What can be made to look more realistic?
- What scale can be made to look more realistic N-scale or Z-scale? What
I am more interested in is more the structures and scenery that the
train itself. I have been a woodworker and cabinetmaker for going on
30+ years and have mastered the skills and I am somewhat of an artist
to boot. I have just found out about the world of train modeling and I
am highly excited in getting started. I would like to start with wood
kits until I get use to the scale then do it from scratch. I have seen
many wood kits but really, no one shows them in scale to something of
known size such as a hand or a pack of cigarettes. Therefore, I cannot
tell what size would be easier to make realistic and in more detail.
My first goal and interest is realism, I want to do a mill by a stream
with a water wheel in mountains and have a train locomotive in the
early years of railroads that travels by it. Kind of like my own
little peace of mind. Will anyone please enlighten me in these areas?
Thank you very much for your time and thought.
> What scale can be made to look more realistic N-scale or Z-scale?Either. I now have experience with both. In O scale people notice
details like the newspaper on the door step. In HO it becomes less
so. In N people notice overall effect more, perhaps. I would say the
same is even truer of Z. I have had no difficulty detailing and
weathering in Z.
- Look at some of Robert Rays' models of both buildings and rolling stock
and these are wood cut on a laser. Whether Z or N is any "better" is a
tossup <<BUT>> you will find his Z work is fantastic. So considering
you can do about 80% more elaborate scenery in Z in the same area as N,
go for Z. I do not think there is any scenery in HO or N that can not
be replicated in Z and it will look just as good or I find sometimes
even better since you are getting into the psychology of what the brain
perceives after the eye does the looking. ...don
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf
Of Richard Butler
Sent: Saturday, April 01, 2006 3:29 PM
Subject: [Z_Scale] What can be made to look more realistic?
What scale can be made to look more realistic N-scale or Z-scale?
- Good question, Rick.
Detailing can be as extensive as you desire in any scale. However,
commercially available parts for doing so are obviously more
abundant in N scale than Z. The difference comes down to rivet
counting... If you can't see the rivets, you can't count them, can
I think it's a perspective thing that can be said is the difference.
As you can model more in the same space in N versus HO, the same
lies true for Z versus N. The biggest benefit, may be just that...
If you want to model an industry or mountain in Z scale, you will
have a much easier time modeling it to scale, or have to use less
selective compression than you will in N. Consider a yard. A
reasonably-sized freight yard could be a mile long in real life. In
N scale that's going to be 33 feet, and in Z only 24. You could
scale down and still get a lot more of the feel in Z than N.
Here's another consideration: The typical Z Top module we have is
18" deep, with two mainlines on one-inch centers 14 and 15 inches
from the rear of the module. Allowing 1/2" from the track for right-
of-way clearance (roughly 9 scale feet), that leaves 13.5" of
modeling space (with straight track). That's 247.5 scale FEET to
work with... Lots of space. To get that same space in N scale the
module would have to be 24" deep, and the track closest to the
skyboard (rear) would be 19" out.
The neat aspect of Z modules 18 or 20 inches deep is this: You can
mount them on 20" shelf brackets on the wall, and the difference to
a comparable N setup would be an additional 8-12 inches of aisle
Check the articles in Model Railroader or listen to layout builders
on Allen Keller videos when they're asked "what would you do
differently?" and the most common answer will be "wider aisles".
So build away! Either scale is great, but you can really test your
abilities in Z... Somewhere even many N scalers fear to tread.
--- In email@example.com, "Richard Butler" <rbutler77@...>
> What scale can be made to look more realistic N-scale or Z-scale?
> I am more interested in is more the structures and scenery thatthe
> train itself. I have been a woodworker and cabinetmaker for goingon
> 30+ years and have mastered the skills and I am somewhat of anartist
> to boot. I have just found out about the world of train modelingand I
> am highly excited in getting started. I would like to start withwood
> kits until I get use to the scale then do it from scratch. I haveseen
> many wood kits but really, no one shows them in scale to somethingof
> known size such as a hand or a pack of cigarettes. Therefore, Icannot
> tell what size would be easier to make realistic and in moredetail.
> My first goal and interest is realism, I want to do a mill by astream
> with a water wheel in mountains and have a train locomotive in theareas?
> early years of railroads that travels by it. Kind of like my own
> little peace of mind. Will anyone please enlighten me in these
> Thank you very much for your time and thought.
> Rick B.
- "Richard Butler" <rbutler77@...> wrote:
> What scale can be made to look more realistic N-scale or Z-scale?
> Rick B.
Welcome to Z.
Realistic is in the eyes of the beholder. In HO scale there is
Malcom Furlow who models New Mexico desert scenes. His scenery is
described by many as caricatures or fanciful. He is a professional
artist and has a large following with the HO scale modelers. There
is also scenery done by George Sellios (SP?). He models the gritty
look of industrial East Coast life during the steam engine era. In a
way his modeling is also a caricature but it conveys an entirely
different feeling. George is a manufacturer of highly detailed HO
scale structure kits.
In Z scale we have models built by many talented model makers.. For
a scale reference I have posted to the Files section in the Bill
H 'Odds and ends' folder two photos from Lionel Gazeau. One shows
an O scale and a Z scale model of the same structure. You can see
that if you model in Z scale, you could include a whole town in the
space that is taken up by the O scale model.
The O scale model shows how more minute detail can be modeled in O
scale so the viewer becomes drawn into the minutia. "Look at the
little oranges." The Z scale model, on the other hand, shows the
total scene and conveys an entirely different artistic feel. "I saw
a building just like that in Mexico". Of course, if you desire, you
can also include oranges and dried garlic in your Z scale model.
The photo of the Chama station shows the relationship between
Lionel's hand and the size of the Z scale model. An N scale model
will be less than twice that size. A HO scale model will require two
hands to hold and an O scale model will requie a base for the
structure to sit upon.
I don't know how much, if any of these models are built of wood.
Robert Ray uses a laser cut machine and much of the basis of his
model are made from wood. Also his models are models of things that,
in real life, are basically built from wood.
The Chama station is a wooden structure but I don't know what
modeling materials Lionel used. I don't believe that he utilizes a
Laser cutting machine.
In a direct answer to your question: What scale can be made to look
more realistic N-scale or Z-scale? My answer would be, depends on
your talent and the perception of the viewer.
I have posted these two photos without Lionel's permission so I will
remove them in 7 days.
I hope that this helps.
El Toro, CA
- I like to scratchbuild things in Z out of wood too. N Scale can be
made more realistic, as it's closer to real size. But there is no
challenge making realistic N Scale stuff, You want Z! It's much more
satisfying to make a realistic grist mill with waterwheel in Z than in
N. That's something I have wanted to do too, but never got around to it.
Check out this guy's Z Scale scratchbuilding:
Lionel can get down. Most of his photos show a coin so you can see how
small his work really is.
I have made reference to a few professional model builders. Here is
are links to view their work.
Malcom Furlow's G scale layouts
Malcom's HO layout
Malcom is an artist and in a strict sense he is not a model
railroader. After appearing in Model Railroader Magazine he gets
commissioned to build model layouts. His work is expensive because
it is not his principle field of activity.
George is a manufacturer of HO scale structures.
Lionel is also an artist who appears to concentrates his work within
a model railroad atmosphere.
I get no renumeration from any of these professionals and I have
never communicated with any of them. I am simply a huge model
railroad fan. If you have a lot of time to surf the net, check out
Although my name appears in the URL it is not mine.
El Toro, CA
- Richard----- The real trump cards in Z scale structure building are the
arts of photoetching and laser cutting. Check our cyber-pal Reynard's
work at Micronart, and the equally wonderful Microstructures-- these
kits are as good or better than ANYTHING in any scale, bar none. Add
Robt. Ray's kits, the various paper kits and others,and, though you
won't have quite the variety, you'll have all the quality. As for
scenery, the beauty of Z is the ability to approach scale scenery-to-
train/structures ratios so as to give the appearance of a RR built
through geography, rather than geography added to a layout. I think the
advent of Microtrains turnouts will facilitate some large layouts, and
Z will garner publicity beyond "curiosity".
It's a good time to get on board.......