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Swiss Federal Railways class Be 6/8III & Ce 6/8III

Trix model 22584 & 22340

Review by Neil Wood

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Digital photo: Reinhard Reiss

The Swiss crocodile is a design classic which has proved popular over decades with rail enthusiasts.  Its characteristic shape makes it readily identifiable. Its resilience and pulling power over steep gradients is legendary.

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Photo: A. Senn

The locomotives of the classes Be 6/8 III and Ce 6/8III were designed as heavy powerful locomotives capable of dealing with steep grades and tight curves on the Gotthard Route.  They were initially built in 1926 as class Ce 6/8III and some still run today, eighty years later, as tourist and enthusiast specials.  Their distinct appearance earned them the name “crocodile” which has since been extended to other similar locomotives.  The original version Ce 6/8III had four motors which produced 1,810 kw of power through a jackshaft and drive rod system and had a maximum speed of 65km/h (41mph).  In 1953 the motors were rebuilt making them capable of 75 km/h (47mph), the designation was then changed to Be 6/8III and the paint scheme changed from brown to green.  The locomotives were articulated in order to enable turning on the tight curves that the mountain pass tracks have.  The locos are still iconic to rail fans the world over.

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Trix model 22584 & 22340                  Price: €339 or ₤229 or $468 US
Released: Ce 6/8III Sep 2007, Be 6/8III 2004
Model Specification: Length: 230 mm / 9-1/16”; Livery: Be 6/8III, SBB green  Ce 6/8III, SBB Brown; Period: 1926- 1980’s; Features: Metal frame and body; NEM Pockets for couplers; Eight pin socket for DCC decoder;  Prototypical Swiss headlight / marker light changeover; Current can be collected via pantograph; Motor: 5 pole motor; 3 axles powered, 2 traction tyres; several separately applied details.  Warranty 2 years

There are two available versions of the crocodile by Trix.  The brown version is a special “one time series” to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Gotthard pass which is due for release in September.  The green version has been around for a few years.  The models are more or less identical other than the paint scheme. 

The model looks good.  Colouring is accurate.  The body is metal and is cast in three pieces to allow articulation of the loco.  The photo below shows the degree to which the body can articulate.

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The catenary and roof of the Trix Croc are a work of art.  This photo of the roof shows the detail which has gone into this model and I really think it’s stunning.

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The upper bodywork is nicely finished with crisp name plates and writing.  The grilles are good as are the windows.   The chassis and blocks surrounding the running gear look plastic but are actually painted metal.  This is unfortunate as it does give the appearance of cheapness when it is in fact not.   The construction is robust and built to last.  This is a model I would expect to still be running in twenty or thirty tears if properly maintained.

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The yellow railings on the front of the loco are too thick as can be seen by comparing the photos of the model and the prototype.  Similarly the width of steps is a bit too wide.  While we are getting picky there is a red light above the central headlight which is painted on rather than functional.  I would not have expected shortcuts such as these from Trix.

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I have found that the two unmotorised trailing wheels on this model do not move fluidly, both of them at either end seem to be stick slightly.  I have applied oil to them to get the wheel to move more freely although this does not seem to have loosened them up much.  This may free up over time.  It does not restrict movement at all but does make a very slight squeaky noise.

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Power pick up is excellent as all powered wheels pick up power.  There is an option to pick up power via a catenary too.  This can be selected by means of a switch underneath the loco.

If you look through the flush glazed cabin some of the internal wiring is visible.  I ideally would have preferred to see a driver figure instead.

Decoder installation is incredibly easy.  One screw below the loco removes the central part of the body.  The two “snout” parts of the Croc can then be prised off to allow access.

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The motor is quite clearly not a C sinus motor and appears somewhat dated compared with the current offerings from Trix.  It is however powerful and completely functional as is the prototype.

I have installed a Lenz Gold decoder into this loco, and the results are good.  It has a nice slow movement which is something you really need from this type of loco.  Most of the basic settings are adequate.  I have just updated the addresses 2 and 4 digit.  ESU do a sound decoder which authentic sound off the shelf so this can be retro fitted.  There is a reasonable amount of space under the twin Croc “snouts” for speakers to go in.

It is readily apparent that this is quite an old model.  Probably as a result it being a very popular and much requested model it entered the catalogue some time ago and has not been updated subsequently in any substantial way.  There are several modifications which it really could do with.  When this was first released it was probably a classic model but as the years have gone by standards have gone up and this is starting to get left behind.  Fine railings are pretty much standard on most new models now and would not take much effort to replace. The ones on this model are pretty thick and look well out of place in comparison with the fine detailing on the roof.    Like wise with lights on Continental models, these are pretty much standard and painted on lights would not be acceptable now.  I find it odd that they have some parts of it spot on and have let go on others.

In regards to comparisons with similar models, I have heard several good reports about the Roco model.  However I have not been able to access one to compare it with this Trix one.  It is not currently produced and would have to be bought second hand. 

Overall it is a very good model but is starting to become quite dated and some aspects require an overhaul as a matter of urgency.  Some aspects are excellent such as the roof and exterior of the central cabin.  These are let down by the lack of fine detail such as railings.  As regards whether it is value for money, well I wouldn’t pay the full price for it but it is worth the price that I paid for it which is two thirds of the full price.  It might be worth hanging on to see if a new one is released.

CV settings

CV Designation Area Setting
2 Loco address 1-127 14
3 Starting voltage 1-75 4
4 Braking time 0-64 8
5 Top speed 0-64 63
6 Middle speed 0-64 25
9 Basic setting 8 -
17+18 Expanded loco address 128-9999 1431
29 Configuration register 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,32,
49 Expanded configuration 2,3,18,19 19


- August 2007


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