The Marx 333 and 1829 were the largest O gauge steam locomotives Marx produced. But even though Marx’s competitors would sometimes make both a diecast and plastic version of the same engine, that’s not what Marx did here. Let’s take a look at the Marx 1829 vs 333.
The 1829 wasn’t just a plastic Marx 333. The design of the casting differs from the diecast 333, and it used a different trailing truck, since the 333 was a 4-6-2 Pacific and the 1829 was a Hudson. The motor was similar, and like the 333, it came in both smoking and non-smoking versions.
The Marx 1829
Marx introduced the 1829 in 1953 to give it a high-end locomotive that it could produce at a low price. It shared a good deal of parts commonality with the 333. But Marx didn’t take the shortcut of just injecting plastic into the existing 333 mold, like its competitors sometimes did. The 1829 came in two variations, smoking and non-smoking. The smoking version came out in 1955, and the 1829 ceased production in 1957.
There may have been a reason new tooling was necessary. The 1829’s plastic body wasn’t as heavy as the 333, so Marx added large weights to the inside as well as a rubber traction tire. This gave it similar traction and the kind of pulling power worthy of a locomotive with six driver wheels. Marx wasn’t one to go to unnecessary expense, but since the plastic body required a redesign, they probably decided to change the appearance. That’s why we can even have the Marx 1829 vs 333 discussion.
There is a good deal of parts commonality between the 1829 and the diecast 333. For example, a hobbyist can easily swap rear trucks between the two to get a diecast 4-6-4 and a plastic 4-6-2, although Marx never made them that way. The two parts are completely interchangeable so it’s just a matter of unbolting one part and bolting the new one on.
The Marx 333
The Marx 333 was Marx’s largest diecast locomotive, produced from 1948-1952 and 1952-1958, so it had a longer production run. It’s similar in size and appearance to the 1829, but it’s a 4-6-2 Pacific, rather than a Hudson. Like the 1829, it comes in both smoking and non-smoking versions, but there are other subtle variations of the 333 as well. The subtle variations aren’t apparent unless you’re taking the unit apart, so they appear to have been changes to make the manufacturing process go smoother.
You can tell a smoking 333 from a non-smoker by looking for awnings. The smoking versions had awnings over the cab windows, while the non-smoking version had plain cab windows. If you find an exception to this, it means someone swapped a motor at some point.
Since the 333 and 1829 were Marx’s highest-end steam engines, they are somewhat harder to find than the smaller steam engines that had two drive wheels. As such, they tend to command higher prices. Ironically, they are more expensive now than some of the Lionel engines they competed with in their prime.
Also, unlike the 1829, the 333 enjoyed a long second life under K-Line. K-Line recovered both the 333 and 1829 tooling but only used the 1829 in one set. K-Line used the 333 mold until it literally wore out and had to have a new one made.