New to model railroads and Z scale!

jasonkc25 Dec 27, 2013

  1. Loren

    Loren TrainBoard Supporter

    Rob, are you telling me that you honestly don't see anything a bit cutesy about Z? I know you better than that. The darn stuff has so much eye appeal one can't help but falling in love with the stuff.

    I do think Z could be quite a hand full for the absolute first timer in the hobby. Some folks won't have patience, some don't have the eye/hand coordination necessary for small, detailed work, and then there is the issue of failing eye sight and shaky hand syndrome. Those last two seem to affect us all sooner than later.
  2. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

    Hi Jason, welcome.
    Before all else please reconsider one thing... I clicked on your link above (the words "table top layout") and gulped pretty big, nearly choking :wideeyes: It is $451 on SALE, yikes! True it is a cool table but you could make a handsome table for a third of that easily and there are lots of guys here who would willingly share their expertise on building one. You'll need the extra cash saved to buy lots of Z scale locos, rolling stock, kits, track, etc. If you can afford it and want that particular table, and if it will make your Z experience easier please ignore this paragraph.... (-:

    It will certainly help that you are used to working with micro machinery. However, unlike most train sets that come in boxes you will not be able to run your Z, put it away for awhile in its box, and then expect it to perform later on just as you had before you put it away. HO, yes. Lionel, yes. N scale, pretty much yes (but not necessarily ideal either). Z scale, not so much. Dirt and oxidation on ANY brand of Z scale wheels and track multiplies the problems for a Z locomotive even if it was put away clean. The oil you use to lube your loco is like a magnet for dirt and micro debris the minute it starts rolling on your rails. Scenery material can have the same effect as dirt if its the least bit loose.

    I have worked in Z for many years also and find it to be the most finicky and frustrating scale to maintain but the challenge can be just as fun. At least you should know this going in. Once you realize and accept the challenges and still want to move forward then by all means do it, you'll be a better modeler with this knowledge early on.

    It is fact that you will have many folks here and in other Z forums who will do whatever they can to help you succeed but I will respectfully disagree with the statement that you won't find this same support in other scale's forums. I have seen it. Its just that the larger scales don't face as many challenges keeping their trains running as is found in this scale. You need more help from peers with Z scale.

    If you pursue hobbies as successfully as you chose your wife you'll soon be the expert around here :p

    DPSTRIPE TrainBoard Supporter

    I think the link in Jason's original post is just an automated advertizing link. Like "cool table" and "Z Scale Wheels" are links in your post. I don't think Jason posted that as a link.
    Just more internet magic.
    Dan S.
  4. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    Interresting topic indeed. I think I may speak of my own experience with Z scale. Like many of us here I started modelrailroading as a kid. Cheap HO stuff. I remember I got more and more frustrated with visual aspect (tight curves) as well as operating aspects (frequent stalls, derailments, etc). Indeed I was then totally unaware of feeding every rail section or every second rail section, soldering and all of these basics. I gave up when I was a teenager, finding other centers of interrests (The same than everybody: girls, mopeds, etc.. Then came aviation, that still mostly fills my life, work and leisure...).

    When I started building a Z scale layout a few years ago, I was what one could say an experienced beginner. I was knowing the basics, all about voltage, strength of current, etc. I didn't find anything difficult related to Z scale's small size. But what helped me a lot, was patience. Indeed I had been wandering on forums reading modelrailroading magazines for years before I started building a layout. And indeed me too I can say how much united the Z scale community is. I don't know for other scales, but I know for Z scale.

    On my own perspective, I'll conclude saying the obstacles I'm bumping into (mostly dealing with scenery) are not scale related.

    So, my opinion is that someone can start with any scale he wants, even Z, provided he's patient and looking for as much information as possible: forums, modelrailroad magazines, DVDs, books, etc. I guess someone hurrying to build a layout in HO and not knowing the basics will face the same frustration than if he tried in Z directly.

  5. Alaska Railroader

    Alaska Railroader TrainBoard Supporter

    ah HA! You are correct Dan. I didn't add any link in my post but the internet gremlins put it in there anyway. Jason, as for that first paragraph in my posting,,,,,nevermind :teeth:
  6. GN-Z-phile

    GN-Z-phile TrainBoard Member

    None of my housing situations after leaving my folks' home (amicably, before you get any ideas), in 1975, have ever included what could be called a "train room", or a space adaptable to running trains. So smaller scales seemed like the way to go. I tried N-scale first, and I recall later hearing that the brand of "starter" trainset I bought was of lesser quality, guaranteeing a certain degree of frustration - it ended up as a gift to my nephew, who is still speaking to me, nevertheless.

    At some local train show, I saw a modular display of Z (ZBend), and quickly realized "this is the scale for me". This was probably the Northwest Pacific Z Scalers, and included Tom Gilchrist's "PACCAR" (Pacific Car & Foundry) module. The same weekend, I was in my LHS, and departed with the requisite Marklin starter set (81535, with Mount Rainier and the train on the box). A few train shows later, I found myself at a GTE in Portland, OR, amidst the Cascade Z Modelers, and I have made many trips (via the Amtrak Cascades) there since.

    I pretty much backed into DCC, buying someone's Northern Pacific GP9, with decoder already installed. If I was ever going to run this loco, I would need the requisite equipment. Soon enough I was off and running. My DCC fleet is made up entirely of locos that can accept a a "drop-in" decoder ("drop-in" being a sometimes generous phrase ;-) ). Any locos remaining are DC, awaiting the necessary wiring and soldering - beyond my skill level, but which can be sent to those who are sufficiently skilled (for a fee, of course).

    Much of what I have learned has been from online groups such as this one, and I've managed to teach others a thing or two (see my illustrated description, with caveats, of adding passengers to MTL GN dome cars on Z Central Station).

    My modeling skills are not the best in a number of areas, but it's been fun.
  7. Loren

    Loren TrainBoard Supporter

    I want to jump in here and salute not only Mike, but Jerry Craig from CZM. As Mike stated, he has made many trips from Seattle at considerable expense to travel to Portland, Medford, Denver, and other places.

    Both Jerry and Mike have been hard workers, dedicated to not only running trains, but to educating folks on the virtues of Z scale. Size really does matter in Z's case. The small size allows more folks to be involved in the hobby where as larger scales would not allow that.

    Thanks Jerry and Mike for being 'hard core' Z modelers.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2013
  8. jasonkc25

    jasonkc25 TrainBoard Member

    Holy cow! I'm not sure what happened but I evidently hit a point of contention within the world of Z.

    I won't deny that its the size that attracts me both in regards to the space needed and the...ahem...cute aspect of the scale.

    Coming from the micro-helicopter scene I'm a tinkerer by nature. So the idea of maintenance of these little trains isn't a concern. In fact the starter set I got was used and needed some track cleaning, wheel cleaning and a tiny bit of oil and was working like a champ in no time.

    The locomotive is an older 3-pole motor so I have noticed some the issues related to these motors...but honestly it runs just fine and isn't a concern for me right now.

    I'm starting with the simple oval layout that came in the starter set and bought some z scale cork roadbed at the train expo. I plan on mounting it on some of the pink insulation foam tonight and go from there.

    I think with all hobbies one needs to set their expectations accordingly. I'm going slow, reading a lot and participating in forums to communicate with different people in the community.

    That all being said, the Great Train Expo in Overland Park, Ks was pretty nice. Very busy, fair amount of vendors. Not a lot of z scale, but a couple of layouts. There was a small layout of Tokyo and another that was a Christmas theme. Not a a lot of Marklin stuff, but a ton of American Micro Trains and some Rokuhan (sp?) track. It seems that Marklin track is more expensive than other this true?

    Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk

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