The mechanical light switching mechanism, der Schleppschalter

After the Second World War when Märklin again supplied the German market with model trains, you could in some gauge 00/H0 models find a mechanism, which controlled the lights depending on the direction of travel. The mechanism was called a Schleppschalter and was connected to the driving shaft either by sitting directly on the shaft or by a cog wheel. When the motor then was running, it would make the mechanism move between two contacts and control the light. It was made out of pressed paper for an insulator and nickel plated sheet metal for the contacts.

Roughly there are two different versions of the mechanism. The first version, or type 1, is not sitting directly on the driving shaft, but is driven by a cogwheel except for the type 1’s in the MS 800’s and TP 800’s. Here the moving contact is sitting on the driving shaft. Another characteristic of this type 1 is that the moving contact is hold in place by a thin piece of sheet metal. The second version, or type 2, is sitting directly on the driving shaft and is hold in place by a spring.
Type 1 was used from 1947 to ca. 1949/50 and type 2 from ca. 1949/50 to ca. 1952/53.

In ca. 1952/53 the mechanism disappeared from all at the time current models and the lights were now controlled by the reverse unit. There is no clear reason why the mechanism suddenly disappeared, but in some models such as the RE 800.2 the frame was strengthened in 1953, so there was no space for it under the lead weight.

It is possible to determine whether the model has the mechanism or not without taking the body of the locomotive off. When the lights are controlled by the reverse unit and are in the position “hold with burning lights”, the lights in both ends of the locomotive will burn. When the model has the mechanism and the reverse unit is in the same position, the lights will only burn in one end of the locomotive.

Mechanism Types

Type 1 Schleppschalter: Type 2 Schleppschalter:
CCS 800.1-4, 1947 to 1950 MS 800.3-4, ca. 1949/50 to 1953
MS 800.1-3, 1947 to ca. 1949/50 TP 800.2-3, 1949 to 1950
TW 800.10-40, ca. 1948 to 1949 DT 800.1-2, 1950 to 1952
TP 800.1, 1948 RE 800.1-2, 1950 to ca. 1953
DL 800.1, 1949 to ca. 1950 TT 800.1-2, 1951 to ca. 1952
CCS 800.4-5, 1950 to ca. 1953
DL 800.2-3?, 1951 to ca. 1953
Model versions are from Koll’s

Some places on this list the model versions and years are not 100% correct, because models from the period ca. 1949/50, where the mechanism was improved, can both have the type 1 and the type 2 Schleppschalter. Also the models from the period ca. 1952/53 can have the mechanism or not. Some DL 800.3’s have the mechanism others are missing it and also in some RE 800.2’s the mechanism is not there.


RE 800.2 with type 2 Schleppschalter, ca. 1952


The above article was contributed by Thor Bayer Andersen }

One comment

  • A variation on this mechanism can also be found in the “Silverfish” coach 4081 – there is a similar arrangement on the wheel axle which changes the Driving Cab lights between Red and White depending on direction of travel. Simple arrangement but seems to work well.

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