Viewing a T3 Steam Locomotive

Viewing a T3 Steam Locomotive

By Roger Heid


During summer of 1954, my uncle took me on a road trip through the Black Forest. In a little town, the name of which I can unfortunately not remember, I asked we stop at the railroad station. There we saw a short passenger train, very similar to the one shown in the picture below.


My uncle went to the Station Restaurant to have whatever; I approached this steam locomotive. In the meantime, I had lost my apprehension to get too close to them. In fact, I had become quite nosy about trains and such. I had learned quite a bit about steam engines.

Well, there she was. I had seen a number of different locomotives before, but never anything like this one. She was kind of small, I thought, almost puny looking, but also sort of cute. To me, she almost looked like a toy on steroids. But that’s just me.


So, I gave her a good looking over. The name plate on the side of the cab read 89 and some other number. There was something about her that struck me and made me pensive. I noticed there was no coal box on the back of this engine. So I concluded that the water was kept in one of the side boxes. But no dice! Both boxes contained coal. Duh!?!

I stood there, engulfed in total wonderment, when some man pushed me a little.

“Step aside, kid, I need to do a lube job. I see you are mighty curious about this here engine. I bet you have never seen one like it. Do you have any questions?”

“Uh, yeah, where do you store the water? I don’t see a water tank.”

“Well, son, it’s like this. This engine only runs when it rains. We catch the rainwater with a funnel. When the rain quits, the trip is over, you see.”

It took me a few moments to realize that I had my leg pulled, something fierce. When this man finally quit laughing, he pointed out that the tank was located underneath the boiler. Why didn’t he say so, in the first place? No, he had to make fun of me, that silly gander.

Moments later, the train took off and I went to join my uncle in the restaurant. We immediately continued on our road trip. A few miles further up the road which started to run next the railroad tracks, we passed this train. The little locomotive was huffing and puffing, steaming and smoking, seemingly laboring to pull her train up this gentle grade.


“Isn’t that engine kinda small for this train?’ my uncle remarked. “Well, it seems to be able to do the job.”

He stepped on the gas pedal of his Mercedes, leaving the train in the dust.


This type locomotive was first introduced in 1882 as the Prussian T-3. Over time, more than 1,300 of them were built. She certainly was not the fastest horse in the stable. Ordinarily, the top speed was around 27mph.

After WWII, the DB wound up with 70 of these cute critters. By then, they had become known as the BR 89 – ####. The last one was retired in 1968 which gives this loco a total service life of a whopping 86 years.

If you model Era I, this loco is a must have, but she is also at home in Eras II and III. On my layout, I operate three of them. Sometimes, I run them in tandem. It is fun to watch all three, slowly pulling a relatively long train consisting of very small Era I freight cars. The engine in front has a factory installed sound decoder.

Currently, Maerklin has this model in their catalogue. It is found on the Reynaulds web site. Trix offers it in 2-rail DC. Check it out.

I like this model very much. It is well executed, and it runs great.


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