Category Archives: Modification: Locomotives

New SJ L5 steam locomotive build kit from FR: Part 2

Not long ago I posted about FR’s recent release of the class L5 steam loco for SJ, it is a build kit, and I just received mine today! The kit is a well designed precision kit, it provides a rarity for Z modeling.

The kit comes packaged in a plastic container with numerous parts enclosed along with visual instructions. It is a kit that requires a Marklin 8801, 88956 or 8803 for motive power along with modification of the side rods and painting the wheels black. The cylinders were placed within the locomotive chassis in the prototype thus the cylinders are removed for this model.

Note: Marklin tender is not required for this kit which provides the correct prototypical tender for the loco.

For those experienced with building rolling stock in Z or working with nickel silver this kit is self explanatory, but for the inexperienced modeler this kit should not be the first. Accumulating some experience with building etched metal buildings should probably come first for new modelers: gaining soldering experience with bigger parts first will be invaluable for assembling the small parts in this kit. I am in the process of learning to do these kits starting first with the excellent non powered Behnke kits offered by Scandinavian Galleries Quality Toys. Behnke kits do not provide instructions and careful interpretation is required to fully understand how they go together, but they are excellent kits that combine gluing, soldering and bending of small nickel silver parts; they provide a good place to start before tackling the very interesting L5 kit.

The packaging of the L5 kit separates parts according to their purpose instead of throwing everything together thus taking care of the guesswork. The beautifully cast metal boiler and cast plastic tender trucks are included with etched nickel and add-on parts such as the buffers which are brass. The tender also includes a tiny circuit board to allow it to pick-up power with its three axles.

Note: The age old technique of picking up additional power from the tender’s wheelsets is a very effective way to increase performance of small steam locos through turnouts and the like!

Some of the add-on parts are super tiny so I highly recommend a very fine tip soldering iron as well as 5 minute epoxy which work hand in hand on models. Until I build this kit I won’t exercise a preference for using glue over solder and vice versa for specific steps, suffice to say solder will be used more.

Paint finish will be applied with airbrush and water based paint followed by decals provided.  A finish coat of clear water based acrylic is always required otherwise the finish and decals would wear.

The kit is FR Item #46.140.91, it is currently available.

What you need to complete the locomotive: 1. Marklin 8801, 88956, or 8803 2. water based paint best suited for airbrushing 3. patience 4. time 5. soldering iron and/or 5 minute epoxy 6. tweezers 7. Xacto blade for cutting parts from sheet 8. time 9. patience 10. magnifying binoculars

Be the first kid on the block to own an L5 SJ steam locomotive in Z!

Stayed tuned for my future post on the completed L5 along with some tips on building the kit.

 

SJ L5 Locomotive: FR’s new release build kit

An important new release for SJ railroading in Z is FR’s L5 steam locomotive, it comes in the form of a build kit with etched metal parts, cast boiler, and SJ decals. Note: I ordered mine and in a follow-up post I will review the kit and step-by-step photos. If you are new to soldering and assembling nickel silver/brass etched kits either buildings or trains the right tools make all the difference for this fun and rewarding extension of Z railroading: stay tuned!

FR L5 locomotive item #46.140.91 is available directly from FR for a little more than $100 USD including shipping. Ordering from FR is easy and shipping to the United States is fast. Visit FR’s homepage http://fr-model.homepage.t-online.de/ and set-up an account. Note: 19% VAT is reduced from posted Euro pricing for United States buyers.

The finished model includes loco shell only and tender without wheels, to complete the project Marklin class 24 or 74 locos provide the motive power. At this time I am not sure the recent release class 74’s are appropriate for this kit due to their new side rod design, perhaps the class 24’s with tenders are better choices due to the inclusion of the tenders and its wheelsets(?). I will follow-up next week after receiving my kit!

As is always the case with FR postings, I wish to announce new releases by this small high precision manufacturer because their offerings quickly sell out.

Prototype: class L5 locomotive built by NOHAB in the 1930’s was designated as a branchline passenger and freight locomotive of which 5 were built in Trollhattan.

 

 

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.

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.