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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi.
I am a very active prewar bicycle collector that is new to this forum and living in Virginia.
Since the birth of my son (who just turned 1 last month) I have been thinking about how to decorate his room and incorporating American made transportation items of days and quality of long ago.
I have been thinking that toy train collecting might be great hobby to build memories with my boy and have had my eye out for something to get started with.
This morning at an estate sale, I picked up a Marx train set for 85.00 that I believe is O scale and from 1941 if my interpretation is correct.
What I have is pictured...an engine and coal train, a chemical train, a boxcar and a flat, a red caboose, an Allstate transformer, and 25 sections of curved and 25 sections of straight track.
In my opinion, they are in good, played with condition and I like the proportion of these trains as well as the more squared off style.
I experimented with the electrical and at one point I got the train to light but nothing is moving and the transformer hums louder than I would expect and I had some sparks flying trying to get the engine turning moving the wires and adapter plate around.
So, I have my first question. How is the electrical supposed to be set up?
Also, did this all come together in a set of some kind, anything missing?
Curious if I have anything notable here?
I would be interested in purchasing additional trains in this series/age as well as any correct Marx stuff to create the scene around the track.
Any help is appreciated as I have found it overwhelming.
Thanks, Chris

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Hello, Chris, and welcome to the hobby, and the forum.
First, proper terminology. You have a steam locomotive and tender, a boxcar and gondola, a tank car and a caboose. A very nice set, seemingly in good condition. Now to get it assembled and running. First, remove any rust on wheels and the track with a scotch brite pad. Then clean the wheels and track with naptha, available at your hardware store. Make sure the track pins are tight and the track fits together snugly. Squeeze the ends of the track with needle nose pliers if necessary to get the track to fit together snugly. The power connector (usually called a lockon) is wired to the transformer and snaps into the bottom of the center and outside rail.
Put a drop of oil on the ends of the axles of all your rolling stock so they roll freely. The locomotive may need to have its motor seviced, but lubricate it first. A drop of oil on the main driver wheels axle bearings and a dab of grease on the gears is a start.
Here is a page on Marx trains that explains a bit more. Once everything is cleaned and lubed, you and your son should be on your way to playing with your trains.

Larry
 

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Welcome to the site.

They look in good shape, I would leave the chemical tanker as is, it has a nice patina from hauling acid.

They are all metal cars right? Maybe just clean the rust off in spots. And wash the body's some.
As Larry said.
Clean every thing makes it run better. Wheels, pickup rollers and the top of the track.
The pins and the holes where they go should be nice and clean along with making sure they are tight.
NO SANDPAPER OR STEEL WOOL TO CLEAN THEM.

I throw this thread out for cleaning track up,
http://www.modeltrainforum.com/showthread.php?t=2433&highlight=tubular+track

If you need to know something don't be afraid to ask. :smokin:
 

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Chris, I recommend you use motor oil 5W-20 or 10W-30 to lube your trains. Grease tends to dry out and become hard. WD-40 and 3 in 1 oil get gummy. Motor oil never dries out.

Make sure you lube the bearings for the axles and the bearings for the idler gears, and the bearings for the motor armature.

The connector for the wires from the transformer has two blades which slip into the bottom of the center rail and one outside rail. Make sure the two clips where the wires connect do not touch the rails.

Easiest way to clean track is to run the train. I have some rusty O-31 track that I am cleaning right now. I make a loop of the track and run the train for a couple of hours, and the top of the rails then have a shiny stripe. This track also has rusty pins, so I use my method for making tight connections between the track sections: Holding the track section with the pins pointing away from me, I bend the left rail to the left and the center rail to the right. Grab the rails where the pins are installed so you don't crush the rail. Any other method of making a tight connection doesn't work very well. This is from 63 years of experience with Lionel trains.
 

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Marx

Hi,Chris.. Welcome to the forum, great place for info.. The Marx trains are my favorite.The older ones,of course. [email protected] has all the parts you might need. The 999 engine, he sent me a breakdown of parts for it. Good guy to deal with. I have a few extra parts like wheels,e units and so forth. I got about 5 old Marx runnable plus a few newer ones. My expernice fwiw is to remove the motor from the shell and if you can get to it reasonable,clean the armature end of the black **** on it,making sure to clean between the copper pieces with something like a needle. Be careful not to scratch them or the wires..Lube the running gears,of course and what else has been said. Take and gently turn the brushes with a small screw driver,watching how far you turn them and then put them back where they were, Just barely move them,Try the engine on the track. Move the lever on the top of the motor back and forth gently.that is your eunit. Sometimes you might have to lightly tap the eunit . Make you a set of jumpers and hook one end to the transformer and the other end to the motor and touch the other end to the center roller pickup. Of course turn on the transformer a little. This is just my experences with Marx.

Hey,fellas,correct me if I`m wrong.:p


Have a good rest of the week,sanepilot--Hope this helps
 

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If you start buying more stuff( take your time!) . Your marx has scissor couplers, marx stuff has two, that I know of, different styles of couplers. If you buy stuff make sure it mates up. That is unless you catch '' the bug''. Then you'll buy everything you can get your hands on, even if you can't use it or have no space for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I appreciate the education and the advice from everyone sharing thoughts on my post.

Using a soft brass wire bristle on a motor, I effectively cleaned up a section of track which worked well in the crevices and didn't get overly aggressive as you might think (I use this to remove oxidation from bike parts). I'll also try the other approaches mentioned here as too much scrubbing has led to tendinitis of my elbow and shoulder in the past.
My Mom's boyfriend is a Civil Engineer and I have enlisted him to look over the transformer and the engine and we'll service it as suggested while they are here for the holidays this coming weekend.

From researching in cyberspace as well as ebay over the weekend, I have a better understanding of Marx trains, evolution of designs...anybody know of a good reference book I could purchase?
I imagine there is literature out there with the size of the hobby and would be great to have a compilation in print focused on prewar Marx traineology (probably just for Lionel huh?).
I pretty excited about this genre I found as it is economical in this scale class/vintage yet the detail and components seem well made (at least to this amateur) and after all, this is going to see some action!

I have always been a collector, it is in my blood, but this a joint venture with my boy as I mentioned and I have plenty of time although I will pluck something here and there.
In that spirit, I did buy a high gondola with Chesapeake and Ohio markings which has ties to here in Virginia, I hope I got the right class, at least the coupler is the same and it is metal as the others.

You folks ready for a silly question...how many train car lengths can an engine (like my 999) haul? I assume this is a function of the weight behind it and juice applied, but approximately.

Regards, Chris
 

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In looking at what you have, nice start looks to be in good shape overall. How many cars can it pull? I'd venture to guess 3-5 cars of the era properly cleaned and lubed would be about it. The loco will be a bit light and only four drivers (the powered wheels on the engine) will limit it's traction. You may be able to pull more, but you'll likely experience wheel slip starting and in corners.

Take it slow, get your feet wet then shop around for expansion pieces. More often than not one train is not enough. I started with 3 engines, now have 9. 10 cars, now up to around 25. No accessories, now have 7-8. You get the idea. Careful shopping on e-bay and craigslist can be good to add on when you choose to.

Carl
 

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marx

Hi,Chris.. I think I got a set of cars with scissors couplings. I`ll never use them.When you get ready to buy if youre interested,let me know and I`ll post a photo of them.

Snowing in the valley,have a good one,sanepilot--Thanks
 

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The Marx 999 was their first die-cast locomotive. I have one and it's one of my favorites. Mine is an early postwar piece with a different collector shoe and wheels than yours. You might want to to try some electronic contact cleaner in the E-unit, if the loco doesn't want to "change gears" from forward to back smoothly.



I had mine out over the weekend and pulled 2 boxcars, a gondola, a tank car and a caboose. Then to make things interesting I added 4 of the smaller Marx 4 wheel tin cars spliced in between the loco and the tender as they have the same tab/slot couplers. The ol' 999 pulled them all with just a bit of wheel spin getting started. I have a plastic bodied Marx 1666 steamer (a bit bigger loco than the 999) that couldn't pull all those cars!
 

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Nice find! Odds are it will all work well; Marx stuff was very durable.

Regarding reference books, there's not a lot of demand for them so all of the Marx guides have been out of print for a good 20 years. They're pricey when you find them. Kalmbach did publish a price guide a couple of years ago and it's still available at a reasonable cost, so that will at least give you an idea what's out there and a ballpark figure on what to pay for it.

I really enjoy that particular line of Marx trains, and I'm sure you and your son will too.
 

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I am not an expert on anything but these trains confuse me.
This set was made by the Marx company which made a lot of toys.
Many of the older model railroaders probably had a Marx train for their first train.
Marx would use many things over sometimes with improvements.
Some metal cars will have different lithography on the inside of the car.

That loco was first made,I think,in 1941[?] but probably later also.
The wheel arrangement should be 2-4-2..That means 2 small wheels in front,2 large wheels in the middle and 2 small wheels at the rear.

I also think that style of coupler was not made until the 1950s.
The set was probably sold by the company whose name is on the transformer.
 

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I am not an expert on anything but these trains confuse me.
This set was made by the Marx company which made a lot of toys.
Many of the older model railroaders probably had a Marx train for their first train.
Marx would use many things over sometimes with improvements.
Some metal cars will have different lithography on the inside of the car.

That loco was first made,I think,in 1941[?] but probably later also.
The wheel arrangement should be 2-4-2..That means 2 small wheels in front,2 large wheels in the middle and 2 small wheels at the rear.

I also think that style of coupler was not made until the 1950s.
The set was probably sold by the company whose name is on the transformer.
The loco is indeed a 2-4-2. The rear truck may be missing or it may be swiveled out of sight in the photo. The 999 and the scale tin cars came out in '41 but production soon stopped due to WWII. They were made to 3/16" scale rather than full 1/4" O scale. After the war Marx resumed production of the same loco and cars, but changes were made to the loco shell and the drive over the years. I think the 999 was produced into the early '50's.
The tilt couplers came out with these sets in '41 as well. About 1953 Marx changed the tilt coupler from metal to plastic. The scale tin cars lasted into the '50's before being replaced by 3/16" scale plastic cars.

Marx stuff sold by Sears was sold under the Allstate brand. Marx even made train cars lettered for Allstate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So I have these trains on my shaded window sill in my office and I can't help but look at them often...I find it remarkable how real they look and the tin construction helps that translation more so than would a plastic.
For what it's worth, the loco has a different coupler, a 90 degree tab and slit that only the tender front has, the rest of the train as well as the rear of the tender are swivel/scissor type.
American bicycle production also stopped in '42 for the WW2 efforts (except for a couple of companies that continued on with Government permission) however, there was significant changes up to the cessation and bicycles were produced bare bones and lacking a lot of sheet metal. Also, the process of chroming was abandoned and parts were painted black.
Maybe the scale reduction was raw material adaptation for WW2, but I don't see any "skimping" on these trains otherwise as what happened to my primary hobby.
If they are indeed 1941, if what follows "BLT" is correctly a date, then 11-41 was the latest make of the tanker (the ones dated are all different months of '41) and there place in history makes them more appealing to me anyway as an early generation of this scale and loco design.
Question.
Typically, were trains sold as a complete set like this or did they come with the track and loco and the rest was a la carte to suit a buyer's interests?
I think I need to get my hands on a '41 Sears and Roebuck catalogue.
Thanks, Chris
 

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Marx followed American Flyer in making 3/16" scale trains for O gauge track before the war. AF started it to get more realistic looking trains to run on O-gauge track. Going to a smaller scale meant long equipment could still go around the common short curves of trains set track at the time. After the war, AF brought out the same sized trains but running on a new gauge (S) of track. Marx and Lionel adapted to the 3/16" scale to produce trains for low-budget O-27 sets. Marx toy trains had always been smaller sized than Lionel, but the 3/16" stuff was Marx's first true scale trains.
Mostly trains were sold in sets back then, but some items were available for individual sale. I read someplace that Woolworths sold Marx sets a la carte by allowing folks to pick what cars they wanted in the set. That sounds like a neat idea to me.

The Marx scale tin cars are becoming my favorite O-gauge trains. The details that are so life-like, yet merely printed on the sheet metal, the nice size, and the history are interesting to me as well.
 

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I don't think the 3/16th scale was used to save material but to achieve in some cases a better proportioned model.Marx was well known as a maker of colorful,cheap tinplate trains that often
were sold for use by young children.Many of the locos were also made in a wind-up clockwork style.The cars were suitable for uuse with the electric or wind-up style locos.

American Flyer made O gauge trains in 3/16th scale prior to W#W II for a while that were very nicely proportioned except for width and IMHO looked more real than most Lionel of the same period.After the war AF converted to S scale and was able to reuse much of the prewar stuff.
 

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Nice find! Odds are it will all work well; Marx stuff was very durable.

Regarding reference books, there's not a lot of demand for them so all of the Marx guides have been out of print for a good 20 years. They're pricey when you find them. Kalmbach did publish a price guide a couple of years ago and it's still available at a reasonable cost, so that will at least give you an idea what's out there and a ballpark figure on what to pay for it.

I really enjoy that particular line of Marx trains, and I'm sure you and your son will too.
I think this is a new price guide for Marx trains?

http://www.amazon.com/Trains-Pocket-Edition-Greenbergs-Guides/dp/0897785428

It does say "this new edition" in the description.
 
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