Monthly Archives: November 2016

Z gauge LED signals by Marklin

Marklin introduced a couple of signals that lasted in the line-up for years, they were the 8939 (block signal) and 8940 (semaphore).  The 8939 block signal was the first, it was introduced in 1972 when Marklin announced z gauge, then in 1979 the 8940 semaphore was added. Realistic train control was created with these signals, starting and stopping a train on a mainline was achieved by wiring an isolation track and adding an 8945 relay or 8946 manual control for the 8939. The 8940 semaphore used a control box instead of the 8945 or 8946 controls. 24 years later the 2nd generation of signals was introduced for mini-club that included yard and mainline  signalling capabilities, some signals even feature up to 4 aspects. With sophistication comes complexity and wiring schematics that are unprecendented in z gauge, thus the fun of real train operation. Signals are their own field of study and adding realistic signalling will make a great layout even greater.

Before delving into the world of mini-club signals important comments need to be made, first is the expense, and second is the commitment of time. Non semaphore signals come with 2, 3 or 4 aspects, as the lighting functions increase there are also an increase in parts and wiring. For example the 89391, 89394 and 89395 are 2 aspect requiring 1 relay (7244), 89390 and 89392 are 3 aspect requiring 2 relays (7244), and 89393 requires 3 relays (7244). Cost is expanded with the addition of each 7244 relay which retail for $45. The 7244 relay also operates on 16 volts only therefore purchasing a separate transformer is required (Marklin 6001-110 volt or 6002-240 volt). A 7272 control box is also required for every 4 signals. And two feeder tracks per block is required (8590). Plus 8954 plastic rail joiner insulators. The commitment of time can be quickly suggested with one photo illustrating all the wires required for hooking up one 2 aspect signal 89391.


To keep costs affordable shop for used relays and transformers. Used relays sell on Ebay for about $15 a piece while used 6001 transformers sell for no more than $75. If you buy the 240volt 6002 transformer for the European market it can be converted to 110volt with the addition of a Pyle 100 watt step-up/step down converter for $20. Used signals are also a possibility from a reliable dealer who gives a warranty.

Wiring schematics are provided with each new signal sold, but I will provide written instructions for each on a separate post if you bought one used without instructions; those instructions are too lengthy to include here.

Since this post concerns LED only Marklin z signals let’s start with a basic description for each.

89390 – “Distant” signal warns engineer of next signal’s indication and prepares the train crew of an oncoming stop command. Located a distance from other signals on a mainline.

89391- “Block” signal located along a mainline with two indications: stop and proceed.

89392- “Entry” signal used at the entrance to train stations with three aspects: stop, proceed, and proceed slowly.

89393- “Exit” signal used at stations for departing trains with 4 aspects: stop, proceed, proceed slowly and switching allowed.

89394- “Yard” signal used to indicate movement of trains within a switch yard with two aspects: do not proceed and proceed but prepare to stop. Ground level signal.

89395- *Same signal type as 89394 but high mounted on a pole versus ground level.

The type of layout will determine how many signals are required prototypically, but the cost to equip a layout with each prototypically wired will quickly add up to big bucks. An alternative is to wire important signals on the layout and perhaps leave others on permanently as green or red. Or another solution is to manually turn two aspects on and off without train control using a control box.

Signal wiring tips:                                                                                                                                             1. Each signal is equipped with a varying number of wires, following the wire schematic will indicated where those wires go.                                                                                                                    2. Standard braided wire by Marklin is color coded, it is important to stick with correct color coding in case a mistake is made and retracing one’s step.                                                                     3. The strands of braided wire need to be twisted to make good contact with plugs and terminals, but I suggest one step further: tinning the wire will keep the strands together better than twisting alone, simply apply solder to the braided ends of your wire thereby filling the wires with solder and making a single strand.                                                                                                                                                                4. Signals come equipped with several wires that have capacitors installed to a solid wire, this part of the wire heats up and should not be taped over thereby preventing a potential fire. Also never remove the capacitors.                                                                                                                        5. Wires with capacitors and solid wires will need to be trimmed for their connections with the relay (7244) terminals, this wire is far longer than required.                                                                                                                                                            6. Control box 7272 is correct for signals.                                                                                                   7. Two feeder tracks per block are required.