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Piko G-Scale "Camel"

By Terry Thompson
Published: March 9, 2011
Piko Harz narrow-gauge diesel

Product: With its new model of a German narrow-gauge diesel, Piko has entered the market for G narrow-gauge equipment in a big way — literally. The two-motor, twelve-wheel locomotive is more than 21 inches long and weighs 3 lbs., 8 oz.

The prototype for Piko’s model is a standard-gauge diesel-hydraulic road switcher that was developed for the East German railways (Deutsche Reichsbahn, or DR) in 1965. In the late 1980s, when the Harz narrow-gauge lines needed additional power, the DR decided to take 10 of the standard-gauge locomotives, remove the two-axle trucks with standard-gauge axles and add three-axle trucks with meter-gauge axles, and put the re-gauged locomotives into service. The “Harz Camels” (nicknamed for their height and for the center-cab “hump”) have served successfully on the narrow gauge since then.

Performance: Piko is offering the same basic model in narrow-gauge (as tested) and standard-gauge versions. The crisply molded, well proportioned, neatly detailed, and smoothly painted plastic body is approximately 1:25 scale, which makes it about 15% oversized for 1:29.5 standard gauge. It is roughly 10% undersized for 1:22.5 meter gauge, but it’s more than large enough to tower realistically over European-prototype narrow-gauge coaches. Some details, such as grab irons, are separate parts, but most are molded into the shell. The locomotive has a sturdy plastic frame with two large cast-metal weights, one over each truck.

Each truck has a can motor that powers the outer axles via a worm drive that features acetal plastic gears. Pickup is via axle wipers plus sprung pickup shoes. The locomotive has rubber tires on two wheels and comes with space for a digital decoder plus a pocket and grille for a speaker. It comes with hook-and-loop couplers that are compatible with LGB couplers. The sideframes are one-piece moldings.

Our sample ran smoothly and quietly in both DC and DCC (with a Piko decoder installed) modes as well as with LGB MTS digital. Believe it or not, it has a minimum radius of 600mm, so it will run on Piko or LGB R1 curves. It performed equally well on Piko and LGB track. It’s a tall locomotive, so encourage your customers to check clearances on their railroads before putting it into service. Also, note that Piko does not recommend using this locomotive on a DCC-powered layout without a decoder installed.

If a customer is using DCC (or LGB’s MTS digital), then urge the customer to add a decoder at the time of purchase. Converting our sample to DCC using a Piko decoder was a simple task. First, you remove eight screws that hold the shell in place, then you unsnap the end platforms and the shell. You have to look hard to spot two of the screws, though — they’re above one of the trucks.

The decoder fits into the space used by the light board, and most wires simply plug into place. Connecting the headlights requires either stripping two wires or soldering two small plugs onto existing wires. There’s plenty of space for a sound decoder, and the fuel tank has a speaker mount built in. If you convert the locomotive to DCC, remember to lower the voltage to the LED headlights to about 4 volts.

Marketing: Piko’s new diesel is one of the few truly new European G-scale narrow-gauge trains to be offered in years. Traditional LGB fans and fans of European trains in general will be intrigued by this large, robust, and powerful model.


Product: Harz narrow-gauge class 199 diesel
Maker: Piko
Scale: G
Stock No.: 37540
MSRP: $399.99
Availability: Piko America

Runs well on LGB or Piko track
Decoder a must for DCC layouts
Brand new offering in G scale
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