AZL MIKADOS - OPINIONS ???

Zscaleplanet Dec 19, 2020

  1. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    The AZL Mikados have been out for quite a while now. I have perused some of the threads on this forum, but am looking for current opinions and thoughts before I invest in one (or more). But they seem to be seldom discussed on this forum as of late.

    Also, I noticed on AZL’s webpage that there is no mention of them being DCC ready. Are they viable candidates for DCC???

    Kind of thinking it might be a good idea to pick up a few before they are gone and no longer in production, like certain lines of the F3’s that AZL produced.

    All thoughts, opinions, and reviews appreciated in advance.
     
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  2. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    They came out several years ago and I think is is just that some run them for steam or so. Or, just not that many (overall) were sold (compare to Märklin [many models] ). Maybe a bit more novelty?

    So whether from yesteryear or today, the comments should be the same. They run OK but are not DCC friendly. The decoder goes in the Tender plus 2 additional wires back to the boiler (because the motor has to be isolated). As the comments on the AZL forum, with heavy loads, there begins to be some lightening of the front end (this is pure physics of a low draw bar and some N and HO locos have the same issue). You likely wont see it. Some have added Tungsten putty or milled base in the front boiler space (disassemble the loco for the Motor and Light wiring anyway).
    The front Pilot axle is only a single axle and does have some tracking issues (as does the Märklin and Rokuhan). 2 axle Pilots track better (e.g. Pacific, 4-x-y)

    They run. good for about 10-20 cars, depending on weight, length, plastic or metal wheels, yada, yada
     
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  3. SMR

    SMR TrainBoard Member

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    I second what Jeff just said.
    I have all together 8 of them and they run well.
    I use them most for passenger trains or smaller freight trains.
    Longer freight trains are better pulled by AZL's brass locos.

    [​IMG]

    We have not managed to get them fit for DCC.
    Best,
    Sven
     
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  4. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

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    The AZL Mikados are nice running Loco's for the most part. They look great and have no problem pulling a dozen or so freight cars (with Metal wheels) around the track all day long. If you want to pull more or heavier cars you will need to add weight to the boiler. As Jeff said the front axle can be finicky and have tracking issues if you have less than prefect track work.

    As for DCC Ready No their is no Drop in decoder, But Yes they are DCC Candidates. It is a very tight squeeze but there is just enough room in the tender to hardwire a micro sized decoder in behind the motor. I have a couple that have decoders with 30 maybe 40 hours runtime each at shows.

    If you like and / or want American Steam I would recommend getting one or better yet a few now while you still can.
     
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  5. SMR

    SMR TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting, David,

    Do you have a picture of the DCC setup in the tender for us, please?

    May be I can get that fixed then as well, would be really helpful!

    Thank you!

    Best, Sven
     
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  6. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    Jeff, Sven, David --- THANKS for the comments and input. I do believe I will add one or two of these to my collection and layout (which is still in-work).
     
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  7. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

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  8. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    I'm not taking one apart, just to show you :sneaky:

    Sven, After taking the tender shell off, you will see the motor on the frame. Unsolder the crude wires from the motor. The TCS Z2, Digitrax DZ126T and LokSound Micro will fit in there. There are 2 wires to the front headlight and 2 wire to the Drivers (chassis). Plenty of room for a sound decoder too. Best is if you remove the coal load, mount a good size speaker (facing up) and cover with black Nylons (a.k.a. Panty Hose) with coating of 'coal'.

    Like all steam, its a pain to hold both Boiler and Tender due to fragile draw-bar, wires and flex drive-shaft.
    Use the TCS decoder wire and there was an ebay supplier of small, flexible decoder wire. Don Fedjur made some brass inserts for the front of the boiler (while you are changing the to a Warm-White LED).
     
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  9. JoeS

    JoeS TrainBoard Member

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    They run well. The tender pickup is fantastic. They just haul 10-12 cars. That said don’t try to take them apart. I did and ruined mine. The plate for drivers is a press fit not screws. So if you are like me and you have to reassemble a dozen times to get it right the press fit kinda stops holding in place. Be careful. However the tenders and many other parts breathed life in a major way to marklin mechanism steamers. So all wasn’t a loss.
     
  10. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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  11. kevsmith

    kevsmith TrainBoard Member

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    Hi
    i did a couple of youtube reviews of the AZL about seven years ago if they are any help





    I never attempted DCC on them as Cuyahoga has so many Marklin locos running on it I felt it impractical to chip them all

    Kev
     
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  12. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I like them and want to get more, but I have so many Marklin Mikes, and regardless of which model I use, I have to extensively modify them to look close to resembling an NP Mikado.
    1.jpg

    Np 1815.jpg
     
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  13. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    Kev,
    I saw both vids on YouTube (both are great by the way), and it convinced me to pick up a Mikado for my collection of locomotives.

    Lance
     
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  14. Carlsbad92009

    Carlsbad92009 TrainBoard Member

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    Happy Holliday's Lance,

    If you dig into the archives going back to when the Mikado was first released, I received one of the very first units from AZL, I wrote a first Impressions article here on Trainboard, DCC'd the Light version and have continued on when the Heavyweight version came out. Maybe you have read this already?
    Here is the link; https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?threads/azl-mikado-first-impressions-dccd.71864/

    I went on to do another TB Article on the subject of adding a tender light. I have attached some images from that. You'll have to look in the archives for the detailed article. I do not regularly participate in the forums here, but enjoy visiting occasionally and contributing every once in awhile.

    Though dated now, and a few years back, I modified a Santa Fe HW Mikado that can actually haul 80+ 40 ft. freight cars. At train shows, I just let it run and run. I have dissected every aspect of the AZL Mikado. Here is a link to two short movies when I first tested the modifications I made. https://vimeo.com/user1097902 and

    Image115B.jpg Image126.jpg Image129.jpg Image107.jpg Image109.jpg Image106.jpg

    I have serviced a repaired some 60+ Mikado's and a huge number of them DCC'd. Easiest decoder for the Mikado is the TCS Z2. There is a slew of commentaries about the AZL Mikado that you have already have read. It is not for everyone as it is a delicate product that has to be handled and understood with care. So, if you are capable of seeking the finer details/idiosyncrasies etc. and run it with care, it'll give you volumes of enjoyment.

    The talk about adding weight to improve traction and performance, bogie truck alignment/tracking came to light when I created a weight that I custom machine for both the light and heavy weight Mikado. Creates a vast improvement in running, reliability etc. I could write a book on the subject on the do's and don'ts. Keep your track clean, know how to clean it, maintain your loco on a regular basis, run your trains on high radius track or you will cause premature wear to the Mikado.

    All for now, hope this reading creates some more excitement in adding the AZL Mikado to your arsenal. You'll be glad you did. Feel free to e-mail me or even call me on the phone for additional help. All the best to you and Happy New Year 2021 to all. Don Fedjur
     
  15. SMR

    SMR TrainBoard Member

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    Do it, Robert, it is worth the effort! Here with a SP model. This is the result of Gerd's work:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Best,
    Sven
     
  16. SMR

    SMR TrainBoard Member

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    .....and the "Master"-shot by Dirk......

    [​IMG]

    :):);)(y)
     
  17. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    Don,
    Thank You for the excellent response, and for sharing your wealth of knowledge on the Mikado's. And I had previously saved the PDF that Frank created of your "First Impressions...." of this engine. Plenty of great info there to digest. Ahh, and the attached train show video you sent was excellent. Pretty impressive pulling power indeed.

    My first foray into the DCC world (once the decoders arrive) will be to outfit a few F7's first, then I will try my hand on fitting one in an incoming Mikado, not too mention possibly mirroring the other upgrades you made as well.

    Also well noted on clean tracks. Learned that lesson on my first N-scale layout at the ripe age of 10-years old. Learned how to clean tracks and locos very early on. LOL

    Happy Holidays as well !!!

    Lance
     
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  18. Carlsbad92009

    Carlsbad92009 TrainBoard Member

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    Spectacular pictures and detailing 1st Class, great job.
     
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  19. Carlsbad92009

    Carlsbad92009 TrainBoard Member

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    Glad to share resources. Makes the hobby even more fun to learn from one another. Adds to your list of projects too :)

    Are you planning on DCC'g MTL F-7's?
     
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  20. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes on the F7’s. I have two Lokpilot Micro decoders inbound, which are supposed to be here any day. Will cut my teeth on installing those in a couple of F7’s.
     
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