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High Gear Engine

The gears are up to the edge of the flange, and derail on turnouts. Is there any fix, since it runs great. Possibly add bigger wheels? ... although this may cause a problem on the other side of the engine.

I don't know the heritage of this engine. So, a second question: is there a way to identify it?


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  • High Gear Engine
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That motor is from a Marx, probably a 999, a 2-4-2.  Marx engines run best on Marx switches like the 1590 as the gear to the wheel rim will derail on most other including Lionel switches.

I had several Marx engines and they are one reason I went with 027 Marx 1590 switches, now 31 on my layout for 34 years.  Other reasons are I had 4 already, they only cost about $10 a pair, they have no lights in controllers or switch to rob transformer power, they are easy to repair, they have a low profile, they work with Marx fat wheel engines and they are very reliable.

Marx train with 999 engine and cars.

10 Marx 1590 switches and my Wye.  I painted them grey but most come as black with red solenoid cover.

Pictures of layout from write up on OGR form with index on page 1, post 1



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  • mceclip0
  • mceclip1
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

FWIW, a pair of Marx 490s an a several beat up cars made up my first O gauge when I was 5 years old, probably from a garage sale, but again was my first trains I had as a kid.

While they represent some challenges to running on modern layouts with modern more scale realistic switches due to the wheel flanges, I still have a fondness for them and have a limited collection.  Our local club purposely built certain loops of track with no switches to allow members to run Tinplate and other Marx engines that have wide flanges or other problems.

Anyway, that motor looks to be in good shape- so definitely have fun and enjoy the train.

Is your engine a prewar diesel?  I wish I could say it would be easy, but it isn't.    I would ask someone that does a lot of motor repairs, they may know.  There may not be many options.

I have had similar problems with a 1662 switcher.  Prewar.  It did not go through a 1948 and later built UCS track or the postwar switches well.  I was able to find a wheel with a little thinner and slightly bigger diameter to work that the gearing would still work with.  It was same basic motor design, same years but different wheels on a higher end engine.   

Personally I would keep that motor original.  Maybe you could find a double-reduction motor from a later Marx steamer like the 1666, and add the plate that allows it to mount inside of your prewar streamliner.  I believe this would be an easier modification than replacing the wheels.  Along with resolving compatibility issues with the switches, a double-reduction motor would also give you more torque and slower speeds.  If you ever decide to sell, you could put the original motor back in.  My $.02.

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