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Background: Got this MARX set in 1964. 1666 side smoker.

When I run this unit under light load smoke is not visible. If it is run full power with a heavier load it will smoke but just slightly. Do the smoke heating coils get weak with age or is the original smoke fluid I got with the set in 1964 too old.
 

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Maybe both. I would try it with some new smoke fluid. It does sound like the unit may be gummed up. I am not sure of the resistance that is need for the unit to operatin properly, but my American Flyer smoke units run well around 35 - 40 ohms.

Here is a smoke unit tutorial:

http://www.modeltrainforum.com/showthread.php?t=32218
 
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