The Class K Steam Locomotive

The Class K Steam Locomotive

By Roger Heid


The Class K steam loco was no small fish, and, in a way, she quite was unique. She was the only steam locomotive ever built for German railroads, that featured six coupled drive axles. The axle configuration is 1’F (UIC notation); the wheel configuration is 2-12-0 (Whyte notation). I remember briefly seeing one, a long time ago; I can’t remember where, but I do remember counting the drive wheels twice, just to make sure I had not made a mistake.

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This picture gives you an idea of her dimensions

She was no speed queen, by a long shot. Top speed was reported to be about 36 mph. She was designed to drag fairly heavy freight in hilly terrain. Between 1917 and 1924, a total of 44 were made in Esslingen, a town near Stuttgart. Initially, they were delivered to the KWSt.E., the Royal Wuerttemberg State Railroad (Koenigliche Wuerttembergische Staats Eisenbahn).


She was primarily used on the Geislingen Grade (Geislinger Steige), not far from Stuttgart, but she also performed her duties on the hills of the Baden Black Forest line. She proved to be reliable and economical in those realms. She was hardly ever used on flat terrain for longer distances, though, as she was too slow and not considered to be very economical for that purpose. As far as I know, there were no reports of her ever being used for passenger trains, even though this may have been the case, on some occasions.

After WWI, all of them were taken over by the DRG and re-designated BR 59. In 1933, the Geislingen Grade was electrified, but the BR 59s continued their service in the States of Baden and Wuerttemberg, wherever they were deemed to be useful.

After the onset of WWII, 30 examples were moved to Austria, used mostly on the Semmeringbahn. After WWII, most of those remaining in Austria were turned over to other countries, including the USSR, Yugoslavia and Hungary.

Only four of them stayed in Austria, now designated OBB 659. (06, 23, 29 and 41). The last one was taken out of service in 1957. About fourteen BR 59s did sporadic service in West Germany, the last one to be retired in 1953.

She never really attained any celebrity status during her life span. In her early days, she was indispensable, nevertheless. A model of these unique locomotives would make a great addition to an Era I or II layout.

Maerklin is currently offering a model of this truly unique locomotive. I am going to put one on my wish list, I think. Actually, I know I will, simply because I don’t have one of these.


Maerklin # 37048


I am not aware of anyone making a DC 2-rail model, these days. I’m sure someone will know.

Please, do not post questions in the Blog System. Go to the Forum, instead.

Thank you.

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