Roco 0-8+4 Mh.6
The Mh.6 superheated narrow gauge steam engine was especially built for and is based on the Mariazell Railway in Austria.
History of the Mariazell Railway (Mariazellerbahn)
The Mariazell Railway (German: Mariazellerbahn) is an electrically operated narrow-gauge railway with a track gauge of 760 mm (2 ft 5 7/8 in) which connects the Lower Austrian capital Sankt Pölten with the Styrian pilgrimage centre of Mariazell.
This suggestion was said to be revolutionary. There had never been a railway line of such length, meant to handle mainline traffic, that had been electrically operated. The only electric traction at this time was to be found on tramways and light, local railways, which used only direct current (DC) throughout. Only the more tramlike Stubaitalbahn in Tyrol, built in 1904, was even actually run using alternating current (AC). Despite great opposition, Engelmann managed to implement his vision. So, the Mariazell Railway was electrified between 1907 and 1911, making use of the mountainous region's vast hydroelectric resources. At that time, the locomotive series E (now ÖBB 1099), still used now, were acquired.
Winter on the Mariazellerbahn, regional train passing the Heugraben viaduct near Puchenstuben station
In 1922, the old Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) took over the Mariazell Railway from the Lower Austrian State Railways, which had fallen into financial difficulties. After Anschluss in 1938, the narrow-gauge railway, like all Austrian railways, became part of the Deutsche Reichsbahn. During the wartime years 1944 and 1945, there was wartime destruction and damage in many places, especially around St. Pölten.
On 31 December 1998, ÖBB also ended transporter wagon service on the Valley Line and the remaining section of the branchline, thereby ending all freight service on the Mariazell Railway.
As of about 2000, ÖBB was considering selling or abandoning the Mariazellerbahn. At present, the railway is still being run by state order, and at the state's expense. Since autumn 2003, one of the many future scenarios being considered is conversion to standard gauge for the Valley Line between St. Pölten and Kirchberg an der Pielach, a stretch of line important for commuters and schoolchildren, and furthermore for the rest of the line, more strongly tourist-oriented marketing.
Mariazellerbahn vintage train "Panoramic 760" with steam engine Mh6 in Mariazell station, Styria, Austria.
For the extension to Mariazell, an especially high-performance engine was needed. The Krauss locomotive works in Linz brought forth a proposal to build a locomotive designed by Wilhelm von Engerth, with four powered axles and a tender, four of which were built by 1906 and which used superheated steam. They were designated Mh (nowadays ÖBB 399). In 1907 followed two locomotives with compound steam working. These were designated Mv. The "h" stood for "Heißdampf" (superheated steam), and the "v" for "Verbundantrieb" (compound working). Since the latter locomotives did not very well prove their worth, the next order was for two further locomotives, this time of the Mh variety. Since many passengers were expected, a great number of four-axled passenger coaches were bought, which were comparable in comfort and appointments with contemporary standard-gauge coaches. Also in 1906, three bigger and stronger steam railcars were delivered.
Once electrification began in 1911, all together 16 locomotives of series E were delivered between 1911 and 1914. Thereafter, steam trains disappeared from the mainline after only five years. All steam railcars were sold, and most of the steam locomotives remained on the unelectrified branchline. A few were sent to the Waldviertler Schmalspurbahnen.
Service on the mainline is today still mainly done using the now nearly 100-year-old series 1099 electric locomotives together with passenger coaches not much less old than the locomotives. The class 1099 can therefore claim to be the world's oldest electric locomotive still running on the line for which it was originally built.
Since 1994, two newly developed electric multiple unit trains (ÖBB 4090) have come into service. For lighter runs diesel multiple unit trains (ÖBB 5090) are used, as well as on the Krumpe, where series 2095 diesel locomotives are also used.
For nostalgic runs, the Mh.6 steam engine stationed in Ober-Grafendorf is brought in. This was a private initiative in the 1990s by several Mariazell Railway railway employees, who managed to restore and reinstate the Mountain Line's original locomotive.
All six of the narrow gauge NÖLB Mh or 399 class Engerth locomotives survive in Austria.
The Roco H0e model of the Mh.6
The model is noted as 0-8+4. The 4-wheel tender is attached to chassis if the loco by two lateral shafts making the loco and tender perform as a single articulated unit.
Announced in 2007, the model was eagerly anticipated. These were the models produced:
Some of the 2007 models are still available and can be bought at a reasonable price.
My first impression of the model was made before I even opened the carton that landed up on my desk. I saw who it was from and assumed they must have made an error and put nothing in the box as it was so light. The model, boxed with instructions and foam weighs 240.9g. Perhaps after recently receiving a couple of Bachmann On30 Spectrum locos which weigh a considerable amount, I was expecting more. The model, having a metal boiler and a few other structural components is still dainty, fine and light.
Here I am installing a Bachmann 36-558 6 Pin DCC Decoder. The back EMF gives the model great running characteristics at slow shunting speeds. The decoder plugs in without fuss. I don't have a 90Â° adaptor so the decoder has to be bent over very gently to allow it to fit under the coal load.
All well. It runs superbly. So smooth. All wheel pickup prevents any hick-ups over difficult track.
The model is supplied with etched plates which need to be sanded down to expose the lettering and numbers from the painted ground. I'm not a fan of applying plates when the tampo painting is quite reasonable as in this case. You have to use a dot of epoxy or superglue and you really don't want any excess to come out.
Unfortunately, the lights are not functional. The tender light would be easy to get working, but the front headlight would involve some surgery. There is a guy on Youtube who has installed working lights and even a sound decoder with authentic sounds for this loco. Apparently the chimney gives off a characteristic sound.
The loco is matched by a set of coaches. These are the Mariazellerbahn ÖBB coaches (Roco 34090). The loco pulls them around without fuss. The 4-axel bogie coaches really look the part and make a nice sound gliding behind the Mh.6.
A stunning, good looking little model. Smooth running with a flywheel on the 5-pole motor. Digital, with all wheel pickup. Impressive pulling power. What more could you want from a H0e model?
Further viewing of the Mariazellerbahn (Youtube) Mariazellerbahn trains in the snow, Snowplough, Mariazellerbahn Documentary (23min in German with excellent video)
DFT - March 2012
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