"Service for the Worlds Finest Trains"

Authorized Service Center for
Märklin Z

This page applies to Märklin Z specifically

Note: Märklin has discontinued most of the motors which fit older Z locomotives.  I have a small stock of motors available, but when they are gone I may not be able to repair your locomotive if the motor needs replacing. 

While Märklin Z is a wonderful product, its tiny size and light weight require that locomotives wheels and contacts, track and rolling stock wheels be kept perfectly clean at all times for best performance.  Simply said, current cannot pass through dirt.  Dirt and old solidified oil are the biggest enemy of your tiny Z models and will damage them.  Solidified oil WILL cause motors to burn out and gears to strip.  Dirt also causes the plating on locomotive wheels to wear faster, which leads to premature replacement of the drive axles and wheels.  Remember, when wheels and rails get minute scratches from dirt wear, they hold dirt more easily and you find yourself struggling with current pickup issues constantly.  Lastly, if your Z has been stored for many years, don't take a chance with it, send it in for cleaning.

My locomotive doesn't run, but the light are on......Solidified oil syndrome a common issue

If a locomotive does not run, but the lights come on, REMOVE it from the track immediately and send it for service.  If the lights are getting power, so is the motor.  It takes seconds to damage a Z motor when the mechanism is locked up from solidified oil.  Models produced prior to the last 5 years or so will eventually suffer from this bad oil syndrome.  It is common in Z and HO, but HO motors are less likely to be damaged due to their size.  Symptoms range from sluggish running to not running at all.  If a locomotive is running sluggishly, please save yourself money and send it in for service.  It is a myth that a sluggish Z locomotive can be oiled and put back into service.  Will it work?  Yes, it will help temporarily, but what happens is the solidified oil residue (see pictures I have posted) mixes with the new oil and causes excessive friction and will eventually cause the motor to fail and possibly gears to strip.  At that point a repair that would otherwise only cost a repair charge and maybe brushes, turns in to parts expense for gears and motors.  All traces of the original oil and its dried residue must be removed from every surface down to each gear tooth or it can cause the issue to occur at a later date.  I have had many locomotives come in for service (especially steam locomotives) where they were run with the bad oil and the worm gears are completely stripped and the mating gears are damaged.  This becomes very expensive when the stripped gear below the worm is one of the main drive axle gears in the driver set.  A driver set is at least $75.00!

General upkeep and maintenance.....

It is a pain to clean track and the wheels on locomotives and cars, but there are some tricks that make it easier.  Here is some helpful info on that subject. 

1. What do you use to clean your track?  Do not use anything abrasive!  No sandpaper or track cleaning blocks.  Isopropyl Alcohol is pretty useless too.  I use a product that has been around for years and is the only solvent you will ever need to have.... "Ronsonol" brand lighter fluid.  It does not affect or harm plastics and it leaves no residue behind.  It is good to keep around the house for other used like price sticker or adhesive removal, paint removal tar removal etc.  If nothing else touches a spot lighter fluid will.  Wonderful stuff.  Wipe the rails with a soft lint free cloth like pieces cut from an old tee shirt dampened with Ronsonol.  When using Ronsonol, I also use common sense safety measures.  It is not explosive, but it is flammable and contains Naptha (dry cleaning fluid) so take common sense safety measures. 

2. Cleaning locomotive and car wheels?  You guessed it, Ronsonol.  I have a trick I use for rolling stock.  Take a section of straight track and lay a facial tissue across the rails.  Use the best quality you can find so they do not tear so easily or double the layers.  Next, squirt a little Ronsonol on the tissue and use your finger to form it down onto the track so you can see where the rails are.  Rail the car and run it back and forth across the tissue covered rails by hand.  You will see dirt from the wheels deposit on the tissue.  Continue until the wheels are clean.  Locomotives can be done similarly.  Use a pair of clip leads or a feeder track to get power to your section of straight track.  Use the same procedure above except you will allow the locomotive to cross from the bare rails onto the tissue covered area.  On diesels and electrics, allow one power truck onto the saturated tissue at a time and hold the locomotive so the wheels slip and the loco stays in place.  You will see the dirt deposit onto the tissue.  Turn the locomotive and repeat.  Steam locomotives are done similarly, but let the first couple of drive wheels onto the tissue to clean.  This way the rear drive axles can pick up power from the rails.  When clean, turn the locomotive and do the other axles.  I use a pipe cleaner dampened with Ronsonol to clean the pilot and trailing wheels since these will not spin when the drive wheels are cleaning, so dirt is not removed from them. 

3.  I think my locomotive needs brushes..... Maybe, but at that point it needs a good cleaning as well, so just putting in new brushes really wastes your money and gains you nothing.  Z motors are like any other DC motor with carbon brushes.  As the brushes wear, the carbon residue collects in the insulating segments of the armature's commutator.  Whatever oil residue gets on there mixes with the brush residue and the brushes pack this conductive goo into the insulating slots in the commutator and cause the motor to draw more current.  The armature poles or segments are no longer insulated from each other, but are now shorted by the conductive goo. Eventually, there goes the motor. So keeping the commutator clean is necessary for the life  of the motor.

4. Lubricating oil........ When Ken Brzenk was at Märklin Inc., he and I agreed about not using Märklin oil on Z locomotives.  I have not used Märklin oil on any repair HO, I or Z I have done since about 1986 because it has a tendency to solidify with age.  The best oil for Märklin Z is La Belle 107.  This oil should be available from your local (if you have one) hobby shop, Walthers or we can supply the oil from our stock upon request with your service order. 

Photo Gallery

Here are some photos of armatures with accumulated brush debris.  These are HO, but Z motors took the same when clogged.
click on photo to enlarge


 Märklin Z Mikado with oil lock up issue  click on photos to enlarge


Märklin Z diesel with thickening oil and oil lock up issue.  Note the white residue that remains after all the oil is washed away.  this must be hand cleaned to remove all traces.  click on photos to enlarge

Märklin Z Railcar with oil lock up issue  click on photos to enlarge

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What's included and how much does it cost?

Our normal labor charge is $65.00/hr. 

Your valuable locomotives are treated with respect!   Your locomotive is handled carefully.  All locomotives are completely disassembled, de-greased and cleaned in an ultrasonic bath.  We then reassemble with new parts where necessary.  This assures your locomotive is returned to its original performance. Our normal labor charge is $65.00/hr.  This charge covers most repairs and conversions. Parts when required are additional.  However, locomotives that require additional time due to the complexity of their mechanism or require a lot of hand cleaning may go past one hour and additional time is billed in 1/10th of an hour increments.  Dual locomotives and sets with dual locomotives like ICE and ABA diesels. are billed at the $65.00 rate for each locomotive.