Monthly Archives: January 2017

Faller 282780: Town House

Just hitting the United States market by way of Walthers are two new laser cut card multi story town houses: 282780 “Town House” and 282781 “Provincial Houses.” This post concerns 282780, my dealer just notified me that my pre-order for 282781 is in, its posting will follow.

What to do when modeling an urban or provincial scene after having committed to laser cut card stock building kits, so far the choices have been limited to some very good rural buildings, and hopefully more will follow with the release of these kits.

This Faller kit features good detail including carved sandstone ornamentation, silver foil facade, dentil molding, and window masking unique to Faller. Challenges with this kit include many small delicate parts for the facade, construction of chimneys, and multi-part construction of dormers.

In the days before LED’s I would not spend a lot of time discussing the merits of the window masking, I found it too dense to light with a proper bulb without starting a fire. I exaggerate, but success was very limited with what was available before to properly light these structures. Today LED’s are available for lighting Z scale buildings with a great success, they are cool, long lasting (10,000 hours), and priced right. Plus the illumination is adjusted with individual dimmers controls. Everything gets lit with Faller’s window masking, but this can be altered by placing electric tape over individual windows you do not want to light. Masking material is provided if you want to light the dormers, you will also need to cut the top of the masking material before inserting into building. I have built three of these buildings, and I plan to build at least three more, I will vary the lit window effect with those buildings by lighting maybe just one or two floors or variations between what is lit on the facade side versus the back side of building. It is also a possibility to install the buildings close together for a realistic look.

Maybe this should not be your first laser cut card stock building, but it is easy for those with a couple of other buildings under their belt.

American Scenics Plug-In LED System includes many options and choices. Starter kit includes a couple of led’s, hub, and transformer, it is the best value.

The finished 282780 assembled with three kits:

Siding: several companies have cleverly designed their building kits for realistic lighting: Faller with window masking and Archistories with partition walls. If you haven’t tried Archistories building kits you are missing out on something special, they are available in the United States at and

Faller Z 282704: Bahnhof Huinghausen

A new building kit for 2016 was Faller’s 282704. The prototype for this station kit was built in 1915, it features a Mansard roof and timber goods shed with covered loading dock. Today the station serves as Sauerland Local Railway Museum.

The building kit is a combination of materials including laser cut real wood and cardstock. It is a very good kit of an interesting historic railway architecture. The challenges for this kit are the complexity of assembling the main building with its various roof surfaces. Faller kits feature window masks to add realism when lit, the window details in this kit are limited diffusion materials. All in all a very good kit for those with experience assembling laser cut buildings in Z.

All sorts of interesting detailing can be applied including shipping products that can be stacked on the dock and ready for the next train.

Lighting buildings these days has progressed to a great extent with the advent of LED, and Woodlands Scenics offers the solution with their Just Plug Lighting System. Before LED’s only a very bright and hot light bulb would illuminate the masking material of Faller buildings. Now with LED’s it is solved with bright LED’s that can be dimmed according to your preference. Add the long life (10,000 hours) and reasonable pricing lighting buildings in Z is now possible.


“All Is Not Lost”: 82540- Sugar Beet Harvest gets a fix

I was excited to get to the recent release of 82540, it came with cars of a superlative quality and as an extra bonus a card-stock build kit for beet loading machine of the prototype installed along a railway siding in Germany. Just the other day I wrote about the revelation of getting this freight set and building the kit, I made a few mistakes with the beet loader kit that were easy to rectify hence the title of this post. All is not lost many times with railroading, we modelers figure out a way to modify and fix problems in design or construction and sometimes the reconfiguring is big and sometimes small, but it is a good process and rewarding just the same.

I came across three excellent photographs on the web of the prototype for the build kit that gave me a better idea how to fix the loading area of the machine, the prototype features a angled sides for the beet loading which form a tub. I decided to go with this and add two strips that accentuate this design feature of the prototype using parts saved from the kit. With cardstock kits we are left with numerous parts that can be incorporated later so I save everything for future projects. My repair worked out great and I am happy with the result, weathering with dirt will follow and even some small areas of rust. As for the prototype it is a small machine built to a permanent foundation along a rail siding. And as a difference with the kit the roofing sheathing is translucent to block rain and sun, the build kit’s roof is opaque. The prototype sees a fair amount of use therefore I suggest heavy weathering is appropriate with dirt, grime and even rust along areas the have wear.


As can be seen in these excellent photographs the new build kit included with 82540 is very accurate, but you may pull your hair out building it due to the small parts. Nimble fingers are your best tools along with those all important magnifying goggles.

Note: I am researching the photo credits for these three excellent photographs which I found during a Google search for this beet loader. For research and educational purposes these photographs fully illustrate the scale, location, and construction of this specialty rail siding machine. The photographer will receive photo credit when I locate them.

Siding: Manufacturers of card stock kits recommend wood glues for assembly, but common white glue can also be added to that list which is mildly acidic. I use PVA (poly vinyl acetate) which has neutral ph, it is available at all art supply stores. I like PVA for its consistency and thickness, plus it sets up very quickly, and the neutral ph guarantees no future discoloration of paper.

Photographic Grey prototypes in Marklin Z

Marklin 88091: KPEV Class P10 (Insider Model 2003)

Marklin has released a number of locos in “photographic grey” paint scheme not limited to steam locos, but for this post only a few of the steam examples will be depicted. Historically “photographic grey” also known as “works grey” was an application of paint to a newly built and designed locomotive which would be photographed for the purpose of archiving as well as publicity. Why grey? Depicting a new loco in sharpest detail before the advent of color photography, 19th century locomotive builders relied on photographers who produced black and white photographs from large format negatives. The range of tones produced in black and white photography range from black with no detail on one end and white with no detail on the other with grey in the middle. This mid range gray is referred to as 18% gray which means its reflectance for photographic purposes is 18%. Photographs that are predominantly in this tonal range do not have strong shadows or highlights. Photographers realized many more details could be recorded if the subject in this case steam locomotives of the 19th and 20th century were painted in this mid range gray. Locomotive builders painted the early example of a new design in this gray tone, and they also attached all locomotive plaques before the photograph was made. After the photograph was made the builder removed the plaques and treated the gray paint scheme as a primer coat thus applying engine black and other paint colors as the final coat. Lighting was also an important consideration, an overcast sky with low contrast supported a better outcome by reducing distracting shadows. And then there were the retouchers who could masterfully remove distracting backgrounds including engine house, people and anything else that detracted from the locomotive in all its glory. Eastman Kodak probably provided the film which would have been perfectly flat silver nitrate coated glass as well as the retoucher’s pigments which would have included Kodak’s “Opaque Black” one of many specialist items devised by Kodak. Marklin gave me the opportunity to experiment with these observations with their historically accurate modelling so I have come up with several examples depicting a locomotive with “engine black” paint scheme, a locomotive depicted with rail yard buildings, and simulated overcast lighting.

Two locomotives with “photo-grey” paint scheme depicted with buildings in a rail yard: 88832 + 88040.                                                                                                                                                               

One locomotive with “engine black” paint scheme. Note loss of detail in 88092:

Locomotives depicted isolated from distracting background, bright overcast lighting, and “photo-grey” paint scheme.


82540 “Beet Harvest” car set and building kit

A long anticipated new freight car set has arrived for mini-club: 82540 “Beet Harvest” car set. Included in the set are 5 EANOS gondolas with completely new tooling. Also included in the set is a building kit identified by Marklin as the loading facility at Behringen, Germany. I am writing this post after having completed the building kit, and I decided to split the post into two parts: freight cars and building kit.

An introduction to this new release should first start with an historical perspective concerning sugar beets, its history is interesting. Sugar beet discovery in the mid 18th century with the support of the King of Prussia are the sweet alternative to tropically grown sugar cane. Today Russia stands as the world’s largest producer followed by France, United States and Germany respectively. Sugar beet harvest in the United States starts October 1st employing seasonal workers that help with the two week harvest. Two machines are used in the field including a defoliator to remove the green leaves and cut the beet top. A second machine is a “pinch wheel” harvester that pinches the root and lifts the beet to the harvester with some soil removal. From the harvester in the field the beets are offloaded to trucks for transport to a large processing plant. The Marklin model suggests a loading facility which would have been located near a rail siding for loading into high sided hoppers. Presumably a large farm or a group of farms can make use of this loading facility to expedite the transport by rail of this crop to the processing plant.

“Complete or partial new tooling” we hear a lot of from Marklin in recent years relating to the mini-club line-up owing to the many great advancements with new classes of locos, new types of rolling stock, motive power and in this case too a new building kit thrown in to an already outstanding set of 5 freight cars of completely new tooling. Set includes 5 type EANOS high side gondolas lettered for SBB with loads depicting sugar beets.  The finely lettered cars feature loads that are every bit accurate to real sugar beets in color and scale, google sugar beets and compare. Set gives a mighty fine impression of thousands of beets headed for the processing plant. A new advancement these days are close coupling featured with these cars.

A building kit is included with this set that Marklin describes at a loading facility from Behringen, Germany. Assembly instructions for the kit indicate Modellbau Laffont as the manufacturer, it appears that a similar car set was released previously by Trix with an identical ‘N’ scale loading facility. It is great fun to get cars with a building kit and vice versa, but this building kit is far from fun to assemble. First it is a building with filigree parts which form the framework along with several parts that require bending if you are to follow the instructions. Individual parts are numerous and made of construction paper thickness which can be difficult to work with. Add glue which expands and softens these parts along with their small size and your task is not going to be fun if you compare this kit to other manufacturers like Archistories. I give credit to the manufacturer for coming up with an interesting building, and I fully appreciate the tight budget that follows. If you get through the rather difficult construction you may be surprised at what an interesting finished building it is. Deciphering the illustrated instructions would be far easier a second time around so some mistakes I made would be avoided during a second build. I have a few suggestions and modifications that I would follow if I made another. So with the mistakes and modifications I am happy with the building which will be a great addition to my future layout alongside other laser cut card stock buildings which are rich in detail and color. 

Note: modifications that I made to the kit include two with the back wall – no angled roof partition and addition of brown strip to lower track side to hide cardboard bend marks. The first was a mistake and the second was to hide a rough part.

Start with the right tools, there are not many but don’t attempt to assemble this kit without magnifying goggles (not pictured)! Notice the exclamation mark next to the last comment.

Kit comes delivered in 8 part sheets of various color including one that are decals for “warning” stripes. Care should be taken separating parts as they are of very light gauge paper. Notice the large number of parts for this assembled model of just 1 1/8 x 2 13/16 inches overall.

Following the instruction manual I would make these comments in order of appearance to hopefully add some enjoyment and success for others putting this kit together: Steps A and B depict the filigree framework construction and attachment to the base, small drops of glue with a pin is all you need, I would suggest gluing after you have these parts in place followed by single drops below base where posts engage in holes in base. Step E requires bending conveyor belt, paper fibers will break in jagged edges plus may separate, I would suggest a small drop of glue to soften the ends of these fibers and bend back in place thereby smoothing the bend. Step F gives instructions to bend and contour a large part that goes across base and conveyor identified as part #D1, this part is flimsy paper and all the bends and contouring will give poor results and you may not be able to center the conveyor properly, I suggest cutting this part into three parts: along treads, beginning of conveyor, and back wall. After this part is carefully cut into four parts carefully glue in place starting with the conveyor which should be centered with the vertical conveyor shoot. Note: gaps can be filled with glue applied with a pin. Step M illustrates placing electrical box and storage box below conveyor, at this point it is awkward to place them, I suggest placing the electric box and carefully applying a drop of glue after placement followed by storage box. Step N part G4 is a roof partition for the back wall, it should be installed on an angle. Step P illustrates roofing material, fill gaps between sheets with glue. Lastly if you want to add realism consider weathering with dirt and grime, moving parts would be greased attracting dirt dust and static parts would have a layer of dirt. During loading a cloud of dust would be present. Dry brush techniques for dirt and grime on structure and conveyor, and application of dry pigments to roof and base by careful rubbing.

Siding: loading facility gives sense of scale to the massive size of these gondolas, a few figures and tractor with trailer or truck would give the impression of the operation. Wespe Models make a couple of nice tractors, a prototypical tipping trailer will be harder to model.

BR 94, BR 194, BR 1020: Marklin 5 Pole Motor Upgrade

Marklin’s 5 pole motor upgrade for 8812, 8822, 88221, and 8824 uses Marklin Part #E211906. The original motor for these listed locos was 3 pole with part number 268200, the original 3 pole was a good motor for this loco design which featured cast metal frame and end units thus making for a well balanced and heavy locomotive. Improvements with the upgrade include finer slow running performance and quieter operation.

This upgrade will be performed on 8824 which is the BR 194 lettered for the DB with turquoise and cream paint scheme. 8824 was produced for 5 years starting in 1989. If your loco was stored for many years without running it may need a full restoration in addition to the motor upgrade. If nothing moves, the motor does not run, and just the lights work it could have “hardened oil syndrome.” Restoration of locos with hardened oil require complete breakdown and cleaning.


Motor upgrade for this loco will require a little patience and time, but generally speaking it is a fairly easy repair. To start: 1. pull off middle cast plastic shell with very thin plastic guitar picks.

2. Note: circuit board does not have a retaining screw as other mini-club locos have, it is held in place with 4 clips. Carefully release the circuit board from clips with gentle pressure using a small screwdriver.

3. Wires soldered to either end of circuit board should be carefully pulled from center between pick-ups to outside of pick-ups. Solder points maybe brittle due to age, there is the possibility at this point that one may break necessitating soldering.

4. With circuit board gently pulled to one side unscrew clips holding motor to chassis.

5. Note: original motor and new 5 pole motor are basically the same with differences including heavier gauge wire for capacitor and different coating on capacitor. I have made this upgrade a few times already, and I have noticed manufacturing differences with this motor including a larger coating on the capacitor plus varying length of wire for the capacitor. The nature of the capacitor with this motor can create a few challenges for the repairman. It is required that the capacitor is bent low enough to not impede placement of the circuit board, and the new motor with heavier gauge wire is more difficult to bend than its forebear. Plus manufacturing differences with capacitor coating may add another layer of difficulty. In this example the capacitor is of normal size, but one I recently installed in the 8812 was large which made for a challenging placement of it just above the worm gear while still being low enough under circuit board.

Note: black housing in the new motor.

Note: original motor’s capacitor wires are bent with a slight curl near motor with capacitor nearly touching worm gear.

6. Next: add one drop of oil on each worm drive before installing clips. Circuit board and wires should return to their original position with great care to avoid bending pick-ups. Circuit board clips back into place and then shell goes back on with catenary screw peaking out of hole in shell.

Siding: a brief break-in period for the motor is recommended before installation at low, medium and high throttle for a couple minutes both directions.