Long Island Rail Road in Z Scale

Discussion in 'Z Scale' started by John Bartolotto, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

    Part I

    Some of you know that on 11 Dec 07 I dropped out of Z, gave away all of my Z scale items to close friends keeping none of it. I had decided to move on to N scale because I was trying to model the New York Central and Hudson River Rail Road (NYC&HRRR) circa 1890 in Z. Not much was available in Z for that era of early steam which meant that I either spent a lot of time scratchbuilding stuff I needed or spent a lot of money having others custom make stuff for me. All the scratchbuilding and custom building costs and time took money and time away from my family. N scale had 90% of what I needed to model the NYC&HRRR and my era at 600% less of the price it was costing me to model it in Z so I moved on. I pretty much stayed in touch with Z since I am Nansen Street Models partners with Russ Kaufman The N Scale Architect.

    In Nov 08 John Cubbin and I were emailing, he had just completed a weathered KATO bridge for my N scale NYC&HRRR layout. Both of us are from Long Island so we started chatting about the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). I mentioned to John that if I had to model a railroad other than the NYC&HRRR I would pick the LIRR. Being a LI boy it only seemed natural. I never thought much about modeling the LIRR before or after that and left it at that. I proceeded to work on my NYC&HRRR N scale layout.

    In Jan 09 John Cubbin starting posting articles on his great web site Ztrains Ztrains: Z Scale (1:220) Model Railroading Information about Micro-Trains sectional track “Micro-Track”. Sectional track in Z? That was cool! Then on 31 Jan 09 Loren Snyder sent me the MTL Feb 09 newsletter which highlighted some of the new track sections MTL was developing. I thought, hmm, I could do a small 2’x3’ Z scale layout using modern equipment which is so prevalent and readily available in Z and model the New York Central circa 1960s. I contact Loren that same day and inquired about him custom painting some diesels for me in NYC colors. Loren and I emailed back and forth about the custom painting, I wasn’t in a rush and had no idea of what type of 2’x3’ Z scale layout I would do and so things proceed until Apr 09 when John Cubbin published his 2’x3’ Harbor Valley Shunting Layout plans. A harbor! Boats and trains go together like bread and butter. I love combining boats and trains and I already had a section of the Erie Canal on my N scale layout so why not on a Z scale layout. I did web searches for NYC harbor scenes. Some lucky web shot brought up a photo of a LIRR loco shunting freight onto barges in Long Island City, NY. Bells, whistles, light bulbs and that Nov 08 conversation with John Cubbin about the LIRR all came flashing back. I’ll model the LIRR in Z! It’s a one of a kind small railroad with a limited loco fleet, it has cool loco colors, its where I grew up, I can model it circa 1960s which was modern but not too modern and that meant that there were Z items readily available to support my project which meant less money I’d have to spend, which meant I didn’t have to spend an arm and a leg on my hobby and it meant less time having to scratchbuild items. It all came together. I emailed Loren Snyder on 29 Apr 09 and told him to stop the NYC loco paint jobs. I had a solid layout plan, thoughts and plans for what locos, cabooses (LIRR calls them “hacks”), freight and passenger cars and the city buildings to put it altogether in Z. I was officially but secretly back in Z and it felt good. I posted these photos so that you can see my progress so far since Apr 09 and to showcase Gerd Kurz’s FANTASTIC one of a kind creation – a LIRR # 2001 Fairbanks-Morse CPA-20-5 C-Liner! This loco was a long quest (Feb 10 to Sep 10) but I’ll let Gerd post more on how he bashed this beauty from three different MTL locos. The hack in the photo was modified from an MTL caboose by Bruce Monroe of Monroe Models Scenic Scale Model Displays and Model Railroad Kits! with the Long Island decals being done by Dan Pikulski of Dan’s Resin Casting DAN





    You can see more photos under my Photo Album: Long Island Rail Road Long Island Rail Road - RailImages.com

    More to follow.

    John Bartolotto
  2. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

  3. bigford

    bigford TrainBoard Member

    nice to see somebody with a little love for our home rail!!!:thumbs_up::thumbs_up:
  4. Fred Ladd

    Fred Ladd TrainBoard Member

    I see your dashing commuter decals on the engine.
    Thanks for posting John
  5. Chris333

    Chris333 TrainBoard Supporter

    That is a neat little layout. Reminds me of the NYC harbor railroads.
  6. JoeS

    JoeS TrainBoard Member

    Cool! I really like seeing small well done layouts :D
  7. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Great looking layout. What you doing with the background building is exactly what I want to do when I do my street running module, nice job.
  8. minzemaennchen

    minzemaennchen TrainBoard Member

    "Officially" welcome back! Looking forward to see the progress on your layout. Already some great details to spot!
  9. zmaner

    zmaner TrainBoard Member

    Looks like you could use some of my Mobilgas tankers for that era....

  10. Raildig

    Raildig TrainBoard Member

  11. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Supporter

    John, really well done. I like the shallow building idea and nice waterfront insert.
  12. www.zscalemonster.com

    www.zscalemonster.com TrainBoard Member

    Wow, it is nice to see where some of my products end up. I am glad to be a supplier of Z and help make the search just a little easier. I remember when you switched over to N, very well indeed, and am glad you jumped back into Z. Looking forward to more Z or N scale projects and photos.
  13. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks all for the support and encouragement! More progress to come in the next few weeks.

  14. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

    Jeff and John,

    Every building on the layout has been either modified in some way, kit-bashed or scratch-built (as was the case for Adam Metal Supply, American Steel Wool and the engine house). I was greatly influenced by techniques in John Pryke’s “Building City Scenery for Your Model Railroad” and the city layout of the “Carbondale Central” by Malcolm Furlow. As the layout proceeds I plan on making gritty city scenes like those that John Pryke and Malcolm Furlow did with a lot of abandon vehicles, junk and garbage.

  15. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    So nice layout!:thumbs_up: BTW, what did lead you to use Marklin track and turnouts instead of the more prototypical Micro-Train's?

  16. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter


    That is for Part II of the discussion ;) which I hope to have posted this weekend.

  17. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter


    Thanks for the Ztrains.com Coffee Break spot!!! You are too kind!


  18. spyder62

    spyder62 TrainBoard Member

  19. Raildig

    Raildig TrainBoard Member

    Hey it's a cool story and layout... I'm more than happy to point folks over this way to read about it :)

    Ztrains: Z Scale (1:220) Model Railroading Information
  20. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

    Part II

    So in Apr 09 I not only had decided to use John Cubbin’s Harbor Valley Shunting layout plan but the Army decided that I needed a new job in Washington D.C. with a report date of 7 Jul 09. A move from Germany to the US can be rough on your belongings and down right disastrous on your layout so I disassembled my N scale layout and packed it up securely for the move and now it seemed fruitless for me to start a Z scale layout just to move it, but I didn’t want to delay the actual building of the layout. So what to do? Enter my good friend Jim O’Connell. I contacted Jim in Jun 09 and asked him to build the Harbor Valley Shunting layout for me. Jim would build the frame, lay the foam and track, and wire the entire layout for operation. One of the most important features of the layout would be the bridge over the harbor entrance. I wanted something different for the bridge. A lift bridge! But there aren’t any lift bridges made in Z scale. So I sent Jim a used beat-up Faller N scale lift bridge Motorized Rolling Lift Bridge -- 11-5/8 x 6 x 3-3/4" 29.2 x 15 x 9.5cm (272-222584) -- Walthers Model Railroad Mall already assembled that I bought on eBay which he modified/reduced to Z scale and placed at the harbor entrance. Jim also did three slight modifications to the track and one modification the harbor water area. Layout would be on 1” foam with no elevations with a plywood base since almost all of the LIRR trackage in this part of LI was at grade. Track is all Marklin with cork roadbed un-ballasted. Jim did a great job on the layout and the lift bridge. The weathering of the bridge was my doing. Jim completed the layout and had it waiting for me when I arrived in the States in Jul 09. Work began in earnest on the layout in August 2009.


    The scene for the layout is based on the Long Island City area of New York, on Long Island. It’s an industrial and residential district, it has a waterfront on the East River and is connected with Manhattan by the Queensboro Bridge. Manufactures in this area were numerous in the 1960s and included food products, machinery, furniture, and footwear. The “harbor” area of my layout is based on the Dutch Kills area of LI City (“kills” in Dutch, the first European inhabitants of LI, means "little stream," or “canal’), the backdrop buildings and spur area is based on the LIRR’s Yard A and the engine house is based on the LIRR’s Morris Park Engine Facilities. 90% of the manufactures names on the buildings actually were serviced by the LIRR or in the LI City area. I scratched built the engine house basing it off of a Pikestuff N scale one stall modern engine house, scratch built the sanding tower based off of a American Limited Models
N scale diesel sanding tower, and scratch built the diesel service pad based off the one described on page 76 in Model Railroader’s book “The Model Railroader’s Guide to Locomotive Servicing Terminals” by Marty McGuirk. The fuel crane I used is a cut down N scale Stewart Products fuel column. More photos of those to follow in a few days.


Share This Page