Category Archives: Accessories for Z

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.”

Marklin Maintenance Facilities: 1 + 2 + 3

Marklin has thus far released three maintenance facility laser cut kits with related accessories starting with 89805 (2015): “Small Railroad Maintenance Facility, 89806 (2016): “Small Maintenance Facility” and 89807 (2017): “Maintenance Facility Setup”. All kits are available.

89805 includes a small loco shed with an attached workshop, small water tower, standpipe, coal loading bin with crane and buckets, plus two cast metal speeders for rail inspections (*includes track compatible rollers).

89806 includes a two stall loco shed, Prussian water tower, cast metal power shovel, sanding tower, 2-inspection pits and blasting rack.

89807 includes Sulzdorf freight shed, track scale structure, tool rack with tools, oil standpipe, smokestack, and handcar.

Build all three: Accessories in each kit complete the tools and equipment for maintaining steam locomotives thus building all three affords a realistic representation of steam maintenance facilities. The only redundancy in the three kits are the first two loco sheds but each can be used in various parts of a layout including the first loco shed alongside a small rural station for rail bus storage. Two water towers are included in these kits: one paired with a standpipe and the other representing Prussian design.

Notes on construction: Several challenges exist completing the various kits including filigree cutouts that layer over building sidings, small parts to assembly and the intricate nature of working small. Careful preparation will go along way including precise cutting of parts, alignment and gluing. Magnifying goggles, tweezers and small drops of wood glue are all that is needed. I recommend Noch glue for laser cut available from ZScaleHobo.com, this is an easy to apply strong glue and superb to apply right from the tube due to the small applicator.

Special challenges with these kits: Window glazing requires manual cutting and measuring unlike some kits which diecut the glazing. Loco doors on the second kit’s shed do not have glazing frames so the glazing is glued directly onto door panels, perhaps consider some customizing to add a subtle frame around the windows(?). Some filigree parts are lightweight paper so great care needs to be taken to avoid rippling of the paper thus achieved with very little glue applied. *A glue stick is ideally suited to avoid applying moisture to paper constructions but in the case of laser cut buildings in Z it is unsuitable for a variety of reasons.

Marklin 89807

Rating: All three kits are perfectly tuned to Z scaling and rich in details. The freight shed in 89807 is superb as are the water towers which isn’t to say any of the other constructions in these kits are anything less. I would highly recommend all three kits, they were super easy to build with noted special challenges the finished buildings look great.

Repainting 8135 coaches for the SJ: Part 3

This is the 3rd and final post on the repainting and lettering of the Marklin Dompfeil train set (8135) for the SJ.

Before (Marklin 8135):

After (SJ coaches using FR decal set):

At the start of this project I had never repainted a train car before or operated an airbrush thus much was learned.

SJ coaches in z scale have been extremely limited, FR released a type litt AB8k 1st and 2nd class in a single release of 30 only, FR 46.299.00 was based on a German built coach that was used on a ferry service. In order to accurately represent this coach FR modified a Marklin coach that was shortened by one window.

photo: FR 46.299.00 (edition: 30 total) – SJ type litt AB8k 1st and 2nd class coach

For those interested in SJ modeling in z there are numerous locos and freight cars by FR, but scant few passenger coaches until FR released a decal set several years ago intended for the Marklin 8135 coaches, these German built coaches for the Dompfeil train set were likewise used on the SJ.

The process of producing a set of 4 coaches started with disassembly of the coaches followed by stripping, in this post the final stages are documented including masking, painting, and lettering.

Identifying the sections to paint include the undercarriage, sides, and roof. The roof is a clip on part, it does not require masking unlike the shells. Painting two colors of the same part requires masking, I decided to start with the undercarriage and vestibules color, I sprayed the entire shells with this color with no masking.

Before applying the brown paint I masked off the vestibules and undercarriage. The masking material is similar to common masking tape, but it is markedly thinner with a slick surface, it also comes in a variety of widths. I chose masking tape of 6mm width manufactured by Tamiya.

After paint is dried the masking tape is removed, for areas not protected by masking retouching maybe required, I chose to paint the buffers with a brush as the final stage of painting, masking these seemed an impossible task and fine brush work produced great results.

The FR decals in the set are applied by rubbing onto the cars, they differ from other decals that are applied with water. The decals provided had alignment marks to make positioning easy, my burnishing tool was an artists’ burnishing bone, but a soft tipped lead pencil should work fine.

After decals are applied a final coat of clear lacquer is sprayed on to protect the finish and decals. And reassembly follows as the last step.

Notes on airbrushing: I purchased an Iwata Neo airbrush with an Iwata braided hose for just over $100. Several airbrush air compressors were available from the store I purchased the airbrush from with prices ranging in the $220-$300 range, I chose to use a Porter Cable pancake compressor I use for air tools. A fitting is available to connect the braided airbrush hose to this type of compressor for a few bucks. The only difference between an air tool compressor and a specialty airbrush compressor is one of noise, the airbrush compressor is very quiet while hearing protection is required with the pancake compressor. PSI (pressure per square inch) is a determined by testing on a piece of paper, I set the compressor gauge to 20 PSI which worked perfectly, others I researched recommend 15-20 PSI. Air brushes require cleaning after painting, cleaners are available or water can be used for acrylic paints. When the spray is clear the nozzle is clean, other parts should be cleaned as well. A cleaner between paint colors is also required.

Notes on paint: the consistency of paint should be the same as skim milk, most paints may require thinning with water to gain this consistency. I used Testors acrylic paints that I mixed to customize the color, they are railroad based colors that did not require any thinning. The clear coat I used is made by Iwata, it was the consistency of white glue and required thinning to spray. Acrylic paints dry quickly and can be layered on layer without skinning as can be the case with enamels or the combination of the two. The very best results will be achieved with 100% acrylic paints. Careful attention should be applied in mixing paints for airbrushing, straining maybe required to avoid clogs and poor paint results. For safety use a mask and gloves.

Notes on applying decals: as with much detail work careful consideration applies to attaching decals, they are transferred from a sheet to the model with burnishing tools. Best results are achieved with a level flat object, I use a specialty artists’ burnishing bone. Pointy tools will not work! Acrylic paints should be allowed to dry overnight to provide a hard surface for decal work. And very delicate handling until final spray coat of lacquer. I used clear lacquer with a satin finish which is consistent with Marklin’s coach finishes.

For close to two years I had the decal set and a second Marklin 8135 for this project, but I was reluctant to start due to lack of expertise. Plus I was apprehensive to strip the paint of mint Marklin coaches: after stripping there was no going back. I discovered that air brushing is easier than I thought producing a superior paint finish. Now I feel the airbrush is as important to the railroader as the soldering iron. Future uses for this new tool include weathering track, cars and locos.

Good luck and have fun!

Siding: FR’s Ra 987 electric locomotive is a compatible loco for this coach set, it is based on the prototype from the mid 1950’s:  FR 46.132.01 was produced in a limited series of 32 total, it is still available from quality-toys-trains on Ebay.

 

New Release Build Kit: Marklin 89807 Freight Depot

Marklin new release of a freight depot in laser cut cardstock is the “Bee’s Knees”! This was a fun kit to put together and aside from taking extra time on window glazing went together surprisingly quick. Marklin labeled this kit as “Maintenance Facility Set-up Part 3”, it includes loco maintenance equipment as a bonus but the building can be used as a stand alone freight depot. Marklin 89805 with loco shed, coal loading crane and bins is considered the first in this series and 89806 is considered the second in the series which includes loco shed with two tracks, water tower, and cast metal power shovel.

Measuring in inches 4 1/2 (length) x 1 15/16 (width) x 1 9/16 (height) the new freight depot kit is loaded with detail with a very pleasing color scheme.

The 2 chimney building allows workers warmth at both ends with the expected heavy draft coming from the 6 large freight doors complemented by iron framework ornamentation. The framework construction typical in parts of Germany sits atop a cut stone foundation with windows around the perimeter.

A crane is permanently installed on the dock and when properly installed swivels. Heavy beams support the docks with sets of wooden steps allowing access from the ground. It is possible to light the building with pre-cut holes for installation and one partition wall to create lighting effects.

Construction tips: kit designed for the modeler with a little experience with laser cut cardstock buildings. This kit features all the challenges you may ever see in laser cut including filigree framework that installs over brick panels. The chimneys are always deserving of care, attention and time because they involve the inner forms for construction followed by 4 side panels that need correct alignment with a chimney cap installed on top. Results are always better with properly installed window glazing which is the first step in all laser building kits with windows. A time consuming exercise relying on cutting precise squares and rectangles out of the provided mylar sheet. Don’t proceed building this kit without the window glazing, they give depth to the building especially when lit from within or side lit. A characteristic of laser cut cardstock buildings are the sometimes flimsy papers used to complement 1:220 scale and intricate detailing, overly thick paper stocks would diminish the overall look of fine detailed z buildings. Gaining experience with these kits will surely reward the z modeler with correctly scaled and interesting architectural models. Weathering is certainly a consideration to add depth and character to a building of this type, the docks would receive heavy wear from dollies and hand trucks representing the dirty paths embedded in the dock’s planks, soot from the chimneys and age patina of steel sheathing on the roof. Air brush and dry brush techniques for both areas of the building.

Accessories in the kit: the building could have been enough for this very successful kit, but as an added bonus loco maintenance equipment was also included: rail bicycle, track scale with building, steam loco tools and stand, oil standpipe, and smokestack.

This kit is highly recommended.

Good luck and have fun!

 

Weathering Laser Cut with Noch and Railroad Colors

Yesterday I put together the fine new building kit from Marklin: 89759 Girder Bridge. Railroaders know from experience that these rather common bridges get a lot of abuse and neglect from weather, wear and tear from daily heavy train traffic and delayed upkeep. To explore the idea of realism as it goes with these bridges I decided to add weathering to the one I just made.

One new product from Noch is a 2 part rust kit (61162) which incorporates an iron medium that is oxidized by the application of a second solution. The Noch product plus Railroad Colors “Tarnished Black” water based paint will be used in this weathering example.

Noch recommends prepping the surface to be rusted with a spray fixative. In the case of paper it is recommended by this modeler, without spray fixative the Noch Rust kit soaks into paper leaving little on the surface to later oxidize. Wet application of paints also leave little flexibility or control as they too will be soaked up in a laser cut building kit, layering of color will thus be difficult. What to do? I recommend a spray fixative which is applied by passing the building through a spray mist of Artists’ fixative rather than spraying the model directly. Too much spray fixative will darken the color of the model, it is also unnecessary. Your health will benefit from this small application and don’t forget a mask. As for applying paint I recommend the dry brush method which entails saturating a brush with paint and running both sides of the brush over a paper towel until little paint is seen on the paper towel thus allowing a very controlled randomized application. I use dry brush for all weathering techniques, it works to bring out surface engravings in laser cut better than the dab and smear approach with cotton balls recommended by one manufacturer or traditional painting. I also sometimes use paint directly with a small brush to push dirt into hard to reach crevices such as with this bridge.

Railroad bridges lack ornamentation, they are designed to be strong and functional. What a railroad bridge wears on its surface is dirty sticky grime, oil sprays, abrasions from ballast getting kicked up, soot and rust. For a well maintained bridge the rivet heads and plates will have some rust coating eventually while the rest of the bridge will be covered in years of weather and train wear and tear. How far you go with weathering is your choice but keep in mind a fresh painted bridge is rare in the real world. Plants sometimes find their way onto this bridge type along with birds nest and the like.

Photo: before weathering:

Photos: after weathering:

Note: Railroad Colors make oil and water base paints, I recommend the water base paints due to their dull flat appearance when dry.

Applying Noch Rust is easy, after prepping the surface the first step is applying iron from the large bottle. The manufacturer recommends 2 hours of dry time before the second step applying oxidation from the small bottle. Noch recommends a second application of spray fixative to stop the oxidizing process.

Try the dry brush method of applying paint after the rusting steps are completed. And that’s all you need to do.

Note: an assortment of brushes from small to big and flat to round is recommended. I also customize brushes including a cheap natural fiber house painting brush, I like these brushes because their fibers are of all lengths and rough thereby randomizing the application of paint with dry brush. I also cut these brushes to the width I want to work in this case the brush width corresponds to the width of the sides and base.

The number one dealer for innovative Noch products is zscalehobo.com.

Products used in this posting: Noch 61162, Railroad Colors “Tarnished Black” and Marklin 89759 Girder Bridge.

Good luck and have fun!

Siding: if boats travel under your bridge perhaps consider adding a warning light, warning stripes, or signage.

 

New Release: Marklin 89759 Steel Girder Bridge

With the new release of a steel girder bridge Marklin has further committed to finely detailed and textured laser cut kits in Z. For those who have been fortunate to discover Archistories kits this one is similarly packaged, but it is not an Archistories kit, the manufacturer of this kit is Modellbau Laffont who have produced other kits recently in the Marklin Z line-up.

For an easy introductory laser cut kit this is a good place to start, it will take about 1 – 2 hours to complete for those with a little experience perhaps longer if this is the first time completing such a kit. A fine OLFA razor knife is perfect, a pair of fine tweezers and common white glue although I prefer NOCH 61104 glue designed for this purpose.

The steel girder railroad bridge is common to all parts of the globe in one form or another because of its high strength and low cost. Usually older bridges are spotted with rust and the general rule is follow a maintenance schedule including repainting this type of bridge periodically to extend the life many years in the future. For a railroad layout a choice can be made to add weathering such as dirt, grime and rust which I will be following up with in a future post.

The bridge kit is loaded with detail including the heavy riveted plates joining angled beams, it also features a wood plank walkway with attached railing. The completed project is a well thought out heavy duty steel bridge that is rigid as a model too.

The cost of the bridge is reasonable, I bought mine for $16.00. Overall length is 4 1/4 inches and multiple bridges will be an eye catcher on a layout. Bridge supports will need to be fashioned with some type of masonry either brick or stone, these veneers are easily available, they are glued over cardboard or styrofoam. With its filigree base the light from your locos or coaches will reflect in the river below to spectacular effect.

Good luck and have fun!

New Releases: Archistories “Signal Towers” + Marklin tank loco 88957

The perfect companion for Archistories buildings along the rails is Marklin and vice versa. Three new releases by these two companies plus one more Archistories will be the gist of this post.

Both companies of German origin go hand in hand, Archistories reaching back in time with their early Prussian design brick industrial buildings which service the railway and Marklin’s wide range of Era 2-6 locos and rolling stock. A new release by one of these companies builds on the tradition of what has been released thus far.

For Archistories two new signal towers one of brick and the other framework construction complement another interlocking tower with exposed timber released a few years back.

Variations in their kits include thus far have included framework versus brick as was the case with the mill building which can be seen here along side the new release signal tower of exposed timber/framework construction. Framework construction can be seen in Germany in a variety of uses including residential. Adding several different building types in exposed timber versus brick makes for a very interesting landscape.

Notice the mill propped by tweezers to level it out for the photo, the wheel extends below grade and it is serviced by a small motor provided in the kit. Simply soldering is required to attach two diodes in-line to the positive pole, wires thus descend below the structure and will thus be hidden from view after the building is planted in your layout’s landscape. The first step to making the mill is the wheel which is the more involved than the rest of the kit, but it is fun to start here knowing that by the end of the day that wheel will be turning wheat berry into flour for your town’s sustenance. The motor provided in the kit is shaped to perfectly conform to the buildings framework, but before proceeding you will want to confirm the motor is functioning properly just to be sure, it is highly unlikely to have a motor defect in an Archistories kit. The manufacturer suggested to me that a couple of more diodes can be installed to reduce the sound of the motor, I am a okay with the movement and sound, I don’t feel additional modification is warranted. Special Note: diodes should never be covered by electrical tape due to the potential of overheating, leave them naked so to speak!

Finding a home on the layout will require a mill race with partially dammed water to create pressure, one door is provided to the bridge that could provide access to a parking area for a truck or wagon. A Preiser figure or two will sure add scale and built into each Archistories kit are partition walls to carefully control light flow inside the mill.

If you have ever wondered what a signal tower looked like way back in the day Archistories has provided us with three examples including the two mentioned in this post. When signal towers had a purpose they housed throw levers made of brass that skilled operators would throw and pull to control semaphores and track switches. In the United States switch towers can be seen variously within large switch yards but the throw switches have been replaced with electronic push buttons. And for that matter modern control can be carried out miles away. Signal towers in the United States were so well built as was other rail infrastructure that many abandoned years ago still stand today.

Archistories has modeled their signal towers/interlocking towers with many throw levers, and they have provided large windows for good visibility, the name of the game is coordination and visibility, railways could not sustain frequent accidents or misaligned trains thus the operator of signals and switches provided a very important contribution to safe and efficient rail service.

Marklin’s new tank loco is a member of the elite new and improved steam loco design for Mini-club that includes partially new tooling including the active side rods whose movement is a lively and graceful dance, new tooling includes detailed running gear and brakes. To not mention the extensive and crisp painting and printing would be an oversight since the level of detail probably extends further than we can see, but it is reassuring that Marklin still goes further than we might require to bring the model closer to the prototype. This one being the KPEV class T12 tank locomotive with “Berlin” destination board and used in suburban traffic. Marklin 88957 is an MHI Exclusive, collectors will need to contact an MHI dealer to order this one. The Marklin Handlers Initiative constitutes those dealers who order everything Marklin produces thus guaranteeing availability of certain releases other dealers may not have access to. Having a relationship with an MHI dealer who also handles your Insider subscription will guarantee your collection grows with some of the rarer releases.

Recommended: Noch 61104 laser-cut adhesive features pin point accuracy when applying glue in small drops for laser-cut cardstock building construction: faster than applying glue with a pin or toothpick!

Good luck and happy railroading!