Category Archives: Siding

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.

 

Marklin 88893: BR 10 with experimental paint scheme

The rarest of the BR 10’s in ‘Z’ is the 88893, it was only available from the mini-club Center upon release. This One Time Series from 2004 features the experimental paint scheme proposed by Krauss-Maffei, they also proposed a unique angled smoke deflector with large proportions. This was another paint scheme that was not adapted for the new DB BR 10 instead black was the chosen color. The 88893 was released in an attractive wood box, it features a 5 pole motor.

Siding: one of Marklin’s Era III DB coach sets will complement this loco and look great to boot!

Soldering Irons: 2 choices for small works

Honing one’s skill with soldering is gained over time and the right tools help.

The most important tool is the soldering iron, many good ones are on the market so deciding which one feels good in your hand trumps every recommendation I will hence forth make. Working with mini-club due to small scale and plastics require delicate operation so one cannot stress the importance of an iron that is comfortable, but two irons that I want to share have been newly introduced to me that are very good and both made by Weller.

The first iron is part of a kit, it is sold with a base station that includes a holder and sponge, but it also regulates the output if the iron is plugged into it. It comes with a standard flat tip, but numerous tips are available including pencil tips which I like for circuit board soldering. This kit sells without solder for $45 on Ebay with free shipping. Features solid construction and multiple heat settings: Weller SPG 40.

The second iron is battery operated, it works with 4 batteries and reaches full output in 30 seconds. Weller claims it will do hundreds of soldered joints with one set of batteries, when it stops melting solder it is time for a new change of batteries. It is a really nice iron for easy cordless operation and lightweight handling plus includes a work light. The standard tip is a pencil tip, the kit also includes a clip to hold it between solders, solder, and batteries. This is $20 at Sears Hardware. One difficulty with this iron is the rather tenacious grip of the battery holder clips, it is required to press the sides of the battery holder to slide the compartment out which is not easy. The solder also includes a plastic cap to keep the tip clean during storage, I recommend removing the batteries between uses in case the switch is turned on thereby possibly creating a fire hazard! Two settings on the power button include low and high temp, I found low temp worked perfectly for soldering fine solder and 30 gauge wire: Weller Light Duty 6-8 watts cordless battery operated iron.

Siding: flux core solder is the recommended due to its ease of use, it does not require a separate flux.

Marklin 8889: BR 10 Steam Locomotive

Following the release of the 8888 for the MHI program a second BR 10 (8889) with the same operating number was delivered in the same year: 1994. But unlike the one time release of the 8888 the 8889 would remain in production for 14 years ending its run in 2008. During the long tenure of the 8889 in the mini-club line-up a significant upgrade occurred with all Z locos, in 1999 the 5 pole motor was introduced which has since become standard equipment in all ‘Z’ locos. For collectors of Z here is an example with two variations: one with original 3 pole motor and another with 5 pole motor. Color scheme for 8889 is black with white pinstripe lettered for DB with operating number 10 001.

Siding: for collectors buying BR 10’s today it will be rare to find one directly from a Marklin dealer in new condition, the secondary market is the more viable place to find these locos. Buying tip: be sure the loco includes cap that hides screw on top of shell, this is a very hard part to replace and downgrades the value and appearance.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Marklin 81001: “Leig-Einheit” Train Set

If you happen to own the Z Collection Book from 2015 you may notice this train set cataloged as DB, it is actually an Era II DRG train set. I have poured over this book which is a useful aid in researching Marklin Z and this is the first typo I have noticed.

Produced in 2011 – 2013 this train set included two pairs of GII “Leig-Einhart” Dresden box cars permanently coupled together. Coupled to a class 86 tank locomotive this lightweight train as it is referred formed a goods train in Era II, its development followed the need to procure lightweight trains for fast freight service with speed approved to 100 km/hour. This trainset would last until 1978.

The locomotive at the head of this train is the BR 86 tank locomotive as can be seen in the photos the tanks run either side of the boiler, this design cleverly allowed for some preheating of the water tank at the same time adding stability to the locomotive operation, its limitation was only the amount of coal it could carry.

Fifteen years of production starting in 1928 yielded 775 total units for regional and branch line service. One of Germany’s longest serving steam locos the class 86 served variously throughout Germany for 60 years.

Marklin’s 81001 BR 86 locomotive is painted and lettered for Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG), it features a 5 pole motor with 4 pairs of driving wheels and cast metal body with many detail features.

The 81001 train set is sold out at the factory but a recent search shows these to be available through various dealers.

Good luck and have fun!

Siding: an excellent resource for regular production Marklin Z is the 800 page catalog Collection Marklin Z, published by modellplan GbR, 2015. Its author Thomas Zeeb has provided the “go to guide” for collectors of Marklin Z. This number one source was included with the release of the 2015 Toy Fair loco: BR 111 with experimental paint scheme. The book and the loco were delivered in an attractive black box illustrated with its contents. Marklin item number for the set is 88422.

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.

Happiness comes 1:220: Marklin 88010

Photos: Marklin 88010 “2012 Insider Model” class 01 express locomotive of the DB.

Reaching back a few years (very few years 2012) to the Insider Model of 2012 is the 88010 a superlative locomotive not only for German railroad history but also mini-club history. On its release mini-club collectors for the first time received an important German express locomotive modeled in 1:220 with detailed running gear and working side rods of an advanced state of design. “How did they do it? How could they do it?” were at least two of the questions that swirled in the ‘Z’ community. But then something truly remarkable happened Marklin advanced these design skills to each of the steam locomotive class in subsequent years. But wait they simultaneously applied the same design skills and inspiration to the diesel and electric locomotive classes. Long time collectors of Marklin Z could not have anticipated the advancements to this rarified hobby, but here we are on the other side of what many of us thought was impossible. What a great and lovely time to be part of the “mini-club” Club!

As the models come closer to the prototypes those reasons for not going ‘Z’ become evermore present: reality modeled in Marklin Z achieved at the smallest scale without compromising the prototype. Sure it is charming and fun to collect larger scales that are modeled to move freely on a layout with all the functions you would expect, but trains of other scales as we go up in size require sensitivity to length and size in order to work flawlessly with the radius curves, turnouts and special features. Z scalers appreciate those concerns are mere fodder for this scale, as such we enjoy unprecedented freedom to explore large layouts that might include multiple towns modeled with accurately represented trains in the same space a larger scale might only include a few buildings with an oval layout maybe on a 4’x8′ board. Z is limitless and the potential to build and design a large layout is not out of reach of most railroaders even those living in a small apartment in Manhattan: 1 foot of track length equals 220 feet of prototypical track length, at 6 feet we are approaching a 1/4 mile. Add a complete loop and a radius we are close to a mile. But many ‘Z’ers I have met over the years don’t limit their layout dimensions to the traditional 4×8, they have no rules. Taking over a room in a house might be a man cave to some but for others it is peace of mind for many wives and partners, but Marklin mini-club is not limited to men only it is a hobby enjoyed by women as well. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than reading a book on railroading, designing the ultimate layout, building a beautiful Archistories laser cut building, or cleaning and maintaining your layout and collection. The ultimate railroading experience is ‘Z’, this scale overtakes the senses as it has since 1972 and many of us ‘Z’ers are among the happiest people alive: cheers Marklin!

Siding: join the Insider Club with benefits that include the Marklin Magazin, Insider Magazine, free club car in the gauge of your choice and invitation to own Insider locos which often introduce new tooling!

 

Archistories: Interlocking Towers Kallental and Dorpede

Sitting along side this 1915 “Achilles”  Marklin 1 Gauge live steam engine are two new releases by Archistories: Kallental and Dorpede “Interlocking Towers.”

Both buildings follow the same architectural design but vary in material construction, one is brick and the other is open timber. A throwback to a time in railroad history when signals and switch turnouts were controlled mechanically by an operator. Today these structures have largely disappeared with the advent of electric controls: push buttons replacing throw levers.

Which one you choose is a matter of personal preference, but each reflects distinct styles of German industrial architecture. Cut-outs are incorporated into the buildings for accessory lighting along with partition walls to control light flow. Additional features that are new to Archistories kits that I have assembled are scored boards for continuously folded frameworks walls, open timber and even ornamental brickwork. Working with long parts that fold is assisted by very light scoring along those lines that have already been etched by the laser. Archistories kits are nothing like all the other ones on the market by other manufacturers, Archistories can be described as kits combining the highest quality materials, precision and design. Here you will find beautiful roof sheathing that is attached to solid underlayment, parts that actually fit together perfectly, and highly detailed window frames. Crisp detailing throughout inspire one to sit and marvel at the finished projects.

If you are new to building laser cut with numerous small parts and parts with filigree I would suggest a couple of practice runs applying glue to thin strands of scrap material before jumping in and gluing the open timber framework on the Kallental Signal Tower. The simple rule to follow is to place drops of glue instead of streams of glue in modest amounts and in discreet places. Not much glue is needed after all, parts in these kits are warp free allowing much less glue than other manufacturer’s buildings. Warp free high grade materials characterize Architories kits.

For those on the fence about laser cut I have a simple experiment: 1. Buy one of these kits and assemble it 2. take the finished building along with an assembled plastic building to a real life industrial complex preferably from the turn of the century and abundant in the United States 3. hold both kits alongside real life industrial brick architecture 4. ask yourself which looks closer to real life? I am confident the answer will be Archistories buildings every time.

Building a scene which incorporates these buildings are perfectly illustrated by Archistories company photographs. These dioramas incorporate cast rock formations, static grass of varying lengths and color, shrubs and trees placed as one would see along a railroad siding, track ballasting representing the region modeled and of course the painted or photographically illustrated background. Viewing the scene at eye level brings it all together and the backdrop brings it all together.

Photo used by permission (copyright: Archistories)

Siding: weathering can be added to Archistories buildings, I recommend the dry brush technique. Care should be taken to ensure good results, please keep in mind the high absorbent nature of these materials, it is better to start with a very dry brush and build up layers, too much paint and the building will be ruined. Or don’t weather at all!