S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Sub-Z-Scale Model Railroad Page keywords = Z 1:220 1:400 1:440 1:480 1:900 scale model rail train HO mini Club Ztrack Western Fruit Express WFEX Great Northern GN Pennsylvania Pennsy PRR Berlinerwerke Vest Pocket Degnon Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal BEDT Marion River Carry schnable

Updated:   01 Jun 2013, 09:20  ET
{Lost images restored 20 Dec 2002}
[Page created 13 Nov 2001; converted 15 Aug 2011
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/zscale_z.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/zscale_z.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


Z-Scale Model Railroad Continuation Page


NOTE:  Page size was limited by HTML to 30kB; thus, I was been forced to add new pages just for Z-Scale, more Z-scale, and articles about Z-scale.

Datsun/Nissan Z cars
If somehow you got here in error while looking for Datsun/Nissan Z cars, go away!
No, really, you are welcome, but you need to look elsewhere;
you might start at the Z Car Home Page.


The internal links, which work fine on my home page and others, don't seem to work here!  I'm working on it, but haven't a clue; I even just copied the working links over and they don't work here.  So, scroll away!

The Z-Scale Index Page:

On the main Z-Scale page:

    Z-Scale (follows)
    Z-Scale Narrow Gauge (really)  (moved to this page 13 Nov 01)
    Scale and Gauge
    Scale Conversion Table
    Z-Scale Miscellany
    Z-Scale Wiring Conventions
    Z-Scale Repair and Hobby Shops

On this Sub-Z-Scale page:

    Z-Scale Narrow Gauge (really)
    Z-Scale Meter Gauge
    Half-Z Scale - 1:440 Tiny Trains!  (moved from Page 2 to page 3 to this page)
    1:450 T Scale
    1:900 Scale - Tiniest Trains!  (moved from Page 2 to page 3 to this page)

Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 1:

    Fabergé Egg  (moved from this page on 24 Mar 05)
    ZZ Scale (1:300).
    T Scale (1:450).
    More 1:900 Scale - Tiniest Trains!

Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 2:

    IDL ~1:1000 Teeny Trains   new (03 Jan 2015)
    IDL Modular Track   new (31 Jul 2015)

Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 3:

    IDL ~1:1000 Teeny Trains Update - Connectable Track   new (27 Oct 2015)

Z-Scale Continuation Page 1:

Zictionary - lotZ of wordZ.

On the Z-Scale Continuation Page 2:

    Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal RR in Z
    Z-SCALE DIMENSIONS (with how to approximate a mile of track).
    Scale Card and Rule.
    Wish List - some goodieZ I'd like and some I have,
like Freudenreich's Z Boxcab Diesel and GN/WFEX Reefer
and Larry Hoff's Bobber Caboose and Crane!
    MT SP Moguls - the absolute top of the Wish List!

On the Z-Scale Continuation Page 3:

    Z-Scale Vehicles and Märklin Rubber Autos
    Half-Z Scale - 1:440 Tiny Trains!
    1:900 Scale - Tiniest Trains!
    Power - Volts, Amps, Watts for Z.
[This is critically important!]

On the Z-Scale Continuation Page 4:

Some More Z (all the latest!)
    including new HomaBed Z roadbed.

On the Z-Scale Continuation Page 5

    (a page for the Third Millennium):
Even More Z (all the latest!)
Microscopic Z Accessories.

Z-Scale Continuation Page 6

    (a page of the Third Millennium):
V 32 001 Diesel Pneumatic in Z.
Yet More Z (all the latest!)
BEDT #14 in Z.
8800 vs. 8805.

Freudenreich Z-Scale page:

    (concentrating my Freudenreich-Feinwerktechnik material in a single reference source)
Freudenreich's Z Boxcab Diesels,
Freight Cars,
and other Z products.

On the Z-Scale Articles page:

    Z-Scale Hell Gate Bridge

Ztrack page:

    Ztrack Magazine

On the first Model Railroad page:

    Sunrise Trail Division (STD) of the
        Northeastern Region (NER) of the
        National Model Railroad Association (NMRA)
    Long Island - Sunrise Trail Chapter (LIST) of the
        National Railway Historical Society (NRHS)
    Long Island Live Steamers (now on its own page)

On the second Model Railroad page:

  Vest Pocket Railroads You Can Model

You may also wish to see how I take the detailed photographs on the these pages; see my model RR page 4.

On separate pages:

    Berlinerwerke-Z Saga
    Berlinerwerke-Z Saga Continuation Page
    Berlinerwerke Saga (HO, included with Horseshoe Curve info.)
    Berlinerwerke Apocrypha (tall tales of the BW and its equipment and such).
    Schnable and other Giant RR Cars.


Z-Scale model railroading, at an incredible 220 times smaller than life size, or slightly under half the size of the familiar HO scale, with rails only 6.5mm (~¼") apart, was started in 1972 by Gebrüder Märklin (Maerklin Brothers - der site ist auf Deutsch) in Göppingen, Germany, as "mini-Club".  It was handled in the U. S. by Märklin, Inc., in New Berlin, Wisconsin, and their site has a Z page - however, their products are now handled by Walthers.  The renowned N-Scale manufacturer, Micro-Trains Line Co., in Talent, Oregon [itself a brotherly spinoff from equally-renowned Kadee Quality Products Co. (no website), the coupler manufacturer in Medford, Oregon], now has a large and growing line of Z-scale locomotives, cars, and accessories.   rev (15 Aug 2011)

BUT - there are smaller sizes and scales!  Wherefore this page.  Let us shed a little light on such tiny trains with a Tiny Trains 1:900 TY lantern (this is for real!):

TY Lantern
(Tiny Trains photo used by permission - all rights reserved)

The leading U.S. manufacturer of Z is still Micro-Trains; they have a trio of Z-scale SP 2-6-0 Moguls that is truly scrumptious!  They are, however, based on Nn3 models.

Here's a teaser:

MT Z SP Mogul 16000
Micro-Trains® photo used by permission.

A lot of Z equipment comes from Germany and a good Eisenbahn- und Modellbahn-Wörterbuch - Deutsch-Englisch (Railroad and Model Railroading Dictionary - German-English) is available courtesy of Chris Ozdoba.

Z scale is about 2½ times smaller than HO!  In Z scale, a scale ¼-mile is exactly (and only) 6 feet; in other words, a mile is only 24 feet!

HO is a mix of metric and English measurements in a scale of 3.5mm to the foot or 0.138" = 1', which is about 1:87.1.  HO-gauge rails are 16.5mm or 0.650" (<3/4") apart.

Z is still the smallest production scale available today, but - - -

I had written, "don't tell anyone but there just MIGHT be a "Half-Z" 1:440 scale coming out of Germany, if they ever get it off the ground!  2' 4" Z-scale narrow gauge, anyone?", and that turned out to be true!


Incidentally, I also joked about Zn3 narrow gauge on the main Z-scale page; Micro-Trains recently issued an Nn3 D&SL Mogul on a Märklin Z 2-6-0 chassis; even at nearly $500, it sold out instantly!

I was disappointed to note that Railex's Zf (Zn2) 600 mm (= 2') [2.75 mm (= 0.11") in Z] narrow gauge light railway set comes with an unmotorized locomotive!  Here it is, with a train and track:

Railex Z NG Set

More exactly, (TOO exactly!),

HO is 3.5mm = 0.1377953" = 1' (1:87.08571428571)
[Which might well turn out to be a repeating decimal].

Z to HO = 2.5262467:1 (use 2.5 for quick approximations).

HO to Z = 0.3958442:1 (use 0.4 for quick approximations).

For the other purist/perfectionist/maniacs out there, HO scale is exactly 3.5mm to the foot (3.5mm = 12 inches); yes, it is a cross-system dimension!  Dividing 3.5 by 12 inches/foot and then again by 25.4 mm/inch yields a reduction factor of 0.0114829 and inverting the result (on a simple calculator - I used a far more powerful one in my computer to get the full eleven decimal places, which appear to be a repeating decimal, 857142) gives the final inch-to-inch conversion factor!

That's how one gets to it, but I wouldn't sweat it if I were you!  1:87.1 is more than good enough.

Z Meter Gauge

Now, strictly speaking, Z meter (or metre) gauge is NOT a smaller scale, just the usual Z-scale 1:220; the rails are closer together and the equipment smaller to fit the twisty track that occasions narrow gauge in the first place, as in any narrow gauge.

A little birdie had told me that a small German manufacturer was coming out with a line of Zm meter-gauge track and equipment and another would have cars therefor.  Well, it's true (03 Mar 2002 - see FR Zm).


Apparently "Magic Scale" was used for a roughly 1:400-scale air powered train (although "Magic Trains" is the trade name of On30 monsters from Fleischmann).  I'd love more info on the 1:400 version and Tim Dillon came right through; the air-powered "Magic Scale" trains that he is aware of are sometimes shown at the traveling Great American Train Show and are crudely hand-carved from balsa wood and propelled by tiny angled air jet holes (like an air-hockey table) around a loop of track with clear plastic guardrails to keep the train on course and they have to run at an unrealistic fast speed to work.


(moved from page 2 to page 3 and now to this page)

Der Herr Roland Kimmich in Stuttgart, Germany, builds Tiny Trains at the once-inconceivable scale of 1:440!  The only reference I could find was in the catalog of "Steve & Slim", Lilliput Motor Company, P. O. Box 447, Yerington, Nevada  89447 (1-800-TIN-TOYS).  Their Website includes their Tiny Trains (where 1:440 is no longer listed but 1:900 is) and Z (1:220) layouts, at Tiny Trains (click on Products and then on Toy Trains).

Lilliput showed a "stupendous" layout at 4½" x 24½", a typical "attaché case"-type of layout at only 4½" x 7½", and an almost-all-but-invisible circle, complete with mountain, tunnel, and waterfall, at a miniscule 4½" square!!!

1:450 T Gauge

Introduced at the Tokyo Toy Show in 2006, T Scale (1:450 - 0.0267"=1'), a.k.a. [however incorrectly] T Gauge, has quickly caught on; with a track gauge of only 3mm (0.118 in), it was first put on sale in 2007 by
KK Eishindo of Japan, and is growing in popularity.  These microscopic models are in full production and even have motors, gears, and working catenary!   new (15 Aug 2011)


Now (2011) that track turnouts are available, we can expect to see even greater acceptance.  More on T Scale 1:450 trains on Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 1.


1:480?  Yup; see
"The Ultraminiature Models of A.A. Sherwood" {this link is dead as of 31 Mar 07}.

There was more on this and 1:240 and 1:400 but my server blew all my work away before it was finished or backed up; I'll redo it some one of these days (20 Dec 2002).


(moved from page 2 to page 3 and now to this page)

    Talk about "inconceivably" small!

Of course, in case you hadn't guessed, this is a wee bit hokey, but very real, nonetheless.  A web friend in Norway sent this actual photo and the information that the (in)famous Herr Kimmich (NOT so - he was NOT the manufacturer) had done it again in 1997, showing a 4"-square layout with 1:900 trains running around; they were pulled around by a string from below but they were running!  Hey, it's a hobby; loosen up!

1:900 Trainset

Slim (Justus Bauschinger) at Lilliput now carries some of these layouts, as noted above.

AHA!  Now it comes out!  Tiny Trains is a firm up in the Black Hills at Lead, South Dakota, run by Tim and Laura Dillon (formerly of Colorado), making a wide range of 1:900 (NOT from Herr Kimmich and NOT 1:440) locos, cars, layouts, and detail accessories since about 1996 and they explain that the trains are NOT powered but are run by a plastic belt:

"A ladder rack plastic belt is pulled through the center of hollow square channel track by sprocket-drive motors.  Attached to the drive belt is a copper tab that rides in a slit in the top center of the track.  The locomotive sits on top of the copper tab and pulls other locomotives and train cars behind it. The train is kept on top of the track by clear plastic guard rails."

Just think!  The giant Hell Gate Bridge, which measures 1,000' long, would come out to only just over a foot long(!) in TY scale:

                    Prototype    HO        TT         N         Z           TY
Total span            1,000'  11'5-25/32"   8'4"      6'3"      4'6-33/64"    1'1-1/3"
Rise of bottom chord    220'   2'6-5/16"   1'10"     1'4½"     1'             2-1/3"
Width (truss to truss)   60'     8-17/64"    6"        4½"       3-17/64"       2-¾"
Clearance above water   135'*  1'6-½"(+)  1'1-½:"   10-1/8"     7-1/3"        1-¾"(+)

(* - from U.S. Government navigational requirements - not checked yet.)

Here's the whole bridge (not to scale, which would be 13" across the springings):

Hell Gate - FULL
(cropped Jan 86 photo courtesy of Wm. Tokaruk - all rights reserved)

and here it is in TY (for an 11" wide monitor):

Hell Gate - TY 11in.
(cropped to fit TY at 1:900 on a 14" monitor)

The gigantic 36-axle 880-ton CEBX-800 schnabel car would be a whole, whopping 3¾" long in TY:

CEBX 800 Regina 1/86 {4}
(cropped and resized from Jan 86 photo courtesy of Wm. Tokaruk - all rights reserved)

This is shown approximately to size for the average monitor; GO FOR IT, Tim and Laura!.  :·)

More on 1:900, as promised:

Finger with 1:900 Freight Trainset 1:900 Freight Trainsets

1:900 4in. x 7in. Oval 1:900 Pass. Trainsets
(Cropped and altered from Tiny Trains photos used by permission - all rights reserved)

The top passenger trainset in the upper right photo is configured as an amusement park ride for an N-scale (1:160) layout.

Thanks to Tim, here's some better shots, starting with the amusement park ride for N-scale, an old-time steam passenger train, two strings of freight cars, and an Amtrakker:

N-Scale Amusement Ride with 1:900 Trainset

1:900 Old Time Pass.

1:900 Freight Cars - 5

1:900 Freight Cars - 13

1:900 Amtrak Pass. Train
(Cropped from Tiny Trains photos used by permission - all rights reserved)

In addition, Tim allowed me to reproduce another "finger" photo (presumably Laura's), from the other side (not reversed - check the finger nail vs. above):

Finger with 1:900 Freight Trainset
(Tiny Trains photo used by permission - all rights reserved)

These little (TINY!) gems are made of cast pewter and finely decorated.  To show the 13-car string better, I've broken the string in two:

1:900 Freight Cars - left

1:900 Freight Cars - right
(Cropped and altered from Tiny Trains photo used by permission - all rights reserved)

Harvey Henkelman [the erstwhile Lego RR master builder - talk about a change of (s)pace!] got himself an early Xmas present this year (2001), a TY 4"x7" layout, and kindly sent photos; they are not quite sharp, but give you the general idea:

HH TY 4x7 A HH TY 4x7 B HH TY 4x7
(Cropped from H. Henkelman photos - all rights reserved)

Harvey also sent a newer picture on 07 Jul 03:

(H. Henkelman Jul 2003 photo - all rights reserved)

Can you BELIEVE this is in 1:900?  Not Z (1:220) nor even ½-Z (1:440), but TY?  Incredible, incroyable, erstaunlich, shinjigatai!  Bravi, bravissimi, Tim and Laura!

Harvey's still at it; here are two photos he sent in Mar 2005:

HH 185 TY Mar 05

HH 186 TY Mar 05
(H. Henkelman Mar 05 photos - all rights reserved)

"The FT diesel set wears the almost-forgotten Seaboard Citrus scheme" - HH.

If you think that truss bridge is elegant (at 1:900), look at this tall viaduct on a "huge' Tiny Trains 14" x 28" layout:

TY14x28a TY14x28b
(Tiny Trains photos used by permission - all rights reserved)

More 1:900 Scale - Tiniest Trains on Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 1.   new.gif (10 Jan 07)

Now, there is also a famous 1900 Fabergé Egg that represents the Trans-Siberian Railway and has a miniature wind-up train inside it!

(Coverage moved to Sub-Z-Scale Continuation Page 1 on 24 Mar 2005)

See the SCALE and GAUGE and the SCALE CONVERSION TABLE: on the main Z-scale page.

You might also like to look at José Lopez, Jr.'s The Scale Card, for a most extensive discussion of scales.  I have a write-up and photo of his Z-scale Scale Card and Scale Rule on my Z-Scale page 2.

BW Script

The BERLINERWERKE SAGA, the story of the HO Berlinerwerke pike,
is now on its own page with the Horseshoe Curve story.


The full BERLINERWERKE-Z SAGA, the Z-scale pike story
now appears on its own page (and continues onto two more).

Visit these courtesy and official home pages:

Long Island Sunrise - Trail Chapter
(National Railway Historical Society)

Sunrise Trail Division
(Northeastern Region)
(National Model Railroad Association)

Ztrack Magazine
The Newsletter for Z Scale Model Railroading

Long Island Live Steamers

Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal Railroad

Degnon Terminal Railroad

Marion River Carry Railroad

You may also wish to jump to SB,III's RAILROAD Page,

A sampling of some of the finer (and tinier) Z accessories can be found at Microscopic Z Accessories on Z Scale Continuation Page 2; Miller Engineering material formerly here has been moved there.


(on Z-Scale page 3 as of 01 Jan 2000 - click on heading above to go there directly)

Z-Scale continues on the Z-SCALE CONTINUATION Page 1.

For Z-scale construction articles, see my Z Scale Articles page.

For the story of the Berlinerwerke-Z (my layout), see the Berlinerwerke-Z Saga page, et. seq.

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

Should you run across a Z-Auction (I found it on the HotBot search engine), it has nothing to do with Z-Scale; it is an electronics, computer, and Beanie Baby (really!) auction!

Oh, Hell!  Wouldn't you know!  Amazon.com now has some feature called zShops, whatever they might be (I can't find any explanation on their site).

Best regardZ,  S.B.,III

Someone else signs off, "Be Z'ing you!"

You may wish to visit the Railroad Continuation Page, et seq.

of this series of Railroad pages.


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


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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Contact S. Berliner, III

(Junk and unsigned e-mail and blind telephone messages will NOT be answered)

prevpage.gif = frstpage.gif subjndex.gif nextpage.gif
To tour the Z-scale pages in sequence, the arrows take you from the first Z-scale page to the Z-Scale index, then to this page, continuation pages 1 and up, the Z articles page, the 6 BW-Z saga pages, and, and finally to the current Ztrack page.

© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013  - all rights reserved.

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