Category Archives: Marklin Z Repair Notes

Repainting 8135 coaches for the SJ: Part 3

This is the 3rd and final post on the repainting and lettering of the Marklin Dompfeil train set (8135) for the SJ.

Before (Marklin 8135):

After (SJ coaches using FR decal set):

At the start of this project I had never repainted a train car before or operated an airbrush thus much was learned.

SJ coaches in z scale have been extremely limited, FR released a type litt AB8k 1st and 2nd class in a single release of 30 only, FR 46.299.00 was based on a German built coach that was used on a ferry service. In order to accurately represent this coach FR modified a Marklin coach that was shortened by one window.

photo: FR 46.299.00 (edition: 30 total) – SJ type litt AB8k 1st and 2nd class coach

For those interested in SJ modeling in z there are numerous locos and freight cars by FR, but scant few passenger coaches until FR released a decal set several years ago intended for the Marklin 8135 coaches, these German built coaches for the Dompfeil train set were likewise used on the SJ.

The process of producing a set of 4 coaches started with disassembly of the coaches followed by stripping, in this post the final stages are documented including masking, painting, and lettering.

Identifying the sections to paint include the undercarriage, sides, and roof. The roof is a clip on part, it does not require masking unlike the shells. Painting two colors of the same part requires masking, I decided to start with the undercarriage and vestibules color, I sprayed the entire shells with this color with no masking.

Before applying the brown paint I masked off the vestibules and undercarriage. The masking material is similar to common masking tape, but it is markedly thinner with a slick surface, it also comes in a variety of widths. I chose masking tape of 6mm width manufactured by Tamiya.

After paint is dried the masking tape is removed, for areas not protected by masking retouching maybe required, I chose to paint the buffers with a brush as the final stage of painting, masking these seemed an impossible task and fine brush work produced great results.

The FR decals in the set are applied by rubbing onto the cars, they differ from other decals that are applied with water. The decals provided had alignment marks to make positioning easy, my burnishing tool was an artists’ burnishing bone, but a soft tipped lead pencil should work fine.

After decals are applied a final coat of clear lacquer is sprayed on to protect the finish and decals. And reassembly follows as the last step.

Notes on airbrushing: I purchased an Iwata Neo airbrush with an Iwata braided hose for just over $100. Several airbrush air compressors were available from the store I purchased the airbrush from with prices ranging in the $220-$300 range, I chose to use a Porter Cable pancake compressor I use for air tools. A fitting is available to connect the braided airbrush hose to this type of compressor for a few bucks. The only difference between an air tool compressor and a specialty airbrush compressor is one of noise, the airbrush compressor is very quiet while hearing protection is required with the pancake compressor. PSI (pressure per square inch) is a determined by testing on a piece of paper, I set the compressor gauge to 20 PSI which worked perfectly, others I researched recommend 15-20 PSI. Air brushes require cleaning after painting, cleaners are available or water can be used for acrylic paints. When the spray is clear the nozzle is clean, other parts should be cleaned as well. A cleaner between paint colors is also required.

Notes on paint: the consistency of paint should be the same as skim milk, most paints may require thinning with water to gain this consistency. I used Testors acrylic paints that I mixed to customize the color, they are railroad based colors that did not require any thinning. The clear coat I used is made by Iwata, it was the consistency of white glue and required thinning to spray. Acrylic paints dry quickly and can be layered on layer without skinning as can be the case with enamels or the combination of the two. The very best results will be achieved with 100% acrylic paints. Careful attention should be applied in mixing paints for airbrushing, straining maybe required to avoid clogs and poor paint results. For safety use a mask and gloves.

Notes on applying decals: as with much detail work careful consideration applies to attaching decals, they are transferred from a sheet to the model with burnishing tools. Best results are achieved with a level flat object, I use a specialty artists’ burnishing bone. Pointy tools will not work! Acrylic paints should be allowed to dry overnight to provide a hard surface for decal work. And very delicate handling until final spray coat of lacquer. I used clear lacquer with a satin finish which is consistent with Marklin’s coach finishes.

For close to two years I had the decal set and a second Marklin 8135 for this project, but I was reluctant to start due to lack of expertise. Plus I was apprehensive to strip the paint of mint Marklin coaches: after stripping there was no going back. I discovered that air brushing is easier than I thought producing a superior paint finish. Now I feel the airbrush is as important to the railroader as the soldering iron. Future uses for this new tool include weathering track, cars and locos.

Good luck and have fun!

Siding: FR’s Ra 987 electric locomotive is a compatible loco for this coach set, it is based on the prototype from the mid 1950’s:  FR 46.132.01 was produced in a limited series of 32 total, it is still available from quality-toys-trains on Ebay.

 

Rewiring Marklin 8871 and 88711: ICE trains go fast!

Marklin’s 1990’s releases of the TEE 8873 and ICE trains 8871 and 88711 suffer from a design flaw: poor electrical connections caused by the couplers and a train set wired in parallel. Similar to those old Christmas lights when one bulb went they all did, these Marklin train sets suffered a similar fate that was corrected with the further releases of the TEE variations. The ICE train sets changed in another way instead of having two powered units as did the 8871 and 88711 the 88712 and 88714 included one powered unit located in the middle of the train this being a coach.

A simple solution to to correct the poor performance of the three TEE and ICE trains is to bypass two diodes located on each circuit board of the powered units. There are four diodes located on each circuit board, two affect the lights (LED’s) and two are near the motor. Bypassing the diodes near the motor with a soldered wire is all that is needed to allow the locomotive to move forward and reverse thus allowing each powered unit to work without the former wiring constraints.

Note: no need to bypass the diodes on any other TEE train version released after 8873.

Note: 30 gauge wire is recommended for wiring circuit board, tinning the ends of wires is recommended before making the soldered connections.

The early ICE trains use an interesting light bulb with a red and a clear bulb soldered to a circuit board similar to the traditional mini-club bulb. The red bulb is hooded to direct the light better, but unlike the LED’s the light is rather dim unless the loco is cranking! Note: very fragile bulb and no longer available, but if you are good at soldering you can make your own.

The couplers as mentioned are faulty for electrical connectivity, but work great when both powered units are rewired: coach lights no longer flicker. The couplers for the two ICE trains are susceptible to damage due to the untethered ends of the copper strips, great care should be taken to prevent bending. A good recommendation is to stock up on parts as they become available on Ebay. The original couplers for the 8873 are infinitely more resilient than the couplers used on the first two ICE trains.

Note: save old loco light bulbs that don’t work, new ones can be easily made by using the original circuit board for soldering news bulbs to them, generic bulbs are available at train shops in the correct size.

Siding: the 5 pole motor replacement for the 8871 + 88711 is 211907 which is one of the more expensive motors for upgrade, and you will need two. I have not made the upgrade to 5 pole with my sets, the original 3 pole motors work exceptionally well at low speed and throughout the range, but the 5 pole motors would be much quieter.

Siding: removing the tight fitting shells from 8871 and 88711 is more easily accomplished with synthetic guitar picks of .70 mm thickness or thinner.

Repainting Marklin 8135 coaches for the SJ: Part 2

Part 2 is completed: stripping the old and prepping for the new. Marklin’s 8135 Dompfeil set is the subject of the repaint and older SJ coaches will be the end result.

I am using the FR label kit for the repaint which includes dry transfer lettering, lettering will take place in Part 4.

Following Part 1 which was disassembly this post concerns stripping paint from plastic train shells. The stripper is 91% isopropyl alcohol available from any drugstore, its cost for this project $4.00.

I first placed all parts to be stripped (4 coach shells and 1 roof panel) in a small plastic dish and submerged them in the alcohol. In about 1 hour the paint appeared to be softening on the shells. Using a toothbrush I applied little pressure to remove the paint and decals, it would take numerous attempts with time in between to remove the finish, but it eventually started coming off with the toothbrush. The roof which was yellow in the original set was much more difficult to strip, it required an overnight soak in the alcohol. The silver painted roof panels I did not strip these I will simply spray over, I stripped the warm white panel due to the thickness of the paint which was heavier than the silver paint.

Note: use of eyewear and gloves is highly recommended. The fumes from the alcohol is very strong thus a well ventilated work area is best, take frequent breaks to avoid breathing in too many fumes, the plastic parts are not affected by the alcohol, they will not melt.

For paint that was in small crevices or around roof details I made use of a toothpick, soaked in alcohol, it worked well to dislodge hard to get at paint.

Following the stripping I washed each part in mild Dawn dish washing liquid and rinsed well.

After inspecting each dry part I repeated the stripping to remove paint on some of the window frames.

photo: before

photo: after

The next step is painting which will include constructing a spray booth out of cardboard box, matching paint chip FR included in kit, and constructing armature to hold the parts for painting.

Siding: the Dompfeil coaches are the same ones made in Germany for the SJ, they featured aluminum roof panels: early ones were painted gray and the late ones were shiny silver. For these coaches I am modeling the earlier ones to be pulled by an Ra 987 Express locomotive.

photo: FR – 46.132.01 – Statens Jarnvagar SJ (Swedish State Railways) Serie Ra 987 Express locomotive. Limited Release of 32 locos total.

Tinning: the soldering practice briefly explained

Tinning is simply the soldering of stranded wire to make solid wire, but many railroaders are not aware of this practice and its benefits.

Why tin? Soldering the ends of stranded wire eliminates the fraying of stranded wire which can become a nuisance over time when the wires leading from the feeder track have to be stripped for the transformer posts. Also this type of wire is easier to cut to length for intricate repair work. It is not recommended for Marklin plugs because it can be brittle and break when screwed into these connections, Marklin wire makes a better connection with these plugs.

Before soldering a connection it is recommended practice to tin the ends of stranded wire to make soldering easier.

Siding: mini-club wiring of circuit boards can be a touchy exercise, tinning the ends of wires to be used and cut to just enough length will shorten the time the circuit board is subjected to soldering.

 

 

 

Side Rods: Correct alignment to make steam locos go!

Sometimes the repair of a steam loco is necessary thus taking one apart can be cruel and unusual punishment for the uninitiated, but quickly it is realized that repairing a mini-club steam loco is achievable with a few general rules.

When I first got into collecting mini-club I remember a dealer offering repair services for all locos except for steam locos, they are too difficult was this much awarded USA Marklin dealer response. Through the course of my collecting the repair and maintenance of steam locos is part of the fun! When I use the word fun I really mean it, what better way than to quietly sit at the workbench on a Saturday afternoon taking apart a loco that does not work and bringing it back to life. The problem solving with a positive resolution is key to excitement of returning a loco to service such is the case with correct assembly of steam locos.

All of us will have a turn removing hardened oil from around the pilot wheel pivot point or wheel set gearing and even the worm gear all requiring a disassembly of the oil pan below the engine. Removing hardened oil is simply achieved but reassembling the steam loco can be the hard part for some locos including ‘mallet’ type or others with more than two pairs of driving wheels. All reassembly of bogies follows the same advice and that is to start at the front drive wheel followed by the intermediate gear followed by the next drive wheel and so forth. The pick-ups that make contact with the drive wheels can be a little tricky but keeping pressure (not too much) to each assembled wheel set in the chain works best otherwise with no pressure the pick-ups would spring outside the wheels. Add side rods to the mix and the assembly gets a little more tricky. Some side rods simply sit in a groove in the cylinder block while other designs allow them to be inserted in slots. The BR 10’s (8888, 8889, 88892, and 88893) side rods are of the latter type, the side rod sits in a groove and the shell holds it in place. Applying pressure to the side rods until the shell is in place adds a layer of complexity to this locomotive type.

Correct orientation of the wheel sets follows that all weighted sides of the wheels are aligned at the same spot to achieve this end one must turn a pair of wheel sets until it aligns. If the wheels are not lined up correctly the loco does not run properly if at all. Inexplicably in the case of the BR 10’s the wheel sets can be out of alignment and still work well on an operating loco, go figure!

photo: incorrect wheel alignment on 8889

photo: correct wheel alignment on 8889

Once the loco is taken apart it is a straight forward matter of putting it back together, it will always go back together because Marklin makes them that way. As soon as patience has left the room perhaps one should leave the project to come back to later. Always start from the front of a bogie and leave the pilot and trailing truck for last, they can be slide under the loose oil pan before screwing it together.

Note: before making any such repair organize the work bench with good light and a surface to work on, I use a foam bench made for z by www.z-hightech.de featuring a tool holder, flat area for holding parts, wedge shape section to hold a loco upside down and on angle, and a channel for securely holding the loco in place. This is the very best accessory I have found for train maintenance. I got mine on Ebay from gps_97 under the heading “GPS-5000 maintenance pad”.

VT 11.5 TEE Railcar: Improving Performance

Improving performance can be a bit of a misnomer when the talk circles around modifying a Marklin Z loco or other article in the mini-club line-up. Upgrading 3 pole motors to 5 pole motors is a significant boost to performance, but other improvements may deserve further research and discussion with other railroaders and their experiences.

One improvement I have heard about for many years is actually one I heartily suggest, Glenn and Sandy Stiska of Florida rewired several sets for me in the late 1990’s with this same repair. The modification I am talking about is the addition of two wires to each powered end unit of the VT 11.5 (8873) and the 2 ICE trains including the special release “Amtrak.” For many years this modification has been used with multi-train sets with more than one powered unit. Wired in parallel these early sets were poor runners because they relied on something close to perfection, if the electrical chain was broken between head loco, coaches and end unit the train would not go.

The 8873 used an early conductive coupling which connected the coaches to the powered end units that has since been redesigned: all railcars now use a new flat conductive coupling versus the early spring copper one.

photo: 8873 powered end unit with first generation coupler on left and 88731 Max Liebermann with next generation coupler on right

The original wiring included a pair of diodes for each circuit board which dropped the voltage to each powered car and only allowed each powered unit to go in one direction a contributing factor for stalling the train and/or flickering coach lights if power was interrupted which it readily did. The solution is to bypass the diodes by soldering a wire around each diode thus making it possible for each powered end unit to go in both directions.

A fine point soldering iron is recommended for the repair and just enough wire because too much would interfere with installing the shell.

Try this repair if you have a set of this type that does not run well, the results will blow you away!

Six versions have thus far been released with the last being the “Blue Star Train” with its very striking paint scheme.

Siding: removing the shell of the 8873 is accomplished by removing coupler if it is present and carefully inserting a small screwdriver in the coupler box, if the shell does not easily pop up it maybe stuck to chassis due to hardened oil which will require finessing to unseat it from the chassis, removing the shell from all other VT 11.5’s will require lifting the front of the shell and wriggling it around the permanent coupler. Caution: do not pull on a permanent coupler, it is not removable unless circuit board is removed first.

 

 

Customizing and Repairing: Rotary Snowplow Train Set

I recently purchased a customized 81361 Rotary Snowplow trainset, this being the first customized Marklin Z in my collection. I would not have bought it if I knew it was a used set, it was described as new. My impulse to buy outweighed good judgment, but it turned out well. The silver lining was how nice the customizing was, it was carried out by someone with knowledge and love of trains. And the former owner applied a great deal of precision in the work they did.

Precision is the word best applied to working in the “Z Scale World”, much of what we do in this small scale requires planning, patience and skill sets unique to the hobby. My best tools for working on the railroad are tweezers and magnifying goggles which I am wearing right now!

Another silver lining aside from the excellent look and operation of this train set is learning something new, in this case wiring and weathering a rotary snowplow train set.

Modification: in order to improve power pick-up to the motor the tender’s wheels are used in combination with the loco’s driving wheels to receive electricity from the tracks. This is accomplished by soldering two wires to the leads and running those wires to pick-ups that connect to the tender’s wheels. Word of caution with this modification: tender pick-ups have to make good contact with the wheels without preventing them from turning. This modification also requires exposing two wires from the loco cab to the tender, for some this maybe distracting. And this modification may not even be deemed necessary by most otherwise Marklin would have built it into the original design.

Weathering: not so much weathering but bringing out the texture of the cutting wheel. Carbide cutting blades are used to cut through large snow drifts in the prototype, in this model a dry brush with silver paint was used to highlight this part of the cutting wheel. Great care is required accomplishing this feat, but the result is interesting. If you are new to dry brush practice first on something inconsequential before taking on this project. And don’t forget magnifying lenses either in goggles or desk top magnifier.

Repair: the materials Marklin uses for the trains is the best available and correctly chosen, in this model the plastic hinges and couplers can over time require adjustment. To tighten a hinge on the snowplow doors simply remove the door and with careful handing of tweezers gently pull the hinge sides closer together, they get loosened up over time, but the plastic is flexible enough to allow very gentle pressure to tighten. The unique coupler that attaches snowplow tender to steam loco is another example of the aforementioned, apply gentle pressure with your fingers to reduce the size of the coupler end thereby making a tight connection with the loco. Without a tight connection between snowplow tender and loco the train will uncouple.

Maintaining your collection is part of the fun of owning it, and we all become better in time. And it is a good time to better understand the workings of our trains.

 

Under the Hood: Marklin Z Rotary Snowplow

A brief look under the hood of Marklin’s “Rotary Snowplow” in z scale reveals engineering that is both functional and well conceived.

Two worm gears meet up at 90 degrees to turn the cutting wheel that is powered by the 5 pole motor. A heavy metal frame is the foundation for the motor which receives its power directly from the rails without the need of a circuit board, the motor leads are soldered to wires leading to trucks: one wire to each truck soldered to a power pick-ups in the form of spring copper. A unique solution that I haven’t seen in any other mini-club train except for the 3 Rotary Snowplow sets. The overall weight of the snowplow is equal to a locomotive thereby giving it good traction.

To access the interior of the snowplow simply lift off shell, it slides on snugly without clips, I recommend working front and back gently until it lifts off thus allowing the brushes to be replaced: part number 89891.

More than 8 1/2 inches in length the mini-club Rotary Snowplow is an impressive machine.

Take a look at part two of the post featuring customization of the loco and repair notes.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Repainting Marklin 8135 for the SJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Part 1

photo: FR 46.130.31 – RC-2 locomotive for SJ

Marklin has paid little attention to Scandinavian Railroads in z gauge. There have been releases such as the 4 MY locos (brilliant series!!!!) and a few interesting freight cars, but never has there been attention paid to Sweden, this country’s railroads are left up to the never ending achievements of Harald Freudenreich at FR.

photo: FR 46.816.01 – Kis 950 sliding roof car for steel slab transport on SJ

Marklin has covered the SJ railway in HO only while FR has devoted much of their time in recent memory to SJ and other Scandinavian railroads. FR offers some Swiss, German and Austrian items currently, but Harald’s devoted fans come to him for Scandinavian trains.

photo: FR 46.132.01 – Ra 987 Express Locomotive of the SJ

Some of the most interesting railroads in the World are located in some of the most interesting natural wonders in the World. Light, geography, and climate combine to create the beautiful Scandinavian landscape, but for trains it is challenging, cargo has to be protected from a rather brutal climate with some box cars lined with heavy insulation to protect from permafrost and autos transported in closed boxes. More on this topic at a later date.

photo: FR 47.812.00 – insulated box car for the NSB

The topic today is a project I have been interested in starting for awhile now, it is the repaint of Marklin 8135 coaches for the SJ Railway. Although FR has paid much attention to freight rolling stock, they have not released coaches for the SJ as of this date with one exception. An announcement was made earlier in the year that coach sets are coming to market later this year, but in the meantime I am making my own custom set using dry stencils provided by FR a couple of years ago. The exception was a proposed project of many years that was finally released last year, it was a Marklin coach modified for SJ. The prototype was based on German built coaches used in ferry service in Sweden.  In order to model the prototype FR repainted and stenciled the coach after cutting the shell to remove a window thus shortening the coach. I own this coach and the craftsmanship is flawless.

photo: FR 46.299.00 – type litt AB8k 1st and 2nd class coach for ferry service to Germany. The top coach is the modified Marklin for SJ by FR, and the bottom coach is the original standard coach by Marklin.

Why refinish the 8135 coaches and not another set of coaches? Good question! Set 8135 was released in 1991 and included coaches built in Germany that were also used on the SJ. The historical perspective was provided by FR who also provided the stencil kit for relettering the coaches and a paint chip for the correct shade of reddish brown used by SJ. Painting and other details will be discussed in Part 2 and 3 respectively.

photo: deluxe box train set “Dompfeil” of the DB

The first installment of this project is disassembly of the coaches. It is okay to be a little nervous disassembling Marklin coaches, but all things Marklin are built to take apart, each part is snapped or clipped together without glue. Repainting projects in Marklin Z are not necessarily recommended by this railroader, they potentially will diminish the collectible value, but in my case I own two 8135 sets which I like very much, turning the second set into SJ coaches is a bit necessary since I collect SJ locos built for express service.

On with the project! First step is identifying the set for repaint, in this case the historical background was already researched by FR. The set for repaint is Marklin 8135 released with a BR 03 express loco in a deep blue paint scheme. The set was released in 1991 with three 2nd class coaches and one DRG dining car. This was a deluxe boxed set presented in a high gloss illustrated carton. The running performance of this loco is superb, and it looks great to boot!

photo: 8135 locomotive and tender – BR 03

photo: 3 coaches disassembled with their respective parts including shell, trucks, weight, roof, and window glazing.

Step 2 includes the removal of the roof which is easily accomplished by very carefully pulling it off, the roof is clipped on and starting from one end seems to be the way to do this successfully.

Step 3 involves the removal of each car’s pair of trucks, carefully swivel each truck to the side for leverage and using a small screwdriver gently pry the truck off by moving back and forth around the pivot point, it will snap off. Note: torquing as seen in the photo is necessary for removal of trucks, but please use care.

Step 4 using a small pair of tweezers and starting at one end gently loosen the window glazing held in place with prongs in the base of the coach. Take note of the indents that line up with the roof clips for reassembly later.

Step 5 is removal of the weights. Using a small screwdriver remove the plastic heat points holding the weights down, weights will lift off easily from the posts in the bottom of shell.

This is one of those projects that allows a railroader to tinker with their hobby.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Siding: this set contains parts that are snapped or clipped in place, but older coaches used glue to cement the window glazing, in the case of older coaches window glazing will more than likely pop out with gently wriggling. Reassembly of early windows is accomplished with 5 minute epoxy only, other glues use solvents that might melt plastic. NEVER use a soldering iron in and around enclosed plastic parts, micro soldering irons should only be used on heat points to attach shell to frame and coupler housings with caution!

Pilot Wheels: Legacy in Marklin Z

Marklin 88092 with two wheel leading truck.

With the invention of the steam locomotive in the 19th century came un-powered pilot wheels as part of its invention, they were meant to support the front end of the boiler and assist the locomotive negotiating curves. John Jervis is credited with the first locomotive design incorporating leading wheels or pilot wheels for his 1832 4-2-0 locomotive. It would be another 33 years until the design of leading wheels would be improved by William Adams, his 1865 design allowed the front bogie to slide slightly to negotiate curves and a spring mechanism to thus allow the bogie to reorient to center. A two wheel leading truck is referred to as a ‘pony’ truck, four and six wheel leading trucks are considered more stable than pony trucks for high speed service. As a point of clarification the pilot of a locomotive is located on the front of a locomotive to deflect any type obstruction which would otherwise derail the train, various designs were built into 19th and 20th century steam locomotives of a mostly filigree framework, later solid sheathing was incorporated in the streamlining of many diesel designs in the United States.

Marklin Z steam locomotives incorporate sliding lead wheel sets with a spring mechanism made of tension brass. Even in Z the leading wheels are important to running long steam locomotives successfully. It is another example of Marklin being true to the prototype even in the smallest scale.

I recently bought 88272 as ‘new dealer old stock’, it was released in the mid 2000’s as a One Time Series, it sat on a shelf for over 10 years with plenty of time for the oil to harden. I tested it at low voltage and it worked flawlessly without any hesitancy so I tried it on a large oval, the pilot wheels derailed on the first curve: hardened oil syndrome on the pilot truck pivot point as well as the trailing truck’s pivot point with no sign of hardened oil in the gearing of the driving wheels. Cleaning the loco of all the old oil and re-oiling solved the problem! Advantages with Marklin Z are the easy to diagnose and repair problems: always look for the easy answers.

After making the repair I compared the 88272 BR 42 with the 88273 BR 41 both are closely related with the same chassis and shell , leading wheels and trailing wheels on the 88273 do not include the tension brass mechanism supporting the axle on both trucks. If the slight tension created by the brass spring is too much the wheel set will deform below the surface of the driving wheels. Removing the brass tension mechanism if it is deformed or damaged is recommended, if it is left in this case derailments will ensue.

Since entering the community of Z I have been told by many that the two wheel leading truck on some Marklin Z steam locos cause derailments due to not enough weight on the front end of the locomotive, it has been advised that placing lead weights to the front end by soldering bb’s is the answer to fixing the apparent Marklin design flaw. We might all like to tinker, but as a long time collector of Marklin z gauge I found no evidence of design flaws in z by Marklin quite the opposite, I continue to marvel at locomotives and rolling stock designed for long term running characteristics which are easy to maintain and repair.

I collect Marklin mini-club as my primary railroading enterprise, but I also collect prewar Marklin 1 gauge and prewar Lionel Standard gauge. As a point of comparison I pulled out the motor and pilot wheels of my Lionel 384 from 1930. In the photos the itty bitty Marklin Z 88273 incorporates leading wheels that slide on their axle whereas the big Lionel loco restricts the leading wheels to pivot only on a vertical axis.

Photo: Lionel 384 pilot wheel and Marklin 88273: behemoth and the “Little Giant!”

Photo: Lionel 384 2-4-0 locomotive motor with driving wheels and leading wheels juxtaposed next to Marklin 88273 which incorporates a sliding axle not present in the 1930 Lionel.

I would say in closing that Marklin has already considered the leading trucks as important elements and not decoration in their design which accounts for historical accuracy and perfect operating characteristics, modification to the leading truck maybe overlooking the real problems which could be dirt or hardened oil around the pivot point or too much downward pressure from the brass tension spring. The same applies to the trailing truck. Always look for the easy answers instead of reinventing the wheel.

Good luck and have fun!

Siding: Gearing on Marklin Z gauge steam locomotives usually comprise driving wheels with connecting gears. Connecting gears are installed first followed by the driving wheels and side rods. It is a little tricky working with small parts, but the objective is to line up all of the wheel weights in correct orientation otherwise the loco will not run smoothly instead the gears will bind up. Tell those around you that you may need a 1/2 hour on your hobby or 6 hours when you make your first steam locomotive repair.

Siding: if that set of pilot wheels keeps derailing it will more than likely be dirt or hardened oil around the pivot point, pilot wheels should move freely around pivot point.