by Mike Spanier
Collecting and operating Marx trains is a hoot! Bargains are frequently available and with a little bit of knowledge you can have examples of much, if not all, of what Marx offered when you are talking about 3/16" scale metal freight cars. A few are hard to find but most are readily seen at train shows and eBay.......... at reasonable prices.
Marx did a wonderful job with this series which it offered in: box cars, cabooses, gondolas, refrigerator and stock cars as well as tank and flat cars as well as a tender.
Have you ever noticed those realistic 3/16" scale metal freight cars Marx produced from 1941& 1942 and 1946 through 1953? Have you noticed that some came with plastic fork couplers (not the metal ones)? The plastic couplers are 1953 production and actually stretch the production date through 1954. They all came with 8 wheel trucks and wonderfully detailed lithography and appear "S" gauge (some say similar in size to prewar and postwar 3 rail O gauge American Flyer) in size and run on 3 rail 027 track. They came with a clever and effective coupling system as well. Here are examples of boxed examples of the LNE Hopper car and the PFE Refrigerator car (note that the PFE was not sold in a separate sale box. Box is for illustration only):
One interesting and pricey variation of the PFE refrigerator and the UP Challenger box car came with red ends and a red bottom. They are very difficult to find in any condition.
Below are 2 examples of the tank cars offered. The challenge is to find clear graphics and clean cars. These examples are mint condition:
Gondolas came in different road names as well as a high side version and a standard version. The high side example is below:
Stock cars were offered in 2 different road names. The more common is the Santa Fe and the much tougher to find, particularly in nice condition, is the Pennsylvania version. The Pennsylvania version is pricier then most of the scale cars:
Below are the two variations of GAEX box cars. Note the difference of the lettering in the yellow stripe. The car on top says, "GAEX-DF" and the bottom car says, "DF". Fun to collect and have one of each. Value for either is the same. These cars are frequently found in very nice shape. I presume this is because they were later production:
Another box car that comes in several variations is the NYC Pacemaker (note that this car came in a 3545 box not the 3555 box as illustrated). Below is the version with the rivet detail in black and there is another version with no rivet detail. Both are valued the same, but fun to find:
Also part of the 3/16" scale series were flat cars (with lumber and pipe loads) and the stakeless flat car not to mention the tender.
The purpose of this article was to wet your appetite to learn more about this wonderful series procduced by Marx. Remember that I have only listed some of the cars. For many of the cars there are similar variations. The 3/16" Metal Scale Freight cars are enjoyable to search for and mostly affordable in the $25 to $50 range.
By the way, the last item shown is the NYC illuminated caboose. Do not search for this item. Though it was shown as available with illumination, it wasn't. This one has a light installed. Looks great doesn't it!
To get a real handle on this series pick up a Greenberg's Pocket Price Guide for Marx Trains which will inform you of the whole story.
PS I would like to acknowledge John F. and Tasker B. for introducing me to Marx trains. Their continued willingness to answer my questions and share information is most appreciated. Their input has been invaluable and gracious in every instance.
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