The Ma-loco

When the goods traffic on the Norrland lines was increasing towards the end of the 1940s, the need for more and stronger locomotives appeared. SJ decided to develop the Ma series based on the experience gained from the Mg series.

Information from Wikipedia, Järnväg.net and MJ-Hobbyexperten; some translated by Google and a few friends!

Availability of more powerful motors made the locomotive capable of hauling heavy trains at 100 km/h, making the series quite flexible. Equipment was placed inside the locomotive, removing the noses and giving the Ma a very different appearance from the Mg series. ASEA delivered 32 locomotives to SJ (in addition to 9 to TGOJ), which were put into service on passenger and goods trains in Central and Northern Sweden. It was possible to see them on both trains connecting Stockholm with Narvik (more than 2000 km) every day/night. The first train would leave Stockholm at around 5 p.m., the second one later in the evening. Both trains had around 12 cars, mostly sleepers, one dining car.

When TGOJ went for electric locomotives it also chose the Ma series. Their nine locos were delivered from 1954 to 1958, and were originally used on iron ore traffic between Ludvika / Grängesberg and Oxelösund. They differ from the ones delivered to SJ in that they can be driven in multiple, and they have round instead of rectangular side windows.

After the Rc-series locomotives were delivered in large numbers to SJ in the early 1970s, the Ma series was restricted to goods only duties. This was despite them being refurbished at NOHAB in Trollhättan with changes to the bogies, main power switch, front lights (changed from large to the smaller Marshall type), and moving the cabin door on the driver’s side to nearer the centre to reduce noise. In 1991 SJ sold 25 of its 31 units to TGOJ, who used some of them alongside the original nine TGOJ locomotives. Two units have been rented to BK Tåg while one has been sold to Inlandsgods.

Ma locomotives quickly became popular for their strength and reliability. Their sturdy construction meant that many of the locomotives achieved more than 50 years of service and a few locomotives were still in service until very recently. The loco type is regarded as one of the strongest electric types in Sweden, except EL15 (now known as Hector Rail type 161).

The TGOJ locomotives were originally dark green while SJ’s locomotives were the traditional brown colour. In the 1960s, TGOJ locomotives were painted orange with white stripes, and this livery was retained until the end of the 1990s, when the colours were changed to green and dark blue. There were eventually two versions of this livery, an older and a newer variant. With a few exceptions, the former SJ locomotives also appeared in TGOJ’s later colour schemes.

From 2010, TGOJ Traffic became part of the parent company Green Cargo, and the Ma-locos were then formally with Green Cargo as a new owner; but Green Cargo decided to retain the colourful TGOJ livery. In 2012 Green Cargo decided to phase out the locomotives and the last Ma-locos were shut down in December 2012. Several locomotives have subsequently ended up in museums and museum associations, including at Grängesberg (Ma-401), Bergslagen Railway Society (Ma-403), Kalmar veteran (Ma-828), and the Swedish Railway Museum (Ma-966).

Number built: 41.
Year: 1953 to 1960.
Speed: 105km/h
Axle type: Co’Co’
Power: 6 x 660 = 3960kW.
Motor: 6 x ASEA KJA 88
Regulation system: LKO, high voltage
Driving modes: 37.
Transmission: hollow axel

Length: 16800mm
Wheelbase: 4200 + 7600mm
Bogie-centres: 8600mm
Driving wheel diameter: 1300mm
Curb weight: 105 tonnes.
Max. axle load: 17.5 tonnes.
Start thrust: 325kN.
Dynamic load: 130 tonnes.
Pantograph: LLXJE135

Jeco’s H0-scale model of the Ma-loco appeared as a plastic-body model in the summer, 2013, after a few set-backs, including a metal body version being produced earlier! The industry standard for r-t-r locomotives is for a plastic body; and as is usual for a metal model the price was prohibitive! However, it was produced then as an agreement with a British model manufacturer (not known for r-t-r models), and poor sales figures prompted a rethink and the proposal for the correct plastic body version.

The model comes with the usual bag of accessories, which with Jeco includes a replacement wheel-set with traction tyres in case the buyer needs more grip than current collection! (Note that there is a lot of detail on the wheels – interesting, considering that they can hardly be seen when fitted!) There were the usual mirrors (plus spares), spare wipers and various other details, some of which we can’t identify! It is a most beautiful model, it runs well (seems to a have a maximum speed of a scale 105km/h), and is good value.

At the FLMJ, we have found that there is very limited ‘play’ in the bogies, and this locomotive has been as sensitive to uneven track as locos with pony-trucks (Du, F, etc). However, on decent track, its performance is good. It negotiates our 1m radius curve (through Toraberg) with ease, and there is sufficient sideways play on the centre wheel-set. One difficulty that this presents, however, is during placement on the track; it is difficult to get all wheels on properly without the help of a rail-ramp!

Our model, Ma 879, has been fitted with the standard H0-couplings in the NEM sockets so that it can work the sleeper train especially – until we can retrofit NEM mechanisms to the main coaches in that rake. (Our loaned Hamo Rc 1010 model is being sold, and this loco was dedicated to this train!) It was very interesting, during research, to find that these locos had worked the sleeper trains to the north; ours is being used with absolute authenticity!

Whether or not Jeco produce other versions, remains to be seen. They have offered all liveries that the SJ version appeared in including one in brown but with TGOJ letters! The earlier version would require older style headlights and cab-side doors on both sides. Then, both original version and later version could be retooled as TGOJ version with round side windows and the body-end ‘box’ for the jumper controls for multiple working. But here, we’re only speculating!