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Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by mav_uk, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. mav_uk

    mav_uk Member

    Hey All,

    I have a quick question (and a huge peroblem). I wanted to get into model trains, always liked and wanted to build something that looked good. I originally went for HO scale thinking it would be easier to work with, but since laying out the track on the floor realising I have not got the space required.

    What I am now thinking would be a good idea is to switch to Z scale. But I was wondering if anyone could advise what would be a good starting point, and what would be a good size layout for a beginner (cost as well as ease point of view).

    Also, can I go digital with Z scale stuff? I was thinking of trying to control it via my laptop for full automation.

    Incidently the problem I have is that I brought the track / train that I have almost 2 years ago thinking I was going to get a spare room back from a house mate. Now he has gone I can see that I don't have the space for the HO, and it's way too late to try and swap at the shop for Z scale! So I have 500euros worth of stuff gathering dust!

    Thanks in advance guys!


    Incidently, I like both steam and ultra modern (ICE / TGV) trains so they are likely to be mixed a little on the layout - sorry to the purists who I am going to upset:D
  2. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge.
    I really don't know of anybody on here that model in Z scale. I think probable because there isn't much stuff available for it.
    I model in N as well as about 1/2 the members here.
    You might want to re-think this.
  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    Stu -
    I concur with Clerk - you should consider N scale instead of Z scale.

    N scale is about 1/2 the size of HO (HO = 1:87, N = 1:160, Z = 1:220), and while larger than Z, there are are many more products available.

    Also, you need to consider the difficulty of installing decoders in Z scale equipment if you want to go DCC.

    What size of an area might you have available, by the way?


    p.s. - Welcome to The Gauge!
  4. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi Stu:
    Welcome to the gauge. I third Clerk and BillK's opinions. N gauge has a tremendous range of equipment available and it's very reasonable to purchase. Also, the level of detail in the equipment is amazing. Think it over, and examine the type of layout you wish to model. What are your goals for your railroad? What aspects of a prototypical railroad interest you? How much space do you really need to model the railroad operating aspects that got you interested in the hobby?

    I have never seen a "Z" scale layout, or any equipment for sale in person, only on the web or in catalogs. I've seen a lot of "N" scale stuff, and it's great.

    By the way, i do "S" scale. I like the big stuff, and operating accessories. The downside? I don't have any space for a layout so i'm a member of a club. I run my stuff 4-6 times a year when we all bring our modules to shows, and at Christmas when i take over the library!

    Good luck!
    Have fun!
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    I concur with what the others said.I recommend you look at N scale.You can have twice as much in N scale as you would HO in half the space.

    I am not bais.I model in HO and N scale. HO at the club and N scale at home. :D
  6. mav_uk

    mav_uk Member


    Thanks people, just the type of advice I was looking for - I wish I had done this before buying the HO stuff.

    Size of layout - at most 2m * 2m (approx 6' * 6'). Plus, if possible I'd like it to be *slightly* mobile so when we have house guests they have somewhere to sleep......

    As for what I am interested in doing, I want a modern layout (plan on including something based on Hoofddorp, NL, Station as it's got quite interesting architecture, and Amsterdam Centraal. Plus a few different typs of areas, bit of office buildings, bit of housing that kind of thing.

    As for trains, as I say an ICE 3 from Germany / NL is on my shopping list, a Dutch double decker if I can find one, and some steam engines. A real mix.

    What I plan to get out of it? Well, although I am a bit of a perfectionist, I also know the limit of my artistic skills, and I don't have the steadiest (must apologise for my spelling :) ) hands in the world. Therefor I'd like a nice hobby that me and my fiancee can spend some time on making an interesting layout together. Looking at the posts here with pics I doubt I can make something that good.....

    I'll look into the availability of N scale here in Holland, sounds like that is going to be my best choice. Now to find some info on what I can fit in a 2*2 area in n scale.....

    Thanks people, and any extra advice is more than welcome I have no idea what to do!


    Anyone know the best method of selling 2nd hand HO stuff in Holland????
  7. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    I did the same thing you did, went out and bought an HO set to see how I would like it. I could see how much room it would take to do what I wanted and settled on N. I look at the HO purchase as a learning experience. I an thinking about using the cars to practice my weathering techniques when I reach that stage. ;) Besides, there's always the grandkids....:)

    BTW, you can actually get almost four times as much in the same size as HO. A 4' x 8' layout in HO becomes just about a 2' x 4' layout in N. Even though it is almost a 50% smaller scale, that works out to 25% of the area (50% of the width times 50% of the length).:D My first layout is on a 34" x 80" door, and that's plenty big enough for me right now.

  8. mav_uk

    mav_uk Member

    Grandkids! Don't scare me I'm only 26, haven't thought about kids yet! :eek:

    After saying that my other halfs sister wants kids so It can always go that way - always wanted to be kewl uncle Stu rahter than Firm Discipline Dad :)

    As for the layout size, that's what I was thinking. I have to admit that I looked at both sizes when I brought it, but nearly died when the N / Z scale stuff was the same cost as the HO - I was thinking the HO would have better detail, but from what I have seen some of the N scale is more than equal.

    Just gotta find prices, cash, and a layout design now. I've been quite taken by the Subway someone on this site is building and would like to add something of that theme on my layout...

  9. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    How About This?

    Just an idea, Stu, but you might like to bandy about the concept of a shelf layout around the walls, rather than a table in the middle of the room. I'd think that you could likely acheive a fair bit in N scale, even if you were working with a depth of 8 inches to 1 foot...(20 to 30 cm):)

    A long, long time ago, I built a small shelf-style N scale layout on a 6 inch wide board. ( 6 inches = ~15 cm) I had room for a main line, and in spots, passing sidings, a small yard, industries, and lots of rural area. This was on my bedroom wall as I went through high school. As I went along, I just built short sections and attached them with common shelf supports.

    Come to think of it, I really should dig up the thing and unpack it, as it was an enjoyable project.
  10. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    Welcome to The Gauge Stu,

    I was modelling HO European outline in Germany back in 1962 and am now into USA outline stuff in N gauge.

    European RR's are quite different from USA in their layout and stations, yards etc. I can suggest one or two books of layouts specifically for European models. They are published in german by "Kleine Modellbahn Reihe" and, being good publications they are probably still available.
    1st one is "100 Gleispläne N-TT-HO"
    2nd is "Bahnhöfe Im Modell"
    There are altogether 11 books (including photographing models) in the series and well worth trying to find copies.

    I don't know about prices in Holland but here in UK Z-gauge items cost an arm and a leg and probably a bit more :) .

    You can fit an N gauge RR empire on the 2m x 2m you are thinking of and, best of all, there are heaps of N models of Euro prototypes on the market where you are compared to Z products.

    Of course, the choice rests with you. I wish you well.


    Attached Files:

  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    As noted, N gauge costs about the same as HO, item for item. and I think Z might as well. It's the fact that the same effort goes into making them but the saving on material isn't much.
    So an N gauge layout will cost 4 times what an HO one will. BVut you will have much more stuff.
  12. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge Stu.
    So I here you are now into N Gauge a wise choise my friend.
    I think Lighthorsman has a good point if you would want an extra bedroom the shelf layout would be quite impressive.;)
  13. mav_uk

    mav_uk Member

    Thanks for all the info guys. Looking at everything said, and my experiences from spending too much needless money on HO here's my new plan....

    Start small, from the sounds of it I can get a good small layout in N scale. Probably a shelf type layout, with a small station (Hoofddorp, NL). And make it in such a way that I can expand without haveing to dismatle it all..........

    Start with the train(s) that come in the starter pack. This way the money I save on trains can be spent on getting the layout sorted. If I had done this rather than getting the starter kit + a TGV in HO I would not be 1000 guilders down, only 250.

    Work on one peice at a time and not get ahead of myself - Get Hoofddorp finished, then start on the scenery, then when I have the time / money / space look at a larger station!

    Thanks again for the info, and planting ideas in my head - I'd still be twiddling my thumbs trying to work out what to do without it!


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