First Z scale Layout Advice

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by shenri1, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. shenri1

    shenri1 New Member

    Hi, first time poster. I'm new to railroading although I did play around with an HO 4x8 about 30 years ago when I was a kid. You know, thumb-tack track sections straight to a sheet of plywood and the run the trains as fast as possible. Now I want to build a 2' x 4' Z layout that I will not get bored with. Here is what I came up with. It has a yard, switching and 3 main lines. I want to elevate some of the curves on the left so I can have a trestle and tunnels. Does the yard look like it would be functional? Not sure if it has all the necessary tracks as defined in an article I read called the 10 Commandments of railroad yard design. I seams the layout has a lot of left had turnouts. Should some of them be right handed so trains running both directions can switch tracks more easily? I have not started on this yet and want to make sure I will be happy with the design before I start. Comments appreciated.

  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Hi Shenri, welcome to The Gauge.:welcome1:
    Wow, z gauge. It's hard to relate to working on something that small.
    To start, I think I would lose that middle track. Gives you more room for your mountain and scenery. Then I would redo the yard and put a crossover in there. If you want to run trains in both directions, the loco would be trapped pulling into the yard otherwise.
    Take a look at these trackplans, most could be resized to your scale.

    Mike's Small Trackplans Page

  3. mummert

    mummert Member

    What I was looking was the left side where you want to elevate your track. I am wondering if you will have the room to elevate your track if you want to. I assume your yard at the bottom you would want flat. If you start an incline at the end of the yard and only make a one inch rise at a 2% grade you would need 50 inches of track up and 50 inches of track back down a total of 100 inches. If you went 3% grade you would still need about 66 inches of track to go up one inch and back down if my math is correct. I figure that would be close to the curve at the right of your drawing.
  4. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I'm not sure quite how much of this plan you're considering the yard.
    LH vs RH isn't the issue. Trailing-point vs facing-point is. In that respect, yes, your spurs are set up mostly trailing-point for clocwise running. Since that's the direction the yard is better for as well, maybe that's not a problem.

    I don't get the reason for two roughly parallel routes on the left side.

    Those yard design principles aren't universal. For example, if the layout will only ever be operated by one persn with one train at a time, you don't have to worry about providing a yard lead or not fouling the main, because there's no way another train can come through while you're switching!
    You don't need grades to get scenery below track level.

    What are your goals with this plan?
  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Normally with scenery, the less track, the more realistic it will appear. Granted, we aren't building scenery, we're model railroaders...but I think you ought to eliminate 2 of the 4 curves on the left. They don't add much to operation, but take away from the scenery opportunities. I think the middle ought to be raised above the outer loop...and either make it into a compressed figure eight (as in two loops over each other, but connected together)...or to adjust the approach tracks so that the yard in the middle serves a town above the rest of the layout.
  6. shenri1

    shenri1 New Member

    Thanks for the ideas

    Here is a revised version taking in everyone's comments. I think the outside loop is now long enough to elevate. The inside loop on the left could be down in the valley and the town in the center could now be elevated along the long winding approach and set on top of a plateau. I'm having so much fun with XTrkCad, but designing layouts in Z with only Marklin sectional track is a challenge. Do you think there is still too much track and not enough room for scenery? I have a completely different Z layout with a better yard that I can post if anyone is interested.

  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    It might be fine now...but that is one heck of a cool layout for 2x4!

    I think you'll be able to hide some of the track in tunnels to make it look less cluttered...and it might be fine. You might want to consider removing one of the connections to the valley branch...maybe...and adding a short passing siding at the top. Removing the connection at the top would leave it as a switchback...and allow for extra scenery...or a longer branch. Removing the other connection would prevent you from having to back a train up to get it onto the branch.

    I've found that extra connections...whether extra yard leads, unnecessary wyes, or unnecessary reverse loops are like the extra bells and whistles on my guitar gear...I don't really use them.

    As far as valley vs. mountain...valleys have the disadvantage of the lower levels being hidden from the near side. The advantage is that you can see the other side. It's also more common for the branch to be up the hill than down in a valley, but I think it can be just as cool.
  8. ozzman

    ozzman New Member

    The last comment made a lot of sense, as well as your idea of having the inside elevated. The other thing is that you might like to stop and think out how you're going to switch the tracks in the centre. Remember that Z is not really considered to be a scale for switching, although lots of Z scalers have done it.

    You might also like to consider the Z scale sectional track put out by MTL (Micro Trains Line - look it up on the net). It has the same geometry as Marklin track, although at this stage there's a smaller range of pieces. It does have the advantage of having roadbed included.

    In the meantime please do post your alternative layout. I for one would certainly like to see it.
  9. shenri1

    shenri1 New Member

  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I liked your previous plan better...but that one could have some cool scenery. I'd eliminate the "hill" near the bottom as it doesn't really look believable (sidings are built after mainlines don't swerve around sidings).

    The plus to a double track line is that you can be running two trains at once. The downside is that it makes the layout seem much smaller.

    I would, if I was you...use a scenic divider down the middle of that plan. Breaking up the scenes is a huge perk.

    Here's an HOn3 layout that might help with your track planning...It was 8'x10'...but could be close to a 2x4 in N-scale...
    Dan’s Train Blog » Malcolm Furlow’s San Juan Central
    It's a great example of breaking up a layout into breathe taking scenes.
  11. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Shenri, I like the second one better. But I would straighten out that hump of track on the bottom and move the turnout to the straight track that creates.
    That hump creates a "S" shaped curve which will cause derailments.

  12. shenri1

    shenri1 New Member

    Yes thanks, good idea to get rid of that hump on the bottom main line. Here is another 2 x 4 Z layout that I don't think I could build but maybe someone else could. This is all Marklin Z sectional track. It's got tunnels, a trestle, a yard, a long main run and some sidings.

  13. ecologito

    ecologito New Member


    I just got interested on Z scale trains and layouts since I had a 8900 kit and didn't even know what it was. My father gave it to me and I think this is a pretty old kit since he bought it about 35 years ago.

    I will keep reading this and other threads. I would like to know a good source of supplies for Z scale layouts.

    Thanks a lot.
  14. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    Eco, Z is a lot of fun. Keep going on it. I started model RR'ing about 35 years ago with Marklin Z. My initial attempt was building a 5x9 ft. display using 4 main lines with one being overhead. That required 4 power packs and a lot of track switches and A/b boxes. It was capable of running 7 trains at one time, but kept me very busy avoiding collisions. There were tunnels and plenty of hills and buildings. All were of 1960's European vintage using a small German town as a model. Most was purchased from a local N. CA toy store, no longer in business. I'm mainly into HO these days but have decided to get back into Z and have purchased a great deal of Marklin's American models mostly from e-Bay dealers in Europe. This time I'm going with one of those pre-fab displays, 20" x 36" for a start. I'll modify it to look like the American SW. The best ones appear to be made by Noch of Germany and can be ordered locally and delivered by freight to your door. I believe "z Scale Hobo" in S.CA is one of the dealers in the US. Look for it on Google. You add your own landscaping and track, etc. Also, they are expandable using their preformed units that go on each end of the display. The z hardware, (track, switches, power packs, etc). is available from a number of outlets found on the internet or locally in some areas. Buildings, and landscaping materials can be found with a number of internet sources. Walthers and others. Those trains are very small but actually run very well. However, like any DC rail system, the track must be kept clean and the little wheels on the locos need some attentiion to keep dirt from interferring with the necessary electrical contact. You can do a lot of railroading in a very small space using 220 scale. That's the beauty of z. Have fun. Bob

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