A lot of questions regarding the EGGER-BAHN system continue to come in from interested readers. Consequently, I have compiled this FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page to share my knowledge about the topic. The list is to be continued.
Can one still find EGGER-BAHN models and spare parts nowadays?
Combing model train shows and flea markets for EGGER-BAHN items would be great fun if you ever had the luck to stumble onto something, but in English-speaking countries EGGER-BAHN can be so rare and jealously guarded that you may never come across anything up for sale. Whether you're looking to begin or enlarge your EGGER-BAHN collection, the best source is the online auctions at eBay Germany. A search here on »EGGER-BAHN« almost always results in a variety of EGGER items up for grabs. Many sellers will ship to the UK or USA upon cash payment if you ask nicely in advance. It never hurts to be able to ask in the mother tongue, but many Germans also have a working knowledge of English. Keep it simple and friendly! Searching on »EGGER-BAHN« or >»Minitrains« on eBay USA often yields some interesting items as well, although not nearly much or as often as on eBay Germany.
Have EGGER-BAHN models ever been faked or counterfeited?
Yes. Some of the original EGGER models used subassemblies made by other manufacturers. For example, passengers, horses and freight loads such as the »Tin Lizzie« auto or the entire tank section of the milk wagon were all supplied by other firms; many of these pieces could also be purchased individually in shops. This means that a plain bench wagon could be upgraded by retrofitting it with Preiser passengers. It would then be completely indistinguishable from one that left the factory »full up«, and loaded models are often worth more than empty ones.
Your author has in his collection a Liliput beer tank container which is clearly identical to the part mounted on the EGGER milk wagon. The only difference is in the decals applied. It would only take a moment to swap the tanks and create a supposed »extremely rare preproduction model«! But small numbers of such a wagon could conceivably have existed, since it was common practice among model railway firms, EGGER included, to use whatever was available at the time from subcontractors...
Non-original locomotives are likewise easy to create, since many of the models use a more or less standardized set of components. Recombining pieces from a number of locomotives can yield alternate color schemes or equipment variations never seen in any EGGER catalog. Although undeniably made of 100% factory parts, such items could later be difficult to prove or disprove as »genuine«. In general, there's no reason to be paranoid about the majority of models you'll encounter, but certainly be cautious and informed about any supposedly »ultra rare variations«, especially if they're being offered at premium prices!
Models marked »Jouef« are a special case: they are neither counterfeits nor truly original EGGER items (see next question).
What do EGGER-BAHN and Jouef have to do with each other?
When the original EGGER firm was liquidated, the injection molding dies, together with remaining stocks of parts, were acquired by the French company Jouef. Items from the former range were then marketed under the Jouef name, some still containing original EGGER-made pieces. For a while they even came in the original transparent boxes. While the wagon models show only minor differences compared to the originals (e.g., different pattern of axle insulators), the Jouef locomotives are readily distinguishable owing to their completely different motor. The reproductions also omit the gold-coloured foil applied to the embossed »E-B« logos, although this point alone should not be used as a distinguishing feature since original models are sometimes found with the gold worn off. In general, however, the Jouef-EGGER models don't run as nicely as the originals (wobbly tracking and noisy motor) and they are typically brighter-coloured, giving them a less subtle, almost toylike look.
Can you recommend a good collectors' guide?
Unfortunately there isn't much. The manufacturer's catalogs themselves are still available in a number of editions and versions, but they don't document specific changes that occured in the course of production. For example, more than a dozen variations of the original steam loco have come to light (different side rod, motor and drivetrain configurations). The only collectors' book ever published, the old Mikado EGGER-BAHN Handbook, offers a rather superficial discussion of detail changes and only tiny low-quality photos, making it a less than comprehensive csource of information. Although I haven't personally heard of any newer developments, it is altogether possible that an EGGER-BAHN collector somewhere may have developed his own (as yet unpublished) documentation...
Do I have to have an original EGGER power transformer to run my trains?
No. An original transformer would certainly be the crowning touch for nostalgic collectors or super EGGER-freaks, but it's by no means required. Any transformer should work, so long as its output voltage is between 9V and 12V DC, but not higher. Modern miniaturized technology even allows for digital train control, which is much more reliable than the primitive analog power system (see the workshop for details). In the track department, N-scale track can be used in a pinch, but bear in mind that the sleepers will be too small and too closely spaced, owing to the fact that this track actually represents standard gauge rails in 1:160 scale.
Are EGGER-BAHN models compatible with any other makers' vehicles?
Yes, in particular the present-day HOn30 trains made by Roco, and the older Minitrains range. These have almost identical couplings that work just fine when combined with the EGGER originals. Mixing equipment from these manufacturers often results in quite good-looking trains: for example, the silver EGGER diesel locomotive makes a splendid train when pulling several 4-axle Roco peat cars , which are still produced today!
What model accessories go with these little trains?
The log trucks and the flat wagons with end walls can be loaded with sticks or twigs cut to represent tree trunks or pitprops. Bird grit or aquarium sand makes a good load for the tip wagons, which would naturally be loaded in authentic style by an old Wiking steam shovel. If space permits, the HO brickworks model once available under the Faller and Pola labels makes a nice focal point for a larger diorama...
A fabulous model of a bucket-chain excavator is available as a paper craft kit from Michael Beutner. These amazing machines from a past era were the standard means of loading tip wagons in sand pits and clay quarries. This true-to-scale model would be the ideal centerpiece of a very realistic quarry scene. Although the kit is essentially built by cutting and pasting, the finished piece is quite convincing and exceeds one's expectations of what a paper model can be. As a bonus the printed sheet includes a whole series of locomotives, wagons and other accessories.
Michael Beutner also offers another fascinating sheet featuring 11 light railway locomotives : These unmotorised models offer an economical way to round out the stable of powered locomotives on any diorama or layout, and add variety to the types commonly seen.
And here's a tip that will elevate you to the rank of super EGGER-freak: if you're ever in Germany and happen on a flea market in a town square, look for tables selling »Kinder-Überraschungseier« or simply »Ü-Eier«. These are children's surprise eggs, yellow-gold in color, each of which contains a plastic toy. Look for the range that contains miniature goods wagons; you want the one with an open brown wagon with two grey cable drums, each marked »Elektro-Kabel AG«. Each drum fits perfectly in an EGGER-BAHN open-top wagon, and if you wrap the drums with a little leftover copper wire, you'll have two perfectly suited (and quite unique) loads, practically for a song!
Why on earth do you waste your time by maintaining a site like this?
First, to give you something to enjoy: If you weren't interested in the topic, you wouldn't be here reading this. Second, I want to give something to the public, which entitles me to take somewhere else. This is the way the (non-commercial) web works! Third, I can quit more easily to collect stuff by virtualizing my personal collections (you don't have to dust off immaterial shelves). Fourth, a little private project like this -with no restrictions put upon me by paying customers- enables me to show what I'm capable of as an author and web designer . Enough arguments? Yes, I think so, too... ;-)