Marx 3/16 Slope Back Tender
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
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
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
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!