C&O #500 Class M-1 Steam Turbine in HO Scale Brass By Division Point. This very hard to come by locomotive comes up just once and a while on ebay. They were produced in HO scale much more than their full size counterpart! There were only three produced and had a very short service life. Could you imagine this thing coming around the bend?
To the purist in model railroading, detail is everthing. Even in the tiniest of scales much effort is made to have exact measurements, colors, axles and road numbers. And I think that is great but sometimes it’s good to act like a kid again. When we were kids, our imagination added the detail and because of it, we were able to do so much more. A friend of mine had a bunch of Legos and we would build for hours creations, usually cars, trucks and airplanes. The really cool looking ones might be kept built for a while but most ended up in Lego smash up derbies.
So why are we talking about Legos on a model railroad site? Well Legos has offered a few really neat train building kits over the years. Some are modeled after real locomotives, others are made for the imaginaton. One that really caught my eye is the Lego Set 10277 which is a Crocodile Locomotive. This cool little kit has 1,271 pieces and has a display track. Now if you are a model railroading and you loved playing with Legos as a kid, this would be a great little project. There is a company that makes a lighting set for the locomotive! Or, maybe a gift to stir the love of model railroading in a youngster.
If you are a collector, you may want to buy the 10277 set and tuck it away. Lego sets can be a great investment. Check ebay, you will be suprised at what some of the discontinued sets are going for! You think brass is a good investment, some sets really increase over time. Take for instance the Lego 10133 BNSF Locomotive Kit released around 2005. (Pictured below) Original price was $40 U.S. Now, try to find one unbuilt for under $500!
I know there is a ton of interest in MAERSK container stacks. Well here is another set you should have bought new, the Lego 10219 MAERSK set. Originally at $119 U.S. back in 2011, going for 3 to 4 times that now. You can still find them, but yes it will cost you!
You will aslo find other locomotives and actual little trains sets from Lego as well. I was surprised to see the wide selection of custom built Lego train pieces as well. There seems to be quite an interest in Lego trains!
Ztrack teamed up with Archistories to create a nice little series of turn of the century houses in z scale. They have 5 different color homes that can be assembled in a variety of ways so you really could build a nice little neighborhood. I have built a few different N scale structures over the years but never in z scale. I was a little concerned about how they would go together as I looked at the pictures with the incredible detail so I thought I would give it a try.
I decided that I was going to try something somewhat new for me, that is following the directions, building in the sequence called out it the plans. I was also going to set up an area with proper lighting and work at a slow deliberate pace. For tools, I had just the basics. For cutting a single edge razor blade. I know a hobby knife is the tool of choice but I have used razors for years building R/C airplanes and it is just what I am comfortable with. I also used the razor blade as a straight edge, sliding pieces flush in position. For applying glue, a simple tooth pick. I also used the tooth pick to position very small pieces. A small sanding block was used to clean up parts if necessary (only on the thicker stock!) I also have an old balsa block that I have used for years that I could use to pin the assemblies down. I used it as a cutting board at first but found that as it was soft it wasn’t a real good choice for cutting card stock. I did use a tweezers to place the tiny little handrails on the porch but I think using the tooth pick was a good choice for the window frames and trim. For glue, I simply used thinned Elmer’s Wood Glue. With the card stock it worked so well for me! It was loose enough move smaller parts into final position and really set up fast.
The kit is built starting with a substructure. This part of the process is straight forward using a thicker stock that has interlocking tabs. Cut the parts out only as needed, you will lose them! I used my razor and good lighting to cut the tiny little tabs that hold the parts to the stock. Follow the sequence and dry fit everything first. I did pin some of the smaller substructures to my block but the main section didn’t seem to require it. I did make sure everything was aligned properly before glue set.
Once the substructure is built you will place the siding, which is much thinner than the stock on the structure, so use a light touch. Dry fit first to see where each panel should sit in relation to the adjacent panel. If it is positioned correctly, your windows should be centered. Take care when applying glue to stay away from where the clear window will sit.
Now the windows and doors. This was not near as bad as I thought it would be. First you insert the clear window without glue. Make sure the glass is sitting down flat. I did have to trim one piece. I think I had a little glue residue in the spot from adding the siding. If the glass doesn’t sit flat, the frame won’t set in properly. Now you will insert the tiny little window frames. I found if I added just a little glue on an edge or two on the frame, it wouldn’t slide around when I added the frame. I used my toothpick, the little touch of glue held it while I put in place. I added glue with my tooth pick to the outer frame and lowered in place. There are etched outlines where the window trim should line up. The window frames and trim pieces are very thin. This is not a complaint, they look great, just treat them with care. You may want to decide at this point where your entry and addition may go as a window frame may interfere with attachment. This may also free up a window frame in case you damage one.
The roofing is fairly straight forward to apply as is the trim. With some of the tiny trim pieces you will need to refer to the parts diagram to make sure you are grabbing the right piece. Again, do not cut the part until you are ready to install. Same goes with the stair pieces and chimney. I have to comment on the chimney. There are 5 pieces on this part that is maybe 1/8” square. But with the thinned wood glue, patience and proper lighting, very doable.
The final section to build is the porch. Hopefully when you get that far, you have honed your skills a little as you are dealing with some very delicate little frame work. This area gave me a little trouble. While trying to push down on the roof section, I used a little to much pressure and crushed a corner of the porch! Fortunately, I was able to fix and hide as it was up against the structure when done.
Once all the parts are completed, you have options on where you want to position the entry, addition and porch. You can create a variety of looks. My final choice in part was to hide my mistake!
To say my take away from the Archistories Turn Of The Century House kit build is very positive would be an understatement. I in no way consider myself a craftsman but by working slow with the proper tools, lighting and glue plus following the directions in the sequence given, I am very proud of the what I built.
Model railroad layout design software may not be needed for a basic layout or if you have a layout plan already that calls out track pieces needed. But if you want to have a little fun or if you are designing a more complex set up, you may want to give AnyRail a try. AnyRail model railroad layout design software is easy to use and works with any scale and really is very moderately priced for what it will do.
AnyRail has an extensive library of track sections from most all suppliers in all scales G-Z (including some I didn’t know existed!) I do mainly z scale and I am very impressed that the library has all the manufactures latest turnouts, crossovers etc. so I can design with current pieces available. As you get into the other scales, you will be pleasantly surprised with the choices. Most of my layouts are fairly simple table top designs with no elevation. Below is a super simple double oval for z that uses a crossover switch so you could run two trains. Pretty boring layout but I wanted to show what you can do in under 5 minutes with the AnyRail model railroad layout software. I drew this with their free limited version that limits you to 50 track pieces.
Now check out a more complex design drawn with AnyRail model railroad layout software. Here is where you can see how this is really a fun software and the real power of it!
Click here and you will see more examples of what users have drawn with this software. There are some incredible designs that have even more detail. Some really simple little layouts, some fill a whole garage! You can really plan your dream layout and envision not only what will work but what you need for track. You can also place buildings trees, mountains, hidden tracks, power breaks, elevation and so much more. And here is another cool thing from the site I realized, you can download the examples into your copy of AnyRail and modify! What a great idea.
As I mentioned at the outset, this model railroad design software from AnyRail is simple to use. It is very intuitive and reminds me a little of Power Point with simple drag and drop usage. If you spend any amount of time with the software you will become very proficient very quickly. You can try the limited version for free. It limits you to 50 track pieces, the full is really the way to go with a great price point.
I have to laugh when I think about how I used to tell my father that he should have a computer to design his massive n scale layout. After I would tell him all the benefits of model railroad layout design programs, he would reach into his pocket, pull out his mechanical pencil, click it a couple of times and say “I have my computer right here”. For those of us not as smart as him, I recommend giving AnyRail a try.
AZL Brass is so hard to come by. When AZL releases anything brass, I would buy it up. Below are just a few pieces of AZL that have come up for bids over the years on ebay. It’s incredible what some of the items have sold for! Others have been let go way to cheap. This is a good page to watch. if you are looking for AZL z scale brass. Click on any of the images and you will be taken to current offerings on ebay. Many times, you will find nothing at times though I have seen 5 or 6 really nice pieces com up.
The AZL brass Santa Fe PA is one of my favorites. While 60 where produced, I have only seen one maybe two come across ebay in ten years. I guess everyone else loved them to. The chrome finish on these was very well done.
One of the more recent releases, the AZL Krauss-Maffei ML-4000 locomotives demonstrate the need to buy quick. I think they were sold around $900 and so sharp. I had a D&RGW I had bought to hold on to but had to let it go.
Where did the year go? That’s what I thought as I flipped over the calendar this month. Then I thought, “why do I have such a boring calendar at work?” I started searching for a Railroad calandar and was pleasantly surprised. The photography on these Railroad calendars is just spectacular. You will find the big roads, modern and past and even a Model Railroad calendar. Calendar’s can make a quick easy gift that will be used all year. Take a look below at what is available for calendars on Amazon right now. We have selected a few, if you don’t see what you like, try searching them.
While you may have a hard time finding period correct cars to pull with the Marklin Mini Club 88035 Denver & Rio Grande Western 2-6-0 steam locomotive, you won’t have a hard time liking it. This just another example of a wonderful little Marklin steam locomotive. With a five pole motor and the small radius capacity of the D&RGW Marklin locomotive, it can do well on even on small table top layouts. While the locomotive has been out of production for some time, you can still find the Marklin Mini Club 88035 D&RGW 2-6-0 Steam locomotive on the aftermarket. They seem to hold there value quite nicely though so keep an sharp eye for a good buy. Check below to see what is currently available. And by the way, you could argue the Marklin 88035 2-6-0 a great little excursion train or display locomotive for a train museum on your layout!.
The natural addition to the Marklin 88035 D&RGW locomotive is a nice set of D&RGW passenger cars. The 87910 D&RGW Overland Passenger car set is more common than the locomotive. Some of the pricing seems to be a little steep so be patient. Both come up at a good buy now and again
With the huge selection of HO scale decals available today, a model railroader cannot only create road names and numbers that aren’t being produced or create something totally unique. Years ago, you got what you got from the dealer no matter how prototypical. But now with a few add on parts, a different stripe and new decals you can more accurately model your road of choice. Add to that the advent of 3D printing and the sky is the limit.
While you can print your own HO scale decals, you can save yourself a lot of time and experimenting buying commercially available decals. The internet and outlets like ebay make it easy for a small manufacture to offer up his product with very little cost. While you may be familiar with companies like Champion, Micro Scale, and Herald King but there really is a bunch of guys doing it! I came across a cool company called that has a bunch of HO Scale decals, K-4 Supply while looking for z scale decals. I couldn’t believe all the pages of decals! Not just Z but N, HO, O, S & TT scale decals! I have to admit, I started paging through but it was a little daunting! Another one I came across is Great Decals for Model Railroads who sells on ebay. They actually have a site Greatdecals.com that lists a bunch of HO scale decal makers.
The Marklin Z Scale F7 locomotive is a great piece that many Marklin collectors and just general z scale modelers love to own. While one of the most common Marklin F7 is the Santa Fe with the red war bonnet, you will find a variety of road names including Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Pennsylvania, Alaska, B&O, Chessie System, Burlington Route and more. You will also find some variations of the Marklin F7 like a version of the Southern Pacific, the Starlight Express and others that you will only find in a set. Earlier units had a 3 pole unit while later models have a 5 pole. So what is the difference of a 3 pole verses a 5 pole motor? The biggest thing you will note is better low end speeds and a quieter motor. Marklin changed over to the 5 pole versions completely in their F7’s by the end of 2000. If you have an older Marklin Z scale F-7, you can change it over to a 5 pole with not to much trouble.
You will also find some Marklin Mini Club F-7 B unit locomotives and some A-B-A sets as well. You may be able to find Marklin F-7 starter set here and there as well. The “Meet Me In New Orleans” set actually has a Southern F-7 passenger set along with a 2-8-2 freight set and lots of track and even two controllers! Below you will find a few of the current offerings of used F-7 Marklin locomotives on ebay or you can click here to find more.
I remember being a kid and looking through Model Railroader and drooling over the brass locomotives. Most of them were HO and O scale, maybe a few N here and there. Today, while rare and expensive, you can find brass in z scale. And their small size only enhances the marvel of these brass works of art. They are hard to come by, so just how do you get your hands on a brass z scale locomotive? Sorry to say your best chance is the aftermarket, particularly ebay. My advice to you is if you see one with a buy it now price and you want it, grab it! I have seen some great buys, I have seen some overpriced units but I have never seen one not sell!
The AZL brass locomotives are by far the most pricey, and the most interesting. You will find C449W locomotives, a few E-8’s and SD45’s every now and then. The real hard to find ones, and brass z scale steam locomotive MTLthe price reflects it, are the PA-1 and the GS-4. I think I have only seen one of the Big Boys, and one FP45’s, I don’t recall ever seeing a Challenger. Some of these locomotives like the PA-1 had very low production numbers, we are talking 10! You will also find the MTL Mogul’s here and there and they are such a cute little locomotive, and really not spendy. Every now and then you will also see a Zthek or Huet switcher. These are brass built up on Marklin chassis. I really wish someone would pick these up and produce these, Z scale needs these small switchers. Think how much more appeal a small Noch layout would have with a US switcher rather than a Marklin 0-6-0 or small diesel. FR makes some outstanding z scale brass locomotives but they are European.
More brass is on the drawing board for z scale. I strongly suggest if you here rumors of what is on the way, pre order if you can. If you miss out, you will most likely pay dearly later if you really want you. Heck the way z brass on the resale market is going, you may want to add a couple to your retirement portfolio!