Definitive solutions: Marklin locos on Rokuhan track/controller

Michael Doleman Jan 3, 2018

  1. Michael Doleman

    Michael Doleman TrainBoard Member

    I'm very new to Z scale, and back -- in general -- to model railroading, at all, since childhood. I'm just now getting my layout together and making decisions about track and controllers.

    As soon as I jumped back in, I was immediately attracted to the selection of Marklin locomotives and cars. As soon as I began looking into the details, however, one of the first hurdles I came across is this matter of older Marklin locomotives wanting to draw much more power than the Rokuhan controller is configured to supply -- and thus its internal breaker gets tripped.

    My understanding is that the issue, in part, can be overcome if the Marklin locomotive in question is well-serviced (cleaned & properly lubricated). This makes sense to me, but doesn't immediately strike me as a great solution.

    Right now what I have is a very small starter oval of Rokuhan sectional track, for which I'm supplying power via the MTL-modified MRC 1300 controller. This works okay with the older (as yet un-serviced) Marklin locomotive I have. Slower speeds are quite difficult, however, and the locomotive never seems to get up to full speed.

    For ease of set-up and operation, and wide availability, I feel that I have -- at least initially -- drawn myself to going "all-in" with Rokuhan track and controller. I like the way that I can simply add-on turnout controller modules, for example -- seems very simple to me, and I like that.

    With all these thoughts in mind, however, I thought I'd turn to this group to see about getting answers to a few simple questions:

    1. Am I making more of the issue than it really is worth? Will most Marklin locomotives actually run more-or-less okay on Rokuhan track/controller combos, if the locomotives are clean and lubricated properly?
    2. Are there better options, in terms of track/controller combinations that I'm failing to take into account? Atlas, MTL, etc.? Like I said, I've been drawn to Rokuhan due to what I perceive as the availability, variety, simplicity, and lower cost. But I'm perfectly willing to entertain other options that might work well, too. But if I go with -- say -- Marklin track/controller, do I then run into the same issue in reverse, whereby I can't run Rokuhan locomotives?
    3. With the information I have at the moment, my plan is something like this: wire-up the Rokuhan track with Rokuhan controller and turnout controls, but also with the MRC controller, for when I want to run a Marklin locomotive (and obviously be careful not to have both powered-on at the same time). I guess that probably means I won't be able to operate the turnouts when running Marklin locomotives, except manually (if even possible?). Is this a totally dumb idea?
    4. Can I just stay with the MRC controller? I'm more than willing do so, but my understanding is that it's quite difficult to wire-up the Rokuhan turnouts using anything but their proprietary controllers, due to the way they work -- i.e., with a teensy-tiny, momentary current activation. I know a thing or two about electronics, but feel like it's getting a bit too far down into the weeds, so to speak, to make that work. But if there's a way to do it, I'm all ears...

    Back in the day, when I was a kid, doing N-scale stuff, I used flex track exclusively, and it seemed to be no problem getting everything to work...

    Anyway, I truly appreciate any useful insight I can get around this issue. I think what I'm ultimately driving toward is to bring my set-up into alignment with what the prevailing preferences are, in the community.
  2. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    No 1 Marklin loco vary in the current draw, and it depends on which controller you have, ROkuhan RC03 and original RC01 should be able to handle most Marklin locos but RC02 has a much lower trip rating on the auto short circuit protection device. Most modern Z scale engines draw about 125 to 150 MA or less current, but many Marklin engines draw twice this amount. The same for the Micro Trains F7 A & B units. IN Marklin engines , Some of the problem has to do with the lubricant used by Marklin, over time the wax in the oil is left and the emulsifier that kept it fluid evaporates, this is referred to as hardened oil syndrome, I do not know why Marklin continues to use this lubricant, so the solution is to strip engine gear train and clean it of all deposits and then put in new oil very sparingly, one drop on a gear of Labelle no 7, while this is readily available in North America it may not be elsewhere, so most light oils will work such as oil used on sewing machines, but in small amounts like a drop in the gear box.

    2. Rokuhan turnouts, the product is designed to be plug and play, so the easiest solution is to use their controller, There are custom solutions but they are more costly than using the Rokuhan product. The Rokuhan turnout is a manual turnout as well as and electric one. I can also be powered with a tortoise or Huffman turnout motor which allow you to use more conventional controls such as a toggle switch DPDT ( double pole double throw) or push buttons, some of these machines are stall machines so the switch does not have to have a spring loaded center off position. The Rokuhan C002 turnout lever control does not require a Rokuhan Controller to operate it can be stand alone and powered by a wall transformer A011 or equivalent for your country, and then additional levers can be stacked on the first one. If you are going DCC there are turnout controllers that are suited for 2 wire control of Kato turnouts and these work for Rokuhan also as long as you are mindful of the voltage difference.

    3. If you are using Rokuhan track why not stay with their product line as then everything is compatible with most Z scale items

    4. MRC controller, can work fine it you can see that you are not supplying more than 9vdc to the track, at full throttle, some engines re more forgiving than others but Marklin when drawing high current will smoke very quickly if you find it slow and keep moving throttle up and exceed that 9 VDC threshold. Many of us can been there done that in the early days.

    Back in the day N scale and Z scale were not mutually compatible, Z scale is a different animal and what worked in N can kill an engine in z scale.

    Flex track is fine and with the recent Atlas entrance to Z scale track Flex is certainly going to be a viable option again.

    I am 75 I have been in trains since 15 years of age, and my experience has shown me, as the track gauge gets smaller the more attention to detail is required to laying track to achieve flawless operation. What is easy in HO is a bit more difficult in N and quite a bit more difficult in Z to get it right. The difference today is Kato Unitrack even poorly laid seems to produce better results for a beginner in HO and N then flex track and that is the case with Rokuhan sectional roadbed track. that is my opinion, and it may not be shared by others but I have been to a lot of layouts and train shows and participated in a lot of train shows over the years, and that is me experience.

    The Rokuhan engineers put a lot of effort into a system that can produce great results for running trains in Z scale, and if you use it as intended it produces great operating results.
    Michael Doleman likes this.
  3. Michael Doleman

    Michael Doleman TrainBoard Member

    Thank-you for all the great information. That pretty-much answers all my questions, and I feel confident moving forward. I'm sure I'll be able to figure it all out, now.

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