06.09.2023 Press release on the Roll Out PIKO H0 Expert steam locomotive BR 003

On 6 September 2023, PIKO hosted a special event: The rollout of the new PIKO class 003 steam locomotive in H0 gauge took place in Neuenmarkt, Upper Franconia. In the Museum Educational Centre of the German Steam Locomotive Museum (DDM), the representatives of the regional and trade press as well as model railway dealers were able to see the new PIKO model for the first time.

More than 40 visitors accepted the invitation of the Sonneberg model railway manufacturer on this sunny Wednesday. After all the guests had taken their seats, PIKO product manager Mr Matthias Fröhlich took the floor and, following the welcome, gave a brief overview of how the event would proceed.

This was followed by a personal welcome from PIKO owner Dr René F. Wilfer, who used the occasion to provide those present with some information on the current situation at PIKO. Among other things, he took a look at the development of sales in the current business year. After sales last year were below target due to the effects of the Corona pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine as well as the associated energy crisis, a clear upward trend is evident as of August 2023. Although the tense economic mood that has set in over the past few years and the resulting uncertainty among the population continues to be felt in the model railway industry, PIKO continues to look to the future with confidence. In the first eight months of the current year, PIKO was able to realise a 2-digit growth in turnover.

To strengthen PIKO's market position and to increase the attractiveness of the location in the long term, the company has been making various investments for some time. In May 2023, for example, the PIKO Flagship Store opened on the Sonneberg premises - a showcase for the presentation and sale of PIKO model trains. In addition, modernisation measures have been taking place at the traditional Sonneberg company for several years now, which are aimed at increasing sustainability, among other things. These include the installation of a photovoltaic system, the conversion of the lighting to LED and the acquisition of more sustainable injection moulding machines.

Increasing the future viability of the products also plays an essential role, which is why PIKO, in addition to developing highly detailed models with excellent driving characteristics, also concentrates on development in the electronic field. Thus, many years of development were invested in a new PIKO digital control, the PIKO SmartControlwlan. Special attention was paid to ensuring that the new system meets the demands and wishes of the customers. The result is a digital control system that is suitable for both experts and beginners. Based on this, the PIKO SmartControlwlan system is offered both individually and as part of the PIKO starter sets.

Dr. René F. Wilfer also pointed out that the wide range of products and the attractive model railway novelties make another significant contribution to the positive development at PIKO. At the same time, it is - especially in times of increasing uncertainty - the Sonneberg model railway manufacturer's highest aspiration not only to offer its customers models of the greatest attention to detail and quality, but also to offer them at a good price-performance ratio, thus contributing to the hobby and the passion of the customers. In addition, functionality, excellent driving characteristics and true-to-the-original digital and sound functions naturally play an important role for use on the layout.

After these insights and a short transition to the PIKO mould novelty, Dr. René F. Wilfer gave the floor to Mr. Gideon Grimmel, who invited the present guests to a journey into the past. In a short lecture, he gave an overview of the history as well as the specific features of the tender locomotives. The light express locomotives with the axle arrangement 2'C1' had a wheelset load of 18 tonnes and were thus also suitable for lines on which the machines of the BR 01, with which they shared some design principles, could not be used. While the first locomotives had a maximum permissible speed of 120 km/h, this was later raised to 130 km/h.

Between 1930 and 1938, a total of 298 locomotives were built by Borsig, Krupp, Henschel and Schwartzkopff for the Deutsche Reichsbahn. The lighter weight compared to the BR 01 was realised by a smaller boiler and cylinder as well as a lighter frame. The first series-produced locomotives were used in the flat north, including in and around Osnabrück, Stralsund, Hanover and Hamburg-Altona. From the mid-1930s, more southern regions were also part of the operational area (Ludwigshafen, Frankfurt (Main), Würzburg). After the Second World War, 145 locomotives became part of the German Federal Railways and 78 machines were transferred to the German Reichsbahn. With the withdrawal of 003 088-2 in December 1972, the use of these express locomotives by the DB came to an end. The last locomotive of the series, the 03 2128, retired from service on the Deutsche Reichsbahn nine years later in June 1981.

A total of 36 locomotives remained in Poland and were designated Pm2 there. In 1978, the last Pm2 steam locomotives were withdrawn from PKP service.

Today, 10 locomotives are still preserved. One DB Altbau machine is on display at the DDM. With the 03 2155-4, only one locomotive is operational today, another, the 03 2204-0, is in preparation.

After this short excursion into earlier times, product manager Matthias Fröhlich took the floor again and gave the visitors a basic insight into the development of a new PIKO moulded novelty up to the finished model using the example of the BR 003. First and foremost, of course, is the decision to implement a prototype in the model.

The reason for the success of the PIKO models is the prototypical and true-to-scale reproduction of the original as well as the many separately attached lines, steps and ascents. In combination with the highest level of serviceability, high driving and pulling forces and a distinct play value, unique models are created that leave hardly any room for wishes. These premises were also taken as a basis for the development of the 003 series. The basis for a prototypical reproduction of a locomotive is, of course, prototype research. Based on construction plans, photographs and reports about the chosen prototype, a model is created step by step, which can do its rounds on the model railway layout. As a result, it is hardly surprising that the moment when the model can be seen in real life for the first time after months of planning and construction and the details can unfold their full effect is a special highlight. The new PIKO steam locomotive has many special visual features. Separately attached pipes and steps as well as finely reproduced details such as a bell next to the boiler allow the eye to wander all the way to the tender with its fine imitation of coal. As a special feature, the BR 003 from PIKO has filigree metal wheels. On closer inspection, it comes as little surprise that a model of this beautiful tender locomotive consists of over 400 individual parts.

But the BR 003 is not only visually impressive. In addition to the obligatory light change in white and red, the model also has lighting in the running gear and the driver's cab in digital mode. A highlight of the new PIKO steam locomotive is a small LED in the area of the firebox, which imitates the flickering of the glowing coals with a slightly flickering red light and creates a special atmosphere on the layout. In addition, the models equipped with a PIKO SmartDecoder XP Sound have a factory-integrated steam generator in addition to a variety of sound functions. In the Expert Plus version, there is another highlight that has never before been available from PIKO in this form: a pulsed vaporiser. Furthermore, the Expert Plus model has a digitally switchable coupling on the tender.

In addition to the Expert and Expert Plus versions as the class 003 of the Deutsche Bundesbahn, the locomotive is also available as an Expert model in two other versions - once as the class 03 of the Deutsche Reichsbahn and once as the Pm2 of the PKP. In all variants, the country-specific features have been taken into account and the models faithfully reproduce their respective prototypes.

After these interesting insights into the prototype and the model locomotive, the time had finally come: With a short whistle, Dr. René F. Wilfer gave the signal and the class 003 started to move deliberately. Powerfully and quietly, the PIKO model drove out of the locomotive shed, moved over the tracks and the visitors were able to get a first impression of the numerous details, the elegance and the various sound and light functions.

Following the presentation, there was the opportunity to take a closer look at the model, to take photos on the museum's own model railway layout and to talk about the model novelty. In front of the museum's educational centre, a big sister of the PIKO novelty, the 03 131, was also on site and could be photographed together with the PIKO model.

After a brief refreshment, all the guests gathered once again in the function room to listen to an entertaining lecture by Mr Jürgen Goller, a DDM volunteer, on how steam locomotives work.

This was the end of the official part of the event and some of the guests took the opportunity to participate in a guided tour of the museum as well as a ride on a hand lever trolley.

The PIKO models of the BR 003 are expected to be available in specialist shops and from PIKO from the end of 2023. The DR and PKP versions as well as the Expert Plus versions for DC and AC railroaders will also appear in the same period.

Neuenmarkt/Sonneberg, den 06.09.2023

PIKO Managing Director, Dr. René F. Wilfer, presents the model of the H0 steam locomotive BR 003 in front of the impressive original.

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Das PIKO Video zum Roll Out: