Jump to content

Z scale modelling


Recommended Posts

Hi all

 

just a post to show the Z scale models I recently purchased and chat Z scale.

there doesn’t seem to be a simple way to search out Z scale threads so I thought I d start one

 

i currently normally now model O gauge, but last Christmas on a whim, I wanted something to rum around by my Christmas tree, so on the spur of the moment I bought the Marklin starter set second hand from Hattons 

what a fantastic set it is! Although I have an issue with the bogie tanker constantly derailing on the double slip taking the wrong route. Any ideas why? The back to back seems correct and the bogies seem to swivel okay.

 

I thought the set was so good, I went out and bought a secondhand pair of electric locos, after servicing, one worked beautifully, but the other was a dud, which got sent back for a refund. Undeterred, I sourced another new old stock. It’s a bit noisy but runs well enough.

 

I quickly weathered the little station as it was rather plasticy, it’s not my best job, but it’ll be revisited later, but looks better than it did.

 

well, the extended loop is still on the TV cabinet running round periodically faultlessly (with the exception of the bogie tank)

 

I am contemplating building a scenic layout, and being in Australia, I think it’ll have to be a snowy layout. Not the easiest thing to replicate, but I’m up for a challenge 

 

anyway, here’s some pics of my stuff, and I’d love to see your Z scale stuff, so please, feel free to inspire me

 

Ian


D6FDAA23-CCC5-4D4C-B134-580094D170FB.jpeg.e7162d472ac2d1896acb1d9456446654.jpeg

 

 

 

56F24A5B-E8DC-42B8-AF36-9F405E256E08.jpeg.8b56ebdd43901f728b28b9b6f0639b5c.jpeg

 

68D432D7-77CD-4D92-A56D-8C21E45B33A9.jpeg.99ce7c3f8a8904f1a1993081fd68845b.jpeg

 

37A37A81-6566-41D3-A073-B1A8ECD15C74.thumb.jpeg.925ba44192ee436e354a0ca82ed136e8.jpeg

 

6BA77544-76A7-4951-9CD1-094799924F04.thumb.jpeg.0cf2f1498ac12767ec79d6f5de3410e0.jpeg

 

 

91C8C19C-4D22-4724-9334-D2923AACD6AE.jpeg

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I did intellectually know that starting-up in a new gauge and scale would cost an arm and a leg, but actually seeing the bills for a modest extension or extra rolling stock is still sobering.

 

I'm enjoying Z gauge, despite this, so the following, which is probably too Marklin-specific and UK biased, may seem very biased and negative. It's the "things that trauling the web didn't tell me" so focuses on the bad. Not in any order, lessons learnt are:

 

-   Unlike HO/OO track, Marklin set-track has tiny little plastic tabs as well as the fishplates to hold it together. This means you need to take MUCH more care when putting track together or else you will crush the fishplates. These are an utter pig to replace.

-   Marklin power supplies put out enough power only for double-heading locos (on the DC loop) and to operate only two 10V AC accessories (2 points, OR 1 point + 1 relay OR 2 relays). If you want more actuated as a single task then you have to go to their 16V relays at vastly more complexity and cost. I have no confidence that operating their 10V AC accessorizes (everything except the newer semaphore signals) at 16 V AC won't burn them out.

-   Marklin track-nails are not a thing or beauty or a joy forever, even with pilot holes. I'm experimenting with latex glue with some success, but it requires pressure to hold things in place until it sets.

-   Do not consider catenary unless you have a rich sponsor or have won the lottery. Essentially budget 100% extra cost compared to just the track.

-   I found no instructions on the Web on how to physically connect wires to the 8588, 8529, 8539 or 8589 track pieces. This is because it's so obvious (with hindsight) that no-one thinks to tell you. Depress the sprung steel bit, and slide the wire under the opening revealed. Release the sprung bit and it hold the wires quite firmly.

-   A detail. In controlling power into blocks for use with signals, the 8588 track-piece is vastly better than non-conducting fishplates, but is only available as a straight. It allows you to bypass it with a diode to reverse locomotives, and to add (one side of the) DC power on one or both sides of the break

-   I needed to read Marklin wiring instructions several times until I actually understood them - this refers to relays, the level crossing, and both the colour and semaphore signals.

-   Electromechanical signalling, beyond the basic stop/go, is a black hole into which you can throw brainpower and money. Yes there are colour signals that do 'Distant at Caution', but they need a frightening number of relays and a frightening number of detector-tracks to send a pulse when a train passed over them and thus enable 'train out of section' logic

-   Layout software (I used XTrackCAD because it's free) gets Marklin roughly right but not exactly. It particularly can't cope with the 8192 variable-length bit of straight track. It had a steep learning curve as well.

-    Faller, Kibri, and Vollmer all do Z-scale kits for buildings, and Preiser for people. The buildings are lovely but very difficult (due to size) to assemble so perfectly that the eye can't tell they were put together by an amateur. Noch do pre-fab layouts and some extra stuff.

-   There is no way that I will be brave enough to put ballast down. Too many tiny, tiny, tiny mechanisms just waiting for a fragment of ballast to bind them in the wrong position or burn them out.

-   I have used Peco code 55 pre-soldered fishplates to get electricity to a section of track but it ain't easy.

-   The UK agent for Marklin (Gaugemaster) is either superb or rubbish (but don't expect cheap as well). If they've chosen to stock the part - superb. If they haven't, or have run out, rubbish. On speaking to them, Marklin aren't the worst of the EU-based suppliers, but you may well wait 2-4 months for an order for an out-of-stock item. Don't hold your breath.

 

Finally -

 

-   Marklin Z-scale does (wonderful & cute) toys for enthusiasts. Not prototype-faithful models, or even especially close. Just look at the power-supply track and the points. They work but they cannot be covered-over to yield something that looks like the real thing divided by 220. Small locos (the limit seems to be a 0-6-0 tank) are also not possible.

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1
  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, DenysW said:

I think I did intellectually know that starting-up in a new gauge and scale would cost an arm and a leg, but actually seeing the bills for a modest extension or extra rolling stock is still sobering.

 

I'm enjoying Z gauge, despite this, so the following, which is probably too Marklin-specific and UK biased, may seem very biased and negative. It's the "things that trauling the web didn't tell me" so focuses on the bad. Not in any order, lessons learnt are:

 

-   Unlike HO/OO track, Marklin set-track has tiny little plastic tabs as well as the fishplates to hold it together. This means you need to take MUCH more care when putting track together or else you will crush the fishplates. These are an utter pig to replace.

-   Marklin power supplies put out enough power only for double-heading locos (on the DC loop) and to operate only two 10V AC accessories (2 points, OR 1 point + 1 relay OR 2 relays). If you want more actuated as a single task then you have to go to their 16V relays at vastly more complexity and cost. I have no confidence that operating their 10V AC accessorizes (everything except the newer semaphore signals) at 16 V AC won't burn them out.

-   Marklin track-nails are not a thing or beauty or a joy forever, even with pilot holes. I'm experimenting with latex glue with some success, but it requires pressure to hold things in place until it sets.

-   Do not consider catenary unless you have a rich sponsor or have won the lottery. Essentially budget 100% extra cost compared to just the track.

-   I found no instructions on the Web on how to physically connect wires to the 8588, 8529, 8539 or 8589 track pieces. This is because it's so obvious (with hindsight) that no-one thinks to tell you. Depress the sprung steel bit, and slide the wire under the opening revealed. Release the sprung bit and it hold the wires quite firmly.

-   A detail. In controlling power into blocks for use with signals, the 8588 track-piece is vastly better than non-conducting fishplates, but is only available as a straight. It allows you to bypass it with a diode to reverse locomotives, and to add (one side of the) DC power on one or both sides of the break

-   I needed to read Marklin wiring instructions several times until I actually understood them - this refers to relays, the level crossing, and both the colour and semaphore signals.

-   Electromechanical signalling, beyond the basic stop/go, is a black hole into which you can throw brainpower and money. Yes there are colour signals that do 'Distant at Caution', but they need a frightening number of relays and a frightening number of detector-tracks to send a pulse when a train passed over them and thus enable 'train out of section' logic

-   Layout software (I used XTrackCAD because it's free) gets Marklin roughly right but not exactly. It particularly can't cope with the 8192 variable-length bit of straight track. It had a steep learning curve as well.

-    Faller, Kibri, and Vollmer all do Z-scale kits for buildings, and Preiser for people. The buildings are lovely but very difficult (due to size) to assemble so perfectly that the eye can't tell they were put together by an amateur. Noch do pre-fab layouts and some extra stuff.

-   There is no way that I will be brave enough to put ballast down. Too many tiny, tiny, tiny mechanisms just waiting for a fragment of ballast to bind them in the wrong position or burn them out.

-   I have used Peco code 55 pre-soldered fishplates to get electricity to a section of track but it ain't easy.

-   The UK agent for Marklin (Gaugemaster) is either superb or rubbish (but don't expect cheap as well). If they've chosen to stock the part - superb. If they haven't, or have run out, rubbish. On speaking to them, Marklin aren't the worst of the EU-based suppliers, but you may well wait 2-4 months for an order for an out-of-stock item. Don't hold your breath.

 

Finally -

 

-   Marklin Z-scale does (wonderful & cute) toys for enthusiasts. Not prototype-faithful models, or even especially close. Just look at the power-supply track and the points. They work but they cannot be covered-over to yield something that looks like the real thing divided by 220. Small locos (the limit seems to be a 0-6-0 tank) are also not possible.

 

 

 

 


WOW that is a lot of negatives LOL

 

well, where do I start in response? Okay, power controllers supplied in train sets, literally are just that, a thing to get you going, and yes, being a DC layout with the added complexity to control things is expected, and if I were to build a fully detailed layout, then yes, upgraded controls would be required, and I’m not going DCC for traction power in this scale as it’s just way too fiddly especially on the steam locos. So analogue it will remain.

any layout I build will not be over complicated, just train running.as the scale is impractical for shunting

 

track, yes, the issue there is realistic points whilst the Marklin points do work, they are indeed very fine and go out of true very easily. The trouble with the American track is there’s too many sleepers but that may need to be a compromise 

 

ballasting. Ballasting is definitely a fine art, and in this scale even more so, cleanliness is important for cleaning up loose stuff and keeping glue out of points and crossings in this case are super desirable 

 

fine scale locos. Well this is where my O gauge comes in, if I want super accurate detailing then obviously Z isn’t the place to be. Not all things scale down well, and super fine details then become even more delicate the smaller you go, so in this case, just a good representation is acceptable to me. I do have to keep reminding myself not all things are possible, and then I see the V200 towering over the silver dollar coaches, so either the loco is excessively tall, or the coaches are excessively short because I can’t find any video or photo of anything resembling the amount of difference as in the models. And obviously smaller locos in this scale are definitely impractical as there is no room to fit anything that would be a reliable runner, so I can accept this.

 

so basically, I view Z as a stand off scale, unlike O, with minimum detail but watched from a comfortable viewing distance rather than getting down macro close to it can give a semi realistic view.

 

however, I am sort of relieved that after all said and done, you are still enjoying Z scale.

 

unfortunately the American scene doesn’t do it for me, and as there is basically no British outline, European, therefore Marklin is pretty much mu only option

Link to post
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, arran said:

HI All

 

I've always liked Z , this is our Club Z called St Adrian

 

Regards Arran

IMG_0759a.jpg

IMG_0752a.jpg


that’s a nice looking layout. How large is it?

Link to post
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, 47606odin said:


that’s a nice looking layout. How large is it?

Its 14ft x 2ft  Double track and 6 roads round the back for a fiddle yard.

 

Regards Arran

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Premium

 

I saw this on another forum the other day. There was a Z scale show in Germany last month. A lot of the time over here all you seem to see are Z gauge train sets with stuff running round at 200mph. Some of these layouts are stunning though! No idea about track, mechanisms, etc, but good to see some very nice model railway layouts rather than train sets.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Gold

Here's a picture of Brian Harrap's  Proto Z (P220) layout 'ZOB Hafen' it also has a Zm tramway (4.5mm track) We showed it in The Netherlands back in 2011.

 

The track is all hand built and the Märklin wheels turned down. Great fun to operate. Unfortunately this is the only picture that I could find due to the great picture loss during server transfer.

 

1070062333_ZOBHafen.jpg.5e38452fa99a807ea671bffd9780a111.jpg

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

37 minutes ago, arran said:

Its 14ft x 2ft  Double track and 6 roads round the back for a fiddle yard.

 

Regards Arran


that’s a good size 

Link to post
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, 5944 said:

 

I saw this on another forum the other day. There was a Z scale show in Germany last month. A lot of the time over here all you seem to see are Z gauge train sets with stuff running round at 200mph. Some of these layouts are stunning though! No idea about track, mechanisms, etc, but good to see some very nice model railway layouts rather than train sets.


yes, I saw a few videos, and that layout shown is what I consider as good as you’re going to get. I love all the trees, so lush

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Re6/6 said:

Here's a picture of Brian Harrap's  Proto Z (P220) layout 'ZOB Hafen' it also has a Zm tramway (4.5mm track) We showed it in The Netherlands back in 2011.

 

The track is all hand built and the Märklin wheels turned down. Great fun to operate. Unfortunately this is the only picture that I could find due to the great picture loss during server transfer.

 

1070062333_ZOBHafen.jpg.5e38452fa99a807ea671bffd9780a111.jpg


again, a great looking layout, lots of options of playability

Edited by 47606odin
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in awe of the 'proper model' layouts pictured above, but my skillset and house size limit me to about 2.4 m by 1.2 m. Plus I want to be able to hand the controls to grandchildren. This takes me to trainset-style and Marklin track. The picture is of the station part of the Noch Baden Baden layout under construction - before signals or sidings. It shows just how far the Marklin track is from an unobtrusive true-to-prototype system.

Baden Baden 1.png

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Z scale is one of my “dream about” scales!

A colleague of mine from an old club did/does have a small set up that I really liked but if I went to 1:220 scale, it would have to be American outline in order to try and capture some of the dramatic scenery.

 I have looked into it several times, I think Rokuhan track would be the way to go but the expense always stops me.

This is because I would be looking at quite a large layout, populated by numerous locos and long trains.

 I have seen some amazing layouts on a US forum, the guys there are really dedicated.

Cheers,

John

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Premium

Some helpful and realistic observations - the kind of things it helps to know but don’t appear in the marketing, thank you to all.  I’ve seen video of some incredible Z-Scale layouts, I’m impressed with the photo of @arran’s Club layout, St Adrian: from those two photos it looks like it really shows the scenic potential of the scale.  Like @Allegheny1600, I’ve wondered about Z-scale, but I’m afraid I’ve only got as far as research, sorry.  I was however fascinated to see Z close up at a recent meet I was at, and the exhibitor allowed me to take this comparison photo:

 

5464387B-C2B4-48EA-94C7-3817FAF880B7.thumb.jpeg.5b3037e9b4644a18b72ca39ec0f69f06.jpeg

 

(photo has been shared before on RMweb).

 

The upper locomotive is Standard Gauge European N-Scale 1:160, which I think shows the relative size of Z well (don’t worry about the stars on the 0-6-0, it’s out of a novelty Christmas set).  Perhaps the best illustration of how small Z is: the exhibitor had actually misplaced the locomotive until they remembered they’d left it in the glove compartment of their car!

 

I liked the couplings - for a commercial offering it was quite unobtrusive when engaged and kept the cars reasonably close - looked to me to be an improvement on the classic ‘Arnold’ N-Scale coupling still fitted as the default in the UK.  Incidentally, from what I’ve read, some Z-Scalers actively choose not to ballast their track, because dust and grit can be a big problem (literally).

 

I believe the Altenbeken exhibition linked above by @5944 is the premier gathering of European Z-Scalers, and deservedly so from what the video shows (as others have noted).  I imagine it would be hard to attend and not come out inspired!  Keith.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Another comparison to show the compactness of Z scale. The 'Queen of the Mountains' Bavarian S3/6 in Z scale (Marklin) and HO (Rivarossi). If you are driven by prototype faithfulness - HO or larger (as the OP's remark on O scale); if you are driven by playing trains in a modern house without a BIG shed or a redundant garage - Z.

IMG_0423.JPG

  • Like 2
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, arran said:

IMG_0651a.thumb.jpg.c11c54116ac6388e3d9e236ab00816ec.jpg

 

5 hours ago, arran said:

hi All

 

The trains in the landscape suit Z far more than a wasp in a suitcase layout .

 

 

Regards Arran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0659aa.thumb.jpg.36950fdf3fcba9e6e301d7ed8a3016a2.jpg


agree totally. They look fantastic 

  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well this arrived today. An expensive wagon, but hopefully it will help keep the dark corners of my track clean. 
 

I have a few other things in the pipeline too

 

D71B83E2-6C4F-40AF-97DD-30DD398DA91B.thumb.jpeg.6d1036ff28e372f9592099376ba0c7b2.jpeg
 

5A60173D-B8C4-48F0-843D-CC4E0422C4DE.thumb.jpeg.c58b746dc2ddf8483fedfe931978972a.jpeg

Edited by 47606odin
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, popped into the city, to watch an international rugby match between England and the Wallabies, so dropped into the 2nd hand model shop

 

this was the result! Assuming the loco works, I think I got a bargain. Very happy. I can now run a museum train

I also have 6 lengths of Flexi track and a load of people to add to my station which is on the way

 

6DC481FE-DDE4-4F98-8F98-01C6F4D46DF5.thumb.jpeg.3d720c7d102e51f3bf531030b11b0e05.jpeg

  • Round of applause 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Premium
1 hour ago, 47606odin said:

Well, popped into the city, to watch an international rugby match between England and the Wallabies, so dropped into the 2nd hand model shop

 

this was the result! Assuming the loco works, I think I got a bargain. Very happy. I can now run a museum train

I also have 6 lengths of Flexi track and a load of people to add to my station which is on the way

 

6DC481FE-DDE4-4F98-8F98-01C6F4D46DF5.thumb.jpeg.3d720c7d102e51f3bf531030b11b0e05.jpeg


And the game hasn’t even kicked off yet 🙂 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Marklin - Hiding the Wires

 

More stuff I wish I'd been told, instead of (re-)discovering for myself. Some of this (to paraphrase a GWR attitude) is because there are only two ways to do anything - the wrong way and the Marklin way.

 

-   Marklin power supply track (needed every 1.5-2.0 m to overcome voltage drop in the rails) has both an electronic component at the rails, and an (expletive-deleted) big black component quite close to the rails. So you use their track with their locos or face undefined problems. If you are also hiding the wires below the layout surface, the Marklin answer is to use colour-coded plug/socket combinations because you really don't want to make-good a hole big enough for the big black component. Photo: one of the supply tracks on the side with the small 'extra' component, and a cut-off big black component ready to be rejoined to the rails using plugs.

-   If you use the semaphore signals you need to cut accurate 13 mm diameter holes through the base layout. I found only a hand-drill and a weird-looking conical-shaped bit combination (photo) was gentle enough not to grab on plastic sheeting and rip a too-big not-circular hole. Normal wood drillbits were too aggressive. The 0.5 mm holes (for track pins), 2mm holes (for wires) and 4 mm holes (for the colour signals) weren't a challenge - a pin vise was good enough.

-   Several of the Marklin wiring diagrams have mysterious, never-explained, tiny coloured-blocks included on one or more electrical lines. The semaphore signal is one; the colored light signals are others. Too obvious for the paranoid: these refer to electronic components (diodes, resistors) included with the product, pre-soldered into the correct place, leaving you just to worry about not causing short circuits on the uninsulated bits when you fit them into your layout. Just visible in the photo of the wires from the semaphore signal.

-   I used red and green nail varnish to colour-code the blue wires from the twin-solenoid points so that I'd know which was which once I'd pushed them from the top-side of the layout to the underneath side.

 

So in planning your layout you need a heck of a lot more plugs (and several more sockets) than you expect to. Plus many more 72090 distribution strips (to act as sockets for the plugs) than you initially accept. Beware of second-hand - Marklin changed the sizes of the plugs/sockets/strips a few years ago and there is not backwards compatibility - but they did change the part numbers as well, so you are not doomed, just gnashing your teeth.

Marklin 1.JPG

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...