Some Thoughts On Z Scale; and a Question or Two...

strummer Sep 7, 2017

  1. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    Let me begin by saying I got into Z scale by accident: I was heavily into N scale, and purchased off eBay a small lot that was listed as N; turns out it was a Marklin #8800, an MTL F7, and some various cars. The Marklin was fried: one of the brushes was melted to the armature. The F7 shell was in ruins, though I was able to get a replacement shell and got it running. Some MTL track was bought, along with the Rokuhan RC-02 throttle. I've been messing around (off and on) with this scale for about a year now, and have a few observations.

    First off, the Marklin locos I have purchased since that first one have all shown to be terrific runners. They do have a rather high start-up speed, but can all throttle back to a nice, realistic running speed. They are also VERY quiet; much more so than any of the (4) MTL F7s I have, and are as quiet as most of the nice N scale engines I've run in the past. Very impressive. (Having said that, I am quick to add that I really like my F7s.) Just as important, all (both Marklin and MTL) have proven to be easy to work on and maintain.

    I am currently running both the Rokuhan and one of the Marklin #6727 power packs. I don't see much of a difference in performance. They both seem to work well, which kind of surprises me; I expected to see a dramatic improvement with the much newer Rokuhan.

    I did hook up a large test loop of the Marklin track I recently purchased; again, it seems to work as well as the MTL track, though I much prefer the look of the Micro Trains track, not only in the tie spacing, but the rails are finer in their cross section:

    IMG_20170907_074317629.jpg

    Now for the question: the cars that came with the Marklin sets #8165 and #8130 have metal wheels: the cars in the #8900 set are plastic, and several are "out of round". Does Marklin (or anyone) offer metal replacement wheel sets for these cars?

    I thank you all in advance...

    Mark in Oregon
     
  2. z.scale.hobo

    z.scale.hobo TrainBoard Member

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    A certain dealer I know has a Marklin "spares" section on their website ... right on that page is a listing for metal wheelsets, Marklin 700810.

    The other z scale replacement metal wheelsets on the market are Fox Valley and Uncle Will (Full Throttles) Will's Wheels. These are both for MTL rolling stock only, though. Not compatible with Marklin rolling stock.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
    strummer likes this.
  3. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    As for the throttles, most of the differences are things you can't see. The Rokuhan units have much better short-circuit protection and produce a high frequency signal that can be used for rolling stock lighting. The Rokuhan unit will also go to lower voltages, but that's probably not apparent with the locos you're running.

    Mark
     
  4. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    By that do you mean the older models I've got? If I had, say, an AZL unit, I might see a bigger difference? Not doubting you, just wanting to clarify...:)

    Mark in Oregon
     
  5. sumgai

    sumgai TrainBoard Member

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    you have started out old school, which is good, because you will really appreciate the modern brushless dc can-motored locomotives available. they creep like silent ninja's, pull prodigious numbers of cars thanks to rubber traction tires, don't overheat and melt shells, have pcb's which swap out for dcc boards, use super bright led lights, and start around $89 new from a dealer with a warranty. and maintenance, being brushless can motored and besides cleaning hair and grass threads out of wheels, is a thing of the past.

    Even Marklin is buying these locs now and rebadging them as Marklin.

    Marklin wheels are expensive, and cheaper to buy trash cars off ebay under $10 than to buy one set of wheels for that price at a dealers. it's your railroad, pop in a set of 36" Fox Valley Models (FVM) metal wheels in the Marklin cars and see if you like the results. FVM can be bought in quantities of 100 all metal wheels for around $65-$70.

    couplers, you will want transition cars, cars with Marklin couplers on one end and MTL knuckle couplers on the other so all can be used interchangeably. MTL makes both Marklin Z stand alone replacement couplers and Z couplers on MTL trucks.

    DC is DC is DC. the fineness of the potentiometer circuitry (throttle) will determine the creep in the new DC locomotives. And boy o boy has that improved from the 6727! Your rokuhan is a good example of the precise control now available for the dc can motored locs.

    Marklin locomotives are small motored, light weight, and most won't pull all the cars in the sets they are often packaged with.

    MTL F7's are heavy bruisers with coffee grinder motors that can pull like a new dc can motored rubber tire handicapped loco. but you still have those brushes to clean and replace. there should be a book written "Zen and the art of MTL F7 Maintenance" for all the little quirks these otherwise perfect locs have. get wheel wipers for much better power pickup from the wheels.

    33" metal wheels from the cheapest vendor for all MTL cars you buy. plastic wheels leave residue on track and the track gets dirty enough all by itself without plastic wheel deposits.

    track: you like MTL track with roadbed, then buy Rokuhan track because they are the only active manufacturer continually adding new unique pieces for all the layout variations Z modelers dream up.
     
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  6. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes. The F units use an older motor design that performs poorly at the lower voltages. I find that my F units (Märklin and MTL) won't do much better than 20MPH (scale) while the MTL GPs and SD and just about all AZL will run well at 10MPH and below. But I you aren't trying to model switching operations, would you really care?

    Mark
     
  7. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    Sumgai

    Wow, that's a lot of information! Thanks!

    I was under the impression that the Fox Valley wheel sets were"MTL friendly" only. If that's not the case, and they will fit Marklin too, perhaps that's the route I'll take. I should probably re-fit my MTL cars as well...$$$ :)

    I find the Marklin V216 and the #8899 4-6-0 (from the #8130 set) are both quite capable, and can pull up to (10) 4-wheeled "wagons", which seems plenty adequate to my eyes. On the flip side, any of my MTL F7s can pull as many cars as I have on hand; close to 20, I guess. Not as silent as the Marklins, but they have great low-speed capabilities and are easy to work on. And of course, they have those terrific "Kadee" knuckle couplers, which not only function well, but really "look the part". I've used KDs in every scale I've modeled in (Z,N,TT, HO,S and O) and can't imagine model railroading without them...

    Has anyone here had a chance to try the Atlas flex track? If so, what do you think?

    Mark in Oregon
     
  8. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    Mark

    Good point. :)

    Mark in Oregon
     
  9. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Code 55 rail in Z is over a scale foot tall. That's not acceptable to me, so I 3D printed my own flex track to use Code 40. Would have gone C30 or C25 if they existed anymore.

    Here's Rokuhan track in the back. My flex with C55 on the left (color aside, this will be almost identical to Atlas Z55), and my C40 flex on the right.
    [​IMG]


    Once it's all dressed up and ballasted, looks fantastic!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]




    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    Another "Mark" is heard from...:)

    Wow, it does indeed look terrific! So what the last 2 pictures show is/are Atlas(?) with yours? Very nice. I suppose you are then hand-lying your own switches?

    Mark (this one) in Oregon
     
  11. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Yep, that's my Z Scale C40 Flex next to Atlas N Scale C55.

    And yes, I will be hand laying my turnouts, as I do in N Scale. Here's my layout planning thread.
     
  12. HoboTim

    HoboTim TrainBoard Supporter

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    SWEET!!!! How can ordinary z modelers such as myself acquire some of your 3d printed flex ties to be assembled with code 40 rail???
     
  13. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    I used Shapeways FUD. Unfortunately, the cost is a bit on the high side, but I'm still tweaking things and can possibly reduce price a little bit.
    I plan to make it available eventually, but no ETA currently.
     
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  14. z.scale.hobo

    z.scale.hobo TrainBoard Member

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    My contact at Fox Valley Models (Matt Gaudynski) said this in June 2015 regarding their Z scale wheelsets: "The axles are made as a direct replacement for MT (Micro-Trains) cars - I am not sure on the axle length for Marklin."

    So it may be possible that they work with Marklin rolling stock, but it might be prudent to start with a smaller pack investment before going and buying a 100-pack.
     
  15. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    Frank

    FWIW; I tried a couple of MTL wheel sets in a Marklin car, and although the wheel size was too small (33" vs. 36"), the set did fit and rotate just fine; so in theory the Fox Valley items should work. Do they offer 36" size wheels?

    Mark in Oregon
     
  16. silentargus

    silentargus TrainBoard Member

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    All I can say is that if you think the Marklins are quiet, just wait until you get your hands on some AZLs or MTL hood units (like the about-to-be-reissued SD40-2s, or their past GP35s and GP9s). You'll think you've gone deaf. Coreless motors are amazing.

    The absolute best advice I can think of is to get a few AZL locomotives immediately if you want a North American setting. AZL locomotives are without question the Katos of Z-scale. If price is an issue, the AZL GP38-2 can be had for the same investment as an MTL F-7, but the performance and detail is in a whole other league. If you are set on early diesel or transition... AZL is still the way to go- F3s, E8/9s, RDCs, GP7/9s, and USRA Mikes. I love the MTL and Marklin locomotives I have, but the AZLs are just plain better.

    For metal wheels, I've had the best results with WDW Full Throttle wheelsets. I got a pack of FVM wheelsets and several axles were bent, but I have never had a bad WDW set in ~10 years buying hundreds of them (the replacement trucks also feature a lowered bolster for more realistic ride height). WDW wheels are only available in 33", if that's a consideration; if you need 36" then FVM is your only option unless you want to replace the whole truck, in which case AZL has replacement trucks. I haven't tried the AZL replacements, but I also haven't had any issues with any of my AZL rolling stock which come with metal wheels as standard, so I can only assume they're as excellent as the rest of the product line (IIRC roller bearing trucks come with 36" wheels and bettendorf trucks come with 33", but I could be wrong). As far as I know, MTL, WDW, FVM, and AZL wheelsets should be completely interchangeable in Z scale- correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't had any problems plugging WDW, FVM, or AZL wheelsets into MTL trucks, or MTL plastic wheelsets into WDW or AZL trucks, so I'm assuming they all have the same axle lengths.
     
  17. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

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    Buy yourself a small pack of metal wheels and give them a try. I've found that Replacing Marklin wheel sets with FVL or WDW is hit or miss.
    A while back I picked up several car sets with water damage (rusted wheels) thinking i could just swap out the wheels with some FVL i had on hand.
    I'm not sure why or what the difference between the different Marklin cars is/was but
    On some cars both FVL and WDW wheels (33" & 36") did not fit at all they would just fall out of the clip that held the Marklin wheel set in place.
    In others they would stay put but were too loose /sloppy to function properly,
    And in some others like the Marklin 82354 with 3 axle trucks the FVL 36" wheels worked Great.

    David

     
  18. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, all this feedback and insights is/are :))) awesome.

    I'm learning a lot about this scale, just from this thread, and I thank everyone who has weighed in so far. Please keep it coming!

    Mark in Oregon
     
  19. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Using a pulse-power controller, you'll get even way better low speed caracteristics. I'm able to run my AZLs and MTLs (Geeps and SD40) at a steady 2-scale mph with my Passmann's. Looks like this German craftsman doesn't anymore release these, but other stuff like Medvend's is widely available.

    Just one thing : DO NOT use any pulse-power controller other than those DEDICATED AND BUILT FOR Z SCALE. Those made for N, HO and broader scales have a crest voltage of 12 volts that will destroy the motor of any Z scale locomotive other than current AZL productions (which are indeed rated for 12 v).

    For example, my Passmann's show a crest voltage of ~8.1 v, that matches any known Z scale locomotive (MTL F-Units are rated to 8 v, old generation AZLs to 9 v, MTL hood units and Marklins for 10 v (as far as I know for Marklins - I don't use them and am not a specialist), current generation AZLs to 12 v.

    And yes, with these features and MTL's magnematic couplers, switching operations with Z scale are really feasible.

    Dom
     
  20. strummer

    strummer TrainBoard Member

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    A pack of (12) Fox Valley wheel sets arrived yesterday, and am pleased to say that:

    A: They are VERY nice.

    B: They fit into the Marklin cars perfectly.

    I guess this means I'll have to get a large pack of 33" sets for my MTL cars...

    Mark in Oregon
     

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