S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 3 keywords = Z scale Berlinerwerke model railroad saga layout

Updated:   02 May 2013, 07:55:  ET
[Page created ; converted __ Oct 2011>

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/bwzsaga3.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/bwzsaga3.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Berlinerwerke-Z Saga
Continuation Page 3


You may wish to visit the NMRA Logo HUB DIVISION and the SUNRISE TRAIL DIVISION
  both of the

S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com

Berlinerwerke-Z Script


Saga Continuation - Page 3

Continued from:
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga, and
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 2, and
continued on:
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 4,
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 5, and
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 6,
  including a Tour of the Berlinerwerke-Z.

(1997 update continued)

(pictures to follow soon)

{continued from S. Berliner, III's Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Page)

note-rt - [I moved from Long Island, NY, to the Boston, MA, area on 15 Jul 2010 - not all geographic references herein have been changed.]

On 14 January 1997, I decided to go for broke and cut up Nat Taverna's beautiful Kibri oil tank farm.  I couldn't identify it until a week later when I finally broke down and bought an old 1996 Walthers N & Z catalog; my oil tank farm is one of two included in Kibri's 6998 Tank Farm Diorama Set (the original single-farm kit number turned out, much later, to be 6760).  The modification simply entailed snapping off the two containment walls at top and left (on the diagram, or facing the valve complex), cutting the base (with all the detail in place, except the few pieces which fell off as I proceeded!), and cutting and fitting the two containment walls to be three shorter ones.  The small horizontal tank has to be relocated in the cramped space remaining; I chose to center it diagonally between the two largest vertical tanks.  This location allows simply cutting and angling two of the many pipes running along the left side so they end up under the end of the tank and meet the risers which must be relocated slightly to meet these two horizontal pipes.  It was an amazingly smooth alteration; all that remains is to sort out the jumble of little details that came off and refit them.

Moving right along, that same night (14 January {1997}), I started building the Kibri 6750 gravel tipple.  First, I cut (inaccurately) the base back to fit between the newly-relocated "east" end of the main and the framing of the layout.  After fitting-up the major components, I decided there was absolutely no way the small dump house would fit in as intended.  That is, I assume that the little house on the lower end of the conveyor housing is a dump house, where trucks dump gravel to be carried up to the top of the tipple.  Whether or not that's so, it's a dump house now!  The bottom must be cut out (after being securely bonded the night before!) and a grating installed; we'll see what the hobby shop has in the way of fine gratings (I'm not about to scratch build one in Z!).  Then the dump house is turned 90º {degrees} counter-clockwise and an intermediate hoist house and conveyor must be fabricated from scratch and installed to account for the turned dump house and the long distance to be traversed to allow truck access around the dump house to the ramp leading up under the tipple.  This little fillip also allows, rather neatly, for the exact 1/2"* difference in height between the top of the tipple ramp and the top of the layout framing alongside.  Raising the hoist house and the-now-upper conveyor 1/2"* seems to me to improve the actual appearance of the tipple complex; all that's required to fit the hoist house to the bridge across the ramp is to trim the tops of the vertical locator tabs that position the hoist house against the bridge.  The horizontal tab that was to be at the bottom of the bridge now simply disappears higher up inside the bridge.  Everything else on the tipple fits as Kibri intended and it just "belongs" where it is, even allowing for the overlap over the layout frame.   rev (02 May 2013)

    [* - The framing actually stands one HALF inch above the Homasote; not one quarter inch as previously stated.]

As of 15 January {1997}, the tipple stands fully erected, although undetailed, and looks great!  I popped off the bottom plate of the dump house (it took a bit of force, but did come loose without damage), cut out its center, and dropped in two segments cut from a ship's companionway (stairs, ye scurvy landlubber!).  By angling the steps toward the viewer, they really look just right for a dump screen.  I also put a vertical plate under the hoisthouse wall above the ramp to look better and hide that part of the layout frame (it does both).  The paper mockup hoist house and conveyor also look good.  In this process, I pulled off the dump body from my Noch 4752 Mercedes Muldenkipper (Dump Truck) to see if it could be shown tilted (it can); it promptly flew out of my fingers and I heard it skittering across the tile floor as it vanished semi-permanently from sight.  Diligent hands-and-knees searching with a drop-light failed to evince its whereabouts.  Needless to say, there it was the next morning, just where I thought it went, in plain sight and undamaged.  I ordered another one, a 4753; wonder what the difference might be - just color?  I'll fake hinges and a hydraulic lift cylinder on one of them.  No sense detailing a dump screen and not having a dump truck dumping on it, now is there?  Besides, it sure beats having a 1:220 elephant dumping there; a stinking idea (ewwwww - gross, Grandpa)!

To my dismay, Walthers rejected my order for the Noch 4753 Mercedes Benz Muldenkipper (dump truck) and the 4746 Container Assortment.  The latter was reordered from another distributor but what happened to the 4753 and where did I see it?  The 4752 brown dump truck was on the shelf at one of my hobby shops but neither is listed any longer.  The Noch 4746 Container Assortment came in as I was finishing up this article; it consists of four odd shorty containers and one long one:
    25mm (18') Eichhof Bier (with squirrel, yellow & red)
    28mm (20') Exquisites NOCH - Modellbahn-Zubehör (tan, black & red))
    32mm (23') Weitnauer Bier - die frische Freude (blue & white)
    32mm (23') vedes (ship) Spiel+Freizeit (green with orange chevrons)
   [47mm (34') Märklin standard container {ref.}]
   [55mm (40') Märklin standard trailer {ref.}]
    58mm (42') Spar (white with green pine tree, red & green stripes)
        {I've since added two of Bob Olsen's bulk containers}
I've listed Märklin's standard container and trailer for size reference.  The colors are a bit weak (except on Noch's own container) and they lack the fine end-detail of Märklin's containers and trailers, but they add variety (especially in length!) and color.

Here's what the Z-scale Berlinerwerke looked like ca. 1997, right about when I wrote this text:

BW-Z ca. 1997
(SB,III Photo)

Another detail to be worked on will be the sanding facility at the Koll's Coal dock (piping and spouts).  Perhaps I'll pipe the sand across from the old 8982 hand-operated coal dock.  I have noticed an unexpected esthetic problem due to the new dock; the old dock now appears incredibly oversized, as if it were an N-scale model.  Another problem, minor though it may be, is coal hoppers.  Other than Märklin's German prototypes, which don't appeal to me, there don't seem to be any!  Just as Micro-Trains doesn't have a reefer in its line, neither does it have hopper cars.  How odd, considering the plethora of box cars of every description they carry.  The 14300-series gondolas could be doctored, but that's a hassle for something so basic to any layout.  However, Jerry Hodgkin of Davis-Hodgkin/Inservice Miniatures has now announced that he has three different hoppers coming down the pike to solve the latter problem.  {I saw some and they're great but, unfortunately, production hasn't come to pass, although a third party might pick up his excellent line - one can but hope!}

Another milestone passed recently; I returned the new 7272 momentary Control Box I bought to work the additional turnout and roundhouse doors.  That's it!  I thought originally to go Märklin all the way but in the 15+ years that have passed, the inconvenience of non-position-indicating controls has begun to overshadow any other considerations (the plug-in feature seems to be the only advantage).  It's on to miniature toggles for block and lighting control and Kadee 160-series Quickie push buttons for turnouts, uncouplers, and doors.  I'm working on a miniature control panel design "even as I write" {well - I WAS}.

18 January {1997} found me looking at a Micro-Trains 14907 Chessie System B&O 293952 40' plug door steel boxcar in B&O blue with yellow printing.  Momentarily, it became an ersatz Great Northern/Western Fruit Express 53794 wood-sheathed ice reefer!  I tried xerocopying the various N, TT, HO, and S scale GN/WFEX cars I have, but my copier wouldn't handle the yellow, so I xerocopied the lettering diagram included with my Tempe TT car and that worked.  TT is 1:120 vs. Z's 1:220, or a reduction of 54.5454%.  The copier only shoots down by a maximum of 65%, so I had to shoot the image twice, at 84% the second time, for a final reduction of 54.6%.  85% gave 55.3%, ever so slightly oversized.  By running a test sheet, I could locate strips of 1" wide 3M Post-it TM #658 6-line Correction & Cover-Up Tape accurately for twin images of the sides.  Then I ran a Sanford MAJOR ACCENT TM Quick Reference Marker yellow highlighter over both strips, well past the outline of the sides; leaving the strips on the copy paper until the highlighter dried to avoid wrinkling.  In the meantime, I gave the car body a shot of sealer and then a coat of boxcar red.  Then I highlighted (highlit?) the sides again, let them dry again, and cut out the sides from the Post-it tape, affixed them, et, le voilà!  A GN\WFEX reefer (sort of).  If you're not in quite such a hurry, first carefully slice away the two side panels at each end of the roof walk (the access walks to the full-height side ladders) and cut and fit four ice hatches; in Z you can fake them to more or less fill the end roof panels on either side of the roof walk.  If you are really energetic, put hinges and latches on the hatches, with the hinges inboard and the latches centered on the outboard ends.  Would these be hatches latches patches?  If you press the tape really hard against the car side, the small ladders will show through, instead of merely causing weird bumps.  The highlighter ain't reefer yellow, but what the heck!

Eventually (assuming Micro-Trains doesn't heed my pleas for a reefer {there are more and more rumors that reefers will appear shortly from them or another source}), I will get the blank decal and transfer paper I've ordered and do the car right, removing the lettering with light applications of brake fluid (the thickness of the ink will show through, otherwise), refinishing with reefer yellow sides, and applying xerographic Z-scale decals or transfers, whichever works better.  Even better yet would be scanning the sides into my drafting program, scaling them precisely, and printing them out on decal paper at 600dpi, but it won't work so far for some unfathomable reason.  However, for a quick fix, you can't beat Post-it tape!

The reefer will still have plug doors, instead of hinged reefer doors (unless I go microscopically mad), but it will look pretty darn good, nevertheless.  American Models palmed off a 40' plug door boxcar on me as a GN\WFEX reefer in S-scale, properly decorated but without ice hatches, so I can do no worse on my own.  There were, of course, many plug door reefers, including GN/WFEX, but I believe they were all 50' steel mechanical reefers, not 40' wood ice bunker cars.  Hey, it's a fun game, not an examination!  And, 50 years later, in true "Retro" fashion, we're back to PAPER SIDES!  Ah, progress!

While I waited for the boxcar red to dry, there was a panel under each door that should be black.  So, out came the Pilot Razor Point black marker; presto, they were black!  The sides have that xerographic haze on them; coincidentally, it is vertically oriented and, hey, it looks just like rather good weathering!  I didn't even air brush the roof and ends; just splooshed paint all over with a brush.  Floquil's Polly-S is simply amazing; it didn't even fill in the brake wheel!  I'm an old crock and remember the hideous cast HO brake wheels of the '40s; Mantua's stamped brass wheels were amazing enough even back then.  It is almost inconceivable now that Micro-Trains's Z brake wheels are free-standing and open!  By cutting the paper sides short on the right, the ladders show (even if the background is boxcar red instead of reefer yellow - and that could easily have been rectified, but why bother on a cobbered-up fake?).

[OK, gals and guys, this wasn't part of the original articles in Ztrack, which were illustrated with B&W photos, but, now that I've got my digital camera going, here's the WFEX reefer in Z in color:


Those of you who are inveterate collectors will understand the pleasure I get from this temporary fake.  There is no reefer, let alone a GN/WFEX car, in Z, and I want one.  Well, there is now and I've got it!  Oh, wow, does it look good (from a fair distance)!  YaaAAAA!  The Micro-Trains boxcar doesn't clear even my expanded loading gauge!  It just dragged the gauge down the track on its very first run around the layout!  And that's just an ordinary 40' boxcar, even if the paper sides do extend a hair above the plastic; what clearance will I need some day for the inevitable high cube or AC6000CW or SD90MAC?

[Diverging from the text a bit here, on 17 Nov 2002, I bought the brand-new PennZee 40' steel WFEX reefer:

PennZee WFEX 40' Reefer
18 Nov 02 photo by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved
(image to be reshot when I find my missing closeup lenses)

O. K., Märklin and Micro-Trains, let's have some specifications here!  If you guys don't do it together, we or the NMRA will do it to you, instead of for you (or did the NMRA already do that?).  And how about jointly sponsoring an NMRA Z-scale track, wheel, and clearance gauge?  The wheel gauge appears to be a critical omission; some of the cars in the Berliner beer car set fly off the track at the slightest provocation while in the very same string as the original 1980 8606 Banana reefer and 8610 low-side gondola, which track perfectly, even through the 8560 double slip switch, supposedly a tracking terror (although I've been quite pleased with mine).

I'd lost track (oops!) of where I was anent my loading gauge; I'll explain it here.  I made up a drawing of the track loading gauge, based on the prototype gauge included in Märklin's 8985 Freight Station Detail kit.  Then I raised the gauge as I saw fit (1mm) after noticing how low the opening in the 2635 Mine Head-cum-Coal Dock was.  Then I raised it another 1mm and now must raise it 1mm yet again.  I put the cutout on card stock for fitup.  Was it Ettore Bugatti who said, after building a railcar and seeing American freight cars, that Europeans build freight cars and Americans build houses?

{Edited text}  I got a goodie-box from Glenn and Sandy Stiska, who specialized exclusively in buying and selling Märklin mini-Club Z scale equipment and in rebuilding Z locomotives and ICE cars to better-than-new condition (Göppingen, please note!), who can be reached at:

Mr. & Mrs. Glenn Stiska
1045 Porter Drive
Largo, Florida 33771

They sent me two 8624 Ballast Cars, just in time to use with the new Berliners Bessere Ballast Belastungen tipple, the second old blue 8621 Crane Car (for the second Mercerized Bents yard crane on the second Brawa tower extender, which had just arrived a few days ago), and an 8740 A9 EUROFIMA Avmz207 1st Class Express Coach (shown on Page 77 of my 1986/87 E catalog) for a project for which, most unfortunately, it turns out to be quite unsuitable.  The 8621 crane is a late model in dark blue (as on Page 87 in 1986/87 E); my original is from ca. 1980 or 81 and is light blue (as shown in the 1981 catalog, from whence fell my long-lost 8994/95 Transfer Table instruction sheet!).  Anyone wanna trade either crane body?

TIP:  I had forgotten how hard it is to pull or set the Märklin track spikes.  I had made up a special tool to remove spikes from my HO layout and now have duplicated it in Z; the back is contoured to help re-set them after they have already been driven home and pulled up.  As shown on the accompanying sketch, it is basically a piece of aluminum rod flattened at one end to a spoon shape and polished smooth; the flattened end is bent at a slight angle.  Slide it under the ties up to the spike and tilt just like a miniature crow-bar.

Track Tool

Berlinerwerke Track Tool

{this illustration was omitted from the article by the editor}

To set them easily and safely, I use a pair of miniature bent-nose pliers (such as my Sears Craftsman 4519 or the one in Micro Mark's 50328 set).  Per the enclosed sketch, I use it flat to set the spike and on end to drive it home (remember  -  never push the head tightly against the tie; leave a tiny amount of room for the tie and roadbed to "breathe").  If I were doing a lot of trackwork (hard to do on a 2' x 4' layout, even as crammed full as mine), I'd modify the pliers the way I did in HO, by cross-slotting them to hold the spike in place for setting and dish the end to catch the head for driving (see sketch).  As it is, I magnetize the pliers to pick up individual spikes easily [magnetize it by stroking the tip lengthwise (in one direction, only) on a powerful Alnico permanent magnet].

Spike Plier

Berlinerwerke Spike Plier Modification

{this illustration was omitted from the article by the editor}

I'm still stunned by the sheer size of the 2634 Freight Terminal (64 x 104mm); it looked so tiny on the photograph in the white insert in the price list and on the other 2630-series boxes.  If that 2633 Feed Mill (for Elgin Marbles) is too big, I'll have a real problem squeezing it onto the layout.  Märklin really should list dimensions for the U. S. Policast buildings, as they do for the plastic ones.  This shoehorning in of more major structures is rapidly coming to a screeching halt.

The 2636 Ranch House is so perfect for the BW Security Dept. office, even to the two-car garage for the patrol cars (I had to go out and buy Noch station wagons for patrol cars!); it looks just like the ones at many universities, industrial plant complexes, and research facilities I've visited.

I'm using the infinite scaling capability of my drafting program to make the signboards for the various industries and stations; the resolution of my CAD program (Autodesk's AUTOSKETCH 2.1 for Windows) and my Okidata OL600e printer (which I'm only running at 300 dpi now, but will soon run at 600 dpi) far outdoes the capability of my reduction copier.  Although I can only print black and white, I can run white letters on a black background for variety.  Also, either the white background or foreground can be colored with a watercolor wash or a felt-tip marker or the printing done on colored stock or both.

One new problem is that now I can't figure out how I'm going to squeeze the 8986 pedestrian overpasses in; it's really getting tight on that layout!  I think I'll build one in sections and see how it fits; but they are so finicky to make up that I'm avoiding it.

WARNING!  Some folks have copied my 1990 layout, which in itself is fine (I'm honored), although a few have junked the double slip switch as too troublesome (mine's OK).  But there really isn't enough yard trackage for good operation.  I snuck that extra spur in between the secondary line and the yard lead but it's lateral clearances are substandard.  As any good model railroader would, I'm now thinking of expanding the layout, off the back or far ("North") end.  A bi-directional yard will give the best combination of short spurs to minimize long switching pulls.  A sketch of the proposed yard is enclosed.  Although I originally showed it as 5" deep, 6" or more might be better to give me room for more industries and the halved 2640 store fronts.

People are confused by my arbitrary compass directions; they seem reversed.  They ARE.  They are not points on a compass rose but rather the direction of travel on the line; "east" is moving left, "north" is moving up (away from me), "west" is moving right, and "south" is moving down (towards me).  It suits me.  I'm adding direction arrows.

TIP:  I find the chance of a derailment is heightend if there is a sharp change in grade.  The three bridge sections at the "east" end are a case in point; the track has to elevate very gradually and become level at the height of the bridge decks, and they are flat on the Homasote.  To avoid such problems, I cut away the ramps on my 8990 Diesel Fueling Rack and the scale from the 8985 Freight Yard Accessories kit, leaving the portions between the tracks loose.

I bought two pair of the cutest little meters, supposedly 1½" square, but in reality they turned out to be 44mm (1¾"); not that it matters, they still fit neatly on top of each of my Autopulse Trollers ("Trollers"!  Ohmygawd, I never realized what that meant - CONtrollers!).  They are Calrad Panel Meters 60-152 15VDC and 60-160 100mA, from Calrad, 819 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, California  90038 (213-455-2131), at least as best as I can tell from their nearly illegible boxes and diagrams; my supplier is LNL Distributing Corp., 235 Robbins Lane, Syosset, New York  11791 (516-681-7270 - ask for Andy).  The meters themselves are really nice.  I've got a problem, though, with the ammeters; my multimeter showed a max draw of 40mA (milliamps) with my two biggest engines double-headed pulling everything I could add on until just before wheelslip.  Thus, a midrange of 50mA or a 100mA full scale is ideal; unfortunately, the meters peg with no load at all.  By putting my multimeter in series with the panel meter, both meters read the same and what appears to be correctly.  What hath I wrought?  More to come on this as LNL works this out with Calrad {it now appears that I may have a 60Hz AC component from the packs and will add capacitors in line and see}.

I read Bill Hoshiko's letter {in Ztrack} in which he writes about an integral track rerailer section; that's pure toy trains stuff!  However, I'm working on some rather neat modifications of Micro-Trains #930 Z rerailers and a construction article will follow.

Time to quit.  Why write when I can saw resin?  I picked up the 2640 Store Fronts; they are fully detailed on front and back; by sawing the buildings both apart and in half, and then scrambling them, I can have twice as many to put across the back ("north") of the layout, again as previously noted.  How I wish I had Nat Taverna's knack for painting and weathering, and microscopically, at that!  For the nonce, I use a Magic Marker to highlight door and window frames on the 2630-series Policast Classic American Series buildings.  I tried my hand at sawing and found that the Store Fronts aren't plaster after all; they're resin.  The resin saws easily at first but, as the razor saw blade gets in over a ¼" or so, it starts binding and the fine flour that results smells (stinks) of burning plastic and the smell persists long afterward.  Maybe I'll get a super-fine slitting blade for a table saw to ease the strain and pain.  I just managed to slip and razor saw a store front - not my finger, at least; the building is too big for my tiny miter box and there has to be a better way to cut precisely at this microscopic level.  This bodes well for converting the 2635 Mine Head into a coaling tower, which will be a major project, but first I'll try using my resurrected jeweler's saw with new blades (I probably haven't used it since I built the HO Biffie and Biffie Schnable car ca. March 1987 and the old blades had rusted away).  I'll let you know how that turns out in another construction article.

This is the end of the 1997 Ztrack update article; 1998 material follows on the next page, starting with information on, and pictures of, the BERLINER BIER (Berliner Beer) Cars.

Continued from:

Berlinerwerke-Z Saga, and
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 2, and
continued on:
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 4,
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 5, and
Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page 6,
  including a Tour of the Berlinerwerke-Z.

For tall tales of the BW and its equipment and such, visit the Berlinerwerke Apocrypha page.

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of this series of Berlinerwerke-Z Saga pages.

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of the Z-Scale pages.
To tour the Z-scale pages in sequence, the arrows take you from the Z-scale index page to the first page, Z-Scale, then to continuation pages 2 and up, the Z articles page, and finally to these BW-Z saga pages.

If you like model railroading nonsense (and good tips), take a gander at Jim Wells' incredible

[The AW NUTS Magazine site of the A.W. N.U.T.S. Garden Railway Society is no longer available.]

You may wish to visit the Model Railroad page, et seq.

of this series of Model Railroad pages.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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