model train set on track

Marx 3/16 Slope Back Tender

e*Train Issue: Oct 2003   |   Posted in:

By Dave Hess

Some projects are just born by chance.

While sorting through a bunch of Marx slope back tenders, I set one next to a group of Marx locomotives. I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t a slope back tender look really great behind a 999?”

Unfortunately, the tender was too high and wide to have the right look. The height could be rectified with a set of 3/16″ scale trucks, but what could I do about the width?

The answer awaited in my wood shop. Yes, it was tablesaw surgery for the little slope back!

Realizing the blade would be rather high for this procedure, safety was of utmost importance. After much consideration, including blade width, the proper amount was determined to be removed from the tender.

Wearing safety glasses and with pushstick in hand, I carefully pushed the Marx tender shell along the rip fence through the sharp blade. Leaving the setting the same, I turned the shell around and repeated the procedure. Approximately 3/16″ was taken away from the width of the car and what a difference! The cuts were made adjacent to the coal bunker on each side, but did not exceed the second row of rivets on the water tank. The edges of the cuts were clean and smooth and little sanding was required.

The three pieces were cleaned with dish soap and warm water and the old lettering was removed. After drying, the sides were cemented together with Tenax-7R, a liquid cement designed to weld plastic.

I expected to do use spot putty to smooth out the joints, but none was needed. The shell was then coated with Krylon flat black primer.

At this stage of the project, I realized that very little thought had been given to the base of the tender. I could have built one from wood, but why not use the original Marx sheet metal base? I was off to the belt sander to remove approximately 3/32″ from each side. With a little filling and the removal of the back metal step, the two metal tabs slid smoothly into the plastic slots in the shell. Even the front screw lined up. The base required a coat of Krylon satin black to cover up the bare metal edges from the sanding.

Next, Marx 3/16 scale trucks were installed on the base with tab coupler in front and twist coupler in back.

Now that the tender was roadworthy, a coat of Krylon gloss black was sprayed to provide a good base for decals. My favorite roadname, the SP&S, was selected for lettering.

After the decals dried overnight, the entire shell received an application of Testors Dullcote. The little slope back has already seen six weeks of service, and I can tell you that this is a tender that will see a lot of use. I have already built another!