Author Topic: The Mockingbird Industrial in Z  (Read 3884 times)

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Denver Road Doug

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The Mockingbird Industrial in Z
« on: June 26, 2015, 07:35:20 PM »
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I am starting a new layout and for the first time since venturing into N from HO in 1983 it will be in a new scale.  That's right, I had an undiagnosed brain episode and drifted into the Z lane.   :scared:

To those of you who've known me and/or interacted with me throught the forums over the years, the theme will be VERY familiar.   I am (yet again) planning on modeling the joint commuter/freight line between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, USA. (of course, this time in Z-scale)  This includes operations of four railroads: Trinity Railway Express, BNSF, UP, and the Dallas, Garland, & Northeastern. The era will be mid-2000’s. The layout is called "The Trinity Rail Link" to generically refer to the line and its tightly interwoven tenants. (and river!)   A little more about the "why" later, but for now I'll present what is a fairly finalized track plan.



In a nutshell, the design goal is "build a very small layout that permits a couple of commuter trains to run while a freight slips in and around switching local industry."   The modeled area is about a 3 mile part of the line between South Irving station and Medical Market Center station, yet not modeling any actual stop...simply the commuters running through a very "freight heavy" part of the line, plus a short bit of scenery near the crossing of a tributary of the Trinity River.  So some bit of scenic area, but mostly "urban decay" in the form of an extremely compressed Mockingbird Yard and adjacent warehouse district.  A meandering industrial spur winds through the warehouse jungle before ending at the Dallas Coca-Cola plant, (the red building in the layout diagram) destination for many loads of corn syrup delivered by rail.   This is very different than my previous attempt in n-scale, and is really grounded in the concepts of simplicity and just a fun side project.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 05:43:37 PM by Denver Road Doug »
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Denver Road Doug

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2015, 07:56:55 PM »
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Why Z-Scale?

Well, like I said, I think I probably destroyed some important brain cell, best I can figure.   :D   But really it can be blamed squarely on The Railwire, when fellow multi-scaler Johnathan "Catt" Edwards mentioned something about American Z Lines blowing out their F59PHI/Bombardier commuter sets for $99.  That includes a locomotive, three coaches, and one cab-control car.   I had been curious about Z, and particularly with respect to modeling the TRE. (AZL also makes RDC's, another key piece of equipment the TRE ran that really gives it major character)   



So, that's how it started.  Originally I figured I would just buy an oval of track, stick it on a piece of foam and call it a day.   Well, then I started discovering that Z now has enough modern freight equipment to really represent the TRE line extremely well.   The $89 AZL GP38-2 got good marks for performance, and before I knew it I had one in UP paint, a handful of freight cars, plus an undec RDC that I got at a great price.   I have to admit I was a little struck by how well everything operated.  I even bought a couple of curved turnouts thinking I would really regret it and they just perform flawlessly.   That RDC-1 is just a beautiful sight to behold gliding across the track.  While I was clearly already pretty deep into things by then, that RDC really pushed me over the edge to try and put together a layout in Z.



I originally got a little overzealous and designed a "still fairly compact" layout that include the TRE yard and two station stops, but the track alone was driving the cost way out of reach for a "side project" like this, so I scaled things down to what is shown above which is easier on the pocketbook.   Thinking about what I really wanted, I was really more interested in seeing the commuter equipment in action than I was commuter ops, but decided that my little arsenal of frieght cars and road switcher was performing good enough that I could have a little freight switching as a goal.





I'm not abandoning N by any stretch, and I am still working on my N-Scale layout and will still move forward with N as my focus.   But I clearly have a vested interest in Z now as well, and I hope I can create a neat little super compact layout that will provide some bit of enjoyment to this crazy world!   8) ;)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2015, 11:47:33 AM by Denver Road Doug »
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Denver Road Doug

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2015, 08:30:06 PM »
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If there can be a signature scene on a 2ft x 4 1/2ft layout, this one is going to be it...


Obviously 'shopped for size sake, and will be of course truncated even futher as a layout element.  Oh, and almost the entire right side approach will be on a curve.   Modeler's license is a wonderful thing.   :)

As far as progress...not much.  I have procured about 2/3rd the track I need....enough to move forward with construction.   I have identified a truss bridge, but still need to find a suitable girder bridge.   Most of the structures are flats or simple warehouses.   Need to buy foam but other than that it's just a matter of making time.  Construction will be 1" foam laminated to two pieces of 1/2" foam for a 2" thick sandwich out of which I will carve the river and underpasses.   Initially planned no grades period, but I might bring the industrial branch down 1/4 or 1/2", and maybe the Frito Lay siding (top right) down 1/8-1/4 or so.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 09:22:26 PM by Denver Road Doug »
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coldriver

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2015, 09:19:30 PM »
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I like it, Doug!  A lot of nice operational features here with a yard, double track main, industrial branch and scenic highlight packed into a tiny space - but the features are actually pretty well spaced out.  Hail Z Scale!

robwill84

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2015, 10:08:14 AM »
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Looks like a fun project. For your warehouse district, the Walthers N Brach's candy factory building comes to mind. It is such a compressed building, it is probably closer to Z than N. A lot of the older walthers/european buildings are super compressed, another that comes to mind is the Water street freight terminal building. Man, there is so much good stuff in Z now. Very tempting to build a small layout like this...

Denver Road Doug

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2015, 05:10:23 PM »
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Thanks gents.  Unfortunately and fortunately, the warehouses are very very basic, single story affairs for the most part.   But that's a good tip about the "less than N" kits overall.  And that Water Street kit might work as a stand-in for the Coca-Cola plant, or at very least a good starting point for a kitbash.
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Catt

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2015, 09:06:41 AM »
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That bridge scene deserves to be modeled full scale. Unfortunately even in Z scale that is a heck of a lot of real estate. :(
Johnathan (Catt) Edwards
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nscaler711

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2015, 11:56:06 AM »
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Looking Good, love the TRE also...
you need some SD70Ms though :P
http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/American-Z-Line-SD70M-UP-p/azl-61004-4944.htm
pricey but they run like a swiss watch i tell you!
I need more SF SD75M's have one but i need its sisters... need more money lol..
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

Denver Road Doug

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2015, 09:14:54 PM »
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Looking Good, love the TRE also...
you need some SD70Ms though :P
http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/American-Z-Line-SD70M-UP-p/azl-61004-4944.htm
pricey but they run like a swiss watch i tell you!
I need more SF SD75M's have one but i need its sisters... need more money lol..

Actually, big UP power is pretty rare on the line, except for the extreme outside terminals of Union Station in Dallas and ITC/T&P Station in Fort Worth near Tower 55.  UP transitioned to DGNO about the time I am modeling, so I plan to have one GP38-2 from each, and the rest of the power will be BNSF.    I eventually would like a pair of H2 SD75's to use as coal power, or replace one with the upcoming ES44AC's.   Then maybe a Warbonnet SD75 for intermodal along with a BN SD40-2.   But that will be way on down the line if ever.   My main goals are still in n-scale....any momentum I had about thoughts of moving to Z were crushed with $50 coil cars unfortunately.   That brought me back down to earth.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2015, 11:40:33 AM by Denver Road Doug »
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nscaler711

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2015, 03:12:37 PM »
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Your not joking on that Z is way to expensive as it is and finding a set of four for under $100 is like digging for gold in a salt mine... Lol
But I have a ATSF SD75M, and I love it, pulls the 14 cars I have just fine. I have heard good things about the MTL SD40s and the GP38s from AZL are really nice too, minus the giant hole in the pilots... I'm sure a little work can fix it since AZL doesn't sell the body mount pilots separate...

I wanted to know before I dropped money on the F59PHi set, how well does it pull and how well do the coaches roll?
Cause if they are anything like the Athearn ones I'll be saving $100. Lol
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

Denver Road Doug

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2015, 12:50:49 AM »
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The problem with any model of a Bombardier car is the prototypical inside bearing trucks.   Replicating that in the smaller scales is a challenge.  Having said that, I really don't have any bad things to say about how they roll, relatively speaking.   And thing is, you're only gonna run 2, 3, or maybe 4 with a TRE consist so....there's virtually no way you'll ever have an issue with pulling power.    The F59PHI is actually an incredibly nice locomotive...the Bombardier cars are pretty much like their N counterparts.   If you are remotely interested, they are absolutely a no-brainer at $99.

Regarding "way too expensive" well I'm not convinced of that.   I do think AZL missed their market a little with the coil cars, but that's not the first time and won't be the last time a manufacturer has done that.   I've continually said that model railroaders tend to overbuy (and myself squarely included in that statement) and there's no need to have a dozen of a "non-unit train" freight car as a general rule.  One or two will usually suffice when you look at train makeup and era/locale considerations.   So buying only one coil car is probably do-able if I can catch one at a little more of a discount.  My little handful of freight cars is spot on for what I need for the layout, and I don't really have too many aspirations beyond that so it should be fairly easy to keep the roster in check.   Now, I have branched out to build a intermodal train and also a unit coal train so those two will add some headcount but if that's all I do it's still very manageable.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 03:11:50 PM by Denver Road Doug »
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nscaler711

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2015, 01:33:09 AM »
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Ok I was curious as I was going to buy a Metrolink set or two and part one out so I can run 6 cars, lol.
So thanks!

I suppose I should specify, money wise...
I think $30+ is asking a little too much for some of their cars, I know that they produce limited amounts so that drives up costs but I still don't think I should pay more for a car like say a box car, than I should pay for a tank car.
I'll pay more for cars that have more details and parts for sure, and I'm used to that, but I don't like paying $30 a car when they dont have much detail, and are considerable alot less materials, when I can go out and buy N scale equipment and pay less for more, you know what I'm saying?

I also don't see how a Z loco fetches anything over $150 (diesel not steam), even if there are a few stamped brass parts... Sure the prices have dropped a bit, but id want someone to shoot me if I ever bought a N scale loco that was DCC ready for $150+ that wasn't customized in any way... 
I don't know, I don't have much of an expendable budget so prices bother me a bit, if I had more money I wouldn't complain, I love their products, I do seriously.


Sorry for the thread drift..... But I definitely want to see some 6 axle beasts on that... Even if I have to send my sole SD75M to you for a photo shoot... As long as I get it back that is lol...
Oh as for the UP loco I linked, it was just to show the prices, was the first one I ran across, but yea BNSF or NS would look better... But ATSF would look best  :P


(what ever you do don't go looking at replacement trucks for the SD70s and Geeps... You might have a heart attack lol)
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

Catt

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2015, 09:07:20 AM »
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My Metro Link set runs great could not ask for a better running loco.My 10.5" radius curves put a bit of a crimp in the pulling power with a 4 unit consist but I have some ideas to try to get the cars rolling a little easier.( Metro Link should have 5 cars from the pictures I've seen).Eventually my set (s) will be repainted for my Grande Valley Railway.
Johnathan (Catt) Edwards
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100% Michigan made

nscaler711

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2015, 09:29:26 AM »
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@Catt I just posted a thread on a set I just bought, go check it out lol.

@Denver Road Doug any update?
I am curious to see your progress!!
Oh and a source tells me The TRE is typically seen with 4 Coaches and a Cab car.
Also if you need to dump a TRE F59, let me know.
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

Denver Road Doug

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Re: The Trinity Rail Link in Z
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2015, 11:32:03 PM »
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@nscaler711 I would be interested in who the source is that states a 5 car TRE train is typical.   I would say the *average* is 3.   I suppose that has maybe changed in the past few years, but I would be surprised if that is the case.    Do a Google search and see what you come up with but I can't say for sure I've seen 5 in normal service...if anything it would be a Stars/Mavs playoff add-on or something along those lines.   They do tend to add a car for hockey/basketball games, but it's usually from 3 to 4.

No progress yet.  My son has been here and we've been on vacation.  He leaves on Tuesday so after that I'll be back in hobby mode full speed.   I did buy some relevant Z items over the weekend while in Denver at Caboose Hobbies....some BLMA K-barriers in Z and Z stirrup detail kit.

I'm gonna keep my extra F59PHI, well at least the mech anyway, as I hope to eventually draw up an F59PH (sans the "I") and have them printed.   I was thinking about stripping my extra shell though and doing some cool scheme, or maybe the Railrunner scheme that hasn't been done.  (then of course I would have to buy more cars but I'm guessing if I could custom paint a set it would be worthwhile.)
« Last Edit: July 25, 2015, 11:54:17 PM by Denver Road Doug »
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