Steve and other frustrated Zers�
I have watched and read with interest about your frustrations with Z scale.
These are the same frustrations many of us felt as we advanced through our
learning curve. Honestly, the first 13 years where very frustrating for me (I
have been modeling Z for 14 years!). Only lately, concepts, ideas, and skills
have come together to give me a wonderful running Z layout. I have watched
Fleischman and Minitrix N trains run, and you are right, their performance is
great, but with a little effort, your Z trains can run just as well.
I am not talking about gutting a loco and adding new motors like some have
suggested in the past. I am talking about using the M�rklin standard locos
with 3 (and now 5) pole motors. I have found most frustrations can me
eliminated at track level. Careful assembly of track and frequent cleanings
and maintenance helps keep locos running. Keeping the track clean helps to
keep the wheels of the loco dirt free. Clean wheels mean electrical pickup
and performance. A RELCO track cleaning unit really helps as well!
Next, look at your inventory of locomotives. If the only loco you are running
is an 0-6-0 (standard with many starter kits), yes you will be frustrated.
This loco is too light, does not have enough electrical pickup and tends to
'bounce' around the layout. In Z, size does matter. I found the larger the
loco, the better the performance. I also found that the truck based locos
such as the DB class 111 or U.S. F7 run much better on a layout then a 2-10-0
steam loco. It is just the nature of the loco.
Another idea to avoid frustration is to seriously examine what you would like
from your trains and layout. How large of a layout do you want? What do you
demand from your trains. For instance, I want to be able to pull long trains
on my mainline without modifying my M�rklin locos. I therefore avoided any
grades on the mainline. Through the use of varied heights of scenery, The
main line almost appears to raise and lower, but it is level. This enables me
to run trains such as the full 8 car Orient Express behind a 4-6-0 without
any hesitation or slowdown.
As for my branch line, I added a few steep grades in order to move the branch
line up to the main line level. But, I have cut running performance in half.
For instance, a twelve car freight on the main might only be a six car
freight on the branch. (Photos of the layout can be found at www.ztrack.com
in the gallery section)
Steve and others, these are just some tips on avoiding the common
frustrations associated with Z. There are many other tips out there to help.
Time and learning are by far the best way to overcome frustrations. So please
be patient. Steve, I hope you stick with Z, it is wonderful! Where else can
one model a 1/2 mile of mainline on an extra wall or do an incredibly
detailed layout in a briefcase or coffee table.
I hope this helps!