Z Scale Motive Power Tips

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Motive power tips

This section is the "entry" for tips on specific locos, and had general tips on all locos.

In general, since Z scale is so small, it takes REGULAR maintenance since dust, hair, lint will seriously affect performance. Running locos when they really start to slow down and become erratic is not a good practice.

Each manufacturer and loco have "tricks" on how to take apart and work on them, and there are also tips on improving the stock locos.

As mentioned before, you have to at least have an Optivisor (unless you are seriously nearsighted) and a good pair of tweezers.

Select the specific loco manufacturer you are interested in the menu below or at the left.

Many diesels are of the "split frame" construction, and the 2 halves hold the motor and gears. Overtightening can often cause excessive friction/binding. Often loosening the screws a fraction of a turn will improve things.

Running in

A test loop or a "rolling road" is a good idea. Each has it's positive points.

Test track / loop

I did make a "break in" track, which is a giant figure 8. I used large radius curves so I could accomodate the largest locos. The reason I chose a figure 8 over a simple loop is that the loco turns both left and right on the figure 8, essential for a good break in. Also the test track will help you notice issues, like it runs slower in turning left vs. right. Etc.

I built it entirely of Rokuhan track.


(track parts list)


Rolling road

This is good to observe motion closely, and a basic run in of a loco, as well as testing a decoder, etc.

Marklin makes 2 of them, the 89931, and the 89932.

The 89931 is about 8 inches long, has a short track section, and 4 sets of rollers.The 89932 is about 10 inches ling and comes with 8 sets of rollers.

The rollers have a small thumbscrew to tighten them in place.


And I did buy mine from ajckids.com, I hope they don't mind me posting a picture.


Another option is the Marion Zeller rolling road, which has sort of self-aligning rollers, and more of an open frame.


I found the link to their site: http://marion-zeller.de/Scale-Z:::1.html:::1.html

This is probably available from some US suppliers. You buy the frame, in either 150 or 210 mm length, and buy extra rollers to suit.

This unit is also known as KPF Zeller. Don't know where the KPF comes from, but I see a picture of Marion Zeller on the site.



At one time Bacurus appeared to offer a Z scale rolling road, but the smallest is narrow gauge TT.




Click the links below to go "deeper" into details on individual motive power by manufacturer

  AZL motive power   Marklin motive power   Micro Trains (MT) motive power   Searails motive power 
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