Alaska Railroad Z Scale. The Alaska Railroad can trace it’s roots all the way back to early 1900’s with the Alaska Central Road. While z scale can only trace it’s roots to Marklin back in 1972, the Alaska Railroad does have it’s representation in z scale. You may selection to be some what limited when it comes to a locomotive for the Alaska Railroad in z scale, you will find a few here and there. Every once and a while you will find a custom painted unit as well. The most common locomotive you will find is from Marklin, an ABA set. Micro Trains offered a F-7 A unit in the past a well. FR made a special run Marklin Mikado painted for the Alaskan Railroad in z scale along with a couple of cars and a caboose. Some time ago I saw an AZL E-8 custom painted as well, very pretty.
As for rolling stock things open up a bit more with Marklin offering a few different Alaska sets in z scale. Cars available included tankers, gondolas, box cars and a caboose. MTL offered a few different cars as well. Full Throttle (one of my favorite manufactures) had sets available as well. Likely the hardest to find is the handcrafted FR Alaska cars. When you find them, they will be spendy! Micro trains did offer Alaska passenger cars in z scale that come up for sale every now and then. I would love to have the entire MTL set.
There you have it. If you want to model the Alaska RR in z scale, you have some basics to start with that offer a basic representation of the railway. If you want to try your hand at custom painting, the sky is the limit. Below you will find a few examples of what is currently available on ebay for the Alaska Railroad in z scale, or you can .
Some time ago, Micro Trains or MTL produced a nice line of GP35 locomotives in z scale that featured many different road names. While they haven’t made these reliable little GP’s for a while, you can still find them readily available used. They are a fairly stable little locomotive so if you can find one that runs both directions, you should be in good shape. At this point Micro Trains (MTL) is the only ones that produced a GP35 in z scale. The GP35 was a very common locomotive for short line and regional railroads but even larger railroads like BNSF had them. A total of 1,335 were built during 1962 and 1967. You can see a nice breakdown of prototype GP35 locomotives produced at Wikipedia.
Micro Trains offered the z scale GP35 locomotive in a variety of road names including Union Pacific, CSX, CP Rail, BNSF, PRR, Conrail and more. They were equipped with the MTL magnetic couplers which mate with couplers from AZL, Intermountain, Full Throttle and others. The z scale GP35 was offer as set as well. You can still find them from time to time in the Micro Trains Table Top Train Sets with a selection of cars and track.
As interest in z scale trains continues to grow, hopefully we will see more of these popular locomotives come back on the market. All though more and more z scale locomotives are being produced, many modern selections. However, we are starting to see a little more return to earlier prototypes with even talk of more brass steam locomotives coming down the line in z scale. You can check out some of the current used MTL GP35 locomotives currently available one ebay.
Currently on ebay
Marklin Mini Club 88075 Z Scale NYC Commodore Vanderbilt 4-6-4
The Marklin Z Scale NYC Commodore Vanderbilt 4-6-4. This is one of my favorite Marklin Z scale pieces. Modeled after the classic road number 5344 New York Central Locomotive. This was J3-1 type 4-6-4 Hudson locomotives that was streamlined and became known for pulling the 20th Century Limited until 1937. While the claim was made that the streamlining allowed the locomotive to pull up to 12 percent more weight, in my opinion it was as much that as a marketing move. This was one beautiful machine! The Marklin Z scale 4-6-4 Commodore holds the same allure as it’s full size counter part. Having seen pictures of the Marklin 88075 Commodore and seeing it in person, I can tell you, pictures don’t do it justice.
The Marklin Commodore Vanderbilt is a metal body locomotive with a five pole motor for smooth operation. Also features a working headlight and all six wheels are driven. If you have run any of the 5 pole Marklin Z scale locomotives you know they are just a joy to run, velvet smooth. You may have a challenge finding the right consist of passenger cars to pull behind the Commodore Vanderbilt, you may have to bend the prototype a little but well worth it. I have always thought a spur could be added on your layout for a Railroad Museum where you could feature some of these classics no matter what the era you are modeling.
Like many of the classic US steam locomotives that Marklin produced over the years, the 88075 Z Scale NYC Commodore Vanderbilt 4-6-4 has been out of production for some time but you can usually find them here and there in the aftermarket and they tend to age well. Below you will find a few examples of the Marklin Mini Club 88075 Z Scale NYC Commodore Vanderbilt 4-6-4 currently available one ebay.
The Marklin Mini Club 81535 Starter set is a great little steam era starter set from Marklin that offers something you just won’t find anywhere, a 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive for the Northern Pacific Railroad. You will find a lot of z scale Mikados from both Marklin and AZL, but if you want a Pacific in z scale, the locomotive you find in this set may be the only way to fill the bill. The Marklin z scale Pacific feature a 5 pole motor for very smooth operation. While it fits a broad protoypical range, you will find it is a very attractive representation of the 4-6-2 steam locomotive.
Many of the 4-6-2 locomotives found their use in passenger service, but it still looks right at home in pulling a freight consist. In the starter set, you will get the Marklin Mini Club 4-6-2 steam locomotive (Northern Pacific road number 2259) a Great Northern gondola, a Spokane, Portland & Seattle flat car and a Northern Pacific caboose. You will also get an oval of track and controller. This really is a cute little set. It has been out of production for some time but you will still find them for sale here and there. Sometimes you will see the locomotive itself come up for sale as well.
As mentioned above, the Marklin Mini Club 81535 set that included the 4-6-2 locomotive has been out of production for some time. The set’s hold up well and the 5 pole motor still provides for a very smooth running locomotive even by today’s standards. Below you will see a few of the current listings for the sets containing a z scale Pacific locomotive or click here for a more thorough search.
I remember growing up paging through Model Railroader magazines in awe at the HO and O Scale brass locomotives and cars. I couldn’t believe the detail packed into a small replica. 40 years later, I come across the Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik or FR Z scale models. Talk about true works of art in 220 scale! Most of the FR Z scale line is done in European models but there are some very beautiful US examples as well. In addition, if you can find them, FR offered a box cab in z scale! Like so many desirable z scale cars and locomotives, your best chance of finding ZR z scale is in the aftermarket, and yes that means ebay. Some people like ebay, some don’t, but when you find what you have been searching for, you tend to appreciate it a little more. The FR z scale cars are packed in a very nice hard case and most of them are treated very well through their life so when you find them, they are usually in very nice shape.
Some of the FR z scale U.S. cars are fairly popular road names, B&O, D&RGW, Milwaukee Road, Southern Pacific and more. But you will find some lesser known or modeled roads like Alaska RR. You will have to work a little harder to find some of them. Many are single cars but you will also find them in two car sets as pictured above.
Below are just a few of what is currently available on ebay, Click here here for the full list. Again if you are looking for FR z scale in U.S. cars you will have to scroll through a little bit, but they cars are worth the hunt!
William Dean Wright continues to put out very collectible 2 and 4 cars sets of z scale cars under the Full Throttle brand. I just love these sets for a few different reasons. First the subject matter. You will find your standard big road names but also a large variety of smaller roads, heritage packs and even some very interesting tribute cars to the old Tyco “brown box cars” like Dutch Cleanser, Hollwyood Candy and more. Full Throttle Z Scale offers a variety of hoppers, a series of cylndrical hoppers, wood chip chars and small reefers. Second thing you will notice about the Full Throttle is the quality. These truly are nice quality cars and they sell at a very fair price. Third, how collectible they are. The packaging is top notch with colorful detailed info about the cars wrapped up in a nice hard, stackable case.
If you could find any complaint with the Full Throttle z scale line is that they are usually limited run. I am a dealer and many times I have sold out my allotment even before the cars reach my front steps! So, that is where the secondary market comes in. Ebay is your best bet for the secondary market on Full Throttle Z scale items. Fortunately most of these cars have a very easy life and you will find them in very nice condition. As for pricing……..well that is all over the place. Some of the more desirable sets to find are the FT2040 Chessie Moonshine cars, the Ford FTCOL37 set, FTCOL 8 Blue Coal Set (or anything Blue Coal) Waddell sets or the Chessie repaints. I know there are many more on your wish list! Below are just a few active listings, click here to see what is currently available on ebay.
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!
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! Usually the asking price on these is easily attainable for the seller.
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 the 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.
New z scale brass locomotives and cars are on the drawing board and in the works at AZL. Pre production models of the Krauss-Maffei ML-4000 were shown at the 2017 NTS and a NJW is coming just behind that. Will these shoot up in value like the earlier AZL brass z scale locomotives? Maybe your new retirement plan!
The AZL GP38-2 series of locomotives is considered to be an entry level locomotive with a price point that makes it very appealing. With lot’s of road names many of which contain three or four different road numbers, you can build a nice consist with out breaking the bank. The locomotives feature a powerful motor with dual flywheels for smooth running. Very nice quality directional lighting is also on board. The AZL Gp38-2 is DCC ready with drop in decoders available. Some of the early models had some chassis issues but the later releases have resolved that problem. AZL will stand behind any of the earlier defective units. These little z scale locomotives are showing up here and there in custom paint schemes. Due to their low cost they are a good option to try your painting technique on. You can also find a super detail kit available from Micron Art that features more scale like hand rails, grab rails and other details.
You can shop our website at Zgauge.Com for the AZL GP38-2 Z scale locomotives along with the entire line of AZL products.
I remember being young and my father coming home with an Atlas N scale starter set. I can still picture the box with the Santa Fe diesel locomotive and the 0-8-0 steam locomotive. Inside you received a small oval of track, a locomotive a few cars and caboose and a controller. It was a great way to get started, you could open the box and run your trains. You can have the same experience with z scale. There really are just a couple choices for z scale starter sets. Marklin has offered starter sets for years, since the start of z scale in 1972. Micro Trains offers a starter set both with and without track, neither with a controller. Zgauge.com offers the MTL sets with controller and track ready to go and also offer custom AZL/Rokuhan packages as well in an effort to give you the same out of the box experience that is common in other scales. As we have stated in other posts in this series have stated, you end goal will likely influence what you start with. If you want to open a box and start in the hobby today, check out our ready to go z scale starter sets on line. Start your model trains memories today with a ready to go z scale starter set. But fair warning, it is an addictive hobby!