First Z scale purchase - Marklin Briefcase set

grymg Sep 24, 2019

  1. grymg

    grymg TrainBoard Member

    Hello, new to this board! I've only run HO and N previously but a fun labor day trip to the Sacramento Railroad museum got me curious in Z scale. Just by chance I found the same model Marklin excellent condition briefcase set for sale that was on display at the museum (with better case and slightly different buildings).

    I was warned of a broken tree and chimney (easy fix with gorilla glue) and a non-running loco (not an easy fix) so was ready to get my hands dirty on this project.

    After a couple of late nights with a 9V battery on the loco and IPA wipes on the rails, I am convinced the 3-pole motor just needs some TLC. So I upgraded it to a new 5-pole motor and brushes but it still stutters off the line when on the track. A little more IPA on the rails and wheels, still the same problem.

    Then finally I had a look at the rails with my loupe and see a faint light greenish coating on most of them. Got a nail file and filed away the top surface of the rails using the buffing side until I got constant voltage all the way around. The loco instantly jumped off the line using a spare transformer for control, and kept running.

    I didn't get to try the briefcase controls yet so I try connecting a used 9V battery to the onboard potientiometer speed control but see some funky readings with my multimeter. The track shows 8V when the switch is thrown to forward or reverse and unable to control. When I place the loco on it, it doesn't move (odd!). After some research on google, I find out the wiring of the DPDT switch is correct (was about to rewire it) and that the voltage readings are normal when there is no load. So I grab a brand new 9V battery and everything now works as designed.

    Anyways just sharing the results. Pretty happy with it other than the elevation changes aren't really kind on the loco. Would any of the Micro Trains diesel engines fare any better on this layout?

    Kurt Moose likes this.
  2. z.scale.hobo

    z.scale.hobo TrainBoard Member

    Nice job cleaning the tracks. I'd pick up some 1000 or higher grit polishing paper though to ensure you havent left micro-sized score marks ... Nail files can be too abrasive and any grooves left will become magnets for more, faster-developing corrosion going forward.

    For the loco, check the wheels of the rolling stock ... They can develop buildup too. Axle and wheels. Clean any gunk. But it may just be a tough incline. MTL will work but then you will have to cope with different couplers. Careful on loco or car lengths as this likely uses Märklin 8510 curves (R145mm) and so you need shorter locomotive and rolling stock.

    As a Noch layout specialist, I am stumped by this layout ... Definitely pre-1996 timeframe which was when I first was introduced to them. Noch has always been the pre-form supplier for Marklin as scenery is their specialty going back 100 years.


    Frank Daniels - z.scale.hobo - Irvine California
    bostonjim likes this.
  3. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

    Great little layout! I'm jealous :p
  4. grymg

    grymg TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the tip about the 1000 grit! I'll make sure to smooth the rails out next time I get a chance.

    After a quick google search, a PWM speed controller will give me more power especially on the lower end compared to the simple potentiometer this briefcase has. I found a module for $7 online, might as well give it a try as long as it fits underneath.
  5. rray

    rray Staff Member

    A often overlooked tip on those locos, the grease Marklin uses coagulates and seperates into light oil with thick chunks of hardened plastic like grease. 2 screws on the bottom, lift the metal plate off and toothpick out the grease chunks. Carefull of wheel quartering if you pull the wheels out.
  6. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Supporter

    DO NOT TAKE THE BOTTOM PLATE OFF, without VERY carefully photographing the drivers on both sides and using some thin strip modelling tape (like Tamiya masking tape). If one of the drivers 'pops' out, the Quartering will be messed up and the linkages will bind each revolution, or not even rotate at all.

    Search Quartering and Hardened Oil Syndrome (HOS) on this forum for help. You need more the Isopropol Alcohol but NEVER use Acetone.
  7. grymg

    grymg TrainBoard Member

    Actually the wheel gears and idler gears were squeaky clean when I went to replace the motor! I quartered them correctly and used genuine Marklin 7149 oil on the locations recommended in the loco manual. On top of that I installed the optional headlight lamp.
  8. grymg

    grymg TrainBoard Member

    The onboard potentiometer works but is a very basic form of motor control. There's a lot of wasted energy with the variable resistor so I spent $4 and got a PWM module off ebay to test on the circuit. Worked pretty well off the 9V (smoother speed, better low speed control) so it's a keeper. I wanted to preserve the original electronics setup under the layout so will just build this small assembly out of a tiny box to keep inside the briefcase and just plug into the optional transformer connectors on the track. IMG_5432.JPG IMG_5433.JPG IMG_5435.JPG
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  9. grymg

    grymg TrainBoard Member

    Picked up a complete 8168 set mostly for the ATSF F7 loco and caboose. After running it on the layout, very impressed with the eletrical pickup length compared to my 2-6-0. The F7 runs at a lower voltage and is smoother on the hilly layout, even with a 3-pole motor. I ended up ordering a 5-pole upgrade anyway for it =)
    IMG_5627.JPG IMG_5629.JPG IMG_5649.JPG IMG_5636.JPG IMG_5643.JPG
    markm, Hardcoaler and bostonjim like this.
  10. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

    That was my first set back in the mid-1980s. Mine still runs well.

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