Thursday, February 25, 2010

DX in Half a Day 8: Finescalers Beware! NZ120 in the House!

DB intends any references to the word 'man' in the following to be gender neutral:

I've always viewed NZ120 as a 'scale for the common man'.

Quick, easy, cheap. It doesn't have to be fancy, as long as it looks good from two feet away. Realistic trains running through realistic scenery at a reasonable cost. Those have been the catchcries of NZ120 since I got involved in the early 90s.

I've also stated that anyone wanting to sell anything in NZ120 should aim to whip out moderately detailed models at moderate cost, as NZ120 is never going to be the choice for finescalers. After all, why waste your time microdetailing anything when the track, couplers, chassis and scenery they stand next to all look pretty awful from up close. And then there's the fiddliness of 1:120 - surely if you wanted to make award-winners you'd be into 9mm or S or some other scale where you can actually see what you're doing...

While I still stand by those comments, in finishing off DX 5293, I've opened my mind to the possibility that NZ120 might actually be a mighty fine choice for finescaling. It's a hell of a lot more challenging than those wimpy, easy-peasy larger scales... but with a little modern technology, a little effort and a magnifying light, it's certainly do-able.

Notes on the above pic (again thanks - or no thanks - to the Scary Closeups Dept) : Nose details, including white antenna, black round Garmin GPS housing on top (hard to see), 'tail' lights, MU connector, step light beside it, and handbrake are all baked into the nose casting. The tail lights in the nose were attacked with a blob of silver paint and a smaller blob of red in the middle, and this came out really well. The black anti-glare patch on the top is hand painted and looks almost straight from a distance. A decal would be better (hmmmm, thinks...)

Headlights/numberboards are a casting. Lights are MV lenses, which look quite sparkly to the eyes, despite looking quite dull in this pic. You have to be super-careful to not get super-glue haze on them. Numberboards are laser printed using an Excel spreadsheet and stuck on with PVA. The wee yellow anti-glare tray under the headlights is paper. Horns are from an N scale shell so they are probably a little small. For the detail connoisseurs, 5293 has them this way round, whereas 5039 has the bigger bell outboard. Wipers are N scalers.

Handrails, except for the ones right at the back, are as previously mentioned .006 brass, superglued into either #80 holes or into nicks in the side sills. Supersnot seems to work fine and is much easier for me than getting out a blowtorch and trying to solder things together. Stanchions are the same. I wonder if any N scale ones are available that are tall enough for us... Actually, that would only be good for pressed steel EMDs (DF/DC etc) as the DX ones are just round rod as depicted (whew!) Roof antennas and vents are plastic strip except the main Sinclair which is an N scale one but doesn't look much better than a lump of plastic.

On the headstock, the coupler is Z scale Microtrains, the coupler lever is the same handrail wire bent into that convoluted shape and painted with white ends. Lifting/tiedown points are thin plasticard with a #80 hole drilled, and then a triangular shape cut out around it . The brake/MU hoses are N scale items, and really don't look as good as individual wire ones because the US ones are a bit close together at the top. They do have nice glad hands on them though...

Lastly, hitting below the belt, the sandboxes front and rear are cast and the steps made up individually from plastic. I guess an etch or casting would be useful here.

Must re-do that nose decal - it looks fine to the eye, but under magnification here, it all looks a little dotty. A bit like your faithful contributors here at Druff Enterprises...


Michael said...

That DX is unbelieveable. The detail is fantastic and would put many s scale models to shame. This model has totally changed my perceptionof NZ120.

muir said...

This is an awesome blog!
thanks for the details on the details - I know you'd mentioned before about cutting bit's out of the previous chassis wrappings...
NZ120 is the affordable fantastic looking model in the right gauge providing the big picture of the right trains.
Your Dx is just so righteous.
Can you make me one?

coasterboy said...

Great looking model!Changing scales and going to nz120.
Just getting started.Great blog,wealth of info in here.
Checking here each day.

manaia said...

the boys are grumping!(lose of link from yahoo),dun at your end or these?
ahh ahh ahh

Mark said...

I'm just not seeing rivets and bolt heads, Darryl. I can do them in N scale... ;)

scaro said...

I think personally that 1:120 is the smallest scale where you can actually scratchbuild and do finescale stuff effectively. In 2mm the scale's supported by a lot of kits and parts, and N & Z generally are the realm of etching, but IMHO it's tough to make things by hand in scales smaller than TT.

Anonymous said...

TT the smallest eH? Presumably you haven't seen Brain Harrup's prot-Z layout in 1:220 finescale. Mind you, the man did do triple gauge pointwork in p87 for fun.


scaro said...

I have seen Brian Harrap's work in Z, and David K Smith's site and blog on the subject too. He uses code 25 track.

You have a point on the finescale track, but at least as regards scratchbuilding, I tend to stand by the statement.

Brian and David both use proprietary locos and stock.

If you can etch and are a micro-engineer, then N and Z are feasible.

But try making a decently detailed styrene wagon in N or smaller. I've done masters for N and it ain't much fun. You can't even get scale sizes of Evergreen styrene in N.

TTers I think justly regard it as the lowest practical size for scratchbuilding.

Earwicker said...

Fanastic stuff!