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I want to change the orientation of my object to a specified direction.

Say I have an axle of a train whose normal orientation is set off by 90° from the global orientation:

enter image description here

The green arrow (Y-axis) points to the back of the train (along the global X-axis). But I want it to point to the sides of the train, so all I want is to rotate the orientation by 90° without rotating the object itself.

In other words, I want the normal and global orientation of the axle to be the identical:

enter image description here

Is this possible and if so, how?

Background: The game engine to use this model will move the bogies and the axles according to their orientations. After importing this train into the game the axles rotated 90° off.

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Select the object in Object mode, then CtrlA > R (Apply rotation). This resets the rotation to 0° around all three axes (and thus aligns the local axes with the global axes) without rotating the object.

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Get in edit mode, rotate your object in local coordinates as you wish, get back to object mode and rotate it back.

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    $\begingroup$ I take it you mean Edit mode. And if you do that with linked objects, it will affect all the linked objects identically. $\endgroup$ – user7952 Dec 19 '14 at 2:41

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