I've been thinking (NZ87)

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Lewis Holden 2 months, 1 week ago.

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    Lewis Holden

    I’ve just picked up on a Facebook conversation about a DX model kitset in 1:64. It seems modellers in the scale are struggling to find kits of said loco because Online (Ken Cousins) has stopped producing them, and Railmaster (John Agnew) is only producing “limited kits”.

    While it’s a small fragment of a conversation, and I haven’t verified anything, it does add to discussions I’ve seen elsewhere about some challenges with 1:64 modelling. The appeal of Sn3.5 was originally that it was easy to find commercial HO scale track and wheelsets, and some mechanisms (e.g. Athearn chassis for the DX).

    The problem is beyond that there’s not much commercially available, S scale is hardly a big scale overseas. We’re a bit of an oddity here in New Zealand with 1:64 being the major scale. The results have been staggering – the recent NZ Model Railway Journal cover proves that. But for modern modellers there are limitations. The first is a lack of kits in the modern era, and, in my own experience, limitations for space.

    One of the reasons I chose to model NZ120 instead of 1:64 is that I found it hard to run decent-length modern area trains. I had part of a single-car garage (3m x 3m) for a layout when I lived in Auckland (having to disassemble yet another layout on moving to Wellington was my first reason for choosing NZ120, especially with the modular system that Mark Andrews et al developed). With NZ120 this is no problem, decent-length trains are possible within a much smaller space.

    However, I’ve been thinking for some time about a middle road, and the unavailability of 1:64 models has got me thinking about things again. Some of you may know I’ve been slowly working on a 1:87 module for some time, based on the Wellington & Manawatu Railway Co. The idea was that I would use the Frateschi Baldwin Consolidation 2-8-0 model as the basis for W&MR no. 11 or 12 and convert it to 12mm gauge, a process which is still… ongoing.

    Anyway, I’ve become more convinced recently that 1:87 could be a happy medium between NZ120 and 1:64. Basically;

    – with 1:87 you get the millions of accessories, buildings, etc that come with HO scale;
    – you can run decent length trains, albeit not as long as NZ120 but still decent;
    – There is some commercially available track from PECO (HOm) which is 12mm
    – There’s a reasonable following overseas, especially in Queensland with modern mechanisms.

    I’m dubbing this NZ87, mainly because calling it HONZ would get us into that whole HO gauge v scale argument, and no-one wants that. Anyway, some random thoughts for an Easter Sunday…

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by  Lewis Holden.


    This was the favoured scale of stalwarts such as Graeme Butler and David McNiven many years ago (some interesting articles in the Journal). If Graeme was alive today and still pushing this barrow no doubt he would be using the services of Shapeways etc. to good effect. I’m not sure how much applicable chassis material is available, and that may be the deciding factor for many. I still think that NZ120 is a fantastic scale for getting items printed, the cost ramps up a bit with HO onwards.


    Lewis Holden

    Agreed, the other problem is once you get to a certain size you need to start breaking prints up into chunks… although I do think for larger scales, breaking models into parts makes more sense than trying to print the whole thing in one go.

    3D printing works well with Shapeways because of price point, but I do think there may be a better way to do things in NZ, especially with lots of people with decent 3D printers about.



    Interesting wee topic.But I wonder if we as “nz120ers” shouldnt be trying to push OUR scale more?
    Theres getting to be more products,wagons,engine kits etc(reasonable costs) available.Most chassis are easy to get,track is common as rain drops.
    The only very frustrating,for me anyway is when it comes to the likes of Steam……….theres good “shells”out there but its a gamble after getting one as to what chassis it can fit!(I arent clever enough to know the options).
    What we need and I think it would create a bit of interest for anyone looking at nz120 is for someone to be prepared to do ready to run locos.I think it was talked about afew years ago but nothing happened.
    So after all that Im still staying with nz120 and not looking at the “Dark side”of NZ87……..interesting topic nonetheless.



    Lewis Holden

    For sure, I’m all for promoting NZ120 which is why I took on running this website. I guess I’m picking up on conversations elsewhere regarding 1:64 and challenges there, having said that the technology we’re making use of for NZ120 does work for 1:64, it’s just very expensive.

    I started playing around with NZ87 after seeing a lot of HOn3.5 modelling from Queensland, I’ve got a small diorama underway called the Miranui Tramway which has 12mm and 9mm track.




    Certainly a practical scale, but for me the gauge would be the problem, but perhaps for the more-mechanically inclined. I’d rather stick some pretty bits of cardboard together with PVA and place them on a chassis and track that is bulletproof than the other way around.


    Lewis Holden

    I’ve now got a single Northyard 12mm chassis for a DC. Luckily someone else (Bob Gutsell) had already got one developed.



    Interesting, NZ87 Sounds really good since 1:64 Scale items are getting harder and harder to find but I feel like in general the New Zealand Railway items need a “upgrade” in the system, Since now most items in the NZR Range are ether kits that are extremely hard to find or are shells which are pretty good. We need some company to take on the hard task of having to modernize NZR Modeling in general. Hopefully a big company like Hornby Bachmann or even Athearn should do it, Frateschi have kind of done that but they only do Diesels. Lets hope a company can rise up and familiarize NZR modeling.


    Lewis Holden

    I think we’re slowly getting there. NZ120 does have a following, but has tended to keep its head down and not be as obsessed with detail.



    There’s probably more 1:64 kits available, or will soon be re-released, than there has been in a long time. If you want anything produced that is not currently available then employ the services of a 3D printing designer and get items done through Shapeways, I-Materialse, a local 3D printer etc.
    As to Hornby Bachmann, Athearn etc entering the NZR market – (insert beer billboard slogan here).


    Lewis Holden

    Yep, never going to happen.

    I remember though being poopooed a few years ago suggesting the future of NZ model railways was 3D printing as it (a) meant no major production runs which we will never have the economies of scale to justify and (b) enabled a new generation of model rail fans to get into the hobby, esp those used to designing models for games such as MS Train Sim, etc.

    That’s why I think NZ120 is for me – I can do all the 3D printing stuff I enjoy and usual modelling plus electronics, the trains can be a decent length etc.

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