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European Outline 0 Gauge Trains: An Introduction to PAYÁ of Spain

By Bryant Booth

Part II: History and Background

A pioneer of the Spanish toy industry, tinsmith Rafael PAYÁ, produced his first metal toy, a hand-painted horse drawn coach, in 1902. The firm PAYÁ Hermanos S.A. (PAYÁ Brothers S.A.) built the first toy factory in Ibi, Alicante, Spain and began producing toys in 1906. The metal toys were well received and PAYÁ quickly produced a wide range of toys for the domestic market, being the first serious Spanish rival to imported toys (Ref. 1.)

Early PAYÁ Toys

The city of Ibi, surrounded by mountains and ravines, located in the southeast of Spain and not too far from the Mediterranean coast, became the center of the Spanish toy industry. Most of the Spanish toy companies, such as RICO and Verdu & Cia, were started by former employees of PAYÁ Hermanos and are located in Ibi. Today over 60% of domestic toy production takes place in Ibi, in approximately 30 factories and the toy industry has spawned related industries such as plastics, metal works, and machinery production in the local economy (Ref 4).

Spain was neutral during World War I and there really were no German, French, or British toys to import. Yet the domestic demand for toys increased and PAYÁ’s sales increased significantly during this period. By the 1920’s PAYÁ’s toys were considered the equal of the then famous toy makers of Germany. PAYÁ was one of the first to introduce lithograph printing to Spanish toy production and PAYÁ’s imprints were much bolder, brighter, and colorful. By the early 1930s PAYÁ Hermanos was the best-known Spanish manufacturer of tin plate toys and employed nearly 500 workers.

PAYÁ was the first Spanish firm to include trains in their production, initially producing simple floor pull and clockwork trains, introducing 0 gauge trains in the 1920’s, and trains powered by electric motors in 1930. PAYÁ paid close attention to what Nuremberg was accomplishing and their trains have a German “look” to them. There were both smaller and larger series of clockwork trains; the “high end” trains were sold in sets with a number of passenger wagons. Some of PAYÁ’s clockwork locomotives had battery operated lighting! The first electric, 3-rail locomotive was the #984, a small 0-4-0 steam locomotive with a two axle tender. (A stable of PAYÁ, the #984 was still being offered 30 years later in the catalog of 1960.)

Early PAYÁ Pulltrains
(Photos courtesy of Juan Requena)

Clockwork Locomotives # 829 (from 1916) and # 879 (from 1925)
(Photos courtesy of Enrique R. de Lara)

The “high-end” clockwork 4-4-4 dates from the early 1930’s, is referred to as the “Mastadon”, and can be found with boilers in red or green.
(Photo courtesy of Evelyn Ortiz Davis)

The #984 was PAYÁ’s first electric locomotive
(Photo courtesy of Enrique R. de Lara)

In the early 1930’s PAYÁ increased production and began to expand its range of trains offered as well as related accessories such as tunnels, switches, signals and stations. Their passenger coaches, both two and four axle, were offered in a variety of sizes and were lithographed and colorful and frequently based on the French PLM (Paris, Lyons, & Mediterranean) Railway of the period. But PAYÁ produced few freight wagons. Only three, a simple tank wagon, an open goods wagon, and a covered goods wagon, were cataloged. By comparison, Marklin was producing a diverse set of two and four axle freight wagons at this time.

Looking back, PAYÁ seemed amazingly informed as to what was going on in the toy train industry. In 1935 PAYÁ introduced a three unit articulated model of the Union Pacific M-10000 streamliner which had only started service in the United States the year before in February 1934. Lionel, who had blueprints of the streamliner and had been working on their model for some time introduced their train later in 1934. The PAYÁ model, 83 cm long with a lighted interior, was a very good replica of the Lionel train although individual units were shorter than Lionel’s.

Reproduction PAYÁ Streamliners – The original trains were painted a grey and silver livery

In the same year (1935) PAYÁ also produced locomotive # 987, a very close copy of the Lionel 1681-E 2-4-0 originally produced in1934 (Ref. 2). Painted gray-green with black and red details the locomotive used a PAYÁ tender from another locomotive.

A Reproduction PAYÁ #987

PAYÁ’s growth came to an abrupt stop with the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. PAYÁ was nationalized, suspended toy manufacturing, and worked in the armaments industry making shell casings. With the end of the Civil War in 1939 PAYÁ was able to resume the manufacture of toys but the lack of finances precluded PAYÁ from introducing new lines. PAYÁ continued, however, to produce toys made prior to the Civil War and by 1944 was able to develop and produce a new line of more realistic looking ‘0’ gauge trains.

As noted in the introduction, in 1944 PAYÁ produced their 2-6-2 Santa Fe locomotive, a 3-rail, 18 volt AC, tinplate/die cast locomotive that was nearly 50 cm in length. The Santa Fe served as PAYÁ’s top-of-the-line locomotive and, until 1984, was the only steam locomotive produced with more than two drive axles.
The locomotive was complimented with the Series #1376 4-axle passenger coaches that were 35.5 cm in length and Series #1371 coaches that were 30 cm in length. The 1376 coaches were developed from an earlier coach (the Series #883) by adding die cast end pieces to simulate the bellows attachment between the cars. Each of the cars had its own interior lighting system. A unique 30 cm postal van was also part of the new passenger consist.

The 1376 series coaches were 35.5 cm in length

The die cast bellows used on the 1376 series passenger coaches. Note the crazing on the bellows of this reproduction coach.

The 30 cm Postal Wagon

PAYÁ also upgraded its line of freight wagons significantly. At least eleven 2-axle freight wagons were produced in the series #1350, five of which are displayed below. Prototypical looking, 4-axle tank, flat, and goods wagons, 26 cm long, were introduced.

2-Axle Freight Wagons introduced in the 1940s
(Photo courtesy of “Oslabo”)

PAYÁ prototypical 4-Axle Wagons (reproductions)

Finally PAYÁ expanded its range of stations and rail side accessories (signals, bridges, cranes, etc.). The stations could be assembled by the hobbyist and PAYÁ sold station parts separately so that I wide variety of stations could be created. A portion of an advertisement from the 1950s displays a few of the stations that could be created.

PAYÁ’s modular stations

A PAYÁ layout with the top-of-the-line products that existed as of 1946 is shown below. Note the Santa Fe, Streamliner, new freight and passenger wagons, stations, and the Autorail in the upper left corner, initially produced about the same time as the Streamliners.

A PAYÁ Layout of 1946

The 1940s saw other changes at PAYÁ. PAYÁ stopped the use of lithography and increasingly painted and baked their items. ‘0’ gauge was the predominate gauge but in 1948 PAYÁ started producing a few 2-rail “S” gauge trains to a 1/64, 22.23 mm gauge (Ref 5). Also in that year the first 00 train was produced and HO became the predominate gauge in the 50’s. But PAYÁ continue to produce the same 0 gauge items into the mid-60s, the last European company to produce ready-to- run, ‘0’ gauge trains. The Santa Fe locomotive and some of the 4-axle wagons were produced on a commissioned basis into the 1970s.

A portion of the 1960 PAYÁ catalog. Note locomotives like the # 987 from the 1930s are still being offered.

For today’s train collector it is difficult to find original (i.e., pre 1960s) PAYÁ trains in good and operable condition. Die castings were extensively used for details, trucks, buffers, wheels, and motor parts and they suffered significant metal fatigue due to impurities in their castings. However, reproduction parts of new materials are available today, produced by PAYÁ fans much like the parts produced today for Hornby ‘0’ gauge trains.

Next: The Reproductions

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