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.