Monthly Archives: February 2016

Testing Testing!!! Marklin Roller Stand 89932


I am not sure when someone came up with the idea for the 1st model train roller stand, but I am sure it was someone who I would have enjoyed meeting. A simple and complex precision instrument, it has quickly become an essential tool.


Several good roller stands for z are on the market, but I am only going to cover the Marklin 89932 which I use, and I would heartily recommend. Not everyone will need a roller stand, it is primarily intended for testing and repair of locomotives, but Marklin mentions in their literature usage for display; it is good looking so I cannot refute this suggestion. Marklin released two roller stands this one and a smaller 4 pair roller #89931 each is delivered in a foam lined cardboard carton with instruction and standard Marklin plugs with two Marklin logos mounted on either side of track section.


An accessory pair of rollers (#89933) can be purchased separately and added to either roller stand. Power is provided by two power terminals at one end, standard Marklin plugs are used as well as the Marklin mini club transformer.


Stainless steel rollers are in pairs, train wheels each sit atop a pair of rollers.


Two pair of rollers per section are adjusted by loosening and sliding. Note: electrical shorts and shocks are eliminated due to the installation of heavy acrylic under each section. The track section is intended for tenders.


Instructions for adding accessory roller pair #89933 is rather simple but care should be taken to put it back together in a specific way as will be outlined:

  1. locate end opposite power end
  2. gently wiggle off white plastic cap
  3. slide white plastic sections out of channels on both sidesFullSizeRender-9
  4. clear acrylic block sections are installed with the channel sections
  5. fine holes are drilled through the top portion of acrylic block sections these go on top during reassembly, and metal electrified rods running length of channel fit these holes. Note: if the metal rods are not installed in the holes in the acrylic blocks the unit cannot be put together. *Do not force parts together risking damage, parts if they are correctly installed will go together easilly.
  6. reassemble

*Stay tuned for roller stand in action coupled with the new steam locos with newly designed side rods.


5 Pole Upgrade for the 8998 Turntable

The Marklin 8998 turntable was produced from 1984-2002 featuring 3 pole motor, plastic construction with metal railing details and remote control. The original 3 pole motor can be upgraded to a 5 pole motor part #211914. Repair requires soldering, removal of bridge and disassembly of motor housing. *Special attention should be paid to electrical contacts at each end of bridge as they are delicate and subject to bending, it will not operate correctly if they bend.

The option to upgrade motors is available, but care needs to be taken each step of the way.

Marklin 5 pole motor for swing bridge: FullSizeRender

Original 3 pole motor on left next to new 5 pole on right: *Notice capacitor on 3 pole motor is bent forward (usually capacitors are bent in opposite direction in locos).


Step 1: turntable face down *notice plastic cap in center, this is removed to expose center bolt.


Step 2: with center bolt exposed use flat screwdriver to push off spring click that holds bolt together, set aside along with thin brass washer. FullSizeRender-12

Step 3: with a gentle grip of the bridge (careful not to bend or break anything on bridge) push center bolt out and set aside

Step 4: remove bridge from turntable assembly and place face down, notice motor housing identified by small screws holding the compartment together


Step 5: remove 4 screws and set aside compartment door FullSizeRender-3

Step 6: take note of motor and gearing FullSizeRender-2

Step 7: great care should be taken to prevent bending of electric contacts on each end of bridge

Step 8: with soldering iron remove leads to motor

Step 9: remove 3 pole motor, gearing, clean and replace then add a drop Labelle 108 oil to gears and track rollers FullSizeRender-6

Step 10: test motor and break-in brushes with forward and reverse throttle, install new motor, bend capacitor wires as illustrated and solder leads to capacitor


Step 11: capacitor must fit tightly under plastic housing before screwing back together otherwise it might not clear the base of the turntable preventing level smooth turning

Step 12: carefully re-position bridge locating the pointed plastic end of bridge in place before positioning other end. Care should be taken to avoid bending electrical contacts at each end of bridge. FullSizeRender-9

Step 13: replace center bolt, install thin brass washer and spring clip followed by plastic cap.



Buy Used from a dealer you trust!

Buying from dealers you trust will pay in the long-run. Used Marklin z trains on Ebay have reached a staggering volume. Just 10 years ago listings for Marklin Z were far below 1000, now that number is over 3000 including new and used from dealers and individuals. Only experience and instinct can determine if buying used sight unseen is a good idea. Generally good feedback helps to sway a decision in favor of a good deal, but I would argue that used should only be bought from sellers with obvious knowledge of what they are selling. And it sure helps if you buy used that you can also perform repairs. Most sellers offer return and Ebay even makes it easy to return with their guarantee. In the past few years I have received items that are listed ‘new’ from dealers that have had cosmetic defects not associated with manufacturing, but both times they were returned for a full refund. If you read a description that includes “no way to test” or “I have no knowledge of trains” make sure the listing offers returns. You should automatically assume the worse case scenario if the train is used, at some point it may have been dropped, run at high voltage above 9 volts, or taken apart by someone inexperienced.

Evaluating condition of used Marklin:

-evaluate the box for any damage including water or impacts

-with a magnifying glass give the loco a good looking over: anything missing such as buffers or broken wires with electric locos, windows intact, and any scratches or cracks. *Inexperienced repairs to rail buses often include cracks around buffers due to lack of knowledge pulling off the shell.

-does the shell seat properly on chassis /frame. *A warped shell is likely due to overheating by running loco above 9 volts or running for extended periods at high throttle, the miniclub bulb before LED’s heated up and could be quite hot at 9 volts leading to a build up of heat that could warp the shell.

-give the smell test, if loco smells burnt it may have been run full throttle for extended periods or without proper lubrication indicating a well used loco, shell should be pulled and interior inspected

-if there is oil on the shell the loco may have been over-oiled and will require tear down and cleaning.

-before test run clean the track: test run may be misleading if the loco has been stored for a long time, it may have been displayed only which is more common that one would think. If the loco is older and does not run smoothly or lights work only the culprit maybe HOS (hardened oil syndrome) which requires a full cleaning of all gears. If the loco was a display piece only the brushes were never properly broken in, after HOS is ruled out test the motor after it is removed from chassis.

-don’t let your emotions get the better of you, if the loco is rare but in questionable condition don’t keep it because it is rare believe me you will have other chances to get the same loco in better condition

-if the cosmetics and mechanical are 100% you have found a good loco Note: you might want to buy only locos graded at 90-100% for resale considerations

Recommended dealer for used Z scale:


Dime a Dozen

We all have heard the phrase “dime a dozen”, it certainly does not apply to ‘Industry Prints’ those rare and elusive freight wagons mostly produced in the 1980’s – privately printed cars with advertising ranging from beer to car phones. Marklin was producing their own special imprints at a time when an enterprising few decided to get into the action. Making your own mark in ‘Z’ scale has certainly been tried many times through its history, but sadly special imprints referred to by collectors as ‘Industry Prints’ were produced for only about 10 years. Should the collector care about these rare items: yes yes and yes. If you collect Marklin’s special imprints you know the crisp pad printing achieved in the graphics, Industry Prints vary with generally thicker paint of a more opaque saturation. Collectors of special imprints know the 1986 release of the beer cars Pabst, Blatz, Chihuahua, Bass, Miller (numerous variations), Labatts, Coors Lite and Michelob, all were produced privately for exclusive distribution in Germany and the United States. The excitement for these models maybe the saturated colors or it maybe the history documented by the graphics who knows they are that and everything else.

Marklin 5 pole motor chart

There is a fine blog on the internet that came way before me, it got me started on the path of troubleshooting and repairing z. This is a short entry because I just want to introduce another blog that has very useful and important information:

Mini Club repairs I don’t recommend!!!?!?!?!!!!!

I just wrote an entry about the easy repair and motor upgrade for a diesel F7, but other repairs are not so easy. If general maintenance is all the doctor ordered stay away from tear downs of locos with side rods except if you have nothing to lose due to a major issue, wheels are completely tangled in who knows what in this case the choice is easy but not the repair. I find repairing locos to be very enjoyable, I have repaired every type of z train including complete tear-downs. Taking everything apart and putting back together again is easier than Humpty Dumpty by a long shot, but aligning side rods can be difficult work for the uninitiated. Side rods on locos attach to multiple wheelsets, their function on models is decorative, but if they are poorly aligned they will not move, or if pairs are misaligned directional travel is interrupted such is the case with the Swiss Krokodil: loco might only run well in one direction if the side rods are not synchronous.

Word of caution: get some experience with diesels and electrics before moving into steam engine repair.

Particularly difficult locos to tear down are all versions of the ‘mallet’ locos, followed by Swiss Krokodil, and finally followed by big steam and little steam.

5 pole upgrade: #8862 Amtrak F7


The 8862 Amtrak F7 is a member of the original line of F7’s produced for mini-club. And it features the “tried and true” 3 pole motor #264440. No need to upgrade original 3 pole locos to 5 pole except for the following reasons: 5 pole motors are quieter and lower idling speeds. Some members of the z community feel 3 pole motors are more durable, but I am not of that thinking. The current cost of the replacement 5 pole motor is on average $50 for the #211903 that replaces #264440. Marklin has made available almost all 5 pole motor replacements for the diesel, steam and electric locos, there are a couple of exceptions including the Zeppelin. I highly recommend upgrading 3 pole rail buses just for the lowered noise, these locos don’t seem to have as much buffering as the rest.

For an easy 5 pole motor upgrade I chose the 8862.


Parts Breakdown:


First: use a pair of synthetic .70mm or thinner guitar picks gently slide each between the shell and chassis either side as illustrated, shell will slide off easily, Marklin depict small screwdrivers used in their literature, but the soft flexible guitar picks risk much less damage to inside of the shell. Photo exaggerates use of the guitar picks, shell slides off with very slight pressure using these.


Second: with a toothpick or very small screwdriver push the axles out of chassis thereby releasing the trucks. Set aside the top gear for cleaning.


Third: unscrew the single black screw in circuit board followed by prying off circuit board, very gently apply just enough pressure the release circuit board from 4 clips that hold it in place.


Fourth: remove lightbulb and set aside, very carefully bend capacitor straight up to allow easy removal of circuit board mounting frame (I use a pair of tweezers as a way of holding wires in place as I gently bend them equally), unscrew circuit board mounting frame from chassis, careful not to lose the three tiny screws. Set aside circuit board mounting frame.


Fifth: with motor and transmission gearing still installed in chassis please take notice of the brass bushings and how they sit perfectly in place in the chassis, they need to be reinstalled in the same way.


Notes: motor only fits one way in chassis and worm drives face ends of loco.

Further notes: before installing new motor apply electricity to confirm it works, also break-in the brushes with slow and fast speeds, forward and reverse.


Follow a reverse course when putting the loco back together with a couple of important observations: use great care bending the new capacitor wires, check the whiskers from the circuit board engage with the capacitor wires, don’t forget the all important black screw attaching circuit board to chassis, a spot of Labelle 108 oil sparingly to all moving gears only except gears from motor those will get enough oil from transmission gearing, lightbulb will slide into clips before screwing in place black screw for circuit board, and lastly cattle catcher if you choose to install slides on post at end of loco after removing coupler at that end: gently prying open the truck will allow access to coupler and spring, I normally leave the spring intact in case I want to reinstall the coupler at a later date.

Hope this information is helpful, and you may consider upgrading other locos with 5 pole motors.

Tales from the repair bench

I recently completed my collection of VT 11.5’s with the addition of 88733 + 87933. Sets 8873- 88735 are stellar sets that have been continuously modified by Marklin not just in design but function that being electrical function with the couplers that link each car together. Keeping things simple and uncompromising are Marklin Z attributes, one need only look inside one these loco’s to fully appreciate the good functional design, they are easy to take apart and put back together with side rod locos being an exception. Well this is a first, I just received a lightly used 88733 (mint cosmetically) with one end car not working properly, the motor turned over very sporadically thereby becoming a ball and chain to the working end car. I have never encountered a faulty Marklin z motor before so discounting everything else from electrical shorts, mechanical and other electrical misalignments seemed to make sense, it is after all fairly simple to trace the electrical flow from the track to the motor. To my great surprise the problem rested with the motor and a very poor repair to a brush, even with new brushes the motor was rubbish. Not sure of its prior history, but I would not be surprised if the poorly repaired brush had something to do with the motor being fried. If the gears and wheelsets are moving freely, circuit board is not cracked and black screw is present that attaches board to chassis, wheels are clean, and whiskers are properly in contact with motor brushes then the problem is most likely the brushes themselves and maybe(?) the motor.

Side note: If you have congealed oil otherwise referred to as “hardened oil syndrome” (HOS) considered using the synthetic oil Labelle #108 which is a lightweight oil and plastic compatible as your oil of choice.

Marklin 88467 locomotive lettered for VSLF

Marklin has produced many versions of the Swiss class 460 electric locomotive since the 90’s, one of the recent releases features lettering for VSLF – the Association for Swiss Locomotive Engineers. The striking design used by VSLF includes a watchful owl depicted on both ends and sides of the 460 locomotive along with a lively graphic design. The Marklin “One Time Series” model 88467 features the removal of the catenary screw on the outside of locomotive thereby providing a more seamless roof appearance, power from the catenary is no longer possible with this model, and the lights are provided by LED’s. One of the most successful 460’s released thus far, and one that will prove to be much sought after in the future.

VSLF is an interesting organization for training and certification of train operators in Switzerland as well as providing representation to their members:


*You can download wallpaper under the ‘shop’ category at the VSLF site.


Notes on special Marklin editions

Marklin has and continues to produce limited editions in z scale that include several subcategories: 1. One Time Series, 2. MHI, 3. Export Models, 4. Marklin Magazine, 5. Insider Models, 6. SMI’s, 7. Industry Prints, 8. White Box Editions, and 9. Museum Editions.

  1. All limited edition models should be considered “one time series”, but they vary from official “One Time Series” within the regular production items. Briefly One Time Series are regular production items with  symbol printed on the box next to the item number. These items are produced for one year on a limited basis. In the United States they are distributed through Walthers.
  2. In 1990 Marklin created the MHI (Marklin Handler Initiative) Program. Items falling into this category also include the “One Time Series” symbol: . Under this category models are not only limited by being one time series, they are only available from dealers that are members of the Marklin MHI Exclusive dealer program. The coal transport trainset 81379 + 82379 are recent examples.
  3. Export Models as the name suggests are models designed for railroads outside Germany and exported to those countries on a limited basis. These models can be exceeding difficult to collect, their prices reflect their scarcity. Marklin 82376 is a good example of a 2 car hopper set lettered for the Netherlands. FullSizeRender-3
  4. Marklin Magazine is delivered through membership in Marklin’s Insider Club, models celebrating the magazine feature a characteristic dark blue color and imprinted with the Marklin Magazine logo. Car types in recent years depict cars with new tooling thereby announcing the release of new car types within the regular production line for z. Not every dealer will order these for their inventory and because they sell out fast they can prove difficult to collect unless you are willing to pay a fairly high collectible price after they sell out at the factory.
  5. Insider Models are of two types: rolling stock and locomotives. As a member of the Marklin Insider Club members are given one free car usually of a type with new tooling, they are also given a certificate in their name for securing the locomotive for that year. Therefore the limitation is based on Insider membership and the number of reserved loco’s.
  6. SMI’s are a particular favorite of mine, they are designated as Special Marklin Imprints commissioned privately for printing by Marklin. Marklin collaborates in the process with design requirements, usually a minimum order is 100. Car types for imprinting are 8600’s, 8612’s, 8615’s, 8626’s, 8656’s, and 8661’s. I don’t believe 8626 and 8656 are available anymore for special imprinting. Special Imprint cars include the ‘m’ designating they were printed by Marklin, this is an important mark otherwise they fall into my last category “Industry Prints”. SMI’s are a big category of collecting, these uncommon cars are imprinted with all sorts of interesting graphics variously designating wide ranging content, some collectors only collect SMI’s which speaks to the highly rewarding hunt for these rare finds.
  7. Industry Prints are similar to SMI’s with one important difference, they were not printed by Marklin, Marklin’s contribution is limited to the    unmarked cars only. Privately printed by Baur-Druck Bad Waldsee “Industry Prints” were sold by Schmidt in Germany for distribution in Europe and the United States. Here in the USA some were sold by Modellbahn Freund, St. Louis, MO, their sticker is sometimes attached to the plastic box if you happen to find one of these. This category of special imprints is not covered in the Koll’s books, the only reference is what can be found on the internet.
  8. White Box Editions are special cars typically commemorating special events and housed within a white box.
  9. Museum Editions had their start in 1987, each year a new museum car is released that highlights a company with historic or other ties to Goppingen, Germany home of Marklin. These highly collectible cars are often delivered inside a specially printed tin box and sometimes they include a cast metal truck or car. Most dealers have these in their inventory as they are distributed by Walthers. The rarest of this category are two cars: 1987 (1st year of the museum editions) and #80021 from 2010.


Marklin limited editions are not limited to these 9 categories as this blog will hope to clarify in future posts. The Nuremberg Toy Fair locomotives, one-off’s and limited starter sets further complete this topic, more for future discussion.