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layout and rail questions

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  • Jacob Munkhammar
    OK, as I am completely new to the Z scale, I ll start with a few stupid -- that is to say basic -- questions. First, how steep a climb is possible? Would 5 cm
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 29, 1999
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      OK, as I am completely new to the Z scale, I'll start with a few stupid --
      that is to say basic -- questions.

      First, how steep a climb is possible? Would 5 cm up in 91 cm travel (1:18)
      be possible? (That is one "level" on one round at the smallest radius.)

      By the way, are there any "berg-bahnen" in Z-scale? I mean the kind that
      has a "cog-bar" third rail, and a cog-wheel under the loco for steep
      climbs. I remember someone did those in N-scale. (Arnold?)

      Secondly, how do the different brands of flexi- (and normal-) track fit
      with M�rklin turn-outs? Don't they have different profile heights? I know
      that M�rklin, Micro-Train and Peco all make Z scale flexi-tracks. Anyone
      else? Anyone else make turn-outs?
      And what make of tracks look best? That usually means have lowest profile.
      I remember that in my days in the N-scale (long ago), I wasn't happy with
      the huge rails.

      And while we're on turn-outs; does anyone make 1-to-3 turnouts in Z?

      I hope this sets the list off to a flying start! :-)

      /Jacob
    • BJKRONEN@xxx.xxx
      Jacob: I ll share my experiences gained on our 4 person modular layout. Others may have other experiences to share, even different results/opinions. ... Grade
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 29, 1999
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        Jacob:

        I'll share my experiences gained on our 4 person modular layout. Others may
        have other experiences to share, even different results/opinions.

        > First, how steep a climb is possible? Would 5 cm up in 91 cm travel (1:18)
        > be possible? (That is one "level" on one round at the smallest radius.)

        Grade is normally expressed in a percentage of Grade, where:

        (units of rise) divided by (units of run) times 100 equals Percent Grade
        units can be inches, feet, meters, cm, rods, furlongs, whatever

        example: track rises 2 inches in 100 inches of track = 2% grade

        suggestion: less than 2% is great, more than 2% is bad, very bad

        your suggestion: 5cm by 91cm = 5.4%...well, do you plan to run
        double headed power and 3 cars, or just use your finger to push
        the train up the hill? <grin> Most Marklin documents suggest 4%
        is about the absolute max.

        Grade determines how long your trains can be with a given loco. If you like
        long trains, your experience will be something like this:

        flat and level - very long trains (25+ cars)
        1% grade - 15 cars
        2% grade - 8 cars
        3% grade - 4 cars
        4% grade - 2 cars

        This is only an estimate. It depends on the pulling power of the loco,
        and the car weights and number of axles, how clean is the track,
        is the section on the incline curved or straight track, and what you
        expect from your trains as far as "constant" speed, or do you mind
        getting a blister on your fingers adjusting the throttle

        > By the way, are there any "berg-bahnen" in Z-scale? I mean the kind that
        > has a "cog-bar" third rail, and a cog-wheel under the loco for steep
        > climbs. I remember someone did those in N-scale. (Arnold?)

        Not that I know of.

        > Secondly, how do the different brands of flexi- (and normal-) track fit
        > with M�rklin turn-outs?

        Perfectly, without trouble.

        > Don't they have different profile heights?

        No. The rail joiners are all interchangeable too.

        > I know that M�rklin, Micro-Train and Peco all make Z scale flexi-tracks.
        > Anyone else?

        Not that I have ever heard of. Mind you, Marklin flex is "flex" in name
        only. Unless you modify the ties underneath, it really does not bend very
        much at all.

        > Anyone else make turn-outs?

        There is a Nn3 vendor in the northwest of the USA that makes switch kits, as
        a hobby. His ads say that a few times a year, he gets around to it, so be
        prepared to wait for months for your order. His kits consist of properly
        shaped rails and points soldered to a handfull of printed circuit
        ties/sleepers. You add wood ties/sleepers and the wiring.

        > And what make of tracks look best?

        Peco and Marklin model Euro ties. MT models US ties. Purists will notice.
        Many modelers may not even know there is a difference between Euro/USA
        standards. However, I will say that IF you happen to use Peco/Marklin as
        your base track, the closer spaced MT track can be used to simulate the
        effect of "bridge track" very effectively, if you add dummy ties in between
        the plastic ties. Prototype bridges have many more ties much closer spaced
        than standard track, to better distribute the train's weight on the bridges.

        > I remember that in my days in the N-scale (long ago), I wasn't happy with
        > the huge rails.

        Well, you now have a choice in N scale with code 80, 40 and 20.
        I'm "bi"....bi-scale that is (N and Z). Well, really tri-.....have G scale
        too.

        > And while we're on turn-outs; does anyone make 1-to-3 turnouts in Z?

        Never heard of one.

        Bill Kronenberger
        Houston, Texas
      • Jeffrey MacHan
        Hey Jacob, I found that Bill Kronenberger s answers were pretty much on the mark. However, I ll share with you my personal grade experience. On the Val Ease
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 29, 1999
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          Hey Jacob,

          I found that Bill Kronenberger's answers were pretty much on the mark.
          However, I'll share with you my personal grade experience. On the Val Ease
          Central I am obliged to make very tight curves and large grades. In fact
          the highest grade on the layout is a one inch rise in a 20 inch run (5%!).
          Elsewhere the grade is 1:40 or 2.5% maximum grade.

          I can run a 10 car freight train up the 5% grade with one Micro-trains F7 on
          the lead. However, I double head F7's to pull a 6 car passenger train up
          the same grade. Note that MT F7's are fine pullers but you want to avoid
          noticeable slowing of the train going up the grade. I do cheat at train
          shows where I only run trains down the 5% grade.

          On the subject of rail, Rail Craft in the US makes a slightly lower profile
          rail for Nn3 use. If you want to try your hand at laying your own track, I
          would suggest that you look into this brand as it is available in 30" if not
          36" lengths.

          I am sensitive to the look of the rail myself. Unfortunately, I had
          completed two suitcases before Micro-Trains introduced their flex track. I
          used Peco for the most part. My solution to the tie spacing and rail height
          problems was to disguise them... paint the rails and the ties before
          balasting and then weather the ties and ballast between the rails after
          ballasting. I have found that the problems seem to disappear because most
          of the visual clues have gone.

          I could have used a 3 way turnout myself a couple of times or even a wye
          turnout. I did cut between the turnout ties and curved the straight exit to
          add a very slight wye effect to one turnout leading into a yard throat.

          With a little creative cutting and careful bending and artful disguising, it
          is possible to make do with what is available.

          Cheers,
          Jeffrey
        • BJKRONEN@xxx.xxx
          ... on ... Ah Ha....the truth has prevailed. Given the Norway location the question came from, I assumed (whoa, you know what that word means) that we were
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 29, 1999
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            Jeffrey:

            > I can run a 10 car freight train up the 5% grade with one Micro-trains F7
            on
            > the lead. However, I double head F7's to pull a 6 car passenger train up
            > the same grade. Note that MT F7's are fine pullers but you want to avoid
            > noticeable slowing of the train going up the grade. I do cheat at train
            > shows where I only run trains down the 5% grade.

            Ah Ha....the truth has prevailed. Given the Norway location the question
            came from, I assumed (whoa, you know what that word means) that we were
            talking Marklin locos. That's where my little tables of grades vs. train
            length came from.

            But you are talking about MicroTrains locos. Now we're talking REAL power.
            Serious loco weights. High gear ratios. Not the same as Marklin fly weight
            locos.

            In very non-scientific tests on our z modules, we find that on flat and level
            track, a Marklin F7 approaches wheel slip conditions with around 28
            MicroTrains cars behind it. But a single MT F7 didn't get into wheel slip
            with 71 cars behind it. Sorry, that's all the cars we had that day.

            And I agree with your double heading comments. I have a complete daylight
            passenger train plus two extra cars, and on one module that has a (grim) 2.4%
            grade on it, I use a pair of Marklin F7's to charge the hill. One won't do
            it.

            However, if you take the time to fill the top of the shell of a Marklin F7
            with lead, its performance almost comes up to a MT, pulling power wise. Just
            be careful not to short out the printed circuit board when you re-assemble
            the loco with the added lead. I can't do that with my Daylight F7's, I have
            a Richmond Control's MARS light board jammed in that space.

            Bill Kronenberger
            Houston
          • WBolt1809@xxx.xxx
            From Wolfgang (Bolt) Some suggestions to Jacob s questions: Although I do not have a real layout - shame on me, I know ! - planning it
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 30, 1999
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              From Wolfgang (Bolt) <<wbolt1809@...>>

              Some suggestions to Jacob's questions:

              Although I do not have a real layout - shame on me, I know ! - planning it
              more and more sophisticated.....keeps me away from tranferring it into
              reality......

              No doubt at all: MT locos have originally by far better traction qualities !
              But what, if you prefer "Europeans" ??! Without any modification, it's better
              to have no grades of just those up to 2-3% - this is commonly agreed and
              experienced for a long time.

              Putting on weight - lead for example - is surely a remedy, but not always and
              on all types of locos applicable, space........- perhaps you followed the
              discussion just 2 weeks ago on the mailing list of the "Z-Club-92" .....

              When I suggested to try traction tires on Diesels and E-locos, like used in
              H0, I was confronted with the arguments: Improving traction ability versus
              lack of contact for taking up electricity and possibly higher danger of
              derailing on turn-outs.

              I did it all the same ! What I had seen already before on demonstrations,
              turned into reality: My "Heizer-Loco" (a series "460" from the Siwss
              Railways, one out of the double loco-pack "88445") had no problem at all to
              "climb" a grade of more than 30%......the following one must see or
              experience oneself: A Diesel - BR 218, catalogue nb "8880".....made its way
              "uphill"....on a grade of 45� (in words: degrees !) - which is, give me some
              time to calculate......a grade of 58%.........(difference in height was 25
              cm, ....."length" of track run......:43cm......) - As everyone can easily
              understand, testing how many cars my loco would pull easily on a grade of
              let's say 4%, is up to now really impossible........what I try out now on a
              grade of 6,9% - you should see me right now, looking for kinds of weights to
              put on a flat - "8610" car (6 gramms) !!! - I decided for a "Zippo"......60
              gramms......and my loco nearly wanted to take off like a Jumbo Jet.......A
              normal German reefer weighs 5-7 gramms...... - next try: grade 3,5%, same
              loco, 2 cars to put weight in/on.....I stopped my trials, after the loco
              managed to move "uphill" with a total of a little bit more than 400 gramms
              behind.....

              I am pretty sure that just 1 or 2, but "heavy" car(s) is not the same as 179
              (?) simple cars and that curves, turnouts and different radii have certainly
              influence on the traction "capacity" !!!

              Above all - it was great fun to do all this - perhaps you can imagine.... -
              Oh yes, the price for 2 axles modified, including shipment in Germany, is not
              more than DM 30...

              Due to the linkage (please let me have the right expression, US-folks !),
              traction tires are not yet available for steamers.

              Perhaps, somebody has an idea, how to do this more easily without having to
              dismount the "linkage" from the driving wheels of steamers - maybe some kind
              of liquid rubber to be put on by a brush ?????

              Years ago, at the time, the "Z-Club-International" still merited the name
              "Club"....- there was sb, who built a "Bergbahn", very interesting project
              and very well realized ! But this was without a cog-bar/cog-wheel, I think
              the cars were moved by strings. Nowadays, the company "Railex" introduced
              something similar even in "N" and "H0".

              Thanks for the information about the poor flexibility of the M�rklin type !
              Can anybody help me where in Europe to purchase the Peco flex track ?

              ....I enjoyed this afternoon and writing this email !

              Wolfgang
            • Jacob Munkhammar
              Thank you all for exhaustive accounts on the maximum climbing grade issue. The reason why I ask is that I am planning a very compact, multilevel layout where
              Message 6 of 7 , Jun 30, 1999
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                Thank you all for exhaustive accounts on the maximum climbing grade issue.
                The reason why I ask is that I am planning a very compact, multilevel
                layout where almost all visible track is flat, while it is shifting levels
                in hidden tunnels.
                As I want the layout to be as compact as possible, and those mountains and
                other hidden areas - especially at the ends of the layout - as small as
                possible, I of course want the trains to climb to another level in an as
                small area as possible. An as narrow helix as possible seemed the obvious
                choise.

                And, consequently, speed decrease is no problem, the trains are not visible.

                There is another issue here, though. Starting up-hill. I guess, at the
                grades I am discussing, this is impossible with stock locos.
                I will also park trains in those hidden areas. Better keep those parking
                areas flat or down-hill, I suspect....

                This rubber thing on a pair of wheels is interesting. Who make and sell those?

                /Jacob
              • Frans van Cuilenborg
                Snip, snip, snip...... There was a lot of good things said in this mail but I do not quite agree about the flex Märklin type track. I have used it a lot but
                Message 7 of 7 , Jun 30, 1999
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                  Snip, snip, snip......

                  There was a lot of good things said in this mail but I do not quite agree
                  about the flex M�rklin type track.
                  I have used it a lot but you have to cut the underside of the track on the
                  "outside" of the radia. Then it will bend easy. The advantage is that you
                  can make a very nice stransfer from straight to circular by keeping a part
                  fixed as it is and then cut where it bends.
                  The cutting is done between the sleepers on the outside of the radia.

                  Frans

                  >
                  >Thanks for the information about the poor flexibility of the M�rklin type !
                  >Can anybody help me where in Europe to purchase the Peco flex track ?
                  >
                  >....I enjoyed this afternoon and writing this email !
                  >
                  >Wolfgang
                  >
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