Z newbie needs general advice...

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Zman, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. Zman

    Zman Member

    Hello everyone. I'm very interested in modeling Z scale. I am a complete beginner, although I have a degree of modeling experience when it comes to planes and ships. I would appreciate any advice you gurus might have for me. I've done a considerable amount of research on the internet so far, and will continue to do so until I feel educated enough to start buying.

    I live in a small apartment, and only have enough room to store three 2' by 4' layouts, hence my interest in Z scale. Here are some of my specific questions:

    1. Are the Markel starter sets any good? I particularly like the Bavarian Ludvig I set that Reynaulds has for sale right now. I know that many manufacturers don't necessarily include their top-of-the-line stuff in starter sets. Is this true of Markel?

    2. Is there a good software for Z scale track planning?

    3. What's a good resource for learning landscaping techniques in Z scale? I know it's practically like micro surgery, but that's part of what I find appealing about it.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you may have for me.

  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Landscaping techniques are basicly the same for all scales, only the size of the materials changes. :D (oh, and the volume)
    There's lots of info here at the guage, Woodland Scenics has a book, and a video, featuring their products, and there are lots of articles in the model railroad magazines that could help.
    Pay very close attention to track laying in Z..... .01" in O scale isn't a difference,
    in HO, it's about an inch, in Z, it's hitting a curb!

    Maybe there's someone here who can answer the software question?, and the "product" question.
  3. lsk040365

    lsk040365 New Member

    I would go with an American set by Micro-Trains myself before I would spend a fortune on the Marklin sets. The Marklin sets run good as I purchased the Sante Fe "F" unit set and like it a lot. The very first thing I did however was to convert the couplers to Micro-Trains couplers. I also own a few "F" units from Micro-Trains and appreciate them very much and they are quite a bit heavier than the Marklin units and run just as well with just a tad bit more noise though. I also like their rolling stock and flex track quite a bit as well.

    Abracadata 3-D Model Railroad Design and Concept is by far the best track planning software where Z scale is concerned and would reccommend it highly as I have used it a number of times with my own Z scale stuff...

  4. Zman

    Zman Member

    Thanks for the advice, Pete and Lee. I ordered the Woodland Scenics materials, and the Abracadata software. Can't wait to get it it.

    Lee, I have a few questions about the difference between Marklin and Micro-Trains. I've only seen "F" units made by MT, but I'm interested in modeling a 19th-century scene, be it American or European...

    Also, are Marklin and MT tracks compatible with each other? I take it the couplers are not...
  5. lsk040365

    lsk040365 New Member

    The Marklin track and MT track are compatible as far as I know. I don't have any of the two types mated together but if memory serves me, they will do OK together linking up via the usual rail joiners used...

  6. Livesteam

    Livesteam Member

    Marklin is a good company but expencive i was thinking of getting into those too
  7. Tuned MP5T

    Tuned MP5T New Member

    Micro Train is suppose to release new Z scale products in the fall.
  8. Livesteam

    Livesteam Member

    do you know what they are releasing?
  9. Tuned MP5T

    Tuned MP5T New Member

  10. Livesteam

    Livesteam Member

    they are very detailed but too bad they couldnt be a little cheaper in price.
  11. hemiadda2d

    hemiadda2d Member

    I use Peco flextrack, and it's nice. It's hard to get the impossibly small rail joiners on them, though!
    The marklin American steam sets are very nice runners I hear...

    As for trackplaning, I use Microsoft paint. I draw the outline of the benchwork,a dn make lines to make a trackplan. Worked for me for years!
    Here's a current plan for a layout I'm planning on building as soon as I move to Montana: The D&RGW Secret Places Sub. (based on the Tunnel district from Tunnel 1 west of Denver, CO, to Tunnel 29)
  12. pray59

    pray59 Member

    There is a new Z Scale modular standard that is catching on real quick called Z-Bend Track or ZBT for short. http://members.aol.com/zbendtrack/main.html There are 10-15 ZBT clubs now, and lots of people who are making their modules to those standards. What is nice, is that as long as the standard tracks exist, anything else goes.

    I have 3 ZBT modules under construction now, a 2'x4' straignt and two 2'x2' end modules. Mine are kind of boring, but in our club, we have guys building tee modules, 15 degree bend modules, and balloon turnaround modules, all with lots of interesting trackwork. Everyone seems to be designing their modules so the standard tracks can be used as yard tracks or industry sidings for home use as stand alone layouts, and because Z is so small, there is plenty of room to do that in only 2 feet deep space, and still leave a radius of turns that lets you run everything available.

    I have a decent collection of Z now, after being in it for only 2 years, and have a mix of Marklin, AZL, and MicroTrains locos. I do have a couple European trains that I like, the small Prussian sets that look so cool, but mostly I have US prototype. I prefer the MTL couplers too, as they are not so big, and couple nice and close.

    As far as scenery, I like the Woodland Scenics scenery method, just sticking to the fine grade materials instead of the clumps, but I prefer Arizona Rock & Gravel for ballast as it don't float away, and looks very realistic. WS sells a starter landscaping kit, which allows you to try all their tecniques out.


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