Commodore Vanderbilt Same Old Story

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  • Member since
    December, 2017
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Commodore Vanderbilt Same Old Story
Posted by golden lover on Thursday, January 25, 2018 10:30 AM

I sincerely appreciate all of the comments regarding my previous question regarding a Commodore Vanderbilt that I am resotring but now i've got another one.  I'm kind of picky about how my Marx collection looks, always trying to upgrade it.  The CV I am rebuilding has been an issue with drive wheels and side rods.  I'm looking for a pair of geared wheels with rods that are bright and shiny and they are difficult to come by.  I've exhausted several E Bay opportunities by purchasing wheels/rods that the sellers claim to be perfect, which they were not! Here is my question.  Will a motor from a Marx #400 fit the CV? It might be easier to start the search for a really nice #400 if the motor fits.  I am not trying to restore the CV to be factory-like or original since I repainted it and puchased domes, smoke bezels and CV side signs from Robert Grossman. Steve

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Posted by Papa_D on Friday, January 26, 2018 10:13 AM

The last of the CV production was in ’48, however Mercury production lasted to ’52. They used the same windup motor. “400” production started in in ’52 and lasted until ’76, although not continuous during this time span. Given the overlap between the Mercury and “400” windup production, in all likelihood the motors would have the same form and fit given Marx’s manufacturing approach that focused on saving half-pennies per unit. The windup key location and front attachment screw location looks to be the same based on the attached photo of a “400” windup.  

From the underside, the motors look to have the same form and fit. I grabbed the attached photo off of eBay. 

Finally, I have a “401” windup. Never thought of the motors being interchangeable until reading your post. Just tried it. The only difference is the front cross beam for the attachment screws is narrower for the “400” (on the left) vs CV (on the right). Also, the CV uses a fine thread screws while the “400” uses course thread screws (back to that fraction of a penny stuff).  

Easiest solution would be to just change out the cross beams. My “401” motor runs longer per wind-up than my CV, I might just have to make a change. The wheels certainly look much better.

Papa D


  • Member since
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  • From: Northview, Missouri
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Posted by JamesP on Friday, January 26, 2018 8:45 PM

Golden Lover: Are you restoring a windup or electric CV?  Since you mentioned geared wheels, I suspect it is electric?

I'm not well versed on the electric versions, but I do know that the 400 came with at least 3 different electric motors, including a normal reversing electric motor, a forward-only electric motor, and a DC motor.  I believe the DC motor had a unique mount that wouldn't be interchangeable with the CV.

Hopefully, others that are more familiar with the Marx electrics can chime in and correct or confirm the above info...

 - James

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Sunday, February 11, 2018 4:42 PM

Not sure if this will be helpful to you, but I would imagine that most common Marx electric motors can be fitted into different models. I have a friend who bought a restored CV a few years back, at a show. Someone had fitted the shell with the motor from a Marx 1666. Aside from some custom metal fixtures, and nuts ‘n’ bolts to join them together, to fix the issue of making the front/cyllinder screw mounts line up with the shell. As a result, the locomotive can smoke, too! 


I would guess that an alternating current Marx motor, regardless of intended model, can be fitted to another model, if the right alterations are made. Then again, I’m not exactly a Marx expert, I’ve only got so much experience, and I would continue to seek out advice from others.

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

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Posted by SteveMarxOld on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 4:33 PM

Hi.  I'm new to this thing.  Hope I'm not messing up your conversation, but I'm not sure how to start.  


I've got a Commodore Vanderbilt electric loco that runs, but when I looked inside, there seems to be a part missing that should hold the headlight.  No socket for a bulb, just a space between the motor and the hole in the front end where I suspect a bulb should be.  Can anyone shed some light on this?  Thanks.

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Posted by golden lover on Friday, February 23, 2018 1:29 PM


There is defintely a light bracket that fits into the space you suggest.  It is positioned from the inside of the body with a screw that is attached from the outside through the hole in the bottom front of the locomotive. The bracket extends about 2/3 of the way up inside the loco body.  That is where you will find the light socket.  The wire from the back of the socket fits into the fahnestock clip on the front of the motor. If you need a bracket you will have to either pirate one from a trashed CV engine or check with The Robert Grossman Company on-line for a reproduction.

  • Member since
    February, 2018
  • 2 posts
Posted by SteveMarxOld on Saturday, February 24, 2018 3:28 PM

Golden Lover,

Your response to my question was prompt and very helpful.  Thank you.  I found a source for the light bracket and ordered one.  Since you seem to be very knowlegable about Marx trains, maybe you could clear up another puzzle for me.

I've been sorting through the O scale stuff that has been in storage since about 1954 to inventory it and I found that the track collection includes some sections that are black in color versus the majority that are silver.  I can't recall how these pieces were acquired (bought by my dad or given to us kids by a relative or friend), but since they work on the layout, we used them interchangeably with the rest of the stuff.  There are also silver and black switches.  Can you explain this?

Thanks again.

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Posted by golden lover on Monday, February 26, 2018 12:57 PM

Hi SteveMarxOld,

I do not know a lot about the history of 3 rail O27 guage track manufacturing but I do know that not only could you buy silver and black track but gray was another option.  It could be becauses of the resources avaliable to the manufacturer. During  WW2 and shortly thereafter Marx track was all black including the ties.  Prior to the war the track was silver tin-plated as were the ties.  The silver tin-plating process was not available during and shortly following the war so the track and ties were oxidized black.  The gray track is a mystery to me. I have a number of pieces in my Marx stuff but I don't know where I got it.  All three colors are interchangable. Manual switches also went through the silver plate/black oxidized morphosis during WW2. Any track other than silver w/black ties purchased in the early 50's was a matter of purchasing left-overs. Take care. Steve

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