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Offline ciderglider  
#1 Posted : 18 July 2012 07:35:28(UTC)
ciderglider

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 38
Location: Wiltshire
This is my first post, so "hello" to all in Z land.

I'm hoping to build a modest Z gauge layout, guided by a treasured 1975 Maerklin catalogue, and one of the first things I need to consider is power. I have a Gaugemaster OO controller, but I believe this is likely to damage Z gauge locos as the voltage is too high. So I need to get a dedicated Z gauge controller. Are the Maerklin units any good? What are the alternatives? I see Gaugemaster make units for Z, but they don't seem to have them in stock on their website. Are the Gaugemaster units better than Maerklin's own. Are there any other controllers I should consider. I anticipate running "analogue", not DCC, as I am hoping to buy 70s locos second hand.

I see some of the older Maerklin rolling stock has plastic wheels. Is it easy to replace these with metal wheelsets? Indeed, are metal wheelsets readily available?

One other question, I have read that Maerklin has been going through financial difficulties recently. What is the current status of the company?

I look forward to your replies.
Offline witzlerh  
#2 Posted : 18 July 2012 14:05:29(UTC)
witzlerh

Canada   
Joined: 25/09/2010(UTC)
Posts: 277
Location: Sherwood Park, AB, Canada
I can't specifically answer you z-scale question (am HO) but I can tell you about Marklin and it's quality.
Marklin still essentially sets the benchmark in many of their primary products like trains and transformers. So when in doubt, go with Marklin.

They did have bankruptcy protection a few years back but in Germany, their process usually gets a company back on their feet, as in this case.
Today Marklin is doing well again and making good choices. Before the bankruptcy, they seemed to go all out in building all kinds of stuff. Now they are more prudent in what to spend money on.

I hope that some of our z-scalers will reply to you eventually. Did you check out the Z-scale sections on the forum?
Harald
CS2 DB & Canadian Era 3-6
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by witzlerh
Offline kbvrod  
#3 Posted : 18 July 2012 14:47:33(UTC)
kbvrod

United States   
Joined: 23/08/2006(UTC)
Posts: 2,596
Location: Beverly, MA
Welcome ciderglider!

>I'm hoping to build a modest Z gauge layout, guided by a treasured 1975 Maerklin catalogue, and one of the first things I need to consider is power. I have a Gaugemaster OO controller, but I believe this is likely to damage Z gauge locos as the voltage is too high. So I need to get a dedicated Z gauge controller. Are the Maerklin units any good? What are the alternatives? I see Gaugemaster make units for Z, but they don't seem to have them in stock on their website. Are the Gaugemaster units better than Maerklin's own. Are there any other controllers I should consider. I anticipate running "analogue", not DCC, as I am hoping to buy 70s locos second hand.

I see some of the older Maerklin rolling stock has plastic wheels. Is it easy to replace these with metal wheelsets? Indeed, are metal wheelsets readily available?<

There are other power supplies out there and metal wheels.

An excellent list to join is the Yahoo Z list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/z_scale/

Dr D
Offline ozzman  
#4 Posted : 18 July 2012 22:47:36(UTC)
ozzman

Australia   
Joined: 23/11/2007(UTC)
Posts: 1,891
Location: Sydney, Australia
Hello ciderglider. Welcome to this forum and to the mightiest little scale!

To start with your second question, the wheelsets are fairly easy to change, providing you have good eyesight, fingers that aren't too thick and a bit of patience at times. It's well worth the time and trouble though, as the metal wheels seem to track better. I guess it's the greater weight.

The Marklin units are good - typical products of solid and reliable German engineering. You can get them on eBay at reasonable prices, especially eBay Germany. If you go there the best bet is, in my opinion, a seller called stampino. Please note that you will see a lot of the older controllers - I don't know how good they still are. If it were me I'd be sticking with the newer white controllers.

I really don't know whether or not they are better than the Gaugemaster units. The latter certainly have a good reputation.

Apart from Marklin and Gaugemaster, thereare also the American MRC (Model Rectifier Corporation) units. They've been around for literally decades, and people keep on buying them, so I suppose that must say something. Other than that, I really can't comment on MRC.

Are you planning to build based on a layout in the 1975 catalogue?
Gary
Z Scale
"Never let the prototype get in the way of a good layout"
Offline ciderglider  
#5 Posted : 19 July 2012 21:09:33(UTC)
ciderglider

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 38
Location: Wiltshire
Thank you for all your replies.

I plan to build a layout which occupies a bit more space than the layouts in the 1975 catalogue, but which is not quite as densely populated with track.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the "track sets" Maerklin sell currently are pretty much the same as those they offered in 1975. They still have those big motors at the side of the points, which is a shame!
Offline hgk  
#6 Posted : 20 July 2012 06:31:15(UTC)
hgk


Joined: 10/11/2006(UTC)
Posts: 377
Location: Pacific Ocean
Hi,
This article might be of interest if you're ever looking to get rid of the above table solinoid.
http://www.zscale.org/articles/undertable.html
---
ciderglider wrote:
They still have those big motors at the side of the points, which is a shame!

thanks 1 user liked this useful post by hgk
Offline river6109  
#7 Posted : 20 July 2012 07:09:35(UTC)
river6109

Australia   
Joined: 22/01/2009(UTC)
Posts: 10,777
Location: On 1965 Märklin Boulevard just around from Roco Square
Hi,

Welcome to the forum,

Can't help you much from my side because I belong to W-Land and the gauge I'm using is W-Gauge.

John
http://www.youtube.com/river6109
http://www.youtube.com/6109river
5 years in Destruction mode
50 years in Repairing mode
Offline Nightowl4933  
#8 Posted : 20 July 2012 17:20:03(UTC)
Nightowl4933


Joined: 08/02/2008(UTC)
Posts: 965
Location: Wiltshire
Hi Ciderglider,

Welcome to the forum!

I live in the same County as you and in to z scale!

Frankly, although there are controllers out there that can do the job, I would stick with Marklin - that way, you can't go (too) wrong.

If you need any specific help, there are a few z-scalers around on these pages, but the guys on here know pretty much everything model railway related - and if they don't they'll someone who does!

Just keep asking the questions!

Pete
Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.

Z Scale is great - where's me glasses?
Offline ciderglider  
#9 Posted : 23 July 2012 21:34:08(UTC)
ciderglider

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 38
Location: Wiltshire
That article about modify points (on zscale.org) is scary stuff! I don't think I have the dexterity or patience for that kind of endeavour...

Are Z scale points as problematic as the author suggests?
Offline ozzman  
#10 Posted : 23 July 2012 22:41:41(UTC)
ozzman

Australia   
Joined: 23/11/2007(UTC)
Posts: 1,891
Location: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted by: ciderglider Go to Quoted Post
That article about modify points (on zscale.org) is scary stuff! I don't think I have the dexterity or patience for that kind of endeavour...

Are Z scale points as problematic as the author suggests?


Same here! Blushing

The answer to your question is that if someone with my arthritic fingers and level of manual dexterity can install Marklin Z scale points and get them working, and without derailments, then anyone can. It's not hard, but you do have to be careful and patient. Of course you will be left with the trackside "coffins", but there are ways to disguise them so that, after a while, you'll hardly notice that they're there.

As an alternative, there is the new player - Rokuhan track. Have a look here:

http://www.rokuhan.com/english/
Gary
Z Scale
"Never let the prototype get in the way of a good layout"
Offline ciderglider  
#11 Posted : 01 August 2012 21:03:21(UTC)
ciderglider

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 38
Location: Wiltshire
Thanks for pointing out the alternative track supplier. It seems that Rokuhan is a bit cheaper in the UK than Maerklin track. However, I have bought a Maerklin Trackplans book, which may point me back towards Maerklin track! The Trackplans book contains a very good introduction to Maerklin's system, as well as some trackplans.

I've picked up a Maerklin transformer on ebay, and also some rolling stock, so when I have some track I should be in business.

A couple of the coaches I bought on ebay (from separate sellers) arrived with some of the window glazing missing, so next time I bid for any coaches I'll make sure ask whether the glazing is intact.
Offline ozzman  
#12 Posted : 02 August 2012 03:35:46(UTC)
ozzman

Australia   
Joined: 23/11/2007(UTC)
Posts: 1,891
Location: Sydney, Australia
Rokuhan make, or plan to make every type of track that Marklin do, and some more. Especially curved track and short turnouts, plus a 90 degree crossing. One thing you cannot do with their track is attach German-style catenary. Do you have any locos yet?
Gary
Z Scale
"Never let the prototype get in the way of a good layout"
Offline ciderglider  
#13 Posted : 02 August 2012 21:18:13(UTC)
ciderglider

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 38
Location: Wiltshire
Yes, I have a Class 103 electric loco (8854), so I do hope to install a catenary. I presume that the Maerklin and Rokuhan tracks aren't compatible (the Rokuhan track appears to come with an integral underlay). It's reassuring to see other companies entering the Z market; I do worry that if Maerklin foundered I'd be left with a layout I couldn't expand.
Offline ozzman  
#14 Posted : 02 August 2012 23:53:13(UTC)
ozzman

Australia   
Joined: 23/11/2007(UTC)
Posts: 1,891
Location: Sydney, Australia
The 8854 is an excellent model of a superb prototype!

Rokuhan make an adapter so that you can join their track to Marklin.

The future of Marklin looks a lot brighter (or less gloomy, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty) than it did a couple of years ago. I feel confident enough to go ahead with a new layout using M* track.
Gary
Z Scale
"Never let the prototype get in the way of a good layout"
Offline Nightowl4933  
#15 Posted : 04 August 2012 10:28:56(UTC)
Nightowl4933


Joined: 08/02/2008(UTC)
Posts: 965
Location: Wiltshire
Originally Posted by: ciderglider Go to Quoted Post
I presume that the Maerklin and Rokuhan tracks aren't compatible (the Rokuhan track appears to come with an integral underlay). It's reassuring to see other companies entering the Z market; I do worry that if Maerklin foundered I'd be left with a layout I couldn't expand.


You're probably correct with the Rokuhan track not being compatible with Maerklin (although, as Ozzman says, there is an adapter available), but you could try Micro Trains track, too.

I bought some of this to use as a test track, but found it a bit more reliable and easier to lay - and it will plug directly in to Maerklin track, although you will need to take account of the height difference due to Micro Trains ballast. I found it a good idea to use this track 'behind the scenes', unless you're going to model American lines. Also, when you buy a turnout, you do get the 2 pieces of associated track sections with it.

Like you, I was worried about the demise of Z scale when Maerklin were going through their difficult times and wrote to them about it, but they wrote back to reassure me of the future of the scale. They do seem to be doing more for Z scale and brought production back to Europe from China.

Having said that, I may be looking to change up to HO, as my eyes are deteriorating quite badly and my hand control isn't what it used to be! With that and the fact all the children will have moved out by the end of the year, I'll have the room for a HO layout, subject to approval by SWMBO Blushing

Pete
Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.

Z Scale is great - where's me glasses?
Offline ciderglider  
#16 Posted : 07 August 2012 21:19:32(UTC)
ciderglider

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 38
Location: Wiltshire
I've looked at some other discussions on this site regarding the relative virtues of Maerklin and Rokuhan track, and have ended up in a quandary! I like the idea of the concealed motors on the Rokuhan points, but I think that integrating the Rokuhan track with other Maerklin accessories may be a bit of a chore (e.g. the Rokuhan point motors work off a different voltage). I don't want to make rod to beat my own back! But I would feel a bit of a hypocrite if I didn't support a company that is making the effort to improve the quality of Z gauge track.
Offline ozzman  
#17 Posted : 08 August 2012 03:16:25(UTC)
ozzman

Australia   
Joined: 23/11/2007(UTC)
Posts: 1,891
Location: Sydney, Australia
The Rokuhan track system has many pluses, but on the other hand some elements do look a bit clunky and the light grey roadbed looks quite unrealistic. At the moment they don't have an equivalent to the Marklin circuit (switching) tracks, and that was an issue for me.

You can make the Marklin turnout motors look a bit less obvious by laying the track on dark painted cork roadbed. That is my plan, after carrying out a small experiment.
Gary
Z Scale
"Never let the prototype get in the way of a good layout"
Offline ciderglider  
#18 Posted : 19 November 2012 21:35:01(UTC)
ciderglider

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/07/2012(UTC)
Posts: 38
Location: Wiltshire
A couple of baseboard questions:

In my young day, chipboard with some bracing was the way to make a baseboard, but I see that these days plywood is popular. Is there a good reason for this? I would expect plywood to be heavy and expensive, compared to chipboard. Any other materials I should consider. FWIW I'm planning a modest layout, about 1200mm X 600mm.

Are there any considerations for baseboard in material in Z? I imagine that Z track pins are smaller and less robust than those in larger scales, so if the baseboard material is too hard, hammering in the pins could be fraught.
Offline ozzman  
#19 Posted : 22 November 2012 00:57:42(UTC)
ozzman

Australia   
Joined: 23/11/2007(UTC)
Posts: 1,891
Location: Sydney, Australia
To start with, Peco Z scale track pins are better than those from Marklin. You might also like to consider laying cork roadbed - it has the twin advantages of deadening sound and making track laying easier (including track pins). My experience is that the US make - IBL (Itty Bitty Lines) - is superior to other brands.
Gary
Z Scale
"Never let the prototype get in the way of a good layout"
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by ozzman
Offline ztrack  
#20 Posted : 24 November 2012 15:52:04(UTC)
ztrack


Joined: 25/11/2005(UTC)
Posts: 114
Location: Dublin, OH
Yes, Rokuhan and Marklin are compatible using the adapter piece Rokuhan offers. I tested it and it works just fine. Rokuhan is adding all kind of new track sections which we have been waiting for in Z. This includes a 90 degree crossing. If you are just getting started, or want a system with road bed, I definitely recommend going with Rokuhan.

I use polystyrene foam for my layouts. This is the foam used for insulation, not the wide stuff used for packaging. I then use cork as my roadbed for my Marklin and Peco track. I purchase rolls of 1/8" cork and cut out my own roadbed. I recommend against using track nails. If you push the nails in too far, the can bend the ties and cause the rail to go out of gauge. Also the nails can work up and cause derailments. I hold my track down with glue that is part of my ballasting method.

Demise of Z scale? Definitely not! Marklin is still offering Z and starting to expand the line. But if you want to see the real growth of Z, look at the US with companies like American Z Line, Micro-Trains Line, Full Throttle and now InterMountain. They are all offering new rolling stock and locomotives. While it is not European prototype, the future is very bright for North American Z scalers. Plus, the Japanese market is finally taking off with Rokuhan and Tenshodo leading the way. It is a great time to be in Z!

Rob
Ztrack Magazine Ltd.
The Magazine For Z Scale Model Railroading.
www.ztrack.com
www.ztrackcenter.com
www.ztrackresale.com
thanks 1 user liked this useful post by ztrack
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