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Elettren Trains

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Elettren FS E428 Italian style Ansaldo Electric Locomotive in 'O' gauge first produced in 1947 Elettren was founded by Armando Ravasini in Milan Italy in 1946. Armando Ravasini had been an engineer working for Pirelli, the famous tire manufacturers. Elettren (which stands for 'electric train') started out manufacturing high-quality finely detailed tinplate model locomotives and passenger cars in 'O' gauge to compete with the likes of Märklin. Elettren is still in business today, specializing in the manufacture of finescale brass 1:43.5 models (32 mm track width) utilizing a variety of modern techniques including acid etching and lasercutting. Fulgurex, a Swiss premium model train manufacturer was started in 1947 to handle distribution of Elettren designed trains.

Elettren (Italy) FS 0691 Pacific class 4-6-2 3-rail electric powered steam outline locomotive #231 in 'O' gauge circa 1947 Elettren trains are known for their precision and fidelity to their prototypes. The first Elettren powered models produced were the FS 691 Pacific class steam locomotive and the E428 Italian style Ansaldo 2-B-B-2 heavy electric. It was the original model of the Italian class E428 that caught the eye of Count Antonio Giansanti Coluzzi, when it was on display at the Noë shop in Milan. Giansanti Coluzzi arranged to meet Mr. Ravasini and agreed to have 50 of the models constructed. The result was Fulgurex. Elettren also produced a line of tinplate passenger coaches and goods wagons.

Count Antonio Giansanti Coluzzi (1915-2006), was also of Italian descent, and was the founder and President of Rextoys. Rextoys made a range of vintage 1:43 scale vehicles in various liveries, including some that were military related. The Count fell in love with trains in 1923, when, as an 8 year old wintering with his parents at Cap d'Ail on the Cote d'Azur, he would Elettren 'O' gauge CIWL Golden Arrow Ferry van watch the Blue Train on its daily run from Paris to Ventimiglia. As he grew older he got to know the master artisans of toy-train making - he would call them artists, even folk artists - tucked away in various corners of Europe and, after World War II, of Japan. Eventually, in 1946, he would found Fulgurex (Fulgur x Rex -''The king of the lightning flash''), an enterprise designed specifically to produce and distribute the finest model trains for the most demanding of those obsessed with miniaturization including the distribution of Elettren trains. The Count was also the author of a coffee table picture book on trains, "The Trains on Avenue De Rumine". This work includes four and a half pages of pictures and text illustrating several Elettren locomotives, passenger, and freight wagons made through 1980.

The Elettren model of the Italian FS Ansaldo 2-B-B-2 E428 locomotive is large and heavy. Over the years Elettren has produced this loco in several European liveries and with one or two motors. These streamlined electric locomotive models can still be custom ordered. Ansaldo was one of Italy's oldest and most important engineering companies, existing for 140 years from 1853 to 1993. They introduced the E428 prototype in 1934 to be used for fast services on the Florence–Rome railway. They were decommissioned in the 1980's. These locomotives were considered to be very impressive for their size, power and speed, with abilites to reach 130 to 150 km/h.

Elettren 'O' gauge Swiss Federal Railways Chemins de fer fédéraux suisses Ferrovie federali svizzere SBB CFF FFS Passenger consist with E428 Italian style Ansaldo 2-B-B-2 heavy electric loco, Baggage van, 2nd Class coach, Sleeping car, Dining car and transformer car

Armando Ravasini's second locomotive, the Italian 4-6-2 Pacific type steam locomotive class FS 691, is considered by collectors and hobbyists to be a key milestone in the transition from toy-like models to more scale-like models as the locomotive represented a significant step up in the detail that was applied. Measuring over 23 inches combined length, both the loco & tender are made of heavy gauge steel and diecast metal. The Elettren locomotive incorporated a large number of metal castings such as the Westinghouse type steam pump (used for simulating the compressed air brake system) on the front of the locomotive. The backhead features pressure gauges, valves, and firebox doors that open and close in the Elettren 'O' gauge FS 746 2-8-2 Mikado type steam locomotive and tender engineer's cab. Also featured are illuminated front and rear lamps, and under-frame details that match its prototype, achieving a level of detail not previously seen on ready-to-run tinplate locomotives. Over the years Elettren has continued to improve and embellish this loco with even greater detail, and has added a directional lighting function as well as operating smoke. The smoke device consisted of a heating element and a pump driven by a cam on the first drive shaft with a connecting rod. Originally built in the 1920's, the prototype Class 691 4-6-2 Pacific's were the fastest and most powerful locomotives ever built for the Italian railways. They served on the Milan-Bologna route (up to 1938, when the line was electrified) and the Milan-Venice mainlines throughout their careers, pulling the heaviest and fastest express trains. A 691 scored the speed record between the Verona and Padova stations for a steam engine at 150 km/h. Of the 33 locomotives that were created (rebuilt from Class 690's) only one 691 locomotive survived into preservation, the 691.022, which is a static exhibit at the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci" in Milan, Italy. In addition to the Pacific FS 691, Elettren also produced a 2-8-2 Mikado, the FS 746 class locomotive which was very similar in appearance to the Pacific. All the early Elettren locomotives were initially 3-rail DC powered, however a change to support operation on AC power eventually took place around 1956. In the Elettren 1964 catalog there is a note stating that when ordering locomotives, it should be specified whether an AC or DC version is being requested. The Elettren locos were also fitted with a reversing mechanism relay that operated by receiving DC pulses sent from a button on the transformer to the track rails. Over time, changes were made to the 691 cab roofs. Newer models were fitted with composite roofs, while the older original models were fitted with all metal roofs.

In 1964 Franco Ravasini replaced his Father Armando as head of Elettren. At that time, Franco expanded the range of products, creating both tinplate and scale passenger cars. Cars were made of metal and featured interior lighting, working doors, full interiors with corridors and compartments, and working diaphragms. These coaches were mostly replicas of the famous Grands Express Européens carriages that Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) employed for the Orient Express train.

Elettren 'O' scale Passenger Coaches

Elettren 'O' gauge European Express CIWL Dining Car Elettren 'O' gauge European Express CIWL Pullman coach Elettren 'O' gauge CIWL European Express Sleeping car
Elettren 'O' gauge German Railways 1st and 2nd Class Coach Elettren 'O' gauge Ferrovie dello Stato (Italian State Railway) 2nd class coach Elettren DSG (German Federal Railway) 'O' gauge handpainted tin L023D sleeper car with full interior and diaphragms, 17 inches long
Elettren DSG (German Federal Railway) 'O' gauge handpainted tin R025D diner with full interior and diaphragms, 17 inches long Elettren 'O' gauge SBB CFF Swiss Federal Railways 2nd Class coach Elettren 'O' gauge CIWL Grand European Express Pullman Coach

While Elettren concentrated its efforts on an assortment of passenger coaches, they did produce a few freight wagons. All the freight wagons were in 'O' scale with four or six axles and employed both stamped sheet Elettren 'O' gauge Standard-Esso Tank Wagon metal and diecast construction but detail was an important feature of these wagons as well. The Elettren freight wagons, none of which are produced today, consisted of 5 different 4-axle tank wagons (Shell, BP, Esso, Standard, & Standard-Esso), a 4-axle open goods wagon, a 4-axle flat wagon with stanchions, a 6-axle stake wagon with stanchions, a 4-axle flat wagon with 3 cable reels, and 2 different 6-axle transformer wagons. The 6-axle transformer wagons (originally produced in green and subsequently in brown liveries) are unique models in the world of toy trains representing mobile power substations used by the Italian State Railways for work on their electrified system. The cars featured insulators, radiators, transformers, and personnel cabins.

Elettren 'O' scale Freight Wagons

Elettren 'O' gauge British Petroleum Tank wagon Elettren 'O' gauge Shell Oil Tank wagon Elettren 'O' gauge E102 ESSO Tank wagon Elettren 'O' gauge E102 ESSO Standard Oil Tank Wagon - die cast and tin litho
Elettren 'O' gauge SB106 Gondola Elettren 'O' gauge PT105 stake car, die cast & litho tin, 12.5 inches long Elettren 'O' gauge BC108 flat car with spools, die cast and litho tin Elettren 'O' gauge SB106 gondola with plastic barrels, die cast and litho tin

In 1993 Fabio and Maurizio Ravasini continued the family tradition, becoming the 3rd generation to lead the firm. They started a new age for the company - characterized by the production of new top quality models made with the best handicraft techniques - though keeping the 60 years of Elettren's style unchanged. Reflecting changes in the European market, the grandsons of Armando Ravasini moved to fine scale reproduction of European passenger cars of FS, SBB CFF, PLM, CIWL, DB, DSG, and other prototypes. (Lemaco’s fine scale Swiss coaches were made by Elettren.) All equipment is made of brass and other Elettren 'O' gauge Tinplate PLM #2301 1st class passenger coach catalog #1401 ferrous metal trimmed and drawn plates with heavy reliance on photo etching and lost wax castings. Inscriptions and livery are accomplished with pad printing and silkscreen processes. Elettren passenger coaches have removable roofs and are elaborate in the included interior and exterior detail. All trains are equipped with interior electric lighting, doors that are spring loaded to open and close, locking corridor connections, cloth gangways, end fall plates, upholstered furniture, cloth bedding and pillows on beds in sleeping coaches, bar and refreshment facilities in saloon coaches and cooking gear in kitchens of dining cars. Because of the high quality construction and attention to detail of these models, they are long lasting and tend to be well preserved by their owners. These products would not be considered to be or should not be referred to as toy trains, as they are fully functional scale models of, and are identical to the original prototypes in every detail. These products are coveted by competent collectors worldwide. Coaches have sold on eBay for more than $1000 each.

Elettren 'O' gauge Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée (PLM) Coaches
Elettren 'O' gauge Tinplate PLM #2001 2nd class passenger coach catalog #1402 Elettren 'O' gauge Tinplate PLM #2501 3rd class passenger coach catalog #1403
Elettren 'O' gauge Tinplate PLM #1341 1st and 2nd class passenger car catalog #1404 Elettren 'O' gauge Tinplate PLM 1st class salon car in black & red with interior fittings and lighting catalog #1405

Recent additions to the Elettren line include a 1:43.5 scale reproduction model of the Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS; Italian State Railways) 880 group tank locomotive, and the FS Locotender railcar Gr. 60. Both of these are made for 2-rail operation. The FS 880 model was constructed entirely of brass using various techniques including lost wax casting, chemical Elettren 'O' gauge FS 880 series Tank Locomotive #157 turning and laser cutting. The loco was fitted with a Faulhaber 12 volt DC power plant. It was adorned with operating headlights, as well as smoke chamber door, water tank hatches and sunroof that open and close. The bumpers and frame were fully sprung. The cabin roof and interior were made of wood. The wheel rims were stainless steel. The FS 880 locomotive prototypes were built between 1916 and 1922. Designed for secondary lines, they operated all over the Italian peninsula on flat lines pulling passenger trains and goods with a modest number of wagons. The last continuous use of this locomotive is dated to 1978. Today some specimens of this coal burner survive in museums and private collections.

Elettren 'O' gauge FS Locotender GR. 60 Elettren's FS GR. 60 is based on steam rail cars that were acquired in Italy from 1905 to 1907 from several different builders, including Maffei, Austro Hungarian Co., the Belgian Co., Borsig and Ringhoffer. These locmotives featured vertical boilers. In the first years of life, the Gr. 60 served in numerous towns in the plains of northern Italy to tow light trains. These railcars could only attain a maximum speed of 60 km/h, which limited their towing capacity, and resulted in a short life span. Many were repurposed as locomotives. Elettren's model was designed with a luggage compartment and post office similar to the Borsig version.

Elettren 'O' gauge Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) Grands Express Européens carriages
Elettren 'O' gauge CIWL #4111 2nd class Pullman coach Elettren 'O' gauge CIWL #3571 Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits Et des Grands Express Europeens Sleeping Car
Elettren 'O' gauge CIWL #4091 2nd class Pullman coach Elettren 'O' gauge CIWL #1265 Baggage Car

Elettren has no US distribution, but it sells its current line of products both to retail stores and individuals. Ordering can be done direct. They make their products in small batches of 20 models per year. While the majority of their competition have moved production facilities to Korea or China where labor is cheap, Elettren construction is still done entirely in Italy with a total staff of only four. Elettren offers large wheel flanges on their products as an option for those with tinplate 'O' gauge trains and layouts. The making of Elettren trains can truely be considered an art form. Since these models were hand made in limited numbers, the older original Elettren locomotives - the 691 and E428 - are highly sought after by collectors and sell in the $2,000 to $10,000 range, when they can be found for sale, usually in auctions of private collections. Unfortunately, since these locomotive models were mostly made of die-cast parts, many have suffered from metal fatigue and zincpest, so it is even more difficult to find them in pristine condition.

Elettren 'O' gauge #1901 Mitropa Schalfwagen Sleeping Coach Elettren 'O' gauge Italian State Railway 2nd class type 1910 passenger coach

Link to Elettren web site.

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