American Z Line AZL Mikado first impressions & DCC'd

Carlsbad92009 Jul 21, 2013

  1. kevsmith

    kevsmith TrainBoard Member

    1,448
    2,017
    46
    I got my NKP #601 air mail this week and had to wait for a couple of days to put Cuyahoga up to give it a spin as I was spraying my next Hallmark PA conversion in NKP 'bluebird' colors. very impressed with the detail except the lack of glazing in the cab (easily sorted though)

    I have done a piece on my youtube channel, basically first impressions, for the U.K modellers who might be interested in it. it will be getting a bit of hammer at the shows over the next few months!

    [video=youtube;bNNYWTbZVWQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNNYWTbZVWQ&feature=share&list=UUI6p-eLL5zX3K226z27Josg[/video]

    Apart from being a bit growly, which seems to be a common observation from you lot, I'm quite happy with it. Certainly a whole heap better than the Marklin one but they have done sterling service on my layouts over the last few years. I suppose in the fullness of time they'll get retired like my Marklin F7s.

    Here #601 passes the coach shop at Cuyahoga as a GP7 and PA wait their next passenger turn

    [​IMG]

    cheers
    KEV
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2013
    bostonjim and Kurt Moose like this.
  2. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    2,139
    619
    44
    Speaking of the AZL Mikes, AZL recommands a minimum radius of 220 mm. However a friend of mine whose layout consists of minimum curves beeing r = 195 is wondering whether he may purchase one sample of this loco.

    My question today: did some of you guys try an AZL Mike on such a curve, and what was the result?

    Dom
     
  3. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

    695
    319
    28
    I put together a set of half circles of increasing radius curve track with 110mm straight sections between curves. The mikado made it through the 220, 195, 170, and 145 mm radius curves. It froze in the 120mm radius but did not derail. After this result I decided to let it run around my briefcase layout that has 145 mm curves. Although it does make it around the 145 mm track, it runs much slower in the curves, and looks like it wants to climb out of the rails on the inside curve (leans towards the outside of the curve). It does this to a small degree on the 170 mm curve track. Because its not sitting level on the rails, it has much less tractive effort on the tighter curves. It seems like it can only pull 3 boxcars up a 4% 145mm radius grade without slipping. I would not recommend less than 195 mm radius for the mikado, but this radius should work.

     
    bostonjim likes this.
  4. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    2,139
    619
    44
    Thank you for your feedback. Ho were the very low speed caracteristics on such curves (ie speed like a walking man, for switching operations)? Steady? jerky?

    Dom
     
  5. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

    695
    319
    28
    I set up a 195 mm oval and did a little more of an in depth examination. With the Rokuhan controller (Pure DC?), the Mikado will slow slightly when going through the curve, and you will need a fairly fast minimum speed to keep it from stalling. With a snail speed controller (60 Hz PWM), the Mikado will crawl through at a walking pace no problem. After breaking the engine in, the PWM controllers don't cause as much noise, and mine has quieted down quite a bit.


    For switching you will have a different problem if you plan on using the front coupler. The pilot overhangs the outside rail quite a bit on 195 mm curves. The edge of the coupler pocket is just over the outside rail. When coupled to truck mounted coupler rolling stock, it will derail them (tested with 40 foot boxcars and heavyweights). Rolling stock with body mounted couplers work just fine. (Tested with 40 and 50 foot freight cars). The model also doesn't include a rear headlight.



    I'm not sure if I have an odd one or not, but my Mikado has much less pulling power in reverse. It almost can't even pull itself up a 2% grade in reverse. Has anyone else noticed this?
     
    bostonjim likes this.
  6. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    2,139
    619
    44
    Thank you Curn.. ;) However, when I was speaking of switching, it was more related to slow speed conditions. For true switching, I guess one has to swap the locomotive Autolatch couplers with MTL's. And operate on straight track, mandatory with MTL/Kadee system...

    Dom
     
  7. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    985
    52
    23
    Once broken in this engine can be controlled very accurately by some controllers right down to the crawl, With the dummy autolatch coupler front and back you can switch quite easily as long as you leave on car attached either front or rear of the engine, but, you need a tool to disconnect that last car, I use a round plastic garnish toothpick that has been shaved to a flat point to go down between the two jaws of the coupler and a slight twist will open the two jaws releasing the car . In the Rokuhan track system the magnet track is 55m long and that is all that is needed to uncouple a pair of Micro Trains couplers. The Mikado runs fine on curves down to a radius of 170 mm without any hesitation and it operated through 13 degree crossings. At Atlanta where I operated this engine for 5-6 hours. I have not tried to convert one to MTL magnematic couplers. I have used other AZL engines with autolatch couplers in switching operations so am familiar with their operation in switching
     
    bostonjim and Kurt Moose like this.
  8. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

    504
    295
    12
    Great finding these old threads! I picked up a B&O Light Mikado on Ebay yesterday N.I.B. mostly because it was a nice deal and it will be fun to own an AZL steam engine. Can't wait to run it. Looks like an amazing piece of Z engineering.
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  9. rray

    rray Staff Member

    7,269
    3,915
    123
    Yeah, I seen that Mike on ebay. They had 3 that were bid in the $130 range with 2 hours left on them, and I was considering getting one, but decided to just get a new one that I can send back if it don't run well. I have had a lot of bad luck with things I can't send back lately, including my TV. I paid $1400 for a 55" LG OLED 18 months ago, and now it has a 1080p sized window of brighter red in the center of the 4K screen. I bought it refurbished from LG with a 90 day warrantee to save off the $2699 price then, thinking I made a killing to get in on OLED, and today am suffering the concequences.

    Not the same folly as in model railroading, but now I am scared off of used stuff.

    Yes, there is a wealth of great Z Scale topics if you go back through the heyday of Z (2008-2012) All the major players were active, we had a lot more mom and pop manufacturers, and the excitment level was way up there, with several dozen posts a day for Z Scale.

    Who cares if it's and old topic, if it's new to you or pertinent topics, bring them back!
     
    Kurt Moose and EMD F7A like this.
  10. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

    504
    295
    12
    Heck Yeah! At least it is a current loco.
    Bummer about the tube, I got my 55" LG OLED 4K from an outfit called Massdrop for under 2K, and they are not warrantied, luckily it has performed like a champ for a couple of years now... Beauty picture BTW.
    Interestingly those three "Mikes" all sold for about the same, 159, 159me, 154. And some other guy has a bent "buy it now mike" for 159. I guess that is what they cost on fleabay.
    So was it worth the savings to now own a B&O vs the UP I would have purchased? I just decided they are close enough! They are black right? LOL I swear someone could make a killing selling or doing decal/paint conversions for all these loco's. Maybe when I retire I'll start a business and make a "killing" selling Z ;)
    I bought several "N.I.B." Marklin loco's when I first started out and none of them ran correctly until I pried them open and worked on them. It was pretty fun for me, I loved the challenge. But I could have flown a leg to LA and earned more in less time than what I saved by fixing them myself. I think you are absolutely correct though, one should to be skeptical of ebay. I've gotten great deals there, I've been robbed there (got the police involved and ultimately got my money back), and I've gotten "N.I.B" stuff there that had been used, abused, repaired. It's a minefield.
     
    bostonjim likes this.
  11. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

    504
    295
    12
    I am not worried about the weight of this loco but I am considering repairing the LED headlight issue. What type of LED would best replace the one supplied? Or was it just necessary to reorient the existing one (and paint the light tube)?
     
  12. rray

    rray Staff Member

    7,269
    3,915
    123
    I have 2 of them, but I don't remember if I actually ran them. They came at a time I had reached major hobby burnout, was working 60 hours a week at my day job, and I was only participating with train shows. I did absolutely no model railroading for 7 years, and after I retired it still took 18 months of fishing, camping, and vacationing until I got back into the hobby.

    I think the last status was that I was in the process of trying to DCC one of them at a train show in 2014, and it didn't run well afterwards. I know there are more topics on the AZL Mikado here on Trainboard.
     
    EMD F7A likes this.
  13. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

    1,250
    148
    25
    I had a GN Mike that I took kidd gloves to, and installed a decoder. She stuttered after that, and never could tweak it right. Wonder where we went astray?

    Still, I'm looking to pick up another soon and try again, but these things are F-R-A-G-I-L-E so I'll skip coffee and eat extra carrots that day :D
     
    bostonjim, Kurt Moose and markm like this.
  14. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

    504
    295
    12
    This is from the OP, back in 2013. So I had the impression that it ran very well via DCC.
     
  15. rray

    rray Staff Member

    7,269
    3,915
    123
    What you don't know is Don Fedjur (Carlsbad92009) is a master at making balky locos run. He has produced his own wheel wipers for MTL F7's, and lots of lighting products. He also does DCC conversions. We regular folk can't match Don's skills at getting locos to run. What runs well for Don, rarely came from the box that way. :D
     
    EMD F7A and Kez like this.
  16. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

    504
    295
    12
    Thanks for the little history rray, I just started in the hobby last winter and was introduced to the world of Z at the Pleasanton train show by Jeff and the BazBoys. So you were a, um, mythical figure to me! I didn't hear you participating but I could see you were one of the foundations of modern Z. Hobby burnout is a real thing and coming back with vigor and enthusiasm is real too. I'm psyched to be on board for your next turn at the wheel ;)
     
    bostonjim, EMD F7A and Kez like this.
  17. husafreak

    husafreak TrainBoard Member

    504
    295
    12
    I guess I got lucky on the bay! My AZL B&O Light Mikado arrived today and exceeded my expectations in just about every way.
    First off, it is much more impressive in real life than those lousy low res pictures on the AZL website, AZL really does itself a disfavor by putting up images with a dozen pixels to show off their loco's, it is much more detailed and fun to look at in real life. The light version has a really cool transition in boiler diameter, a conical section, that is impossible to detect in those pictures, the fine wire details and running gear also look fantastic.
    I am happy with the headlight output but I think I will get some of that Tamiya clear orange paint someone mentioned as I prefer yellow/orange tinted headlights on old vehicles than bright white. It is bright enough for me and with the Rokuhan controller is does come on before the loco moves which is nice if you don't have DCC.
    Mine runs smooth and quiet. I had a train of 19 cars pulled by a pair of ES44AC's and I took those off and hooked up the Mikado. It moved out with minimal wheel spin and ran well around my 245r test loop. But it cannot run that train in reverse, so that would be my only complaint or unfavorable observation. The ES44AC will push or pull that train the same either direction, not the Mikado, but who wants to see a Mikado pushing 19 cars anyway?
    It is interesting to watch in action, the loco (not the tender) will roll to one side or the other under starting torque in forward or reverse, and going around the 245r 180 degree curves is appears to shudder a bit with those 19 cars hooked up, probably not from the track radius but rather from the torque effect.
    So a real beauty from AZL. Fascinating to watch, a great runner, but as with a lot of Z it does have its idiosyncrasies.
     
    Kez and bostonjim like this.
  18. rray

    rray Staff Member

    7,269
    3,915
    123
    Thats good to hear you got a good runner. Yes Z Scale steam is simply fascinating to watch. It's best when you lay your head on your side, face planted on the layout and imagine yourself riding in the cab operating that steam loco, as you go round and round the track. Ahh, caught myself falling back into little kid mode again. Trains and Holidays tend to do that to me. :D
     
    EMD F7A, Doug A. and Kez like this.
  19. Carlsbad92009

    Carlsbad92009 TrainBoard Member

    45
    21
    14

    Robert, great to see the replies to the Mikado string of discussions. I do not visit or post too much on Trainboard. Crazy busy as usual with the day job and travel. Decided to take a visit here today and checked out my old posts for the Mikado. I made a movie some 5years ago, it's on Vimeo. You can search with the words "monster mikado". I made two movies running a SF Heayweight that I modified. Here is the link to one of the two movies;

    I have worked on quite a few Mikado's since, about 60 of them DCC'd to date. I make a custom machine weight for the front of the boiler, hold the front bogie more true and gains additional traction due to the added weight.

    Mikado's need wide curves to be happy. Anything under 20 inch radius it's not gonna be happy. And Mikado's.........they like/prefer forward running. OK to reverse and back up a train, but not "running" around in reverse. Special attention needs to e paid to the side rods and more specifically the the pin that holds the side rods to the driver(s). The issue that you have with the pin coming out of the drover. This is due to "running wear" at the pin location on the driver is simply pressed in to the plastic. The constant beating on the pin that it takes from tight curves or running too fast. Creates a constant pounding that eventually loosens the pin. This......is because the pin is "pressed" into the plastic driver. The metal pin instead, should go into a threaded bronze or brass bushing. The unit as it is, comes from the factory with the driver center is made of plastic. The rubber traction tires compound this issue as they cause additional side torque against the driver pin. Tight radius, heavy side torque, loose pin as a result.

    So........run your Mikado on radius that is over 12 inches, 24 inch diameter or larger.

    Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, DON
     
  20. rray

    rray Staff Member

    7,269
    3,915
    123
    That's good info Don, Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!
     

Share This Page