The following information was posted on one of the Marx Yahoo groups by Al Osterud and used by permission.

The Marx HO line was developed in Girard, PA, for the Christmas of 1957 and it was expanded regularly through about 1962 or 1963. The HO line was a huge undertaking for Marx, especially when you consider there were also a number of new items in the O-27 line for 1957. The vast majority of the Marx HO trains were made in Girard, and the mold inserts on most cars say "Made in USA".

One exception for the first year was that the motor for the HO Hudson was not ready when the first units needed to ship to Sears. Marx bought motors from Trix and put them in the first batch. Those motors have the word "Germany" rubber stamped on them where it can be seen by looking into the cab. All later motors except for those with the rubber band or spring drive were made in Girard.

Items made overseas included the passenger cars, whose bodies were made in Japan and then shipped to Girard where the trucks were mounted. They are made of tin and plastic, and look very similar to the Tenshodo passenger cars of the same era. The passenger cars got EMD Diesel dummy trucks because Marx had not developed a passenger car truck, and had not yet developed a reliable power pick-up for the freight car trucks. Thus the Hudson tender also got EMD trucks throughout its production life.

Also made overseas were the items that needed a lot of hand finishing, like the cupola cabooses with the ladder, chimney, radio antenna and marker lights and the de-luxe crane car. But even on those, the trucks and couplers were added to the cars in Girard. All of the Bay Window cabooses were made in Girard.

The cheapest Marx HO trains were also "Foreign Produced", and that included the battery powered locos, the battery holding building, those with rubber band drive or the wire-type coil spring drive motor, and many of the cars with the knuckle coupler or the coupler similar to the old Mantua coupler.

There was a very nice rib-side boxcar with separate roof-walk and ladders that was only "Foreign Produced", and it was made both in the Orient (labeled Fast Freight) and in England. Also produced in England and in Girard was the F-2 diesel. The De-Luxe cupola caboose was also produced in England, as was a unique to British production set of plastic passenger cars.

Some accessories were made in Girard, and some in Hong Kong or Japan. The individual pieces are labeled on mold inserts with the Marx Logo as to their country of manufacture. And the HO people and animals that came painted were "Painted by hand by artists" in the Orient.

Marx even made blow-molded plastic layouts for the HO trains, and some for combination train and road-race sets. They were very fragile, and in spite of the large number made, very few survive. But you can see what they looked like in the Windmill Press catalog reprints from Sears and Montgomery Ward.

There are either two molds or two cavities for the mold for the HO boxcars, and the way to tell them apart is the position of the boxcar door latch. One is at about mid-height on the car side, and the other is a bit lower. Once you notice this, you now have double the boxcars to collect! I suspect a two-cavity mold because, while it would be very complicated, there appear to me to be approximately equal numbers of each boxcar type.

And both the Marx HO Pacemaker boxcar with the white lettering and the one with the black lettering are prototypical. I suspect Marx probably changed the lettering color on their car at about the same time the New York Central changed it on theirs. The explanation I saw is in a color guide book to NYC freight cars.


The Model Power "Heavy Weight" cars are almost all Marx-tooled. The name comes from the hidden piece of sheet-metal in each car to give it enough weight that it would stay on the track better than the competition in 1957. With one exception the molds are unchanged from when Marx made the trains. Model Power simplified the manufacture of the boxcar doors. Everything else, including trucks, couplers, wheelsets, bodies, etc. is unchanged from the Marx tooling. But the lettering is obviously vastly superior to the technology that was available to Marx.

The Model Power F-2A is modified from the Marx tooling in the cowcatcher area and the frame-to-body mounts, and as yet there is no Model Power B unit. The motor and running gear are completely new. The lower part of the body on the Porter Hustlers are modified - the Marx unit had holes in the side that just let the body snap over the EMD diesel truck for the F-2A.

Model Power has made a bigger variety of road names than Marx ever dreamed of. For example, there are at least eleven different Canadian railroad names available on the boxcars.

The initial production used the same NMRA Hook-Horn coupler Marx used. But the most recent production comes with a knuckle coupler compatible with Kadees.

But it is easy to change or replace couplers and trucks on a Marx-tooled HO car. The bolster in the truck is split in the center. If you spread that slightly with two screwdrivers the truck will just lift off the peg that holds the truck on. Then you can just lift off the parts of the coupler, replace the broken one (or substitute a different type of coupler), and then just push the truck back into place and it will snap on properly if the coupler is assembled correctly.

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