Category Archives: Archistories

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!

Archistories: Interlocking Towers Kallental and Dorpede

Sitting along side this 1915 “Achilles”  Marklin 1 Gauge live steam engine are two new releases by Archistories: Kallental and Dorpede “Interlocking Towers.”

Both buildings follow the same architectural design but vary in material construction, one is brick and the other is open timber. A throwback to a time in railroad history when signals and switch turnouts were controlled mechanically by an operator. Today these structures have largely disappeared with the advent of electric controls: push buttons replacing throw levers.

Which one you choose is a matter of personal preference, but each reflects distinct styles of German industrial architecture. Cut-outs are incorporated into the buildings for accessory lighting along with partition walls to control light flow. Additional features that are new to Archistories kits that I have assembled are scored boards for continuously folded frameworks walls, open timber and even ornamental brickwork. Working with long parts that fold is assisted by very light scoring along those lines that have already been etched by the laser. Archistories kits are nothing like all the other ones on the market by other manufacturers, Archistories can be described as kits combining the highest quality materials, precision and design. Here you will find beautiful roof sheathing that is attached to solid underlayment, parts that actually fit together perfectly, and highly detailed window frames. Crisp detailing throughout inspire one to sit and marvel at the finished projects.

If you are new to building laser cut with numerous small parts and parts with filigree I would suggest a couple of practice runs applying glue to thin strands of scrap material before jumping in and gluing the open timber framework on the Kallental Signal Tower. The simple rule to follow is to place drops of glue instead of streams of glue in modest amounts and in discreet places. Not much glue is needed after all, parts in these kits are warp free allowing much less glue than other manufacturer’s buildings. Warp free high grade materials characterize Architories kits.

For those on the fence about laser cut I have a simple experiment: 1. Buy one of these kits and assemble it 2. take the finished building along with an assembled plastic building to a real life industrial complex preferably from the turn of the century and abundant in the United States 3. hold both kits alongside real life industrial brick architecture 4. ask yourself which looks closer to real life? I am confident the answer will be Archistories buildings every time.

Building a scene which incorporates these buildings are perfectly illustrated by Archistories company photographs. These dioramas incorporate cast rock formations, static grass of varying lengths and color, shrubs and trees placed as one would see along a railroad siding, track ballasting representing the region modeled and of course the painted or photographically illustrated background. Viewing the scene at eye level brings it all together and the backdrop brings it all together.

Photo used by permission (copyright: Archistories)

Siding: weathering can be added to Archistories buildings, I recommend the dry brush technique. Care should be taken to ensure good results, please keep in mind the high absorbent nature of these materials, it is better to start with a very dry brush and build up layers, too much paint and the building will be ruined. Or don’t weather at all!

Your wish has been granted: 2 new releases from Archistories!!!!

It has been too long since I have put together an Archistories building kit, and just the other day I was hoping for a new release; my wish was granted two-fold with the release of a signal tower in two versions: 1. 101161- Dorpeder/Moosbach brick construction variant one and 2. 102161- Kallental/Biberbach open timber variant two.

Archistories 101161

Archistories 102161

*Photos courtesy of Archistories.

If you have not assembled an Archistories kit let me tell you to get on board and put one of these kits together. Realism with fine detailing and historical accuracy are built into each kit. Plus the best build instructions of any building kit out there for ‘Z’. The novice who takes their time and enjoys the journey will produce a building so fine family and friends will take note that this hobby of your’s is serious business.

Archistories granted permission to use two of their company photographs in this post. The photographs illustrate how nicely these buildings can look in a railroad diorama whose design and construction is equivalent fun to running trains. And very satisfactory investment of time!

Laser cut fiber buildings are the next generation, this and other developments in ‘Z’ are getting scale model railroading closer and closer to the prototype.

I ordered both kits the other day from Z Scale Hobo, they should arrive any minute although my postman is on holiday so hopefully these minutes will not pass into hours. Can you tell I am anxious to start building these signal towers????

In the meantime as I continue to wait let me mention a few words about Simply posting a link to this store would not be enough, in this day and age there are internet stores popping up all the time, but is not your typical online retailer of trains.

Here are some of the unique (not overstated) reasons to shop here: 1. enthusiastic specialist dealer/owner Frank      2. accurate inventory posted on the website      3. prompt shipping      4. variety of hard to find parts in stock     5. well rounded products by respected manufacturers including this one     6. best prices

You won’t find a better dealer of Z scale!

Here is a link to peruse the Archistories offerings at

Time to go, I hear the postman. Question: which building should I start with?

Good luck and have fun!


Laser-cut Buildings by 3 Manufacturers comparably priced!

A number of manufacturers offer laser-cut building kits here in the United States and abroad. Three German manufacturers are of particular interest due to their extensive line-up and varying design themes: Archistories, Faller, and MBZ. And their complementary European architecture suitable for German trains. I did not include Marklin’s fine laser-cut buildings because they do not offer anything as of yet in this price range. And some of their more modest size building kits come with freight car sets.

First I am a big big fan of Archistories thus a particular prejudice for these buildings need to be admitted to, but I want to compare options from these manufacturers that may make suitable companions in a town of your design.

I offer a simple comparison of one building by each manufacturer similarly priced, I purchased all three in the United States in price range $45 each. Archistories “Frye Railway House” purchased from (official USA distributor and also available from, Faller’s “Osterode-Sud Wayside Station” purchased through my local Marklin dealer by way of Walthers, and MBZ’s “2 Dimensional Building Kit” purchased through Reynauld’s (MBZ’s official USA distributor).

All three manufacturers offer something the others do not owing to each brand’s consistancy. For Archistories is a range of railway buildings including roundhouse, loco sheds, stations, water towers, and even operating grist mill and windmill all based on historically accurate examples. Faller is now offering townhouses, but they have released several small train stations, barn, and lumber mill. MBZ offers numerous railway buildings and rural buildings including barns and houses.

Innovations are hallmarks of Archistories and Faller, Archistories buildings include partition walls allowing for lighting specific rooms of there “Frye” house while Faller continues to use window masking with curtain detailing that is quite good (new LED technology makes lighting these masks much more possible). Faller also designs their open timber buildings (4 so far) with timber framework and individual inserts for stucco which give a very accurate prototypical look. MBZ offers excellent stone and masonry bridges for small rural settings that complement the rural structures of other manufacturers including their own.

Laser-cut is better than plastic with prototypical materials translated quite well into the matte cardstock of laser-cut. Precision engineering is also possible with laser-cut, thinner materials with fine detail etching creates the closest thing possible to the prototypes in Z, plastic is thick and chunky, its gloss distracting without painting intervention.

All three buildings could go on the same layout, each is accurately scaled. And in ‘Z’ many more buildings can be included on a layout in a given amount of space than any other scale, several towns can be realized with rural highlights connecting them.

A simple description of a building is often tied to construction value here it is most evident. Archistories buildings across their line-up are precision kits of the highest value with sharply delineated details at the corners, windows, and seamless marriage of materials. Faller likewise produces precision kits with realistically tinted materials and wooden features including doors and posts. MBZ is a less precise building kit bordering on primitive, their buildings are uniformly tinted so painting is necessary by the modeler, parts can arrive torn, parts are usually warped requiring extra attention to remove, and the materials have to be prepped before assembly to remove carbon dust generated by the laser-cutting that would otherwise impede gluing.

Instructions and constructions: Archistories instructions are the very best in the industry with no real comparison with any other manufacturer, if you follow the instructions in order you are assured of success: perfect corners and seamless roof. Faller’s buildings come together much in the same way as Archistories starting with a framework structure followed by exterior panels and detail work. Faller’s instructions are mostly excellent, I have assembled all of their laser-cut buildings and found that their roofs do not come together nearly as well as Archistories, a little gap is always found in the finished building. Roofing gaps are not possible with Archistories buildings unless a mistake was made during assembly. MBZ is another matter, their instructions are minimal, but so are the buildings which are simple glued constructions of floor, sides and roof. Just the roof is treated to an underlay making these kits a little more flimsy than I would like and no window masks or partition walls, chimneys are simple affairs with this MBZ kit and dormer windows are not possible to fully expose. The shutters are a nice touch with this kit, but foundation masonry is missing in the design along with a door. This kit is also described as a 2 dimensional building so it is also missing a back wall. The paper used for this MBZ kit is a lightweight cardboard that had the faint odor of having been burned, and the acetate had to also be cleaned of carbon. It sounds like a lot of criticisms for MBZ and maybe not!?! MBZ is producing kits based on prototypes of a certain age, and the reality of these prototypes may be accurately portrayed by these kits based on design but also materials. Well what do I mean by this? MBZ kits have a softer look to them than the other two manufacturers partly owed to the heavy laser etching and cardboard which may translate the time worn nature of these buildings much better than any other material.

Availability is a non issue with Archistories ( and, they are always available through these dealers. Faller seems to produce their laser-cuts in a limited number so buy’em when you see them available at Walthers or better yet preorder them from your local dealer if you have one, if not order from an on-line retailer. MBZ is available from their USA dealer Reynauld’s in Elburn, IL, but their available inventory can be quite limited and back orders can take months from what I have heard. EuroTrains in Canada publishes an accurate inventory on their website which can be helpful.

In closing, each manufacturer discussed is making consider contributions to Z, but each in their own unique way: Archistories creates buildings the closer to real-life than the other two, Faller creates buildings with the traditional open timber construction using real timber framework and stucco inserts, and MBZ creates buildings that have endured the test of time.


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

Marklin 89796 + 89797 “The Plant” – Archistories building kits reconsidered

I decided to include the word ‘reconsidered’ in my title for these two Marklin items because both kits have not been available for many years, but I think it is important to mention them here because of their connection to Archistories. The two building kits comprise sets 1 and 2 of Marklin’s “The Plant”: item #’s 89796 and 89797. Marklin lists them as being in the program from 2010- 2013, they were a departure from previous building kits offered by Marklin which were high quality plastic kits of both modern and historic design. Except for a few small companies no manufacturer was offering alternatives to plastic. Kibri, Vollmer, and Faller produced the only European architecture for z, each of the three manufacturers produced very high quality plastic build kits with excellent detail and even lighting masks, and one could further customize with painting and scale accessories. Painting techniques could further bring out the mortar lines in brick work as well as roof tiles, weathering gave these kits a natural look, but I found certain limitations with plastic, transforming this material to something more akin to the prototype was difficult. Then along came Marklin’s “The Plant” building kits which established a new direction for Marklin z gauge accessories. At the time of this writing Marklin has since released or announced the release of the 89792 Hamburg Dammtor Station, 89793 Dammtor arcades and bridges, two small maintenance facilities: 89805 + 89806, 89982 Turntable with roundhouse and administration building, and 82394 brewery building kit. Essentially all the plastic kits listed by Marklin have been phased out. There will always be nostalgia for the original resin and plastic Marklin kits, they were very good to scale and coupled nicely with z trains, but the new card stock kits will open up new possibilities for capturing the essence of real prototypical architecture. At the forefront of this movement is the manufacturer Archistories who have been mentioned numerous times on this blog, it was Archistories who was commissioned by Marklin to produce the kits for “The Plant”. Keeping these kits affordable while at the same time producing very good buildings was achieved successfully, they inspired me to want more. And they have since produced a very good line up of residential and industrial buildings with the architectural sensitivity I have come to expect from Archistories.

A description of “The Plant” is in order:

#89796 includes 1 production hall, 1 heat generation building with smokestack, and 2 heavy duty flat cars with cast metal trucks each painted blue and orange respectively.

#89797 includes management office building, production hall with ‘mansard roof’, factory workshop with ‘saw tooth’ roof, and 1 guard house.

In order to stay within Marklin’s budget for the project Archistories had to restrict incorporating certain elements they employ with kits under their brand name including detailing and partition walls.

In addition to great detail and depth of color laser cut card stock buildings are opaque so interior lighting is easy, entire buildings don’t glow, the light can be successfully directed  within an interior.

“The Plant”: #89796 + #89797 building kits with accessories.


electic generation building with smokestack from 89796


production hall from 89796


administration building from 89797, note: center facade has variations in window design



production hall from 89796


factory workshop with ‘saw tooth’ roof from 89797


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factory workshop with ‘mansard’ roof from 89797

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guard house from 89797


2 heavy duty flat cars with truck loads, note: freight cars and trucks were delivered in an unnumbered  standard Marklin plastic box


Archistories Roundhouse versus Marklin 89982


First let me say I have a bias for Archistories products, I have built them all and they are well designed buildings loaded with detail and historically accurate. I have a bit of a face-off between Archistories ARC-112121 Roundhouse in one corner and Marklin recently released 89982  which includes the turntable with 5 pole motor, transformer, turntable control, 2 building kits in the other corner plus you get 6 block sections of track . There is no knock out punch here which one you choose is personal preference, but I would like to point out some interesting reasons and options that might sway a choice toward Archistories. Archistories Roundhouse ARC-112121 is expandable with ARC-113121 Roundhouse Stalls: before you finish the building of ARC-112121 you add stalls in pairs. The Marklin set is a 6 stall roundhouse, they have not released an accessories building kit to expand the original roundhouse. 4,6,8,12,18 stalls the roundhouse prototype in Europe and the United States came in all sizes so choosing the Marklin could be a good choice if you want to model a more modern roundhouse versus the earlier Prussian roundhouse offered by Archistories. If you choose the Archistories Roundhouse here is a solution to add a turntable: Marklin offers a 5 pole motor upgrade for the early turntable 8998, that motor goes by part number 211914. Walthers currently has this in stock for retail $49.99, Trainz on Ebay is also selling them for the same price. Ordering through your local dealer might save you some money. The motor upgrade is easy to do, I will be following up with a step-by-step for this in the next week.

Price comparison:

Archistories Roundhouse with 6 stalls and Marklin Turntable w/5 pole motor: Archistories ARC-112121 + ARC-113121= $113.52, used/new vintage Marklin 8998 turntable= $150 (average Ebay price), and Marklin 211914 5-pole motor for $49.99= $313.51

Marklin 89982 is listed at Walters  for $549MSRP- retail train shops are selling for the discounted price of $449. This option includes 6 block sections of track, transformer and an additional building feature.

I made the choice for option 1 Archistories because I like the architecture of the roundhouse better.

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Archistories Blue, Yellow, Red, and Green

Blue, yellow, red and green are the colorful colors that adorn the small cottages produced by Archistories. In Archistories description  these four small wooden houses were inspired by 16th century Swedish architecture. And the color of each certainly attests to that inspiration. Each house is named: 1. Svensson (red), 2. Johansson (green), 3. Karlsson (yellow), and 4. Hanson (blue). Small in size but decked out in detail several options come to mind. A Scandinavian layout is a sure bet for these houses if your running SJ RC2 trains through the countryside. Due to their small size plan to consider them for a briefcase layout. If you are new to Archistories kits consider these for some of your first, they go together like all the rest in less time so good to learn from.

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Archistories: Wolkenstein Train Station


If you are modeling Swiss trains maybe consider this second variation train station by Archistories featuring cream color stucco. All design features are similar to the Torrnstein Station, but appearance is quite different. Archistories suggests using these buildings as public buildings also, they do not have to be train stations only.

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