Category Archives: Layouts

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.

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!

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 ZScaleHobo.com. 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 ZScaleHobo.com 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 ZScaleHobo.com:

http://zscalehobo.com/archistories/archistories.html#Z-Scale

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

Good luck and have fun!

 

Weathering Laser-cut Buildings: MBZ Project

MBZ fills a particular niche for model railroaders in Z, they offer buildings age old building types along railroad yards, farms and countryside scenes along small streams and rivers. MBZ’s style are buildings with the patina of age through deep cut detail work this quality becomes apparent.

MBZ sells a whole host of paints and supplies particularly suited to finishing these buildings through a technique of sponging on water base paint after applying a base coat of primary to retard too much soaking in of the finishing touches. How to videos show these paints to be easy in applying and relatively opaque although dilution of paints and light touch with sponge applicator is well suited to vary the transparency of the paint. I am new to MBZ kits and although I have not tried their paints myself I have seen finished examples at Reynauld’s in Elburn, IL, they are really quite good and the paints give the impression of realism that is almost required if you intend to build these kits, they are of course delivered in similarly pigmented parts thus monochromatic and unrealistic.

I am well versed in a technique that many modelers employ: dry brushing. For those unfamiliar it is a painting technique that is unlike any other in bringing out surface detail. The technique itself is suggested in the name ‘dry brush.’ After saturating a brush with paint continuously run it back and forth over a paper towel until traces of paint can be seen. With a light touch and testing in a small area first use the brush to selectively add color either soot staining on roof tiles around a chimney or soot above a locomotive shed door thereby playing on the impression of accumulated soot from steam locos over time.

There is a little bit of artistry and technique combined with personal preference during the dry brushing application, but it is fun to see details become three dimensional and the life of a building carefully constructed come into being.

I often times mix paints for dry brushing and/or apply layers of different colors. The paints I choose are railroad colors available at my local dealer, and they are all water based. Water base paints dry matte whereas oil paints will dry with a gloss that can be cut back with thinners but why bother since water based paints work so well,  and they are easy to work with, and clean up is a cinch.

For this MBZ building I used a combination of four paints by Polly Scale and Modelmaster separately applied: Grimy Flat Black first to bring up details throughout the building, Roof Red to generally add a hint of color to foundation and ever so light touches to shutters and shadow areas under eaves and dormer, Vermont Green mixed with Pullman Green to give a subtle impression of moss on shake roof tiles, Pullman Green lightly applied throughout building for another color to add depth plus added to shadow areas and chimneys, lastly Grimy Flat Black to give uneven streaks to roof and chimney caps plus dirty up the window frames.

Before dry brushing:

After dry brushing:

Siding: Weathering is an individual thing and the amount is often times based on preference, two techniques for MBZ weathering are this companies painting kits and technique as well as traditional dry brush, but other techniques can be used included rubbing dry pigments into the paper and sealing with a light spritz of matte lacquer, literally blowing a puff in the air and walking the building into the mist, do not directly spray the building! Explore explore explore and remember to have fun!

Siding: If you have invested a small fortune in the premium railroad paints made by Polly Scale, Railroad Colors, Modelmaster Testors with the small glass bottle and metal cap here is something of value to mention. Eventually your water based paint will spill over the sides and cement the cap on, run the whole bottle under hot water for several minutes and the cap will free up!

Sankei for Z / Sankei for Laser-Cut Building Kits

 

Sankei is a Japanese manufacturer of laser-cut buildings in Z so far only available through Japanese dealers on Ebay. Rather simple build kits with a combination of laser-cut and printed paper panels Sankei is devoted to Japanese buildings only including residential and commercial.

Simple kits with simple instructions bordering on just okay materials. For meticulous modelers who take their time these buildings turn out okay, but there is no room for sloppy as mistakes will be obvious and distracting. Printed roof tiling may not be for everyone but you can probably change this out with leftover materials from another kit (?) which will greatly improve things.

This post concerns a highly rated tunnel portal sold in pairs of red and natural. Made of quality heavy card-stock this is one of the better tunnel entrances that I have seen. It seems to only come in one size for a single track. Put a reverse loop in your layout and use both portals. There is flexibility with establishing the angle of the wings projecting either slightly or a lot, they are simply glued in place.

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.