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Z Scale Layout – Track Types

If you search any Japanese Hobby Store online, you'll find that Rokuhan dominate the market when it comes to Z Scale track. It seems that, back in the day, there were a few other manufacturers, but they aren't that popular anymore.

Whilst going crazy-shopping on Buyee lately, I bid on some random auctions of track, not really paying attention to brands and getting it all for cheap. Turns out it's cheap as they're literally piles of junk track from companies that no longer exist. The only real exception was a stash of Micro Trains track which seems to have come from America to Japan and now into my hands in Australia.


As mentioned, currently the leader of the hobby in Japan and widely available. It's very much the Kato Unitrack of Z Scale. I've invested heavily in it and will use it as the core of the layout.

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You can get insulated joiners and power feed modules to segment your track as required.

Akia ZJ Gauge Track

This seems to be a real relic and was purchased in a bulk set of track from Yahoo Auctions.

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I don't think I'm even going to open the box. It looks as bad as the track that came with the Akia trains... and well, that makes sense.

RealZJ Real Track

Simple name, but quite nice track! The sleepers are further apart than Rokuhan and that makes it look more like cape-gauge.

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I happened to need a piece of this as I had failed to order the correct parts list for my intended layout.

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With the plastic clips removed, the track happily joined together. The Real Track is the bottom-left piece. As you can see, the sleeper difference is obvious, but could be disguised with enough scenery. I don't intend on keeping this piece in place though.

Micro Trains

This USA variant is immediately obvious. The ties are much thinner and the spacing is might tighter. It makes sense as it's trying to emulate standard gauge.

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Again, as that I'd failed to order enough of the track I needed, I swapped in the larger radius curves from this accidental purchase.

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The differences are immediately obvious and really only good for areas that can't be seen; inside a tunnel or somesuch. I'll fix this bit in the future with a proper order of the remaining required track.

Layout Update

It's looking good. Regardless of my mismatched track, the layout fits and is starting to come together!

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As usual, I've left next-to-zero space for scenery, so I've been mulling over the plan to see how I can fit more in. I'm really happy with the height available in the table. It could nearly fit three layers of trains!

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Z Scale Layout – Gambling With Rolling Stock

After sourcing a lot of both track and rollingstock locally (Thanks Tony!), I realised I had to put in an order to Buyee to get the rest of the parts I wanted. I could've just gone to HobbySearch, but I also needed some parts for my PC-9801. Hence, an order was placed, expensive shipping was paid and a box'o'magic arrived! I'll discuss the contents later... today I'll just talk about two of the components that were included.

Takara Micro Gauge

In Japan, at some point, next to the register in (I actually don't know which) stores, there were trains + chewing gum offered for cheap prices. The contents of these items were meant for display, but supposedly some of them actually came motorised. Per box, you received at least got one item of rollingstock, one item of track and a piece of chewing gum! This is actually how the sets I've already received were 'built up'. The goal, just like the magazines that used to offer part-by-part components to build a greater model, was to collect enough boxes with the intention to complete a set of ... something!? So, without further ado, I bring up the first item into evidence.

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This is a shop-ready counter-ready box of Takara (Yes, the Takara Tomy brand) Micro-Gauge rolling stock + gum. It's unopened and ready to be explored. The theme is based on the EF-81 locomotive and associated sleeper trains... let's open it...

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Awesome! Ten chances to win. I do love my Twilight Express, so let's see if I'm lucky!?

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The end result? Two locomotives and two night trains! One of the twilight carriages is duplicated, but that's OK.

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Note that each box comes with a postcard of the locomotives and some cute information on the back. Meanwhile, back to the locomotives... one of them was a little heavier?

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Oh nice, it's actually got an engine... but it's battery operated! The chassis just pulls apart... an AAA battery was inserted and, well, the train ran like shit on the plastic track. The locomotive's coupler was also around 3mm lower than the carriages, so I couldn't even get it to pull anything. No real loss as this box was an entire gamble and I'm just super stoked to have two night trains in the mix!

Akia ZJ Gauge

The other box was exactly the same shape/size/form. Instead of targeting EF81s, it instead provided a chance to complete a 485-series EMU set.

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So, this is the Akia ZJ Gauge series. It's actually the same as the rollingstock you see inside my coffee table, so I was happy to gamble with this box and see if I couldn't get another engine or, at least, make my consists a little longer.

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The box actually looked like it had been re-taped shut... I wonder if someone opened it and scanned for motorised cars? Are they heavier?

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Each box contained one car, one piece of track, a liquid sachet of candy and, for the cab cars, a replacement coupler.

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In the end, I ended up with one cab-car of each livery and a mix of intermediate cars. No motors! It's OK, I purchased motors individually on Yahoo Auctions and they came in the box'o'magic from Buyee as well. No loss here, lots of fun gambling!

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Z-Scale Layout – Perspex Box/Case

So this was ready today and I didn't hesitate to go and pick it up! SC & F Plastic Fabrication took my order last Thursday and had the unit ready in 2 business days! Awesome!

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Disregard the weird shadow in the middle, above. It's from the cookie packet! There's a white protective sticker on the base, but the whole unit is actually clear. I don't think I'll remove it as the whole internal area will be filled with scenery.

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Meanwhile, the case didn't slide perfectly into the table's open space. Turns out the front-left vertical area of the table is less than 150mm! Somehow the whole table is actually slightly wonky.

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I had the option to file down the square case or the table, so I chose the latter as it's the one that's not plumb. I initially tried to smack the supporting bar with a hammer, but the spacing difference seemed to be in the actual weld where the bar joins the leg. 3mm was taken off to have the whole drawer area sit flat.

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DataStor Commuter Parallel Port IDE HDD

This came in a bulk eBay purchase months back but I only just re-discovered in a box today. I love surprises! I've recently been going through all the boxes'o'shite and so I'm sure there'll be more surprised to document.

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It came in a pleather pouch with a manual, floppies and all required cables. Below you can see the DC power adapters actually piggy-back onto either an AT Keyboard socket or a PS/2 port. Very handy! I am still trying to work out if plugging my mouse into the piggy-back pushed pins inside my mouse's plug, or if it was just ready to break. Either way, had to fix that also.

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The unit actually allows the printer port to pass through, but I didn't test this. I might grab a parallel port Zip Drive and see if you can daisy chain them. Otherwise I assume you can put a printer on the end.

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As for operations, the floppies included had expired, so I downloaded the driver package for Windows/NT/OS2/DOS and created a bootable floppy disk image with the required DOS tools. The main driver is CDISK.SYS and this just needs a standard DEVICE line in CONFIG.SYS with no arguments. It's all on the floppy image above.

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With the floppy in the drive, the disk came straight up and prompted me to partition/format it. It saw a 3.2gb HDD inside and told me to make two separate partitions of 2048mb and 1248mb, as the OS doesn't support disks bigger than 2gb! Ah, history.

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Z-Scale Layout – Coffee Table

After another round of impulse purchasing on eBay, I've ended up with a new fleet of Z-Scale Japanese EMUs. As per that previous plan a glass coffee table was ordered and has now arrived and been built!

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The table fits well in the lounge room and, more importantly, the dimensions for the layout have increased! Glad I waited for it to arrive prior to ordering the Perspex insert to build the layout inside.

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