Thursday, 22 May 2014

Going Digital II

Things are coming together. As mentioned in the previous post, I bought a Mobile Station, 4 TD101 deigital decoders and a 5 pole upgrade kit for my BR38 P8 analogue locomotive with the Drum Commutator Motor (DCM). All of these items have arrived!

So, given that I already had a Delta fitted loco (3393 Mhi BR52 Kreigslok 3604 Delta Digital System) shown in a post below I installed the 24088 connector track and plugged in the new transformer and the mobile station unit. I of course removed all the analogue locos from the layout and placed on the BR52 and turned it on....

And nothing! NOTHING! Hmmm. Probably should have read the manual..

OK luckily a full manual in 4 languages with pictures came with the mobile station. I waded through it and discovered that I had to set up my loco in one of the 10 slots that the mobile station has. I learned that the mobile station had all the delta and digital loco profiles programmed into it up until the date of manufacture. That looked promising.

So , I went in an deleted all the locos from the previous owner freeing up all 10 slots. I then went into slot 1 and went to select my loco from the list.... 3393? .... NOT THERE? Damn. I wonder which f the 80 channels I should use? What is the loco set up for? OK I read that delta has support for only 16 channels so I should be able to try the first 16 channels until one of them works.

30 minutes later, 16 channels tried. No luck. OK back to the manual. I turned to the technical section at the back and discovered that the 16 channels were not the FIRST 16 but rather randomly spread though out the 80.

30 minutes later, 14 previously untried channels later. No luck. OK back to the manual. No joy...

OK, it must be the loco of the mobile station is broken. Out with the Marklin jewellers screw driver set (philips head drivers) and I pulled the enitre loco to bits. I found the decoder in the tender, which is not surprising, it is just that the tender was a bit tricky to pull apart. I found the decoder buried inside and checked the dip switch settings. The manual from the Mobile station has a nice bit telling me how to set the DIP switches to choose a channel so I compared the settings. All DIP switches were set to "off" which apparently means it was set to run analogue!

I little switch flicking and re-assembly and I was ready to try again. I programmed slot 1 to the channel I chose and dropped out of edit mode. Turned the knob once again and....viola! It works! Success!

I felt very happy. I got it working all on my own. I ran the loco for a while and it developed a distinct "whiny burrr' sound that caused the loco to slow down and vibrate. I have never run this loco since I bought it about a year ago off eBay. That sound to me is the sound of worn bushes in a motor. I wonder, are bushes available separately from Marklin?

Anyway, nevermind. When I get some time I will install the new aregentinian TD101 decoders into my other analogue locos and see if they are as good as their word (IE do not need to alter the LFCM or SFCM locos). Apparently these decoders will even make the lights work properly without flickering or other issues! That said my plan is to upgrade the BR38 DCM motor to a new 5 pole motor first and install the decoder at the same time.

I will take some photos of the process and let you know how it all turned out.


Friday, 2 May 2014

Going Digital

Well what a busy month or so. I am still studying for my Masters degree and working full time so I still have limited time working on the layout since last post. Over the Easter break I did take down the M-Track layout and set up the C-Track, mostly and gave it a run. The track is much nicer with better control and far less dead spots or derailing lumpy bits :). The final piece I need (the double slip) arrived yesterday which made me very happy indeed. Hopefully tonight I will get a chance to add in the track and complete it. If I do I will take a couple of photos.

I did have time to do some online shopping though and also to do some research and thinking about going digital which makes up the body of this post.

Going Digital

 The change from analogue to digital is pretty scary. I posted on the Marklin Users Forum asking for some advice in how to update my locos to run digital and got some excellent help. Some advice I was given that seems pretty good:

  1. Transformers

    • Your old blue transformers are not safe for digital. The reverse pulse is likely to burn out the board and possibly damage your controller.
    • The white AC transformers **should** work OK. I will have to see. I run a 66470 32VA 230 Volt Safety Transformer currently but with the new Mobile Station digital controller I bought there is an 18VA transformer pack included. I have yet to find out how many locos and accessories could run off the 18VA though.
    • To start with you can run your accessories on the old AC transformer and just digitise the track. This is what I am doing.

  2. Motor Conversions

    Digital systems use a form of DC current to power the layout. More accurately it uses digital frequency modulation to send data through the tracks. Since AC power runs at a fix frequency (50-60Hz?) that means the digital power will cause the analogue lcocs lights to flash. Another thing is that the AC system would vary the voltage to regulate speed. An analogue loco running on a digital layout will run at a fixed speed uncontrollably. While Marklin AC motors are designed to run even on DC (meaning you could just install a decoder and remove the reversing unit) for them to work, they don't work well at lower speeds. Installing the 5 pole upgraded motor gives quieter and smoother performance.

    There are 3 types of AC motors in Marklin analouge locos. These are described in the table below.



    Marklin Motor Conversion Kit

    Full Kit (Motor and decoder)

    DCMDrum Commutator Motor60941 High-Efficiency Motor Conversion Set60760 Digital High Efficiency Propulsion Set
    SFCMSmall Flat Commutator Motor60943 High-Efficiency Motor Conversion Set
    LFCMLarge Flat Commutator Motor60944 High-Efficiency Motor Conversion Set
    includes both armature types (7 tooth and 8 tooth versions) and 2 different motor face plates

    To understand more about motor conversions, there is a great article here . Also, to find out what type of motor your loco has try this site: Helmut Kern's locomotive page

    DCM motor upgrade kit
  3. Decoders

    There are an array of decoders available. I am not an expert on any of them so go to the Märklin Digital entry in Wikipedia for more info about the types of Digital systems Marklin released. Note that the newer decoders support all of the formats release from about 1990 onwards. Just know that every loco will need one and the more modern it is the more functions it will support. Some will even allow the lights to change on the loco depending on what direction it is running. Many support sound and operating steam generators and more. Note that there is usually room on the chasis for the decoder when the reversing unit is removed.

    Marklin Delta controller 6604 (not mine)

    What I just procured: MARKLIN mobile station 60652 + transfo 18VA + 24088

    TD101 decoder
    -This is the documentation saddly at this momment in spanish :
    -The youtube instalation video is :
    -The technical service and suport is
    -The facebook webpage is:

  4. Lights, signals and switches

    I will cover these at a later date as I haven't done anything with them yet.

New Buildings

I found a great seller on eBay (Station500) who sold me the following buildings from Germany and sent them out very quickly. Nice seller and nice building models to support the tank repair depot theme:
11356 Auhagen HO Kit of a Coal bunker

120152 Faller HO Kit of a Store Shed
120164 Faller HO Kit of a Gantry Crane
120211 Faller HO Kit of a Trackside buildings and Equipment shed
120264 Faller HO Kit of Recycling depot

Monday, 17 March 2014

C-Track to the rescue

My setup is located under my house in the garage area. Sadly that area is shared with the clothes dryer so the air is very moist. This makes the m-tracks rails rust quickly and also the springs on the turnout mechanisms. To that end I have started procuring c-track with its stainless steel rails to replace the rust-prone track.

This has slowed down my endeavours but I am over half way there now. I am looking forward to the nice quality of the c-track as I have had some real issues with keeping good connections with the old track.

Hopefully by Easter I will have enough pieces so I can lay it all then!

Friday, 26 July 2013


As I have said, I am trying to build a war 2 milieu set somewhere to the east of Germany at about 1943-44. It is to be a depot where damaged German tanks and vehicles are brought via rail to be repaired and re-deployed. I have chosen the season to be autumn with a light dusting of snow and frost on the undisturbed parts of the layout.


I have been researching the types of locomotives being used on the eastern front and there appeared to be many. I have chosen so far to have a Class 38, Class 50, and a Class 52.

Class 52 Kriegslok

War damaged Class 52 Kriegslok
The DRB Class 52 is in grey kreigslok livery and will be used as a long haul military loco pulling a Panzer unit including troops and tanks to the front. The unit has the new Panthers and Tiger I's as the main tanks.

Class 50

The DRB Class 50  is in standard black and is to be used for hauling freight and other carriages to the front. I will probably repaint this one in camouflage.

Class 38 Prussian P 8

Class 38 (Prussian P  8) being refueled on Eastern Front
  The DRG Class 38.10-40 is a heavy locomotive used for general purpose freight and passenger hauling. It was originally produced as the Prussian P 8 class from 1909 onwards.

All of these locomotives have been documented as being in use at that time and possibly in my fictitious location. I am still trying to find a suitable loco for use in shunting.

It appears that at that time there were a number of Prussian T 12 tank locomotives around being used for heavy shunting and goods trains on short hauls. Märklin H0 produce one of these in the 1980's - 1990's in the 3095 BR74. I am trying to get one of these from eBay now.
Class 38 in the winter on the Eastern Front.

Rolling Stock

Here are some of the photos of rolling stock I have found. By the 1943, due to heavy losses from bombing raids, trains where compiled from rolling stock of different types from different locations.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

It is hard to believe it is nearly a year later. The set is up and running, I bought some plaster and paints to play with but all went quiet for a while and I never made anything with the plaster at all :( Still things are moving along.

During my mid year break from study, I am doing a Master of Information Systems part time after work, I found myself with some time. I went downstairs and found my m-track had all rusted up. Probably, something to do with sharing space with a clothes dryer; lots of moisture. So I got out some fine sand paper and spend a couple of hours cleaning the track. It was back breaking, dirty and unpleasant. Unpleasant enough for me to upgrade my track to c-track.

Like everything, it was not simple. Apparently, the sizes of m-track and c-track including the curve radii are all different. After a quick trip to the forum to ask a bunch of questions a lovely chap there did up a track plan for me! How nice! He also pointed me at the track planning software WinTrack 11.0. I went there but found the US$99 was a bit steep for me but there was a demo which installed and ran well. Sadly saving and printing track plans was barred, though I could and did take a screen shot of the plan and saved that. Searching through eBay I found that to reproduce my layout (approximately) would cost over $500. That seemed a little daunting, but in hindsight I probably should have done it ;)

Well, now I am buying bits and pieces of track, some from each pay packet. I did go out on a bit of a spree and bought 3 2nd hand locos and 6 second hand wagons. They were so cheap and nice and fit my layout (WW2 theme) so well!. Here are the pics:

3084 BR50 loco

3094 Streamliner Loco (About 1939-41)

3393 Mhi BR52 Kreigslok 3604 Delta Digital System

4002 - tinplate rural 2nnd class passenger car

4038 - wagon fourgon



4610 - WUERTTEMBERG Tank Car

Wasserwagen ÖBB - 4445

This lot all ran to around $400

Until next time!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Where to research

This is a list I will maintain of useful links to use when researching your WW2 layout. I will grow this as I go. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What did I get?

Märklin 3000 (Class 89)

Märlkin 3098 (Class BR38)

Märklin 3029

Märklin 3083 ETAT (French)