Category Archives: Accessories for Z

Railex versus Z-Modellbau: Kof II showdown

Until Z-Modellbau took the challenge to manufacturer a Z Kof II with a Motor (!!!!) our choice was limited to mechanical rolling non-motorized Kof’s by Schmidt and Railex.

The Railex example here is cast brass (red paint scheme lettered for DB with open cab and black running boards) with fine detailing inside the cab, it was a very good example of a Kof II that Railex produced along with variations of this type.

Headlamps are non-working in both locomotives but Z-Modellbau rendered them white in perfect circles versus Railex which are hand-painted silver.

What to do with a non-working model train: use it of course! Before brushless motors manufacturers of Z gauge had certain limitations placed on their ambitions. Z gauge is already small in size so therefore modeling the smallest prototypes yield problem after problem including where to put a motor and gears. The solution with their larger steam locos and tenders was locating the drive mechanism within a passenger or freight car hence they were called “ghost cars” because they became hidden locomotives, but they allowed the locomotive to pull cars so to speak figuratively not literally. I collect Railex, they are beautiful and fun to behold. As for ghost cars I have never owned one, I understand they can be temperamental and many I see for sale are offered “not working”. Ghost cars can be built by industrious engineers with a clever creative side which describes most of us Z-scalers, if you choose the to take the challenge the rewards are big and stalled trains from 19th century Germany may come to life on your railway line.

Photo: no couplers on Railex, Z-Modellbau uses Marklin compatible couplers of their own design that unobtrusive in this small loco

Now the time is ripe for ambitious manufacturers to create smaller locos in Z that function, today brushless motors from Switzerland are available in a variety of small sizes so releasing new locos with this motor should be easy? Wrong. From idea to final market ready model is a design and manufacturing “Matterhorn” so to speak. Having the idea is the first step followed by researching the prototype’s blueprints, putting into scale, designing the parts and assembly. Every step is time consuming and difficult with a fair share of creative thinking, ingenuous problem solving and sheer expertise in tooling and production. The latter always flabbergasts me, how can anyone be gifted with such abilities that tiny tiny tiny details appear in such small locos at the same time concealing their build.

With the Railex Kof which is cast with add-on parts in cast brass the model is beautiful with a securing plate screwed to the undercarriage that simply holds the wheel-sets on: simple and beautifully designed. This example does not have couplers thus making it a stand alone model train.

Photo: Railex Koff hauling livestock boxcar both lettered for DB

The Z-Modellbau Kof II for NSB has an enclosed cab with glazed windows and their own unique design for a Marklin compatible coupler. A 10 volt coreless motor runs the show including gearing that allow smooth acceleration and deceleration but without working headlamps. Headlamps are beautifully modeled as if lit. Locomotive is weighted and balanced due to its metal nature throughout so pulling power is very good.

Photo: Railex Kof II is true to prototypical scale giving the boxcars the impression of great size

Small locomotives serve very important functions including shunting and branchline while others not covered here serve MOW (Maintenance of Way) service, they (speeders) are still smaller than the kofs  with one purpose: track inspection.

Siding: seen here are the two livestock boxcars comprising the Marklin 2 car freight set: 86602. For the first time this car type features interior detailing in the form of gates, it also includes laser cut build kit for loading ramp and movable fence sections.

Z-Modellbau builds the legendary ML 2/2 in Z!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maffei built the ML 2/2 steam locomotive in 1906-1908, Z-Modellbau built it first as a Z scale model. The observation has been made many times equating the appearance of early German steam locos with toy trains, but the ML 2/2 was a hardy locomotive that proved it’s worth.

 

Built for the Bavarian State Railways the ML 2/2 was equal measure to the PtL 2/2 built by Krauss. Service duties included all such description on branchlines, and it could be operated by a single driver due to its semi-automatic gravity fed firebox. 24 locos were produced until it was retired in 1924.

Z-Modellbau has done it again with one of the finest Z scale locos ever available, the fine detailing of this loco has no rivals. And it is very small and true to scale with the prototype’s external cylinders modeled with smooth moving side rods of an ingenious design. This little gem is all metal construction featuring brushless motor and window glazing in the cab.

The ML 2/2’s place in history has been preserved in Z by Z-Modellbau, every inch of this is a masterpiece even though it’s total length is less than inch.

Running performance is superb at slow idle through full throttle.

Marklin’s 82391 (2005) high capacity coal hopper lettered for K.Bay.Sts.B is a perfect choice for this loco as well as Marklin small loco repair shed 89805.

Photo: here the ML 2/2 details are seen with coal bin in cabin roof and Marklin compatible coupler.

The scaling of Z-Modellbau locos creates a dramatic appeal on the layout due to their small size. Juxtaposed next to larger more powerful stream loco the ML 2/2 will stand out next to those towering express locos. Train sheds and buildings will also offer interesting juxtapositions and already there are buildings by Archistories and Marklin that fill in this time-frame for authentic prototypical railway scenes.

Photo: on a siding or near a loco shed the idling ML 2/2 will have great appeal on rural railway lines hauling passenger and/or freight.

New Insights: Faller 282711 “Klingenberg Station”

A couple of years has passed since Faller released the card-stock kit for Klingenberg Station, it is remarkably similar to the plastic kit “Guglingen Station” with exceptions. The exceptions include new use of laser cut card-stock with a combination of laser cut wood parts and plastic.

Laser cut card-stock has evolved at Faller and currently there have been a number of them released over the years of entirely new designs even for urban settings. The neat innovation with Faller is the use of masking, it was originally useful/essential for lighting plastic buildings to avoid glowing of the whole building, but the original masks served double duty and introduced another innovation with window details: drapes and curtains. Card-stock is opaque so no glowing naturally occurs when lit, but Faller continues to include masking simply to add interest to the windows of their kits.

Note: LED’s are recommended to for lighting Faller buildings due to their brightness and dimming controls. LED’s are also cool versus conventional hobby lighting which give off a lot of heat. Lastly LED’s will last far longer than traditional lighting.

This first kit included plastic roof sheathing which I painted to lessen the look of plastic and the wooden parts are a beautiful texture and color hard to simulate in paper. A good design based on the original plastic kit available for many years this transitional kit to finer detailed laser cut cardstock was a very good attempt to keep pace with the growing trend toward professional cardstock construction. Faller continues to combine laser cut wood parts into these kits, and they continue to innovate with new kits each year.

Siding: this building could be a very good contender for modeling a Scandinavian themed layout?

Shapeways: New Directions in Z Modeling

3-D printing is all the rage these days, any manner of thing seems to be offered by this new technology. And now Z items are available through the company Shapeways. I hadn’t even thought about searching for such things but a few months ago I came across the Shapeways website. My Wife and I had a day off in some far off land so I had time to check out the 12 pages of Z gauge offerings by a number of designers, and I found it very enjoyable and ordered one. The item I ordered was a German class 701 catenary maintenance locomotive, it arrived packed in a sturdy box by the time we got home from our trip.

It is interesting to order from Shapeways, items are printed on demand with the disclaimer that the order maybe cancelled if Shapeways feels the item is too delicate to print so presumably not everything is available. The item I ordered was printed, and I am very happy with the finished shell. The plastic is translucent with a slight texture that will take paint well. Because of the translucent material lighting the loco will be disappointing unless a solution is made by masking (later problem to work through).

The locomotive came in two parts including the main shell and service platform. Detailing and design is quite excellent including warning beacon lights and roof top observation window. Shell has the same specs as the standard Marklin railbuses so adding a chassis and motor will be easy. A small hole is included in the roof to accommodate the single arm pantograph. Challenges for completing this project include painting and thus masking for three separate painting phases: safety yellow, gray and silver. Note: I find it easier to paint the dark color first inside and outside shell, finishing the roof as the final paint is what I do. Brushing the silver hardware for windows and black paint for buffers plus any touch-ups before following up with the final matte clear coat. Much easier to airbrush using water based paint diluted to flow through the airbrush used. Attaching the work platform permanently with 5 minute epoxy only, but the cool loco is designed for a pivoting work platform secured with a screw.

The prototype well depicted by the 3-D printed model as can be seen with two paint schemes by Marklin and Trix, and the roof observation hood as seen in the third photo of the prototype:

photo: Trix N scale class 701

photo: Marklin HO class TVT 6219 Esn

photo: prototype class 701

Notes on Shapeways products for Z: many curious items are offered including autos and loads as well as buildings, locos and rolling stock. These are projects that need to be completed and some that are offered will be more successful than others.

Perfect Partners: Archistories, FR, Z-Modellbau

Three manufacturers from Germany are probably the best small manufacturers in Z gauge today, each complementing one another with prototypical accuracy, precision engineering and design plus high quality material build. Each has their niche filling in where Marklin has not including early Prussian building kits, Scandanavian locos and rolling stock plus small locomotive classes untouched by any other manufacturer of Z.

The smallest operating locomotive in Z is represented in the offerings of Z-Modellbau, here is a Kof II painted and lettered for the NSB Railway coupled to FR Freudenreich’s container car for the SJ.

Far smaller in length than a single container car this locomotive features a brushless motor and brass gearing with metal shell.

In another photo a Prussian car-shop is juxtaposed alongside the tiny Kof II locomotive classified Skd211 for the NSB.

Siding: Kof style locomotives are essential for shunting and regional service with simplified operating procedures, a no nonsense locomotive with many useful duties. I plan to operate this one along a pier for shunting harbor freight.

quality-toys-trains on Ebay is the only USA dealer for FR and Z-Modellbau, Andreas is a trusted seller of rare Z!!!

Archistories: Farmstead “Dorpeder”

The other day I announced on this blog the new releases of Archistories, and there are many! Now the world of Z has some excellent buildings for urban and rural by this manufacturer and others, but modern suburban buildings are not covered as yet in laser cut. The Prussian style of architecture is a primary concern for Archistories with many very interesting building types represented with some equipped with motors that turn water wheels and windmills. All Archistories buildings making lighting a joy with predrilled holes in the base and partition walls, but the material nature of laser cut is opaque and won’t glow as does plastic when it is lit.

This farmhouse represents framework construction of the Westphalia region of Germany. Brick is used to fill in between the timbers sometimes the bricks are white washed with the prototype or simply stuccoed, they come in many variations and framework designs in Germany are rather unique seemingly organic constructions with personalities of their own. The wild variety of timber placement in this type of construction sometimes appears planned following some measure of symmetry and other times asymmetrical owing to unique and non duplicated forms. Framework construction with exposed timbers is seen alone and other times combined with sheathing along the roof trusses, brick and stone also make appearances not exclusive to foundation walls. The durable construction technique is also facilitated with strong foundations and steep pitched roofs of slate, terracotta or thatch.

The build of this kit is fun and enjoyable, the finished result is the best thus far in Z for a farmhouse. Some aging maybe desired depending on the era being modeled. The prototype for this example I would guess is mid 19th century to early 20th century when steam ruled and before German reclassification.

ZScaleMonster.com and ZScaleHobo.com are the dealers for Archistories in the United States, both are excellent and reliable sources for this and many more Z scale products.

Looking at Old Photographs for Modeling Ideas Part 4: Rural Houses

Three lovely photographs of homes in the country include scenes with lush vegetation, walking paths, young and old trees. How to model such a dynamic landscape will require keen observing and patience. Plus the right materials and tools.

The Frye House by Archistories

is a good building to start with, add various colors and lengths of Noch Static Grass, trees and hedges but don’t forget to shape the topography. Unless you live in Iowa  rarely is the land flat. Lighting a scene to replicate noon day sun is yet to be discovered when i have a solution I will surely post it. With the right light shadows will be soft and colors will be bright. Tissue paper could solve window treatments in the Frye House which features partition walls as a standard feature thereby allowing selective interior lighting. Walking paths, cemetery and fences are part and parcel of a well lived country side. Today it is possible to model all aspects of these three photographs but first comes planning and careful execution. One such tool that is expensive but worth owning is the Noch Staticmaster, it charges static grass thereby making it stand on end realistically. I got mine from ZScaleHobo.com. A Z scale steam engine taking a journey through such landscapes is the layout experience everyone will enjoy.

Photo1: Cantorhaus. Hille (choir leaders home next to cemetery and Christian marker)

Photo 2: Hille. Sasse

Photo 3: Hille. Bexhof

Looking at Old Photographs for Modeling Ideas Part 3: Railway Scenes

What is placed near a railway crossing and station requires planning and expertise. The two photos I am including here are a station and a grade crossing. Hedges and trees line the platforms with numerous kiosks located near the glass roofed portico. Old fashion iron lanterns once offered by Marklin can be seen in the railyard. The grade crossing with arms raised include several people giving a strong impression of scale, grade crossing arms are comprised of tapered poles heavily weighted on end.

Photo 1: Deynhausen. Salzsaline

Photo 2: Minden, Bahnhof

1848 Minden Bahnhof today

Siding: figures by Preiser add interesting scale features and points of interest, consider placing figures near view of trains as MOW (maintenance of way workers), passengers waiting for a train, or simply walking figures along the tracks or frolicking on a day off.

Interesting note: Minden Bahnhof is located just blocks from Archistories headquarters in Hannover, Germany.

Looking at Old Photographs for Modeling Ideas Part 1: Public Buildings

Photographs offer a vast array of ideas and insights into the past, and those touchstones may be a resource for modelers in Z. I recently purchased a collection of albumen photographs produced between 1890-1900 of various German subjects including railway scenes, town architecture and rural scenes that include farmsteads. If you model German railroading before reclassification these photographs maybe useful for ideas on scenery construction and scratch built buildings.

I will be featuring 22 photographs from this collection that appear to be made by the same photographer who used a 5×7 view camera with glass plates thereby insuring crisp detail. The precision of these photographs will be helpful in viewing fence types, tree types, road construction, topography, placement of buildings and the like. Each photograph is identified in the lower right corner, I will be researching these locations as much as possible, but consider for a moment that all appear to be taken in roughly the same region of Germany and most cases Hille, Germany which is situated west of Minden in Westphalia. Note: landscaping tends to look more overgrown than contemporary landscapes, in order to model this effect layers of landscaping materials need to layered in size and color.

Photo #1: Porta. Wittekindsburg built in 1896 (restaurant with people congregated along a sandstone fence)

Photo 2: Hille. Schule Witloge (school with excercise bars)

Photo 3: Molkerei (milk processing plant)

Photo 4: Hille. Pfarrhaus (parsonage)

Photo 5: Hille. Hartmann (goods store owned by Wilhelm Hartmann)

Photo 6: Minden. Kriegerdenkmal (1870- 1871 monument Minden)

Siding: Archistories has released numerous wood and metal fences depicted in fine laser cut plus industrial smokestacks to further accessorize Z layouts.

 

 

 

Good News! New Releases from Archistories 2017

Archistories “Dorpeder Hof” (photo: courtesy Archistories)

As many of you know who read this blog I am big fan of Archistories building kits for Z gauge. Archistories can be credited perhaps with igniting the trend of fine laser cut buildings in Z, they are fun to build and real architectural models: one step closer to reality! And they look great!

Archistories “Kallentaler Hof” (photo: courtesy Archistories)

The good news is Archistories has been been releasing numerous items recently with more to come including scratch build accessories and fencing solutions!

Today I received kits of two versions for farmhouse and barn: “Dorpeder Hof” and “Kallentaler Hof”. Both feature framework construction, but one is stucco and the other features brick fill with timber framework. The brick detail in the “Dorpeder Hof” kit is superb, it is also the kit I chose to build first. Each kit includes two buildings: farmhouse and barn with terracotta tile roofs. Overall an easy build which should take the experienced modeler 3-4 hours to complete. The only real difficulty with the buildings is lining up the filigree framework which is glued over the brick panels. Note: it is impossible to realign paper after pressure is applied.

I usually include a few notes based on my experience building laser cut that I hope are helpful. The instructions are always without error with Archistories, but I would point out a rather unique construction outlined in the instructions: farmhouse ends are built layer upon layer in more than 10 steps which require patience and precision, maybe 1/2 hour should be allowed for each. It is easy to overlook a step or part with complex constructions, probably rehearsing the assembly of all parts without glue is helpful. The other remark I would make is with the barn, part A10 is a delicate part that I recommend gluing to the base, but gluing it to the top panel only after it is assembled without glue. And great care should be exercised to avoid bending or breaking part A10.

Note: unlike plastic kits, some laser cut parts need to be aligned by the modeler such as decorative embellishments and moldings thus the parts that suggest joists should be aligned precisely with the framework timbers as is the case with the sides of the farmhouse.

Two dealers in the United States are reliable sources for Archistories:

  1. zscalemonster.com
  2. zscalehobo.com

Siding: the right glue for laser cut is Noch 61104 available at zscalehobo.com.

Siding: for realistic treatment of layout scenery stay tuned for historic photos recently discovered that might be helpful. Find under category “Scenery: Historical Guide.”