Category Archives: Z Layout Design

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!


3 Laser-Cut Kits from MBZ

MBZ of Germany is the manufacturer of laser-cut building kits in multiple gauges. In the United States Reynauld’s of Illinois is the exclusive distributor and seller of these kits, but finding them in stock and ready to ship is another matter, if you place an order for one that is out of stock it will take months to receive from what I have heard. The range of architecture represented in the MBZ line-up is vast mostly comprising railway and rural building types. In appearance the buildings look like older types existing after years of life, the materials and manufacturing methods further reinforce their appearance.

The kits I have thus far assembled are three including two bridges and a building. When you receive one of these kits it will probably be delivered in a plastic sleeve with part sheets and instructions. Instructions are going to be fairly minimal with a single illustration, but there are fewer parts than other manufacturer’s kits. You might also discover some parts either broken and bent, if this arises some special consideration will be required to modify or repair sections. I have not found this to be a big deal and probably due to the nature of the materials that are appropriate to the buildings.

MBZ buildings do away with the framework other laser-cut kits employ that exterior panels attach to give thereby giving a solid feel and straight walls, with MBZ floor and side panels are simply glued together. I received all three kits with warped parts maybe due to the material and laser-cutting? Some bending will work and at least help straighten parts. Gluing in sections will also be needed to keep things straight between two pieces forming a corner. A slight scent of burnt paper was evident during construction, and prep work is required to remove glue resistant carbon dust, the manufacturer suggests a sanding block or old wire brush for removing this deposit left from the laser-cut burning.

The 3 kits I made were Small Stone Bridge (MBZ R16079 – $8), Bypass (MBZ R16014 – $24), and Halbrelief Erstfeld “2 Dimensional Structure” (MBZ R16058 – $49). *Prices currently posted on Reynaulds website.

The Small Stone Bridge is a nice kit and beautiful addition to detailing a small stream, it detailed on the underside which is a nice touch. Building this is a little tricky, the paper is thick, small and requires bending: all challenging features. I wish I had this stone bridge in real life to add to a leisurely stroll in the countryside!!!

The Bypass is a rail bridge with beautiful masonry and iron railings. Not enough room for a train below, it is intended to extend over a small road/path or stream. The very look of this bridge gives the impression of the year 1900!

Halbrelief Erstfeld or 2 Dimensional Structure does not have a door or a back wall, but it does have lots of shutters. The rustic nature of this building brings to mind a small town residence circa 1900! I imagine it looking good in a forested area at the end of a town or railway depot, the back can be finished off and placed away from the main attractions on the layout otherwise solve the unfinished look another way.

Too many buildings by just one manufacturer on a layout does not offer enough difference thereby making MBZ an interesting manufacturer to consider adding. If you model contemporary these buildings will give the contrasting theme of buildings before.

Siding: I used Noch’s new glue 61104 for laser-cut buildings, but the manufacturer recommends UHU Hart glue. The manufacturer also suggests painting the kits before assembly with their water based pigments applied by sponge, but before painting the parts are prepped to remove carbon dust and primed to prevent too much wetting created by water based paints.

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.


Glue for this that and the other thing!!!!

Glue is an indispensable ingredient to model railroading, but one brand and one type will not suffice therefore working with several is the key to successful scenery making, plastic loco shell repair or layout framework.

5 minute epoxy: If you have a treasured Marklin plastic loco shell that is cracked the best glue is always 5 minute epoxy used carefully, precisely and sparingly. Note: never ever use plastic building cement for the repair of a loco shell, it will melt and the graphics will be doomed! Fortunately I have never had to make such a repair so this is simply a word to the wise in case that terrible thing occurs. If you happen to decide to customize an SBB 460 into an E18 for NSB with snowplows such as FR produced many moons ago those metal snowplows are cemented with 5 minute epoxy. This same glue is a good choice for gluing cast metal parts to plastic building kits.

Gorilla Wood Glue: good choice for laminating large sections of laser cut sheets because of prolonged setting time, but use cautiously, it is quite fluid and may result in being messy and perhaps wetting the paper parts too much.

Titebond: all the cabinet makers i have known use Titebond, it is perhaps the best wood glue available, but I would not recommend it for laser cut building construction: too thin and setting time is too long. I highly recommend it for wood framework if you intend to use glue here.

Elmer’s WoodGlue: outstanding general purpose glue that I recommend for laser cut building construction, its thick consistency and fast setting time make it ideal for working with laser cut cardstock. It also dries clear and can be used as a gap filling glue without making a mess of things. It is also available everywhere!

NOCH 61104: this newly introduced glue is superb, it features a very small precise nozzle that is ready to use as soon as the cap is unscrewed. It dries clear an relatively fast. It is a little thinner than the Elmer’s WoodGlue making it ideally suitable to laying in tight spaces and corners. The precision applicator is perfection eliminating the necessary use of toothpicks as with other glues. Bad news: it’s expensive at $9.99 for 1.06 ounces, but it is worth every penny. Available at

UHU stic: the inventor of the glue stick and the very best glue stick on the market is non toxic/non yellowing, it comes in three sizes. It is a glue that can be applied simply by rubbing thereby reducing excess and mess. It tends to dry quickly, but it will not crack thus forming a permanent bond. I recommend this for laminating lightweight paper, it properties are ideally suited to gluing lightweight paper sheets due to its lack of liquidity. None of us will probably need to use this type of glue much in our railroading careers, but in that rare instance it is superb.

UHU Kraft: German manufacturer UHU makes an array superb specialized glues, I use UHU Kraft for attaching mylar window glazing to laser cut kits. Application is with toothpicks in small dosses to anchor the plastic to the cardstock, after the mylar is in place I apply a little more on the edges to add additional anchoring and counteract the resistant nature of plastic not wanting to be easily glued to cardboard. Note: some modelers favor scratching plastic in areas to receive glue to further anchor the plastic, my method is to apply glue over the edges of plastic to further anchor it to cardstock. This is a particularly important construction topic that warrants personal testing of materials for a customized preference.

Daige ROLLATAQ: a non-yellowing permanent adhesive is Daige’s Rollataq. Originally intended to be a lamination glue it is available from art supply shops. I use this glue more than any other for lasercut buildings, but that could change with the introduction of Noch’s 61104 glue. One feature that I like about Rollataq is the ability to position parts then apply pressure for permanent bonding, it is essentially fast setting adhesive for paper products. Manufacturer states positionable for up to 3 minutes and fully permanent in 15 minutes.


Part 2 Bahnhof Dammtor build kit: Marklin 89793

Supplementing the Marklin Bahnhof Dammtor station kit is 89793 for the bridges and arcades and the prototypical presentation of the station and its elevated rails.

Overall 89793 is a good kit and far easier to assemble than the station kit, but it has two shortcomings due to relative incompleteness. First the arcades and shops provided are not enough to complete both sides of the approach, if you look at the marketing photos and compare them to the actual kit it is finished on one side only. Buying two kits will provide the missing parts and double your budget or you can limit access to that side of the layout which would otherwise spoil the illusion. The station kit provides detailing on both sides, why not this supplementary kit? Also the surface of the approach is unfinished as it is also with the station, but this is understandable, each of us will have our preferences on this topic, but the manufacturer could help with some guidance.

There are a series of parts tinted green (part #32) of a decorative nature that are illustrated in the instructions steps M + N. After researching this part of the Bahnhof Dammtor I was able to locate a photograph of the arcades with these decorative embellishments, they are used along the edges of the track approach each separated by masonry blocks. As can be deduced the kit does not include these sections instead the kit is designed for these sections to be glued together in a continuous line-up.

A busy web of traffic skirts around the station in Hamburg, whether you incorporate the prototypical roadways and markings or opt for a reduction of intersecting traffic patterns is up to you. In the prototype the four bridges cross over roadway on one end of the station before the four tracks reduce to two leading away from the station. On the opposite end of the station I believe the approach is less specific and a continuation of the same gradient of earthen construction. As more is learned I will post updates. Any helpful guidance from first hand witnesses is greatly appreciated as is always the case here at

Instructions and parts make this a very good kit to go along with the station kit, my only word of caution is to hold off positioning/cementing the bridges until the track placement leading out of the station is determined, there is not much wriggle room for track orientation over the bridges so fine tuning is only possible if the bridges can be easily adjusted during installation on the layout.

Notes on instruction manual: Step I shows bridge supports constructed of 12 layers, but only 11 layers correctly comprise this assembly. Step J shows two large masonry columns in this step use the two beige ones. Step K shows two large masonry columns in this step use the two remaining ones which in this case will be red brick. Also part 73 needs to be trimmed, I found it to be too long. Before gluing this part match it up and see if you agree!

Detailing including architecture and bridges is stellar with this kit, the time consuming part is gluing the bridge supports onto the side of each one, this part of the construction seems endless, but it provides necessary detailing that would be missed without these parts. Plus the walkway and railing need these supports to be in place. Note: railings attach to the outside of supports/walkway. Also kudos to the manufacturer for including and designing parts that won’t be seen including bridge underlay girding!

Note: my kit included one parts sheet that was not cleanly but by the laser, in this case carefully help the cut with a new 9mm razor blade, don’t force the parts out of the sheet because the fine brick etchings will easily tear.

Siding: stay tuned and on the lookout for my next posts covering the following topics: MBZ build kits, laser cut kits: a comparison by various manufacturers, and glues for laser cut kits.

Bahnhof Dammtor build kit: Marklin 89792

The Bahnhof Dammtor station kit met with much fanfare when it was announced at the Nurmberg Toy Fair, it was announced in the New Items Brochure 2015 and currently available.

The Bahnhof Dammtor opened in 1903, it is still in operation today near Hamburg’s city center. Two platforms and four tracks support suburban, regional and long distance trains: one platform for S-Bahn and the other for regional and long distance. An architecturally important train station with walls of windows running parallel to the tracks thus allowing easy sightings of trains passing through the station.

Building the Bahnhof Dammtor in ‘Z’ is now possible with Marklin 89792 build kit. MKB Modelle designed and manufactured this kit along with others in the Marklin line-up. If you have some experience with their kits this one will revisit some of the same characteristics of their kits. This is a complex kit for the ambitious railroader, Marklin notes the build time is 50 hours. Building this kit is a time investment that I recommend spreading out over sessions of 2-3 hours to reduce fatigue and possible mistakes. Building and designing a kit of this size is an undertaking for any manufacturer and their attempt to recoup a profit a sizable achievement considering number of parts to design that must fit together plus material production of numerous laser cut parts. I built this kit quickly, and I made some mistakes that are avoidable. I already ordered a second kit that will combine what I learned from building it once, this posting I hope will help others too!

Two parts: 1. notes on instructions 2. parts

  1. My notes and recommendations are a supplement to the printed instructions included with the kit which are at times confusing and misleading. Steps B-C1: illustrates guide lines for platforms, my kit did not have guide lines these will need to be made before gluing platforms. Here are spacing measurements I used before attaching exterior panels: spacing for outer tracks 13/16 inches and spacing for two tracks between platforms is 1 5/8 inches. With a pencil make spacing lines to help guide gluing of platforms. Instructions show trimming platforms to align with ends of station leaving platforms untrimmed is more prototypical and will extend outside the station. Equal spacing of the platforms 1 inch outside building is okay, but if you will be using the bridges and arcades kit 89793 the platform will extend too far over the bridge approach therefore you may want to mount the platforms on that end flush to the end of the building thus allowing the platforms to extend 2 inches on other end of station building. Steps D-G: Take extra time with these steps making all parts level throughout, warped assembled sections of exterior walls will be difficult to glue to the foundation of this building later in the project. Special Note: window glazing is attached to windows at this point, use great care and precision to cut provided mylar just enough to glue it in place, the next step shows window detail panels for each window, these pieces need to be glued directly to framework (cardboard and plastic cannot be securely glued together), having overlapped the mylar slightly over the windows will be secured by cardboard window panels. Step F shows interior side of panels with attaching brick sections around windows. Take note of the illustration within the circle showing 1mm between these window panels, it also is the spacing needed to keep the slots in the framework exposed (later in the project the trusses are attached to these slots!). Step H-I2: glue entry portal panels together keeping bottom of parts flush to your work surface. Carefully examine illustrations in I1 and I2 and assemble first without glue to orientate yourself to these assembly steps. Note: illustrations within circles shows 1mm spacing for architectural detail 79 attached later in step K. Step J: it is no fun to precisely cut window glazing for 24 windows, but the more careful you are here will result with good results. Step K: part 59 is actually 61 on the parts sheet, part 24 does not show dark brown cap (part 27 which was assembled in step H), part 28a is part 33 from step H. Step L: part 59 is wrongly illustrated as part 61. Step M: illustrations show front side facing out, maybe glue parts after each is assembled provided you are using a fast setting glue like Elmers Wood Glue or Daige Rollataq (available at art supply stores). Instructions suggest window glazing is attached to outside of window framing, this is incorrect, window glazing for two small side windows is attached in step 0 (glazing is always attached on the interior sides of windows otherwise they would not look realistic). Step N: this is a straightforward part of instructions and careful use of tweezers will help make alignment of all parts easier. Note: glue only after parts in this illustration are assembled, glue can be applied to joints and in and around other parts you can access, that is enough. Noch’s new glue is perfect here: 61104 Laser Cut Adhesive available in the USA at none other than Step 0: window glazing is attached to two small windows and central large window. A cool design feature here is the part that surrounds central window which is secured in place by the sliding vertical parts 126 thus holding the glazing flush to window. A little line of glue applied with toothpick around interior side of window/door entries is enough here for parts 57 (glazing will already be attached to these parts from step J. Step R: parts 124 and 125 that line the entry ways will be easier to install first before outer layers. Step S: illustration shows exterior side of train entry. Note: this is a tricky step, there are 4 parts that are laminated together without a lot of room for glue. Parts assemble in this order: 85, glazing, 86, and 78. Part 78 is a delicate framework that attaches to part 86 along with two tiny complementary parts, little drops of glue and a deep breath along with tweezers and good set of magnifying glasses (magnifying glasses are always highly recommended for laser cut buildings). A cat-walk is also part of this assembly, assemble parts 82 and 83 before gluing otherwise the paper fibers of these parts will expand and make assembly very difficult. A finish strip is added as the last step to hide the assembly slots. Step T-V: this is were the building starts to come together, but there is still much work ahead. Each side of building is comprised of three panels: start with the center aligning it with the unfortunate seam in the base followed by both side panels that fit together with seamlessly if your panels are without warp! Trusses fit into those exposed slots between interior window detail panels, they will bow slightly but no worries (trusses are made of lightweight card-stock, careful not to press into place with too much pressure). These two steps take time maybe attach panels and end units in one session and trusses in another. Step V: truss framework is completed with long running trusses that run length of station, these are comprised in half sections that come together on a special center truss part 70. Best to study the illustrations and parts before assembly. Trusses match up with slots and any bow will be eliminated during step U. Apply small drops of glue to truss joints otherwise they may slip out of place, plus this will be the only time the trusses are glued following my further instructions. Step W: roof sheathing is comprised of two layers: brown under-lay and outer gray sheeting. These two layers are also comprised of three pieces each: two small ends and one large center section. At this point the beautiful trusses are exposed, consider before attaching roof if you want to expose all or part of the trusses by not attaching the roof in its entirety. I am not interested in leaving the trusses exposed but certain museum models often do and it could be interesting with this building kit. Attaching the roof is a significant step and nail biting. Roof sheathing is beautifully colored but constructed of very very lightweight paper, there is sweep in the roof design thereby requiring material that easily contours to the roof requirements, but there are also disadvantages to this material: it is highly absorbent to water based glues which leads to ripples in the surface to avoid this I did not glue sheathing to trusses instead I glued sheathing to outer edges of building starting with one side first and allowing glue to dry. I then pulled the sheathing sheets over to the the other side and glued in place along with ends of building. Roof sheathing easily ripples so be very careful getting too much glue on it!!! Step X : half domes over main entrance requires bending roofing material around a radius, I glued only the building edges and a couple of drops where it contacts the roof. For the top layer I glued it only to the building edges. Step Y: nearing the end of the project includes the assembly of a long vent, it too has the same lightweight paper as roof and gingerly applying glue dots to framework is better than too much glue, maybe glue top layer along edges only, but maybe underlay should be glued similarly with glue on edges and ends only just to keep it from buckling. Cutting a hole in the roof for the vent maybe more prototypical, but avoid this exercise because the roof sheathing won’t go on well at all. At this point a lot of money and time has been invested so please do not modify the kit at this point unless you are well experienced with such things and can overcome a big set-back. *If I am able to come up with a better roof solution when I build this for a second time I will share that advice to this post, but as of this writing I am partial to gluing the edges only and allowing the trusses to be free from anchoring to the roof. Parts 152 are roofing for the entry ways, these parts are hard to bend therefore I suggest wetting slightly bending to shape and allowing to dry before gluing in place, they can also be finished with black construction paper to at least look less distracting than unfinished cardboard, but you be the judge. Step Z: not a step at all but a page of recognition that you made it through the kit. If you made some mistakes don’t fret, kits of this nature and size we usually build once thus making for an unavoidable learning curve. I hope my notes are clear and that they help to avoid some of the mistakes I made.
  2. Parts are many and varied in design and material, here is my list of parts that deserve extra care and caution with starting from beginning to end: Parts A5 do not have alignment guidelines for platforms, you will need to draw these lines to precisely make even room for the 4 tracks that will run through the station. If you plan to add the 89793 arcade and bridges I recommend waiting to cement the bridges until you know where the tracks are coming out of the station, bridges can be moved in accord with the station tracks. Parts 6/7 are laminated to parts 9/10 for one platform thus there are two of each of these parts to comprise two platforms. Laminating thick card-stock will result in curled platforms unless . these are placed on a flat surface with weights for 24 hours, I have an artist dry-mount press that I use. Rolling with rubber roller available from an art supply shop will help press the sheets together. The instructions indicate gluing directly to the foundation one layer at a time, this may work okay, but I opted for the completing the platforms and then gluing because there is a final finish layer of paper that is glued and bent around the edges, I found it easier to prep the edges of the platform with a nail file and then attaching the paper before gluing to station foundation. First criticism of this kit is that the stairwells are not finished thus they are simply openings in the platforms. If you can fashion railing around these openings I would highly recommend it. And add some black construction paper to the base of these openings will at least give some depth. Parts 13 and 15 are important, I highly recommend studying the illustrations to determine the correct orientation of these parts. And keep them straight! Part 33 is a small decorative facade detail but there are 12 of them, if you use tweezers be careful that the legs of this part do not separate too much or two little, they should align with the edges of the building they attach too. Part 65 is a window in the center portion of station, there are four total in the construction of the building, these parts are installed before part 108 is attached the building! Likewise parts 63 install before parts 109. Part 78 is found as the outer layer of station ends of which there are two, this part goes on the outside of the building.

Special Note: The first level of the station comprises numerous shop fronts, because of the design of the building some shops have views of seams and all have views of unfinished cardboard, I recommend lining the back walls of each shop with dark gray construction paper to even out the interior details and at the very least making for less distraction. I also used Noch self adhesive gray cobble in Z for going between tracks inside the station. After completing the station it will be next to impossible to clean to tracks and any loose prototypical ballast will be a nightmare to remove.

I highly recommend this station which further advances modeling in Z and the advantage Z’ers have over other gauges with prototypical and accurate scaling in a reasonable amount of space.

Siding: Marklin has released many Hamburg trains in Z making this station a must for those who are after prototypical accuracy.

Marklin 89792 + 89793: Bahnhof Hamburg Dammtor Station Kit

Bahnhof Hamburg Dammtor: opened July 7, 1903

If you are up for an ambitious project in ‘Z’ this is it: 89792 and 89793 building kits for the Hamburg Dammtor Train Station. Two kits sold separately to comprise the station building and approach including arcades and bridges.

The cost for the kits is very reasonable considering the scope of these kits and the accurate translation of the prototypical building: discounted retail for 89792 is $249, and 89793 is $149. Both kits are made of laser cut card stock which has been a growing trend in building kits partly due to the material itself, laser cut buildings look great and their matte and pre-colored surfaces contrast nicely on a layout. In ‘Z’ or any other scale these are big kits measuring nearly 55 inches long, and in ‘Z’ there are lots of small parts to assemble.

Finished dimensions: 20 7/8 x 8 1/4 x 4 5/16 inches (89792) and 33 1/2 x 6 x 1 3/16 inches (89793). Both kits are card stock with one small exception, the station includes 4 caps and spires on the entry towers that are cast resin and painted to match the rest of the kit.

Marklin commissioned MKB Modelle for these build kits. As of writing this post I have not started assembling these kits, I am hesitant to build them until I design a layout for them first. A layout to include these kits can be historical based on the 1903 opening of the station or contemporary with the arcades and bridges,  it can also be prototypical rendering or an interpretation. Current urban planning for the Hamburg Dammtor Station includes numerous intersecting roads with few adjacent buildings, modeling some or all of these roads will be a challenging undertaking for the most ambitious.

Four lines run through this station so the track planning is another consideration. Nearly 5 feet from end to end for both assembled kits, and if it is incorporated into a loop the dimensions will balloon to 7-8 feet, this is after all probably the most ambitious project to date in ‘Z’ with an estimated build time of 50 hours for 89792 alone.  Reviewing the part sheets and instructions these kits look well organized, and the instructions are clear. Heavy card stock, medium weight card stock and lightweight card stock are all used in these kits. The kits start from a rigid foundation and build up and out, in some cases with as many as 5 layers to build the exterior walls. No covering for the platform or track concourse is included, you will need to come up with your own solution, I highly recommend Faller material here available in the United States from (updates will follow for my own solutions here). Accessorizing and laying track in the station will be much easier or only possible before installing the trusses. Partial exposure of the interior might be interesting by reducing the roof sheathing and maybe consider leaving the roof un-cemented in case you need to access the interior in the future.  I have recommended a UHU Glue for attaching window glazing in the past, for this kit I would recommend the standard assembly glue: all-purpose, wood, or polyvinyl acetate, but each will require the added step of roughing up the acetate in the area to be glued. Another consideration is a very level work surface, even though the parts snap together assembling the building on a very level surface will insure there will be no warp or curve to the base, I recommend a piece of masonite for a smooth level surface and freezer paper to allow building to easily slide/rotate for assembly plus glue residue is easy to clean off this surface. Toothpicks are correctly recommended in the instructions along with drops of glue versus lines of glue. Lastly have fun and don’t rush, it can’t be assembled in a day!

Siding: Marklin’s 81481 “Metronom” train set is a good prototypical train to use with this station, along with the other “Metronom” offerings: 88370 (loco) + 87299 (bi-level coach set).




Faller 282781 (Provincial Houses): two kits assembled with mod.

An update to my recent post about Faller’s 282781 “Provincial Houses” kit includes a small modification, assembling multiple kits (2), and variations. A terrific and important building kit for ‘Z’ is this recent release, it’s fun to assemble with lot’s of variations possible.

One kit comprises 4 separate buildings that can be combined in a number of combinations, add a second kit and the choices abound.

It took longer to assemble the first kit due to learning curve that seems inherent with all ‘Z’ projects, I would estimate the average assembly time dependent on average skills and patience is 4-6 hours. A good discounted retail price for each kit is about $34.00.

So for this project the investment is about 12 hours to assemble and about $70.00 for the two kits, but it is a small addition to a layout so budget concerns may trump to benefit. Lot’s of reasons to make the investment in this small building including great detail inside and out, but it is also a design that is traditional German architecture combining all of the most used styles including stucco and open timber with tile roof.

Dimensions: 1 kit – 2 1/4 inches (height) x 1 1/4 inches (width) x 2 1/8 inches (length), for 2 kits – 2 1/4 inches (height) x 1 1/4 inches (width) x 4 1/4 inches (length).

Modification: when two units of this 4 unit kit are assembled there will always be a seam present, I modified this kit with the addition of shoring lines that are sometimes evident in multi-unit construction using card-stock leftover from the kit. Adding this modification to these buildings is far less distracting than the seam we are left with.

Faller 282781: Kleinstadthauser “Provincial Houses”

Faller’s two recent laser cut building kits offer modelers residential building types including the large townhouse (282 780) and small townhouses (282781). The latter Faller describes as Provincial Houses”. For this post the 282781 kit will be featured, it is essentially 4 separate building kits with 4 distinct designs including open timber, stucco, terracotta tile roof and slate roof. One pair with terracotta tile roofs and one pair with slate roofing.

Parts are delivered on well labeled sheets along with window masking and window glazing.

Each building is small, so patient assembly of small parts is necessary even with all 4 buildings glued together they are still small compared to a scotch tape dispenser.

Each building is fairly skinny and unfinished on the back side with the intent that like pairs would be glued together giving a two sided building. Likewise the pairs can likewise be glued together.

One can also use these buildings as backdrop thus leaving pairs unglued. There are lots of options including 15 variations on the order of these buildings in relation to each other.

Each roof can be assembled according to instructions but they can also be installed in reverse order, but due to the design of each building type the terracotta roof cannot be used on the building using the slate roof, the terracotta roof sweeps out from the dormers.

This is an adaptable kit that combined in multiples will allow continuous residential blocks to be realized in the context of a large layout. I recommend following the illustration on the box to determine order of assembly, the stucco building without dormers is the easy one the start on first, and the open timber and stucco building will take longer to finish along with the other building with terracotta roof tiles.

The instructions are very good, but I would add a few notes: 1. get acquainted with the dormers and how they assemble before gluing, the long side of side frames attach to roof.  2. roof sheathing has a correct orientation with a top and bottom, have a good look before gluing and imagine what this looks like in real life.  3. The pair of black roof buildings need to be prepped to insure flush assembly: with a sharp razor blade trim back the roof framing to make flush with the backside of each building, test for the two buildings join evenly before gluing. 4. stucco sections are individually cut out and glued in place in the open timber framework which is real wood, this step is time consuming but install no more than two pieces at a time to prevent loss of parts. 5. Another note on open timber, the wood is tinted using a water soluble color, the water soluble glue you use will likely allow the wood tint to bleed into the white cardboard filler sections: no worries the prototypical buildings in Germany have these qualities in real life. In general imperfections will add to the realism of a stucco building. 282780 and 282781 are very good kits designed to be used in multiplies and thus one can build continuous city blocks as can be seen in Europe.

Finished project with all four units glued together:

Note: there is a seam that runs vertically along each end, my plan is to assemble 3 more kits for a long running block of these buildings, and I plan to add a strip of similarly tinted card stock to cover the seam thereby suggesting a shoring line that can be seen on some buildings similar to this type in the United States. Another option I might try is applying a latex primer over each finished end and repainting in a suitable color, but this option might look too different as for surface texture, it might be better left alone (?).

Here are the finished 282780 + 282781. The impressive scale of these buildings are accentuated with multiple units, they will surely add interest on any layout.

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