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Sunday, March 03, 2024

Member Blogs

It's Started!


  I hate to start out by apologizing, but I feel I must. This blog isn't about me but about things I come across while modeling. However, this first entry is actually a little about me as it may give insight as to why I find certain modeling aspects interesting. If it’s so much crap, forgive me. I’m no egomaniac.


 30-some years ago, as a young teen, I was very "into" model railroading. I didn’t care so much for running trains around in circles. Rather, I was very interested in detailed modeling, especially structures. While I started in N gauge, I transferred over to HO scale since there were far more craftsman-style kits available as well as scratch-building materials. Interestingly, Z gauge was just recently introduced! (If that tells you about how old I am...)

 But then came football, girls, a Firebird (not a bad first car), college, military, then married with children. Long story short and half a life enjoyed, I recently joined my son at his college to help with calculus. On the way there, I spied a hobby shop. Curious, I stopped in, snooped around, and picked up a Walther's HO catalog.

 Well, the hobby is alive and well. I find DCC, Fast Tracks, and the depth of products to be particularly exciting. It's not a dying hobby. But some things do (and did) change. The loss of Floquil was like losing a best friend (happily we have Tru-Color!), and I was sad to find a lot of the famous craftsman manufacturers are gone. Campbell, Builders in Scale, and so forth. Fine Scale Miniatures is still here…happy day!

So while I've been scouring eBay, scarfing up un-built Fine Scale kits, I don't have room for a full-sized HO layout. What to do?

Aha! Z Gauge! That tiny little "new" gauge from "back in the day."

So I've been reading, thinking, and snapping up cars and engines here and there. I'm learning to buy things as soon as I find them, because tomorrow they may disappear. I'm a huge fan of Micro-Trains, as I have always been fond of Kadee couplers. So I have a small collection of cars and a F7 A/B set to pull them.

Problem is, I have no layout.

Then I picked up the March 2016 "Model Railroader." In there, they discussed 4x8' layouts, and one in particular caught my eye. The Virginia & Southern RR on page 56 looked quite intriguing. I loved the dual main with some simple/moderate yard work. I could position a nice bridge right up front and practice some rock and water modeling. And since I believe in hand-laid track, there is plenty here to keep me busy.

So right out to Home Depot I go and came back with some cut plywood and pine stringers. Doing some math, I know the conversion from HO scale to Z scale is 0.0045 / 0.115 (1:220 / 1:87), which is 0.39. Therefore, every measurement in HO can be reduced by 61%. If a layout is 4x8', in Z scale it would be roughly 2x3'. I splurged and made it 2x3.5'. :)

 Here are some shots in my shop where I've built the basic table. Once it's further along, I'll build a nice table to drop it into, using some oak or poplar. But for now, it's sanded plywood and pine. I'll hide switch machines inside the shell. The depressed area will be some sort of body of water...actually just an excuse to model some bridges. I'll likely do a blog about those before too long.

So I'm putting my mouth were my wallet is, so to speak, and have started a small layout for fun. I’m not the best at posting blog entries, but I'll try as it progresses.


(Papering over table to scribe initial trackwork.)

(Starting to create frame.)

(Framed and secured table.)


Avoiding the Slinky Effect
Newbe to Z with questions...


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