Technical Information


How to Reprogram Non-Märklin AC locomotives with the Mobile Station.

Are your Transformers In Phase?  Phasing is very important!

Make sure to phase your transformers. Then buy an AC multiple outlet distribution strip with an on/off switch so you can power everything at once. Phasing is simple and is very important.

You will need a 16V lamp (like a building interior light or street light) and a length of brown wire (with male plugs on each end for older transformers).

1. Connect one lead from the light to the yellow terminal on transformer #1

2. Connect the other lead from the light to the yellow terminal on transformer #2

3. Connect the brown lead between the two brown terminals on transformer #1 and #2

4. Plug the two transformers into the outlet strip.  Make sure the switch on the pwer strip is ON.

Plug in the transformers.  If the phase of the AC current at the outputs of both transformers is "in phase" the lamp will not light or will light very dimly. (this is what you want to see and you do not have to do anything else with the two transformers go to step 5.) If the lamp lights brightly, then you have a 16V difference between the yellow terminals and the transformers are "out of phase". (What you are seeing is the voltage polarity difference between the yellow terminals on the two transformers lighting the lamp.) If this happens, unplug one of the transformers and reverse the plug in the outlet strip. The light will go out because the transformers are now in phase.

5. When the transformers are in phase, mark the plugs with a spot of paint on the same sides of each plug. If you ever have to unplug a transformer, this dot will let you know how to orient the plug when you plug it back in so you maintain the transformers phase.

6. Set up transformer #3 the using the same steps above to connect the wires between transformer #2 and #3. Plug in transformer #3 and check the phase and correct if necessary. Mark the plug on transformer #3 and continue until all of your transformers are in phase.


Correct Installation of 74030 insulators on C-Track center rail contacts.



Displaying and Storing locomotives

Locomotives in display cases or stored in their boxes for long periods of time should be run at least once a year.  Oiling a locomotive before storage is detrimental!  There is a danger of the oil hardening in the mechanism.  Although Märklin oil (7149) is made to particular specifications, this product may harden over long periods of storage time! (We Recommend the use of HAG special Oil!)


(Helmuts Hobbies recommend the use of HAG or LaBelle 107 or 108 oil for Z locomotives to prevent lock-up)   If you suspect a Z loco is locked up DO NOT try to free it up yourself.  The motor WILL burn out quickly due to the excessive current flow through the fine windings of the armature.

HO locomotives store best with the box oriented so the locomotive is sitting on its wheels instead of lying on its side.  This helps prevent the oil on the armature from wicking down onto the commutator and soaking the brushes.   This is one reason we replace seemingly new looking brushes.  Many times they are oil soaked and if reinstalled will eventually cause the insulating segments of the armature to fill with carbon.  This causes poor performance and can eventually lead to armature failure.


Save your Digital Decoders!

Locos with digital decoders (especially newer locos with the high efficiency propulsion decoders) need routine maintenance to protect their decoders from failure.  I have had numerous locomotives come in with decoder failure that is caused by the armature's insulating segments getting clogged with brush residue and oil.  Excessive oil on the armature bearings of locomotives (which use brushes 601460) wicks down onto the armature commutator.  As the brushes wear, the carbon dust collects in the oil instead of falling away.  This carbon dust is conductive and when mixed with oil it gets packed into the insulating segments (grooves) of the armature by the brushes.  This causes excessive current to be drawn by the motor and can eventually burns out the decoder. 

There is a simple and cost effective fix for this.  At least once a year, or more often if you use a particular loco a lot, clean out the motor cover and the armature.  This is easy to do.

1. Remove the brushes from the cover by pulling the brush springs out of the way.  Remove the two screws that hold the motor cover in place and remove the cover being careful not to break any wires. 

2. Use a cotton swab wet with Ronsonol lighter fluid to wipe out the residue from inside the cover.  Wipe again with a dry swab. 

3. Remove the armature and use another swab wet with fluid to gently wipe the contact surface (the copper part) of the armature commutator.  Check the grooves on the commutator to make sure they are clear of dirt and debris.  You may flush the armature with clean fluid right from the bottle if necessary to remove debris.  Dry the armature with a paper towel and re-install.   Install the motor cover and retaining screws.

4.  Clean the brushes by rolling them on the paper towel with a little fluid and check them for wear and replace if necessary.  Fit the brushes into the motor cover and return the retaining springs to their original positions.  Finally, put just a trace of oil on the armature shaft where it protrudes through the brush cover. 

You have just saved yourself the cost of a new decoder.  It is easy and fast to do.  However, I realize some folks are still squeamish at the thought of going this far.  That is okay.  That is why we are here to help.  We will perform this service for locos $65.00 plus return shipping and brushes if needed.  Remember, over oiling the front motor bearing on your locos which use the 601460 brushes is to be avoided if at all possible.