engine never ran around the train.

    I was very young at the time — about four or five years old — so I have few specific memories of the train, other than the locomotive being in the middle of the train. However, I read somewhere recently that this train was usually operated with a “Glaskasten” locomotive.

    I think that Roco has also made several versions of the Glaskasten over the years, though it’s not a current production model.

    – Ernest

    • Bill Weizel says:

      Nice write-up on the PtL 2/2 aka BR 98.3… Roco versions of this classic locomotive were released most recently in 2012 from what catalog info that I have as a DB/Era III 98.3 for conventional, two-rail DC operation. Another DB/Era III digital version of this locomotive with sound is being released this year under catalog number 63298. A K.Bay.Sts.B. PtL 2/2 version of this locomotive (digital, with sound) was offered late last year/early this year in a set with three K.Bay.Sts.B. coaches under catalog number 61430 and is sold out. The 2012 DB version, and K.Bay.Sts.B. set might still be found out there with some search effort if one desires.

  2. Roger Heid says:

    Just a few days ago, Reynaulds shipped a Maerklin version of this locomotive. At first glance, it looks a little strange, but it is very cute. It can creep at a snail’s pace and it can run at a good clip for her size. She can pull a greater load than what you might expect from this puny little thing. She successfully dragged six ordinary 2-axle freight cars. On my layout she is assigned to pull the exact same train pictured above, a baggage car and three passenger cars, all made by Roco. She does this very gracefully. She is really a solid performer, quite up to her task. She is well worth finding in a 2-rail version.

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