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Trix Trains

History

Trix 3-rail 14v AC British Rail Steam Loco black 0-4-0 Tank Trix evolved from a Nüremburg Germany company named Fortner & Haffner that originally made metal construction sets, tin figures and metal play goods. The roots of the company can be traced back to the year 1838. The name was derived from the construction sets as the metal strips had holes for the bolts arranged in an X-shaped pattern with 3 holes in each arm i.e. Tri – X. In 1935 the company began producing the electrically powered model trains that it became famous for, under the Trix Express label. These trains were produced under the guidance of former Bing managing director Stephan Bing. Bing had left the family business in 1927 and purchased this firm. At this time the name was changed to Vereignigte Spielwarenfabriken Fortner & Haffner or The United Toy Company. Initial production of trains was in 'OO' gauge for three rail track, a scale that the Bing company itself had also made in the 1920's.

Trix Twin Railways 'OO' gauge 3-rail 14v AC #9/525 US Outline 0-4-0 Loco and Tender numbered 3812 Trix Twin Railways 'OO' gauge 3-rail 14v AC #1/540 British Railways Express green 4-6-2 A3 Loco and Tender Trix Twin Railways 'OO' gauge Trix Twin 3-rail 12v DC #244 Ruston & Hornsby Diesel Shunter

Trix Twin 2-rail 12v DC #F105B British Rail black Class EM1 Overhead Electric Prior to the outbreak of World War II the Trix company produced a small range of fairly unrealistic AC powered three rail models running at 14 volts. The track current was reduced and controlled via means of a transformer or via batteries. Unlike other manufacturers of the period, Trix allowed two trains to run on the same track simultaneously under independent control, one collecting current from the left rail and centre, the other from the right and centre. This system was known as 'Trix Twin' in the United Kingdom where from 1936 British outline models were Trix Twin 3-rail 12v DC British Rail Steam Loco #F103G BR green 0-6-2 Class 66XX Tank made by a subsidiary - Trix Limited. These were distributed directly but also by Bassett-Lowke under the brand name 'Twin Train Table Railway', initially using German outline models painted in British colours from 1935 onwards. The early models were relatively crude but became more realistic following new designs by Henry Greenly a well known model railway designer employed by Bassett-Lowke. Hence some boxes have the dual name “Trix Ltd and Bassett-Lowke scale models” from 1937 to 1939. Joseph Wenman Bassett-Lowke and the Bing family had a long standing relationship, with the Gerbrüder Bing company building many of the Bassett-Lowke locomotives and carriages in the early part of the 20th century. It was actually W. J. Bassett-Lowke who had persuaded Bing to develop the smaller sized train in 1920 called 'Bing's Table Railway' in OO gauge.


Trix Twin Railways 'OO' gauge BR tinplate Short Bogie BR crimson cream 5 x Brake 3rd, 3 x all 1st and 3 x 1st Class Restaurant Car, BR maroon 3 x Brake 2nd, 2 x all 1st, 7 x 1st 2nd Suburban Trix Twin Railways 'OO' gauge Post-war Pre-Nationalisation Coaches. 8 x LNER teak Short Bogie 2 x all 1st, 2 x Restaurant Car 4 x Brake 3rd, 4 x LMS maroon Short Bogie 2 x Dining Car, all 1st and Brake 3rd,

Bing established a UK subsidiary in 1932 called Trix Ltd. and put his son Franz in charge as director. Initially this company marketed and produced construction sets, not trains. However, Bing and his management team, who were all Jewish, were forced to flee Germany after the company there was taken over by the Nazi Socialist regime under Adolph Hitler in 1938. They all emigrated to England where the British company continued the manufacture of Trix trains at a Northampton factory under the Trix Ltd. name. This company concentrated production on English outline trains. In order to retain rights to manufacture Trix trains in England, Bing agreed to pay a licence fee to the German company as well as guaranteed to make a minimum amount of purchases from the German company. The German and English companies continued to work together right up to the end of 1939, some components such as motors used in all the English locomotives were made in Germany. Patents were taken out in both countries but under either company’s name. German made Trix Express locomotives were imported to England, the bodies were removed, the wheels painted black and English bodies were mounted. The Trix Express goods wagon chassis were also utilized. Bing eventually passed away in 1940 before the end of World War II. His son Franz and daughter Lilli continued operation of the British company through 1957. Over the years the Trix brand in the UK was taken over several times becoming Trix Twin Railways, Trix Trains, and then merging with the Austrian manufacturer Liliput which is now part of Bachmann. Production of British Trix trains ceased in the mid 1970's.

Trix Twin group of Pre-war 'OO' gauge Tinplate Tank wagons
Trix Twin group of Pre-war 'OO' gauge Tinplate Tank wagons

Trix #12326 Electric in N gauge In 1938, Trix in Germany was acquired by Ernst Voelk, the President of the Chamber of Trade in Nürenburg and owner of Distler, a long standing toy manufacturer. Voelk ran the company until 1962. In 1939 German Trix introduced its line of electrical signals, remote control switches, remote controlled uncoupling track, and a train control system.

Trix #7081 steam loco and tender Trix manufacturing plants in Germany had to change over to manufacturing armaments during the war for the German Army. This included telegraph and field telephone equipment. The plants in Nüremburg became targets for Allied bombers, and in the spring of 1945 the Nüremberg, Kobergerstrasse 15 plant was destroyed.

Production resumed in 1948 in Germany but began to lag behind the technology used by rivals. Trix switched from AC to DC (with its simple reversing function) later than rivals like Tri-ang, and the surviving British Trix company. In 1956 Trix switched to DC and in 1967 to two-rail as used by most competitors.

Trix N gauge Royal Bavarian State Railroad class S 3 6, 4-6-2 T12226 'N' gauge models under the Minitrix brand were made from the late 1960's mostly of European prototypes (German and British primarily). North American prototypes were also manufactured and marketed under the Aurora "Postage Stamp" brand; later these items were sold under the American Tortoise, Model Power and Con-Cor brands. Trix sometimes utilized North American consultants to aid in the design of this portion of the product line. The 'Hornby Minitrix' brand was used in the 1980's for a short lived range of British outline models using the earlier product tooling.

Trix N gauge Swiss Federal Railways Crocodile class Ce 6 8 III 12154 German Trix's owner in the 1980's and early 1990's was Mangold. Also for a brief period in 1993 Gama-Schuco combined with Trix. Mangold went bankrupt in the late 1990's and Märklin purchased the assets in January of 1997. In part, this purchase was a reflection of Märklin's need for added production capacity; Trix had been manufacturing certain items for Märklin in previous years. But the purchase was also in response to the earlier purchase of the Karl Arnold company by the Italian company Rivarossi. In 2003, Märklin introduced its first 'N' gauge models under the Minitrix brand. Some of the more well known products were the King Ludwig, the Wilhelm II set and the Adler set; all are now very expensive collectors items. Several Märklin HO scale three-rail AC locomotives have also been introduced in two-rail DC versions under the Trix logo.


Trix N gauge T21236 Historic Adler Passenger Train

Trix HO Gauge Bavarian Local Railroad, Inc. class LAG 2 electric locomotive T21254a The Minitrix brand is very popular in the United States of America. In 2009 Walthers became the exclusive North American distributor for Trix products.

Selectrix is the Trix Minitrix proprietary Digital system and is fully compatible with DCC systems.

Besides the AC Trix Express and Minitrix brands, the Trix company is also well known for its 1:87 scale DC brands, Trix International and Trix HO, dating back at least to the early 1970's and still being produced today.

Trix HO Gauge Electric Locomotive - E03 T22118 A particular Trix speciality is the reproduction of Bavarian prototype models from Epoch I and their equivalent Epoch II, DRG versions. Examples such as the B VI (BR 34), D XI (BR 984-5), D XII (BR 73), G 3/4 H (BR 54), Gt 2x4/4 (BR 96), P 3/5 H (BR 384), PtL 2/2 (BR 983) and S 3/6 (BR 184) have been produced in the steam locomotive line, along with numerous passenger and goods wagons.

Trix also produced highly-detailed brass models of steam locomotives in limited quantities under the "Fine Art" label in the late 1990's.

Trix Twin Railways group of 'OO' gauge US Outline Tinplate Rolling Stock
Trix Twin Railways group of 'OO' gauge Tinplate British Rail Freight Wagons

Link to Trix web site.
Link to Trix-Twin web site.

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