Category Archives: Recommended USA Dealers

Perfect Partners: Archistories, FR, Z-Modellbau

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eisenbahn Journal: Literature for European Train Enthusiasts

Two plugs here for a fine publication and the dealer who sells it. For collectors interested in studying the technical details of European trains modeled by Marklin the Eisenbahn Journal with its large format and beautiful photographs will inspire such research. Unfortunately the Journal is only available in German text but the numerous photographs alongside google searches will enable some good armchair journeys into the history of Swiss, German and Austrian trains. Plus layout and scale modeling articles not unlike railroading magazines in the United States.

A special edition of the Journal is called “Extra” and features a yellow tab on the cover. Extra’s are special editions each with a particular theme either a railroading era or specific locomotives. This edition also includes a DVD playable on computer but not compatible with USA DVD’s. The cost in the United States is $30 per issue which may seem like a lot until you have one to examine in person.

Only one dealer in the United States seems to sell these fine magazines and they are Reynauld’s of Elburn, IL. Reynauld’s has a big presence on the internet featuring the best website for model trains, it does not feature inventory levels which is a bit of a drawback but contacting them before ordering is the best way if there is an item that you fear is no longer available.

The “Ludmilla” issue is a particular favorite of mine along with the V200 Extra issue which includes a couple of photos of the mighty V300.

Located in the very small town of Elburn, IL Reynauld’s is located in a defunct bank on Main Street near a mainline servicing Chicago. My Wife and I visit the shop a couple of times a year, it is fun to look at fine very limited production HO models displayed in cases as well as the Eisenbahn Journal room with hundreds of back issues for sale. Plus there are the numerous Z accessories, new and old Marklin items. You never know what you might find so give yourself plenty of time. Operated by brothers Rey and Roman who are real European train guys Reynaulds is a great resource for collectors. Here you will not only find great prices but the shop also features a buyers club, every purchase adds money to your Reynauld’s Rewards account, but you have to sign up for it.

Siding: the link for the Eisenbahn Journal can be found on the left margin of Reynauld’s website:

Siding: Reynauld’s is the exclusive USA dealer for MBZ building kits.

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

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.


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!


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

Buy Used from a dealer you trust!

Buying from dealers you trust will pay in the long-run. Used Marklin z trains on Ebay have reached a staggering volume. Just 10 years ago listings for Marklin Z were far below 1000, now that number is over 3000 including new and used from dealers and individuals. Only experience and instinct can determine if buying used sight unseen is a good idea. Generally good feedback helps to sway a decision in favor of a good deal, but I would argue that used should only be bought from sellers with obvious knowledge of what they are selling. And it sure helps if you buy used that you can also perform repairs. Most sellers offer return and Ebay even makes it easy to return with their guarantee. In the past few years I have received items that are listed ‘new’ from dealers that have had cosmetic defects not associated with manufacturing, but both times they were returned for a full refund. If you read a description that includes “no way to test” or “I have no knowledge of trains” make sure the listing offers returns. You should automatically assume the worse case scenario if the train is used, at some point it may have been dropped, run at high voltage above 9 volts, or taken apart by someone inexperienced.

Evaluating condition of used Marklin:

-evaluate the box for any damage including water or impacts

-with a magnifying glass give the loco a good looking over: anything missing such as buffers or broken wires with electric locos, windows intact, and any scratches or cracks. *Inexperienced repairs to rail buses often include cracks around buffers due to lack of knowledge pulling off the shell.

-does the shell seat properly on chassis /frame. *A warped shell is likely due to overheating by running loco above 9 volts or running for extended periods at high throttle, the miniclub bulb before LED’s heated up and could be quite hot at 9 volts leading to a build up of heat that could warp the shell.

-give the smell test, if loco smells burnt it may have been run full throttle for extended periods or without proper lubrication indicating a well used loco, shell should be pulled and interior inspected

-if there is oil on the shell the loco may have been over-oiled and will require tear down and cleaning.

-before test run clean the track: test run may be misleading if the loco has been stored for a long time, it may have been displayed only which is more common that one would think. If the loco is older and does not run smoothly or lights work only the culprit maybe HOS (hardened oil syndrome) which requires a full cleaning of all gears. If the loco was a display piece only the brushes were never properly broken in, after HOS is ruled out test the motor after it is removed from chassis.

-don’t let your emotions get the better of you, if the loco is rare but in questionable condition don’t keep it because it is rare believe me you will have other chances to get the same loco in better condition

-if the cosmetics and mechanical are 100% you have found a good loco Note: you might want to buy only locos graded at 90-100% for resale considerations

Recommended dealer for used Z scale:

Online store zscalemonster is the go to place for numerous brands and products no one else sells in the United States. If you are looking for digital z Anthony has it, if you are looking for quality layout scenery Anthony has it, and if you are looking for Full Throttle/AZL/Rokuhan Anthony has that too. Plus lots of other z specialist items. He is also the official USA distributor for the finest building kits: Archistories!

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Scandinavian Galleries of Napa Valley, CA

One of the very best sources for high end z gauge is Scandinavian Galleries of Napa Valley, CA also known on Ebay as “quality-toys-trains”. Here you will find rare Marklin Z, Freudenreich FR and Modellbau Z along with numerous other items including Marklin sheet metal vehicles. They ship items carefully and fast. I have bought from them for many years without a single problem. Highly recommended Ebay seller.

TrainZ of Buford, GA

First off I like buying from TrainZ, they are one of the few Ebay sellers that can be trusted for selling and accurately describing what they are listing as far as Marklin Z goes. The majority of the time purchasing from TrainZ on Ebay is easy although if you have a question about something you will never hear from anyone. One bone of contention for me is the very few times their shipping seems through the roof and they are unwilling to discount. A recent example is $22 shipping charge for 6 Brawa lights and 1 Marklin z gauge light, the head of customer service was adamant that the shipping charge of $22 was accurate that it really should have been $28. Fedex Ground or Smartpost should not have such elevated shipping charges, I run a business and we ship with Fedex. $22.00 shipping for less than $100 of small lightweight items seems too expensive for me. It does not deter me from buying from Trainz in the future, it just deters me from buying small items from them on Ebay. Keep an eye out for one of two items they feature on briefly timed sales on Ebay, you can save a lot on these sales but for a limited time period. Trainz stands behind what they sell, they even pay for return shipping if there is a problem. Except for the very few times I have paid high shipping charges I recommend this company highly.

Discount Trains of Fort Lauderdale, FL

Discount Trains of Fort Lauderdale, FL is a new shop for me, they feature very accurate inventory and very good website with lots of Marklin. If you have ever wanted the Marklin 89200 Anhalter Station kit they have 3 new ones available, 89200 has always been a rare find after 10 years of being sold out at the factory. Check in with Discount Trains often, they might just be the only source for that rare item you have been looking for. Also stellar shipping and careful packing. And the store looks like fun to visit.