SBB Ae 3/6 II (Z scale by Märklin)

Published 14Aug2016, updated 14Sept2016
This page is in group Models. This page is one of my SBB Ae 3/6 II pages.

Z-scale (Z scale or mini-club) is 1/220. This note is about the Märklin 8851 model of the Swiss SBB Ae 3/6 II electrical locomotive. The model’s length is 14.09 m [real size] / 220 = 6.4 cm. It weights 30 grams. This model is brown and the road number is #10460. See Wikipedia about Z scale and [1] for a nice Z-scale description page. Plus of course this: – with lots of good info.

Märklin 8851 brown Z scale of SBB Ae 3/6 II

Fig.1 – SBB Ae 3/6 II by Märklin 8851 Z-scale. Photo Øyvind Teig. (Press for fullpixel)

When I finally got around to having decided that I wanted to own a Z-scale version of the SBB Ae 3/6 II and finally found one with an ok price tag (“-25% by the seller on eBay, when it had been sitting there for about a year without being sold), and when I persuaded myself that I should buy some straight track, four bumpers tops and a transformer control unit – then I got this in August 2016. I jump kind of slowly on these matters. But it was slower than I thought.

When I looked up at what year Märklin issued this model I found it as “new” in the 1983/84 English catalogue, page 119, some 11 years into the history of Z-scale. This was the only Z mini-club loco in the catalogue where I had jotted down the price! In retrospect, quite understandable. The price was 823 kr. (NOK) then! More than the H0 model 3151 at NOK 811 in the same catalogue. Also jotted down, together with the Swedish Da Märklin 3030 at NOK 569 (that I did buy then). It was expensive. With today’s money I paid NOK 1610 (US $191) + postage and tax summed up to NOK 2400. The raw loco price had only doubled.

The model was nicer than I thought! The printed text is not like on my Lemaco, but it’s impressive still. I guess the picture tells some. After this I bought a new camera. Stay tuned.

I needed to take a pantograph apart and it took me an hour to assemble it again. It didn’t come up. And the plastic body can’t really be pushed down on the loco and sit there. There are some internal knots, but there’s not enough push in the old plastic to hold it. There are no screws for this. I assume Z collectors are familiar with this. I have a feeling that while lifting it then there is so much pressure by the fingers that it locks into the internal knots, but when I place it on the track, that’s when the internals fall out for the final millimeters. But I released the two internal springs that are used to keep the spring-loaded electrical connections to the pantographs; this at least made the exterior body seem to be positioned correctly, down by about a millimetre.

I made a straight track on an acrylic shelf, 55 cm long and placed it firmly in some tiny plastic brackets on the wall. If the loco tilts, there a sidewalk for it so it won’t fall off the shelf. It doesn’t have digital control, so the motor starts when it starts, rather sudden for today’s digital standard. But once it’s been running some time it gets smoother. But then, it’s the way it was created, once and for all. However, the standard 3-pole motor may be replaced my a newer 5-pole motor that includes a flywheel. But that won’t make it original, will it? And with light in only one direction? Right now my homework is to clean the wheels and track. See how to at (above).

Märklin 8851 brown Z scale of SBB Ae 3/6 II (scanned box)

Fig.2 – Scan from Märklin 8851 box Z-scale, model of SBB Ae 3/6 II. (Press for fullpixel)

The box for the Z-scale 8851 shows the loco running “backwards”. I have scanned it and published it here, I know that Märklin thinks it’s ok. The artist or the marketing guys at Märklin may not have known the difference? Strange. But I see lots of pictures of train sets where it even pulls long trains “backing”, probably at full speed. Search for “asymmetric wheel construction” in this blog note to read more about it. In real world it seemed to have run equally well in both directions(?) But there is a difference still. The roman number I text is by the bogies (front end?), roman II is be the single axle (rear end?).

Even if this was fun I have decided not to pursue much Z-scale models, like the Märklin Swiss Passenger Service Train Set Z 81418 from 1999 (green, #10409 (with three ventilation frames: wrong) and brown, #10460 (three ventilation frames correct)). The latter is this model, being sold separately is Märklin 8851. The green model hasn’t been sold separately, I believe. (That one I could chase if sold separately..) Locomotive and three cars are 33.8 cm. (Road numbers 1-20 had two ventilation frames, 21-60 had three. See this discussed more here).

ZettZeit seem to rebuild the #10460 (here) into #10439, see [2]. (Disclaimer: just for info, no money or gifts)

Märklin 8851 brown Z scale of SBB Ae 3/6 II

Fig 3. – SBB Ae 3/6 II by Märklin 8851 Z-scale. Photo Øyvind Teig. (Press for fullpixel)

This page’s topmost picture was taken with a 2011 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. I had to take it through Photoshop Elements to fix lens errors so that it wasn’t too small in the center. But these two are shot with a 2016 Lumix DMC-TZ100, and I didn’t need to fix any lens errors. The camera’s algorithm did a good job with these pictures. Lighting is rather coincidental. I struggle and try everything, all kinds of light sources, from nothing extra  to LED and/or flourescent, direct, indirect and through paper. Then I might end up with an ok picture.

Märklin 8851 brown Z scale of SBB Ae 3/6 II (4-focus)

Fig 4. – SBB Ae 3/6 II by Märklin 8851 Z-scale (4-focus). Photo Øyvind Teig. (Press for fullpixel)

But the above is a manipulated picture, from four individually focused pictures. Like it or not, but some times I like to see all of a model when seen in perspective like this. I have used TZ100’s “4K Photo” with “post focus” picture (the camera “racks focus across the depth of the scene” (DPREVIEW)) and picked out four of the 45 single pictures that appeared in the produced MP4 “movie”, sliced and merged them (left to right) in OS X Apple Pages (not Photoshop Elements), exported to PDF, opened in Preview, saved as JPG and then scaled. I have done no pointwise make-up of any of the pictures, but I have modified light etc. from the Preview menu. If you press the above and view it fullpixel you may see the three vertical splice lines. The track and push-rods discontinuities are somewhat visible.

I am impressed with both cameras, but TZ100 of course outpaces LX5. This loco is so small that it takes my breath every time I see it. Märklin anno 1983, 33 years old – fantastic. And the details are even smaller. I’d like to see a Lemaco model in this scale. It would have challenged my camera even more. And of course my bank account.


  1. Z-models (and some general descriptions) at
  2. Rebuilding by ZettZeit at
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