Passenger Trains for Paupers

sumgai Jun 18, 2021

  1. sumgai

    sumgai TrainBoard Member

    As I watch the Tulip Bulb Mania strike Z scale, with prices of named American Passenger Trains soar to a Thousand dollars or more; I wonder how I can enjoy the thrill of a colored streak running on my highball loop - infinitely chasing its tail as the consists grow longer and longer. Having those champagne tastes, I nevertheless have a beer budget.

    I turn to my old friend Amazon. Not the dot com Amazon, the dot jp Amazon. And there is one of the oldest names in the business. ZJ, producing Japanese passenger train prototypes for decades. Injection molded bodies with add-on details, metal working pantographs, metal wheels, can motors , simple hook and loop couplers (who ever remotely interchanged a passenger consist?) Runs like a Seiko watch.

    And I find two variations of the venerable 485 express, a six car consist: one in red and cream, the other in grey and white "Hitachi color" But a new option has presented itself, a "fun pack" 10 cars, 5 in each color. Now the pantographs on the fun pack non-powered car are plastic and fixed, not metal as in the deluxe packs, but it comes with some display track pieces!

    And what is the pricetag for this collection of passenger car trainsets? $128 INCLUDING air express. $128? That will buy maybe two American passenger cars of a consist! And for $128 from ZJ you get four powered cars, 18 non-powered cars, enough for FOUR sets of passenger trains!

    But what do you tell your friends about that silver streak circling you layout? "Ya see that engineers cab looking like the cockpit of an airplane? Thats the 1950's GM Aerotrain" you answer deadpan.

    My only thought is, if ZJ can produce 6 car Z Scale passenger trains, sell them for less than $40 packaged in a deluxe storage bookcase, for a PROFIT, hmn, what's that other $960 buy?

    without further ado, the ZJ GM Aerotrains.

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  2. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

    I really can't find fault with your discussion, but there are a couple things you missed. AZL is still offering their P59 sets for as little as $99. The locomotive is a good runner and can be DCCed. The four accompanying cars are well detailed and the entire set comes in a fitted hard plastic box.

    Beyond this, yes you are looking at about $500 for passenger service: about $190 for a locomotive and about $65 per card. A couple of mini-trains I've modelled are SP's east-side local which was nothing more than a locomotive (PA, E9 or F7) and a lightweight daylight coach, and Portland section of the Empire Builder: a P42, Superliner sleeper, lounge and coach.

    Kurt Moose likes this.
  3. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

    I have 4 of AZL's Great Northern "Empire Builder" cars, just waiting on the GN E7, for a mid-century "International" consist that ran between Seattle-Vancouver BC. All in maybe $400.00
  4. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

    I think I can feel your pain when it comes to acquiring passenger consists. Although my Santa Fe and Great Northern consists took a period of time to acquire.

    Case in point I acquired the Great Northern cars one here and one there. Unfortunately seven is all I’ve been able to get at this point. Most notably because of availability. As for the Santa Fe consist, I was lucky enough to find a runner pack here and one there so I’m only sporting eight cars at this time. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a rogue one here or there on eBay. But then again the bidding wars always shoot them into the $55-$65 range for a single car.

    However I fully realized entering into Z-scale, it would not be cheap. But it is a little frustrating with the lack of reasonably priced offerings as well. Although one might say that the selection and offerings in Z-scale have never been better, the prices are still up there.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
    Kurt Moose likes this.

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