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Marklin Tips

One of the first projects we recommend is to motorize your turnouts. You install a turnout motor (it actually is a electrically controlled double solenoid) in the turnout, and control it with a switch box, by pushing a button! Before we start with this project, we will give you an overview of the different components that are available.

Electrical Accessories

Marklin Plugs

Marklin has made electrical connections on your layout easy with the use of mini banana plugs. No soldering is needed to connect or disconnect items, making it also safe for children. Recently, the plug style was upgraded to a new type plug. This was done to adhere to a new EU standard for mini plugs. The new style (Marklin 71400) does not fit the old style, or vice versa. Marklin does not sell the older style plug anymore, but we sell the old style replacement plugs from Brawa.

Powering your accessories

When you use the basic transformer (like the Marklin 6646), the red and brown connectors on the transformer connect to the track. The yellow and brown connectors are used to power your accessories. These accessories can be switched on and off with Marklin control boxes.

In newer Digital (Marklin Systems) layouts, Marklin advises to use a seperate power source (transformer 60055) for accessories.

Control Boxes

Control Boxes are used to switch different components on your layout (turnouts, signals, lights, etc.) Each box has 4 circuits with on and off switches. Items that are switched plug into the back of the unit. Because of the new style plugs, new control boxes are available to accept the new plugs. In most cases a "0" was added to the item number, indicating the new style. For your convenience, we have both styles of control boxes available.

Below is an overview of the different control boxes.
Item New Plugs Old Plugs Description
72710 7271 Control Box for turnouts, with feedback. For controlling 4 double solenoid accessories (like turnouts). LED indicator lights give feedback of the position of the turnout, when used with the Marklin 7549 (K-Track) or Marklin 74491 (C-Track) turnout mechanisms.
72720 7272 Control Box for turnouts, without feedback. For controlling 4 double solenoid accessories (turnouts). The position of the buttons show the setting for the turnouts, signals, etc.
72730 7273 Control Box for turning 4 different track or accessory circuits on and off. For example, control power to four different storage sidings, in different track circuits, to make a train stop or go.
72740 7274 Control Box for dividing a track or accessory circuit into 4 switched circuits, each with two connections. For example, 4 lighting circuits can be switched on or off, all powered from the same circuit.
72750 N/A Control Box for turning 4 different track circuits on and off. For example, control power to four different storage sidings, in different track circuits, to make a train stop or go.

Remote Controlled turnouts

This is a fun and easy project, and the first step in upgrading the automation of your layout. Marklin C-track turnouts can be retrofitted easily, and without tools. The mechanism fits concealed under the roadbed.

Charlie's Tip:

The double switch Marklin 24624 already has a turnout mechanism built in, and the Marklin 24630 will need two turnout mechanisms.

Adding the turnout mechanism

To retrofit your turnout, all you will need is your C-track turnout, a Marklin 74491 turnout mechanism and a small phillips screwdriver (replaced the Marklin 74490).
  1. Set the turnout to straight.
  2. Connect the throwbar of the mechanism to the turnout, and screw the mechanism down.
  3. Hook up the 3 wires, and you are done!

The picture mentions the 74490, it is now renumbered 74491.

The mechanism comes with 3 plugs, one yellow, one red, and one green.

The yellow plug connects to the yellow wire, and on to the yellow connector on your transformer.
The green and red plugs connect to the two blue wires.

The green plug goes to the wire that switches the turnout to straight.

The red plug goes to the other blue wire. It will switch the turnout to the curved position.

These two plugs will plug into your control box (Marklin 72710). The brown wire from your transformer connects to the side of the control box. When a button is pushed on the control box, electricity from the transformer will power the solenoid in the turnout mechanism, which will switch the turnout.a

Finally, the 74491 package contains a few extra small parts. You have the option to exchange the lever with different types of prototypical covers.

Digital Control of accessories

When all your turnouts and accessories are controlled electrically, you can upgrade to full digital control of these items. This is the logical second step towards automating and upgrading your layout.

The great advantages are the easy of operation, and the matter in which you can monitor the layout. One of the big advantages of digital control is that the wiring is easy. All digital components receive their commands from the digital signal that is put on the track by your digital control unit (the Central Station, Uhlenbrock Intellibox or the good old Marklin 6021 Control Unit). This means that all components send and receive their signals through the track! Find the nearest track, hook up two wires, and the decoder is ready to send and receive commands. Though easy to install and wire, a digital upgrade requires a significant investment, since all accessories that will be controlled digitally, will need to be upgraded with a decoders. Components that were switched with the control boxes, will now be controlled by a keyboard, the Central Station or even a computer (through an interface).

Decoder types

There are five different decoders that will be used in most of your applications.

Marklin Turnout Decoders

Marklin 74461 turnout decoder: The most popular decoder is the Marklin 74461 decoder. This decoder actually mounts, just like your turnout mechanism, underneath the roadbed of your turnout. The Marklin 74460 is very similar in function.

Adding the turnout decoder

To retrofit your turnout, all you will need is your C-track turnout, a Marklin 74491 turnout mechanism, a Marklin 74461 turnout decoder, and a small phillips screwdriver.
  1. Pull the current white plug and triple wire (blue-blue-yellow) off of the turnout motor.
  2. Insert the green decoder plug in its place (plug only goes in one way).
  3. Assign a digital address to the decoder, by adjusting the dipswitches on the decoder.
  4. Label the bottom of the decoder with the address assigned to the decoder (32 in this example).
  5. Install the turnout motor into the turnout as described above.
  6. Connect the red and brown leads from the decoder to the track. Red goes on the center rail, marked "B", and brown goes on the outer rail, marked "O".
  7. Install the decoder into the turnout, it will fit onto 3 tiny pins.

Marklin K-83 turnout decoder: If you are installing your track permanently, you can choose the K-83 (Marklin 60830) decoder instead of the 74461. You can connect a total of 4 turnouts to each K-83 decoder.

Charlie's tip:

Use the Marklin 74461 decoder in non permanent layouts. You do not have to mess with wiring, since the decoder receives its power and command signals from the track. Consider using the Marklin 60830 in permanent layouts, and mount them close to your turnouts, underneath the layout. You can access the decoder easier, and it is a more economical option.

If your track is already permanently installed, you have to use the K-83, since you will not be able to mount the 74461 underneath the roadbed. You will have access to the 3 solenoid wires that go from the turnout to your control box. These wires will now connect to the K-83 decoder.

Other Marklin Decoders

There are a few other Marklin decoders available.

Marklin K-84 switch decoder: The K-84 (Marklin 60840) decoder is used to switch accessories like light circuits, signals, or even motors. You can also use it to turn of the power to a certain portion of the track.

Marklin S-88 feedback decoder: The S-88 (Marklin 60880) decoder is a feedback module. A train that goes over a contact switch will send a signal to the decoder, and the decoder sends it to the Central Station, memory unit or computer interface. They, in turn, will switch turnouts, or change signals, depending on what you have programmed into the units. This decoder is used in more advanced, automated layouts.

Marklin turntable decoder: Finally, there is the Marklin 7687 decoder, used to digitize the Marklin turntable.

Marklin Decoder Overview

Item New Plugs Old Plugs Description
74461 74461 Most popular decoder for C-track turnouts. Mounts underneath roadbed. Electrical connections are made with plug contacts. This unit replaced the 74460 decoder.
60830 6083 K-83 Decoder for controlling turnouts, signals or uncoupler tracks. Address is set with coding switches. Four different outputs.
60840 6084 K-84 Decoder for turning on/off continuous current for lighting circuits or motors in accessories. Address is set with coding switches. Four different outputs.
60880 6088 S-88 Feedback module for contact generators. Connect to Memory or Computer Interface with included cable. 16 inputs.
a N/A 7687 Special decoder for the 7286 turntable.

The Marklin 6040 Keyboard

The Marklin 6040 keyboard is the switch panel in a digitally controlled layout. It is intended as add-on for your Marklin 6021 digital controller. The 6040 keyboard plugs in to the left side of the 6021 Control Unit. Additional keyboards can be plugged in. You can also use the keyboard as a stand alone unit. In that case you use an adapter cable that plugs into the slot on the left side of the 6021. A total of 16 keyboards can be hooked up this way.
Every keyboard gets his own address. You set this address with the 4 dipswitches on the back of the keyboard. If you assign the same address to two keyboards, they would control the same items on your layout. This would be useful if you wanted an additional control panel at another area of your layout. The Marklin 6040 is no longer available, and has been replaced by the Central Station.

The Marklin Central Station

The Marklin 60215 Central Station is the newest release from Marklin. It is a control unit, with large touchscreen, that will control both your locomotives, and all your digital accessories. You can display your turnouts onto the screen, and control them by pushing (touching) the appropriate symbols on the screen. When you own a Central Station, you will no longer need the 6040 keyboards, because the Central Station has the keyboard capability built in. It can switch an almost unlimited amount of accessories, sufficient for even very large layouts.
You can control all your solenoid accessories like turnouts, signals, and uncoupler tracks. You can also control items like lights, smoke generators, and more.