THE LONG WAIT IS OVER!!!!! I dissected the long awaited AZL Mikado today. Gave it a good test run on DC and it was rather impressive for this lightweight, highly detailed product. On MY first impressions using the Rokuhan DC controller and on Rokuhan 270mm track, it ran great, both directions, no derailing. The speed range is quite enlightening as this loco will run creep speed low and super zinger fast. The traction tire keeps it from slipping and gives it some real tact to stay glued to the track when running. I proceeded to load it up with a Pullman consist that first started with six cars and finished with fourteen cars! My test-loop had to be extended as the front of the train was meeting the back. Hot Dog, this is exciting! The excitement peaked to the point where I could not take it apart fast enough as I was headed for DCC'g this baby. In short, I tore the whole thing apart. It was rather self explanatory and not complicated at all. I started with the tender and the bottom of the tender removes with ease. There is some two sided adhesive tape used when it was assembled, so you just have to go slow to remove the injected plastic cover. Tender cover taken off, it exposes the full "covered" style zinc weight. The weight is held to the tender base frame by four tabs at each corner. Carefully take a small flat-blade screwdriver to the tabs and remove the weight cover to expose the motor drive assembly. Once you have the motor exposed, you can disconnect the drive shaft. Remove the trailing truck from the loco/boiler. If you decide that you want to remove the trucks from the tender, be very careful as the tender has "spring loaded" power pick-ups. Don't let the springs fly out to no-mans land. This is a very well engineered product in that the boiler assembly is separate from a heavy brass weight that fits over the drivers in a plastic assembly that includes concealed brass gearing. Very nicely done. You simply pry with a non-marring tool between the boiler cover and the chassis weight or between the weight and the drivers assembly, the components will slide out. It is a perfectly sng fit, not tight, and certainly not loose. The LED lighting wires and driver wheel wiper power pick-up wires make up for the tethered wires that go to the tender. The LED worked OK on DC but I was not impressed with the LED light board for a couple reasons. One, the chip LED was soldered in facing up to the sky. There is a 1/2 inch plus molded lightpipe that goes forward to push out at the boiler door on the front of the engine. It was an easy change over for me to put in a new LED that I soldered in forward facing. Let there be light! It looks perfect and really enhances this loco. Not to be long winded on this LED and headlight, but upon reassembly my new LED lit up the headlight like a "glow stick" protruding from the front. Upon further inspection I noted that the light-pipe being a molded component, had a very light painting of green that was all but transparent and therefore, light came out from the sides of the pipe at the front of the engine. I removed it and very carefully painted it with Floquil CNW Green. While I was at it, I added some shrink tube for the inside of the boiler where the light-pipe extends and put a dash of Tamiya clear Orange on the light end of the pipe. Check out the pictures where you see the pipe removed and non-lit as well as lighted to see what I am talking about the transparency of the paint. The last two pictures above are after I painted the pipe end and then the test drive on the track after DCC'g. The wiring from the Tender to the Boiler and subsequently to the headlight seemed to me to be a heaver gage wire then what could have been used. But it is fine and does not interfere with performance in any way. If you are going to add another light or firebox flicker for example, you may want to consider rewiring with a finer gage wire. I wired the forward headlight wire and the reverse headlight wires together as you can elect to dim or switch on-off the headlight depending upon your direction of travel. This was a 1st impressions look at DCC'g this loco so I did not want to get too fancy with wire gage and options. Save that for next time. More pictures and continuation information will be shown in the next post.