Newbie: Marx O gauge and Wall Mounting

I'm a newbie here. I'm looking into information on building a wall
mount track for my sons' room. I have an older Marx, dating to the
mid-late 1940s, O gauge as far as I know. I've done a quick search,
but didn't see much here. Are there resources out there that aren't
for-sale? Specifically, some questions are:
1) What's the practical limit on curves? The rooms a rectangle
save for an inset door. Ceiling mount can't work - vaulted.
2) Wiring suggestions?
3) I'm anticipating shelving. 8" wide enough? Too wide? Plan is
that eventually, it would be bookshelves.
Thanks in advance,
Reply to
Jason Brooks
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I just completed (never done) a 2nd floor bedroom Wall mounted O-72
Lionel/Marx/MTH/Atlas O/Weaver/Williams/K-Line layout. I do run the
BIG stuff (Big Boys & DD40AX) so I need 0-72 (diameter min curves).
For 3 parallel main lines I have 17" self, for 2 main lines 12" shelf,
and for a single main line 7 to 8" shelf on straight a ways.
Corners require a 28" 45 Deg wall reach for O-72 curves & 1 track.
My wall mounted top of shelf is 50" off floor to clear two bed headboards.
I used 55 10" by 10" silver steel angle iron on each wall stud to support
3/4" plywood at a 17" cantilevered shelf length(width).
Mounting was done with 4 lag screws & cork strips under the
plywood & over the Angle iron.
Wires were run under the plywood using "swiss cheese" plywood looms.
AC transformer Power is MTH Z-4000 ($400 ea), runs two main lines.
I do have 2 Marx 1950 items: 999 Die Cast 2-4-2 steamer & Santa
Fe #21 lithographed AA diesels. They both have trouble with
power drop out on O-72 Atlas O switches. I seldom 'em.....
About our only common item is wall mounting an O gage layout.
Both a 'quality' stud finder and Black & Decker $99 laser leveler
came in real handy. THose wall angle irons must be 'level',
even though I built four 4" grades(over 17') in my layout.
The newer MTH Pro 2 engines with cruise control run the hills
GREAT at constant speed with no major attention required.
I did use top of the line Atlas O nickel silver track....
and the Atlas O track layout software is very nice once
you get the knack.... You might note I'm silently
pushing you into 2 main lines & some nice new engines..
Den Mayer from WIsc.
Reply to
Dennis Mayer
Maybe one day. I likely don't have the room for multi lines. The room is small, and we're going to use bunks to maximize vertical space. I was looking this morning and the door inset is about 8" deep. So, you'd have something on the order of this: ------------------------------------------------------- Door - ~28" | Wall _______________| Inset - ~8"
I've been most concerned about navigating the tightness of that inset with track. Perchance, cut the corner?
I'm going to test the engine in a few weeks with a local model rr club to evaluate it's function.
Thanks for the suggestion.
Reply to
Jason Brooks
1940 Marx IIRC was compatable with Lionel 027 of the period. Three rail track, O guage, a full circle of track is 27 inches, or about 13.5" radius. AC power. For a thin round the walls layout, the major structural issue is making it strong enough not to fall down when a boy leans on it. Fastening it to the studs (every stud, every 16 inches) with steel angle brackets is probably strong enough, although you might want to think about legs, or diagonal braces. You want a "fence" a couple of inches high along the edge to keep derailed trains from plunging to the floor. If you have two boys, you want to do anything you can to get in two loops of track, so both boys can operate their own trains at the same time. And allow for two control stations. I would keep it simple and go for just two loops, and skip turnouts, siding, reversing loops and the like. Boys like the see the trains move, under their control. Height above floor depends upon the height of the boys. It should be low enough to allow them to get the trains on the track at their current age[s], but not so low as to make working on it a curse for Dad. I'd use 1/2" plywood with a layer of Homasote on top for the roadbed. The plywood gives strength, the homasote takes track nails well, and deadens the sound of the running trains. Let's assume you will need to buy some more track to get the layout clean around the room. Take a look at Gargraves track, they are still around, and the track looks nicer and stays straighter than the tinplate sectional track. Anything by Marx, and a lot of stuff from Lionel and the others will run on 027 curves. It is probably possible to match the Marx and Lionel couplers. For wiring, I would two throttle buses (one for each transformer) around the layout underside, and run smaller power feeders up from the bus every 3 or 4 feet and solder them to the rails. Ordinary 14 gage house wire makes a good bus. The feeders can be anything, 'cause they are only a few inches long. I'd do a removable section, or a really long removable bridge to get the track past the room door. On the straights, the two tracks need only be 3or 4 inches apart. I'd think you could get a dual track line working in as little as 8 inches, although I'd be tempted to go with 12" if it fits in the room. On curves you need a bit more clearance between tracks to allow the rolling stock to swing out as the train goes round. Other thoughts. Make it removable so you can pack the trains away for the summer. Then they are like new and fun when you unpack them in time for Christmas.
David Starr
Reply to
David Starr
I've read that S curves can cause derailments unless there's a straight section at least as long as your longest car between the curves. It might be best to either use a wider shelf on the wall past the inset, use a large radius curve in that corner that will clear the protrusion or use a wider shelf on the adjacent wall so the corner can be shifted enough to clear the protrusion.
Look on the bright side. A wider shelf would leave room for a spur or some nice scenery.
Reply to
thanks for passing the info on. I'll have to digest and examine the room. But wall mount can't work where they can reach now. I'm starting early here - 3 and ~6 mos. So, I may end up altering the plan altogether.
Does anyone here know a general slope a vintage Marx could handle? I may end up having to suspend it from part of the ceiling along one wall. The height above the window puts you into some high cupboard doors. So, not sure at all what to do there.
I'll see if I can keep bouncing ideas around.
Reply to
Jason Brooks
Opportunity knocks!!!
Run the 'shelf/ trackage' Through the overhead cabinets!!
Pick a shelf, and use that for your operating height in the rest of the room. Come to the 'cabinets' --- Tunnel Portal --- Viola, covered storage space.
Chuck D.
So, not sure at all what to do there.
Reply to
Charles Davis
In message , Jason Brooks writes
Jason, you have received some helpful advice here. Just to add to it, whilst Marx trains will happily use any other three rail 0 gauge track (Lionel, Gargraves etc.), Marx locos will not travel over some (most?) Lionel crossings, because the unpowered gap is too large, and earlier Marx locos will not travel through Lionel or any other modern turnout.
Turn your Marx loco over, and look at the wheels from below. Just inside the wheels on one side will be two large cogs, forming the back of the wheel. If those cogs are the same diameter as the wheels, then you will only be able to use Marx turnouts. (You could use Sakai, but that is a little esoteric).
Marx track was 027, which means that a circle diameter was 27 inches. The track is lower profile than 0 gauge track, and the two cannot be joined easily. Having said that, Lionel still make 027 track, as did K-Line, and they will work perfectly well with Marx, apart from turnouts. Marx also made their 027 track in 34 inch diameter. Lionel and K-Line make/made curves in larger radii, and long straights, too. Marx made turnouts in 027 and 034, although 034 turnouts are getting harder to find.
You'll be delighted to know that a huge range of spares is available for Marx locos, from Robert Grossman :
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There are several books available. The first one to buy is the Marx Trains Repair Manual, by Castillo. You will see silly money paid for that book via eBay, but don't bother. Contact Robert Grossman, who has new copies for around 20 or 30 dollars, I think.
You mentioned slopes. Yes, Marx locos will climb gradients, but the maximum really depends upon which loco, and what you expect to pull. Work on about 3 per cent maximum, if possible - that is three inches up, for every hundred inches horizontal.
You may like to consider subscribing to the Marx Yahoo! Group, where you will find a really international, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable bunch of people :
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Have fun!
Reply to
Marx locos will fare well with Lionel O-27 #1021 crossings(not #1020 or #1023), #1024 & #1121 switches(not #1022 & #1122 or #1122E).
Reply to
Thanks Graeme. I'll definitely join in the yahoo group. And my train's cogs are the same size as the wheels.
Thanks again, Jason
Reply to
Jason Brooks
Well, starting at that age, you have plenty of time to get the layout running. So you might as well put it at "Dad's height" and give the boys step stools to watch it while they are small. In computing "Dad's height" think about working on the wiring running on the underside of the layout. Have you considered a loft bed fairly high off the floor, freeing up the under bed space for play? That way both boys get the upper bunk. Grades. I'd keep the grade below 3% and preferable below 2%. I did a 4% grade on an HO layout once and regretted it, even the best locomotives could only get a car or two up it. A critical dimension is the height you have to rise to allow one track to pass over another. In HO it's about 3 3/4 inches, for O gauge it's probably closer to 7 inches. If your grade is limited to 3%, then a 7 inch rise requires a 233 inch run, which takes up quite a bit of room. In planning grades, remember to ease into them. An abrupt change from level to 3% will cause the locomotive pilot to touch the third rail, (a train stopping short circuit) and cause couplers to uncouple. You want to ease into a grade, start with really gentle, then steeper and steeper until you are rising at 3%. A transition section of about a foot in length is good. If windows, doors, and built in cabinets are obstacles, consider long lift out sections to get the train past them. Using Lynn Wescott's L girder construction method you can make light stiff sections 4 to 6 foot long without much trouble, and just using ordinary hand tools. L girders are made from two nominal 1 inch (actual 3/4 inch) boards. The vertical board is about 4 inches wide, the horizontal board is two inches, and you join them into an L shape using carpenter's glue and wood screws. The L shape keeps the girder from bending. The resulting girder is much stronger and lighter than a 2*4.
David Starr
Reply to
David Starr

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