True Z scale 1:220 accuracy

shortpainter Dec 16, 2020

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Conserning ALL locomotives and rolling stock, how much does true, accurate, scale matter to you?

  1. Very important, no compromises or it doesn't go on my layout

    13.9%
  2. Mostly important, I can live with a few compromises for the sake of functionality

    72.2%
  3. I'm just happy that model now comes in z scale!

    13.9%
  4. Meh, if you say it's z scale then it's z scale

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. psshhh, I'll throw n-scale models on my z scale layout, who cares?!

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. shortpainter

    shortpainter TrainBoard Member

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    I'm one of those modelers that prefers accurate proportions and true scale even though I know its not always possible. Some models hide the inaccuracies well while others look funny from across the room. What are your thoughts on the matter? Have you ever avoided a model because it wasn't accurate?
     
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  2. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    Correct scale, detail and realism are important to me. But in Z-scale, we know it’s very hard to achieve due to the micro small nature of everything available.

    Although, kudos to the many on this board are putting forth some incredible work. And to our vendors as well. We need to continue to share our tips, techniques, and hacks in order to improve our following and gain new Z-scale modelers. Only then will the long overdue recognition come to Z.
     
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  3. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    If grab irons and stirrups, handrails and other details were true to scale, would they be visible to the naked eye? Or at least be handle-able? N scale is bad enough...
     
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  4. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    I am not a Z scaler, but the issue I see with some models is the width of the hood on hood units. The same thing happened with older HO Athearn Blue Box models in order to fit the motor inside. Installing grab irons and stuff probably is not practical, especially in the factory, but I can appreciate the detail and research that goes into accurate models.

    The thing with a lot of models is that you think they look correct until you know they are not. If nobody said anything, you would never notice, but as soon as you know something is wrong, you can't forget about it. It's like looking at two different manufacturer's models and seeing all the mistakes one made. If you never put them next to each other, it would have been fine, but now there are glaring issues.
     
  5. CNE1899

    CNE1899 TrainBoard Member

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    For me I like fine detail as a challenge and as a designer/model maker. I think Mr. Trainiac says it in his second paragraph.

    Scott
     
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  6. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I do the best I can, but often compromise on exact scale replica. That said, I often have to re-design and rebuild my models 2, 3 or more times till it is considered good enough.
     
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  7. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    As far as models to avoid. I purchased 2 of the AZL GP38's when they first came out. When they showed up the handrails were somewhat offensive, especially compared to the etched stainless ones on the MTL GP35.

    Fortunately someone came out with etched metal replacements in a diesel detail kit, so I snapped up those kits, and threw them in my junk box for later application.

    Sadly, the mechanisms had Zamak poisoning, and crumbled when I looked at them this year. I just have to order new mechanisms, then I can detail them to remove the offensive.
     
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  8. zfuture

    zfuture TrainBoard Member

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    Here is my view. And I am all about details. When I got started in Z production the goal was to at least mirror N scale in detail. Please look at the original GP38-2 as a testbed. The same with the first brass C44-9W and PA locomotives.

    First hurdle was the width of hood units because of motor diameter. Most motors were 10mm thus way to wide for a hood unit. At the end we found an 8mm motor. The GP7 and SD70 had brass sides to help shrink the width. Today we have a very reliable 7mm motor which have dealt with the width issue. A future dream will be a dependable 6mm motor.

    Second hurdle is steam engine drivers. This will always remain a dilemma. The only way to be prototypical is to almost entirely remove the flanges.
    This will not be possible so either you have to shrink the drivers or give the drivers more space. Or a combination of the two. We study drawings and simply select what look the best. So hurdle remains.

    Fine details. Boils down to the material used. POM plastic allows very fine parts like airhorn, but paint will not stick. Thus it is usually molded in a matched color. A typical tradeoff issue. We are doing more metal stirrups which also adds to finer details. Separately applied grab irons? We are not there yet.

    Electrical pickup. There is so little space and this is always a headache. Sometimes details have to be removed to ensure adequate pickup.

    Turn radius. Another detail killer. We often have to modify ends, stirrups etc. to have a free swinging truck.

    Couplers. Really! the Z scale size is on steroids. But I think we are stuck with it.

    All of the above are enough to make the day at the office bad! So our goal is as close to the prototype as possible, but it hurts when we have to cut corners.
     
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  9. JoeS

    JoeS TrainBoard Member

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    he thing with a lot of models is that you think they look correct until you know they are not. If nobody said anything, you would never notice, but as soon as you know something is wrong, you can't forget about it. It's like looking at two different manufacturer's models and seeing all the mistakes one made. If you never put them next to each other, it would have been fine, but now there are glaring issues.

    Yesterday at 11:32 PMReport

    Ok when I read this I said yes. For years I keep my MT locomotives separated from AZL. If you run all GP 9/35 SD 40-2 and F7s from MT they look excellent together and are truly great runners.
    Now you put AZL GP unit in there and suddenly they look bulky. So I’ve just decided to run my AZL stuff together and my MT stuff together cause it looks right.

    So that point was spot on...
     
  10. marmot

    marmot TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have much more respect for the difficult design decisions of Z scale manufacturers after I have gone through the exercise of designing 3D printed shells (for locomotives and passenger cars). I ran into a lot of compromises that I had to make, such as leaving off stirrups/stairs lower than the floor so a car doesn't have a minimum turn radius of 350mm or much worse. Then I look at how accurate an AZL model is and I'm amazed.

    I have also done a little modeling in the next size down - T gauge. I'd be lying if I didn't include the word "frustrating" along with it. The minimum width of the standard motorized chassis makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to make locos with any hood. The width is even a limitation with larger narrow gauge locos. Then going back to Z scale seems like a breath of fresh air.
     
  11. ZFRANK

    ZFRANK TrainBoard Member

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    It is always a trade off of cost and what is technically posible. Highly detailed car bottoms are not important to me.. Most important is that the tippical shapes of a model which are eye catching still in Z Scale look convincing. Examples of failures are the Märklin F7, truck positioning on their freight cars. The front nose grill of their V100 diesel, front windows of the GM Nohabs. And not to forget the fishhook coupler. I think that Kadee/MTL did a very nice job on the knuckle couplers. The Rokuhan tiny Z equivilant of the N coupler looks also much better than the M fishhook.
    But the one's who were first had the biggest challenge in putting Z scale in to the market back in 1972. Who started later could learn and take advantage of these 'misstakes'.
    My AZL loco's look better, my MTL GP's and SD run more reliable. Btw it is amazing to see how smooth Rudy's Zmaker SW1200 runs with the Rokuhan guts! Fact that the SW1200 shell looks so good, proves to me this design works better than the split frame for a switcher.
    /Frank

    Verstuurd vanaf mijn ANE-LX1 met Tapatalk
     
  12. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Things could really be improved from the current "Oldskool" standards we are using today, if we really wanted to. Starting with the mechanism, the best single improvement would be to use the new class of inexpensive 6mm gearhead motors. A gearhead motor has momentum which overcomes stop on a dime electrical pickup issues. This also fixes electrical "jerk" uncoupling, where a loco stalls briefly due to electrical pickup loss, then gets pushed by the loco or cars behind it and uncouples. It happens to me at every train show a couple times.

    Next would be sound decoders in Z. These can be built on long boards screwed into the top of the frame halves like the new RS3 have. Make the fans on the hood open holes, and mount cell phone speakers on the decoder board just underneath so the sound comes out of the fan openings, and use stainless steel grills over that. Sound decoders are quite manufacturable in Z these days.

    Loco Shells could use to be updated too. It's time to add separately applied details like grab irons, see through grills, stainless handrails with stanchion detail, etc. Time for N Scale level detailing. And cab interior with engineer and firemen.

    It's time to take things to the next level. :D
     
  13. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent idea about using the fan holes for the speakers. Ditto on the finer details. I have added BLMA stirrups on several of my rolling stock. Grab irons would be taking it all a step further. BLMA was making detail parts for locos but I understand they do not make them any longer. Great commentary as usual. Jim
     
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  14. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    I have avoided Faller Z-scale kits. I built a 2-stall engine house way back and it looked more like n-scale. Other than that I would say there is generally fidelity between various manufacturers. Jim
     
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  15. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    Jim,
    I have looked at and considered Faller kits for my layout, but only if they can fit the late 1950's thru early 1960's, which is the era I plan to model.
    I do have the Vollmer kit below, and quickly ran to the hobby room once I saw your post to examine it's dimensions, and was disappointed to find that you are very correct. While the kit is really nice, the doors look like something a Z-scale "Andre the Giant" would walk through. Dang it. I had high hopes for this kit....:cry::cry:

    VOLMER 9610.jpg
     
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  16. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    Hey, Lance.
    All is not lost. I have that kit, too. It is definitely more n-scale than z-scale. One side was more objectionable than the other so I merged it with some odds and ends and came up with American Tool and Die. Most of the left side are Kibri parts and and some scraps. The 2 stall engine house from Faller is not useful in Zee.
     

    Attached Files:

  17. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Supporter

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    Jim,
    WOW, that tool and die kit bash came out very well. Nice, and the joining of two buildings is very prototypical of real industrial buildings across the land. Well done. I was thinking after I sent the message, that I do have some photo-etched doors and windows from I think BLMA, or someone else, that I may try to use to replace the "Andre the Giant" doors with. I really like the shape of that Vollmer building and it does tie in to the era I am building.

    Lance
     
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  18. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    Concealing or blocking the doors and windows with sheds, shacks and shanties might help, too. It is the windows and doors that are out of scale. The building has great lines and makes a credible industrial building.
     
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  19. shortpainter

    shortpainter TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. I'm glad this didn't devolve into bashing the manufacturers of Z Scale products. I think we are all happy to see such an abundance of products compared to ten or twenty years ago. That said, I look forward to a day when the majority of Z rolling stock sits at the proper ride height. I've modded half my cars so they don't sit a scale foot and half too tall.

    IMG_2907.jpg
     
  20. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    I picked the second option, although I probably fall somewhere in between the 2nd and 3rd option. I stressed too much about trying to push the envelope when I was in N, to the point it wasn't as fun anymore. Now in Z, I'd say I'm more "nudging" the envelope. :) I think most of the models available in Z are good to very good. As a whole, I think these models can be made to look the part, (ride height, some weathering, etc.) and can contribute to help create a nice looking model railroad. I'm more function-over-form than I was before, yet I do still want to strive for the best look possible given the constraints of time and money.
     
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