For long term operations, I highly recommend the Gaugemaster HF1 electronic rail cleaner. This is only for those who operate analog and not DCC. The Guagemaster is touted as a track cleaner. It doesn’t so much clean the track, but keeps any dirt and grime from impairing the performance of the locomotives. I do find I still need to clean the track, but I do this much more infrequently. I have been using these units for over twenty-years with success. I have tested then with products from AZL, Marklin and Micro-Trains. All work just fine with them. They can be ordered through our Ztrack Center retail site:


Final thoughts, there are track cleaning cars on the market. We do really like the Aztec track cleaning car. While it does have a grit roller, it does not have the same issue as track erasures. Keeping this in operation when running a train can also have a positive impact.

In this case we believe it would be best to contact NCE directly and provide them with the specifics of your system as well as model and brand of decoders you have. As NCE doesn’t make one of the drop-in decoders made for Z scale, better to err on the side of caution and get this information directly from the NCE. Here’s the contact form link on their site:


HOS stands for ‘hardened oil syndrome’. For a period of time, Marklin used an oil that hardened which binds the gears. It does not permanently damage the locomotives, but the locos will not run, or be very sluggish if they have this syndrome. To correct the issue, the old oil will need to be cleaned out, the locos re-oiled. We like to be upfront about these locos. Typically, they can be purchased at a discount since maintenance will need to be performed.

The site http://www.zscale.org/articles/revival.html has informative articles on cleaning and servicing Marklin locomotives. Some locomotives can be brought back to life quite easily.

The standard minimum radius curve for AZL locomotives and rolling stock is 195mm (7 11/16″).

There are some exceptions:

The AZL Brass Challenger steam locomotive will operate on 195mm radius curves, but for best operating results, we strongly suggest a minimum of 220mm radius.

The AZL Brass Big Boy steam locomotive will operate on 220mm radius curves, but for best operating results, we strongly suggest a minimum of 245mm radius.

The AZL RDC locomotives will operate on a minimum of 160mm radius curves, but for best operating results, we strongly suggest a minimum of 195mm radius.

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