Hi Gang and Happy 2002,
It's time for my yearly roundup of remarkable events in the world of "Z"
scale model railroading and the Z_Scale forum.
A new member asked me via private email to bring him up to speed on the
state of North American "Z" scale. Let's take a quick look back over the
It's been a remarkable year for "Z" scale. There is definitely a wind of
optimism in the air concerning the growth of our favorite scale. Here is a
short review of some of the more notable events that marked North American
"Z" scale modeling.
- Micro-Trains Line introduced their long awaited F7B units (shims are
available from MTL to make the trucks free rolling ;-) ).
- Bob Olson of Pennzee introduced an extraordinary line of reefers that
rival the quality of the cars produced by our esteemed friends at MTL.
Pennzee also released a new set of road names for their already popular
- Reynard Wellman at Micron-Art introduced the beautiful 1888 Capitol City
Station building kit, several Model T cars and trucks and railroad crossing
- Miller Engineering broadened its line of electroluminescent signs and
delivered their "Z" drive-in theatre. Chris Miller also published a
fantastic full-color catalog which provides stunning pictures of the entire
"Z" line of etched brass building kits and Lightworks USA signs.
- M�rklin delivered the remarkable Casey Jones 2-6-0 with metal tender and 4
turn of the century passenger cars, a new run of their US streamline
passenger cars and now offers 5 pole motor conversions for their entire
motive power line. M�rklin is also offering blackened wheelsets.
- American Z Lines introduced their brass Alco PAs and produced more road
lines for their state of the art Dash-9s. We also had a glimpse of their
upcoming EMD E8 locomotive which is sure to become another classic. A
close-up photo of the E8 is in the "Photos - Z_ScaleCoverPage" section.
Have a L@@K.
- Microfigs Inc. jumped into the "Z" structure market with 2 cast industrial
structures for the North American market.
- FR Models introduced a New Haven electric loco to complement their
extraordinary line of Boxcabs. We also saw new two bay hoppers and I
believe that 2001 saw the introduction of their Gunnerson Husky stack cars
(which look super behind the Dash-9s!). Harald Freudenreich also offers
replacement blackened wheelsets in 2 diameters.
- Blair Line gave us several sets of laser cut billboards and signs in "Z"
- BL Products produced a nice selection of gondola car loads and "Z" scale
telegraph / telephone poles.
- Halwa of Germany is producing a line of "Z" and "Nn3" dual gauge turnouts
(available through Aspen Models).
- Aspen Models offers a USRA tank locomotive brass shell in kit form or
built-up for the M�rklin 0-6-0 chassis.
(Note: Check the "Files - Storefronts" section to see the new product
information provided by these fine manufacturers. If I have forgotten your
new product introduction, please feel free to post a message. It's always
good to be reminded of new products).
July saw the launch of Z Ambassador recognition on Z_Scale to complement the
World's Greatest Hobby Campaign. So far Z_Scale has 24 Ambassadors who have
been recognized for promoting "Z" scale model railroading in their
communities at train shows, at the office, in the press and on the Web.
Seven of our members have registered with Kalmbach's Ambassador program in
the name of "Z" scale. Congratulations to all. Why don't you join them by
registering with http://www.greatesthobby.com
and taking your "Z" to a train
The Dallas, Garland & Mesquite Railroad Club opened a new club house in 2001
and had over 500 visitors discover their Z-Mod modular layout.
The Houston Z-Bend Track modular club continued to take "Z" to the public at
mall shows throughout the year.
A "Z" scale mini-meet was held in late July in Emmaus, PA with several
veteran "Z" enthusiasts in attendance. See message #6365 for a full report
from Will Wright.
*****The 2001 National Train Show, St. Louis, Missouri
The most important event for "Z" in North American was without doubt the
National Train Show in St. Louis, MO July 14-16. Approximately 30 "Z" scale
enthusiasts, manufacturers, retailers and Ztrack Magazine gathered at the
train show as part of the largest "Z" scale event of the year. Remarkably
the "Z" scale "Zone" was the largest space reserved for a single scale group
at the train show. 3 modular groups (Houston Z-Bend Track, Washington DC
Z-Bend Track and Dallas, Garland and Mesquite Z-Mod) joined forces to
establish a record 16 scale miles of operating track on 200 feet of modules.
Rob Allbritton even had DCC operated trains running over part of the
system. A unique part of the modular setup was David George's home layout,
the "Golden Blackhawk & Central City Railroad", which is also compatible
with Z-Bend Track standards. Two individual layouts (Terry Sutfin's
"Poorville & Debt City" and my "Val Ease Central RR") were running for the
crowd of 18,000.
The success of NTS2001 was also due to the help of several "NTS VolunteerZ"
who came out to help set-up, tear-down and run trains during the 3 days of
the show. The names of our generous friends are listed in the Z Ambassador
database. Thank you one and all.
*****The Z_Scale SIG supper
For the second year in a row, Z_Scale organized a SIG supper on the Saturday
of the National Train Show. The year before in 2000, 10 members gathered in
San Jose, California for a very intimate evening. In 2001 in St. Louis,
Missouri, 24 fellow Z_Scale members filled a large dining room for a
wonderful evening of personal anecdotes and camaraderie. It was enjoyable
having several manufacturers (Reynard Wellman, Hans Riddervold, Harald
Freudenreich) and Rob Kluz, publisher and editor of Ztrack Magazine among
The 2002 supper planned for Saturday, July 20, in Ft. Lauderdale should be a
hoot. You won't want to miss it. Let us know if you plan on attending by
joining "ZTaskforce" and adding your name to the Z_ScaleSupper database at:
Attention: you'll have to join ZTaskforce in order to gain access to the
Note: "Z" scale will be present at the NMRA National Convention (I'll be
giving a clinic on backdrop painting and taking part in the AP judging) and
very present at the National Train Show in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, July 18 - 21,
2002 with even more fun in store. Several members are planning on
exhibiting their layouts and we're planning an ongoing demo area at the
show. A tentative schedule of workshops and demos is available for viewing
on the 'NTS2002ActivitieZ' section of
for more information on the Convention
and the National Train Show.
*****A National Championship for "Z" scale
Especially rewarding for yours truly and for "Z" scale, for the first time
ever a "Z" scale layout is the reigning National Model Railroad Association
national module champion. The "Val Ease Central Railroad" took "Best of
Show" honors at the Nationals in competition with 16 of the nation's best
individual and group modules. You can read more about the VECRR in the
current issue of Zclub92 Z-info (3/2001).
"Z" scale received good press coverage during the year. David George's
"Golden Blackhawk & Central
City Railroad" (twice) and Jeffrey MacHan's "VECRR" were presented on the
About.com Model Railroading web site following NTS2001. Terry Sutfin's
"PVDC" was featured on local TV in Nashville, TN during the GATS in July, a
week later in St. Louis, MO during the NTS and finally in a Seattle Times
photo taken during the Puyallup GATS in the Fall. The "VECRR" appeared in a
Toronto Star article presenting the Toronto Christmas Train Show in
In the general modeling press Model Railroader Magazine printed a 1 page "Z"
article by Jake Schwartz and several items were profiled in their 'New
Products' section. We made some strategic progress this year in our goal to
increase the number of "Z" related articles outside the "Z" specific
magazines. Although no major magazine printed a "Z" feature article, at
least two "Z" articles were sold to Model Railroader Magazine in 2001 for
publication, we hope, in 2002. Sadly we still haven't cracked the
resistance of the NMRA Bulletin although they have received "Z" material for
publication. It's been quite a while but with perserverence and constant
efforts, we'll see "Z" between the covers of the Bulletin once more.
Ztrack Magazine continued its growth in readership and in quality over the
course of 2001. The number of new authors appearing in Ztrack is a good
sign for future contributions to the magazine. It's been very enjoyable to
see the number of articles in each issue increase steadily over year. If we
continue to subscribe to the magazine and to provide lots of material,
perhaps we'll see Ztrack every month in the forseeable future. (Just a
suggestion!) Congratulations to Rob Kluz for his herculean effort to
produce a publication no "Z" scale modeler should be without.
And what about the new "Z" scale web sites being constructed by our members?
They're GREAT! Keep up the good work, guys.
Following the success of Terry Sutfin's train show activities in the Pacific
Northwest, it looks like there is the beginnings of a "Z" group in the
Seattle, Washington area. See message #8134 for all the details. Let's
hope that 2002 sees the launch of several new groups. There's nothing more
exciting than a face-to-face conflab of "Z" scalers. ;-)
*****The State of Z_Scale
First of all we have more than doubled our numbers in 2001. Last January
13, Z_scale membership stood at 262. Shortly thereafter we reached the 300
member milestone. We numbered 400 at the beginning of July and at the time
of writing Z_Scale has 583 members. When the list started in June 1999 I
had never dreamed of attracting 500 members! Considering the reach of the
Internet and it's importance for our scale we can probably expect steady
growth in membership for a while yet. But make sure you tell all your
friends about Z_Scale just to be sure.
In May Z_Scale became a recognized special interest group (SIG) of the
National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) and the first entirely electronic
(web) based SIG.
Of course, the growth of interest in "Z" scale can also be deduced from the
volume of postings on Z_Scale.
500 - x
X X x
l X X X
X X X X
400 - X X X X X
X X X X
l X X X x X X
X X X X
300 - X X X X X X
X X X X
l X X X X X X X
X X X X X
200 - X X X X X X X
X X X X X
l X X X X X X X
X X X X X
100 - X X X X X X X
X X X X X
2001 Jan � Feb � Mar � April � May � June �July � Aug � Sep � Oct �
Nov � Dec
� 409 � 462 � 476 � 294 � 323 � 519 � 456 � 743 � 248 �
501 � 569 � 536
Without a doubt Z_Scale is one of the most active model railroading sites
and continues to accumulate the collective wisdom of our membership for the
benefit of newcomers and veterans alike. The ZscalePress database has
reached 182 articles. We now have a "Photos" section where members can
share their work and look over the year's weekly "Cover Page" photos.
Already the "Calendar" has a good number of "Z" scale events, meetings,
trainshows and public shows listed. Keep up to date on "Z" happenings on a
It is thanks to you, fellow members, that participation in the group is so
enjoyable. It has often been observed that newcomers are made to feel right
at home here. I personally enjoy the passion that so often expresses itself
on the group. There is a certain chemistry here which is remarkable
considering that we are a virtual community. I am constantly amazed by the
impact a series of 3 letters (WWW) have had on the development of "Z" scale.
I'm sure that I have overlooked a great deal. My excuse is that I only have
so many working neurons left.
So what about predictions for "Z" in 2002? Frankly, I'm not in a position
to make predictions since I am not in anyone's confidence about plans for
new products. What I do know is that "Z" will continue to make news through
our collective efforts and we'll have a GREAT time doing it. Perhaps we'll
have a chance to meet in Sinsheim, Germany in March or at the NMRA National
Train Show in July or at a local train event during the year. In any case,
I look forward to our conversations and our debates right here on Z_Scale.
2001 was awesome. Let's see what we can do in 2002!
Jeffrey R. MacHan
Val Ease Central RR:
Z scale SIG Coordinator & Moderator:
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