layout and rail questions
- 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! :-)
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)Grade is normally expressed in a percentage of Grade, where:
> be possible? (That is one "level" on one round at the smallest radius.)
(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 thatNot that I know of.
> 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 fitPerfectly, without trouble.
> with M�rklin turn-outs?
> 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.Not that I have ever heard of. Mind you, Marklin flex is "flex" in name
> Anyone else?
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 withWell, you now have a choice in N scale with code 80, 40 and 20.
> the huge rails.
I'm "bi"....bi-scale that is (N and Z). Well, really tri-.....have G scale
> And while we're on turn-outs; does anyone make 1-to-3 turnouts in Z?Never heard of one.
- 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
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.
> I can run a 10 car freight train up the 5% grade with one Micro-trains F7on
> the lead. However, I double head F7's to pull a 6 car passenger train upAh Ha....the truth has prevailed. Given the Norway location the question
> 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.
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
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
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.
- 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
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
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 !
- 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
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?
- 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.
>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 !