top of page

Z Scale Switching Layout Part 2

I finished my simple Z scale switching layout! In this week’s video I show how I added some simple scenery, a structure made from a paper kit from and a team track loading area made from chipboard. I wrap things up with an operating session.

This is an easy to build and fun to operate layout that you can store anywhere, break out when you want to run some trains, and have a fun 15-30 minute operation session.

For the single warehouse structure on this layout I took a TeamTracks paper model kit that I downloaded, printed it at about 70% original size, and assembled that paper kit on a piece of chipboard which I then glued to a piece of Gatorboard (although foam core board would work just as well). I added an angle piece of styrene to the edge of the rooftop to hide the paper seam there, and to make it look a little nicer. I also added some half-round in places to simulate downspouts. I brushed on some weathering powder to tone down the sheen of the paper, and I should have sprayed on a layer of dull coat at this time to seal everything in but forgot to do that.

In order to bring the height of the loading doors up to the level of the doors on boxcars, I added a piece of roughly 1/4” square styrene tubing, painted black, to the back edge of the layout. I then glued the structure flat on top of that tubing and to the back wall of the layout.

There is also a team track type loading area towards the front of the layout. For this area I glued in two pieces of chipboard to bring the area up towards the height of the track, and then sprayed a third piece a concrete color. I brushed on some brown, black, and gray weathering powders to that piece, and glued that one in place as well.

Next, I brushed on some slightly diluted white glue to the remainder of the layout. For areas near the warehouse and along the edge of the track I used a mix of Woodland Scenics Earth Blend ground foam along with a ballast mix I had (that is a blend of several fine gray ballasts). For the remainder of the layout I simply used the Earth Blend by itself. I came back and soaked everything with more diluted white glue, this time about 1 part glue to 4 or 5 parts water, after spraying everything down with 70% IPA to act as a wetting agent. I immediately came back and added 2mm green static grass to the large open area towards the front of the layout.

When this was dry I came back and added some glue along the back edge of the layout and along the front edge of the structure, and pressed in some coarse medium green ground foam. Then, I brushed on some diluted white glue in between the two rear-most tracks on the left side of the layout and added more static grass. All excess material was then vacuumed up.

With that the layout was complete and it was time to operate. For layouts like this, I take pictures of all my rolling stock, add them to a Word or Pages document, print them out on full-sheet label paper, and stick the sheet to some card stock (I used an old file folder) and cut out all the individual cards. I put a red box around each image before printing so when I cut them out I could be sure they were all the same size. I also made four blank cards.

This layout can operate with up to eight pieces of rolling stock, plus a locomotive, and there are effectively 12 spaces or cars to occupy, thus the 12 cards. You can operate the layout by shuffling the cards, and dealing them out to all the possible car locations. Then, simply try to move the cars to the appropriate locations. You can then shuffle the cards and do it again. There are thousands of combinations, so each one is a little different.

Anyway, I love these small Inglenook layouts, and they are fast and easy to build. Maybe you would like to be build a small one like this for your office to occasionally shift your mind off work for 15 or 20 minutes.

Even though this is a Z scale layout, operations have been surprisingly good. I’ve overweighted every boxcar, so uncoupling is much easier. I have no issues uncoupling cars with a small Phillips head screw driver, but I do have issues with uncoupling the car connected to the locomotive because the coupler is a little more finicky and it is connected to the locomotive trucks. A body mounted coupler would improve uncoupling dramatically as pushing down on the coupler wouldn’t lift up the rear wheel of the truck and at times cause some derailments. So, I hope to make that modification before long.

Anyway, you can watch part two of this layout build below.

I’ve also recently started YouTube channel memberships. If you want early access to videos and access to some behind the scenes videos and random extras, you might want to join the channel.

Want an easy one-time way to help support the channel? Buy me a cup of coffee!

30 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Start-to-Finish: Build a Small Z Scale Switching Layout

This is a compilation of the previous two posts on this layout build. This is an easy to build and fun to operate layout that you can store anywhere, break out when you want to run some trains, and ha


bottom of page