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Old 07-30-2018, 01:24 PM   #1
patxavier88
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USA Z Scale beginner

Hey Guys,

I am new to the forum AND the Z scale world (previously did some light work with N and HO) and looking to purchase a starter set online. Would anyone recommend one that won't break the bank? I am living in DC working for the govt so my space is a bit limited, but still have a 3rd bedroom that will have a bit of extra space (it is a guest room/ movie room but with a pullout couch so room for a larger table in the corner) for a small layout and I am looking into Z. I would need the set to be compatible with American outlets obviously. Any recommendations, tips, etc. are welcomed!
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:27 PM   #2
traction fan
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Location: San Diego
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Scales Modeled: N
West

Quote:
Originally Posted by patxavier88 View Post
Hey Guys,

I am new to the forum AND the Z scale world (previously did some light work with N and HO) and looking to purchase a starter set online. Would anyone recommend one that won't break the bank? I am living in DC working for the govt so my space is a bit limited, but still have a 3rd bedroom that will have a bit of extra space (it is a guest room/ movie room but with a pullout couch so room for a larger table in the corner) for a small layout and I am looking into Z. I would need the set to be compatible with American outlets obviously. Any recommendations, tips, etc. are welcomed!
patxavier88;

Welcome to the forum!

I can't help you directly with your Z-scale starter set question. as I'm an N-scale modeler. However I do have two things to recommend to you. First check out the Micro/Trains website; if you have not done so already. They are an American company that makes excellent N and Z-scale equipment. Since they are a domestic firm, there should be no trouble with American power plug compatibility.

The second recommendation is based on your description of your multi-use 3rd bedroom space. Many fine shelf layouts have been built in family rooms, where the railroad had to share the space with other activities, as yours apparently will. The basic idea is to use narrow shelves on some, or all, of the walls for the railroad, and leave the entire center area open for those other activities. My own railroad is a "Bookshelf" design that has Books on top, the railroad on the two center shelves, and more storage shelves below the railroad. Depending on your storage needs, this may work out for you. My railroad occupies two walls of my garage; but there is still room to park a car in the center.
The photos below show a section of my railroad.

The attached pdf file explains further the advantages of shelf layouts over the traditional rectangular table type. It also has diagrams of a typical section used to make up such a layout, and four sketches of prospective layouts in scales from Z to O. Any of the four could work with Z-scale, or N-scale. Some with larger scales.

As for Z-scale that "Won't break the bank", well good luck with that quest.
The more popular the scale, the more manufacturers and the more competition. Competition lowers prices, so HO-scale and N-scale, in that order being the two most popular are generally cheaper than other scales. If you compare the price of things like locomotives, cars, track, and turnouts; I think you will soon see that when you go smaller than N, or bigger than HO, the prices go up substantially. Therein lies another advantage of the shelf railroad. You can usually go up a scale, or two, when you use a shelf design, because you're not trying to cram everything onto one small table.

Good luck. Have fun.

Traction Fan

How to build a better model railroad Parts 3 & 4 benchwork and more track planning.pdf


Cedar Falls module. showing lightwood bookshelf arch with enginehouse & station in background.jpg

Cedar Falls control panel.JPG
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:50 PM   #3
patxavier88
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Thank you for the welcome and the very detailed reply. I appreciate you taking the time to cover my questions in such depth.

I will absolutely look further into the shelf style layout, I had heard a bit about this prior but was not sure how feasible it was until your response and the pics. I appreciate the pdf as well with the layouts I will definitely be taking a long look at this option.

As for the money, I figured that was the case! I have found a few sites that are not cheap, but not terribly much as well so I will be sure to utilize them for my purchase. Now I have to decide if maybe I want to try the shelf design and utilize my already owned N equipment as well!

It may be pushing it, but maybe a shelf layout with my N and a desktop with the new Z? Who knows, if I get it done when she is away she can’t say anything when she gets back, right?! Haha

Thank you!!!

-Pat
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Old 07-31-2018, 08:36 PM   #4
BCFx
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What are you looking to do on this new layout? Just run trains or do any switching?

I looked into Z when I was still in an apartment but my research showed that it's not great for switching operations which I enjoy doing.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:06 PM   #5
traction fan
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West Z-scale, N-scale, or both?

Quote:
Originally Posted by patxavier88 View Post
Thank you for the welcome and the very detailed reply. I appreciate you taking the time to cover my questions in such depth.

I will absolutely look further into the shelf style layout, I had heard a bit about this prior but was not sure how feasible it was until your response and the pics. I appreciate the pdf as well with the layouts I will definitely be taking a long look at this option.

As for the money, I figured that was the case! I have found a few sites that are not cheap, but not terribly much as well so I will be sure to utilize them for my purchase. Now I have to decide if maybe I want to try the shelf design and utilize my already owned N equipment as well!

It may be pushing it, but maybe a shelf layout with my N and a desktop with the new Z? Who knows, if I get it done when she is away she can’t say anything when she gets back, right?! Haha

Thank you!!!

-Pat
Pat;

You mentioned that you already own some N-scale equipment. Do you also own Z-scale equipment now, or is that just something you're considering?
Of course it's your decision to make, and only yours, but I suggest picking one scale that you like best, and sticking with it. I have known a few "multi scale modelers", and it seems like they buy items in different scales, but end up building in only one. The other stuff typically sits on a shelf gathering dust. Building a model railroad is usually a very time consuming effort, and splitting your time between two different railroads often means that neither gets finished. I'm one to talk about "finishing" a railroad! Mine has been under construction-tear up- and re-do for many years!

Unless the room in which you plan to build your railroad is very small, You should be able to work in any scale from at least Z to HO. The four sketches I sent in my pdf are all set in a 9'x12' room, which isn't very big.

Another factor in choosing a scale, is to find out as much as you possibly can about what exactly is available beyond starter sets, and what is not. Also does what is available work reliably? I suggest asking on this forum for help with these questions from actual Z-scale modelers, who have the experience in Z-scale that I do not.

One specific area I suggest researching with them is turnouts. (track switches) I believe the two major manufacturers of Z-scale trains are Marklin and Micro/Trains. Both companies sell turnouts, but I seem to remember some discussion here in the Z-scale section about one, or both, of these brands; having reliability issues with their turnouts. Since they are an essential, and very expensive, item; I suggest getting all the info you can before investing.
In N-scale, or HO-scale, Peco makes very reliable turnouts, as do Walthers/Shinohara, and Micro Engineering; but I don't think any of the three make Z-scale turnouts. I could be wrong. I often am. Just ask my wife!

If you found the info in the pdf helpful, there are others posted that you may want to look at and see if they will provide further info that you can use. In the "Beginner's Q&A" section there is a post called "Files, including the lost ones" that contains them all.

Good luck with whatever you choose;

Traction Fan
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:24 PM   #6
z.scale.hobo
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Scales Modeled: Z, N, HO, O, G, 1
Are you interested in Euro trains or USA trains? Marklin makes some European starter sets. But in general, I would just go with a "home-made" starter set like this:

1. Rokuhan RC-02 controller + A028 AD adapter
2. Rokuhan R028 oval of track
3. AZL GPxx locomotive (lowest priced and good runners out of the box)
4. Any AZL or Micro-Trains rolling stock (add like 3 or 4 cars) - these two manufacturers rolling stock/locos have compatible couplers.

Build your layout from there.
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