Nominal size Z

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A comparison: The DB BR 103 in H0 and Z gauge

The nominal size Z is a size for model railways standardized in the standards of European model railways (NEM) and the standards of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) . It was brought onto the market by Märklin in 1972 in response to other manufacturers turning to the nominal size N and until 2007, when the nominal size T came onto the market, it was the smallest nominal size for model railways produced industrially in series. The standard gauge , with a prototype gauge of 1435 mm, has a model gauge of 6.5 mm and is colloquially referred to as Z gauge. The scale is 1: 220. The very small scale enables fully functional model railway systems even in the smallest of spaces (e.g. suitcases or desk drawers).

Due to the small dimensions and the low weight of the locomotive, problems of their own arise with the filigree mechanics, especially with dust, which can hinder the transmission of electricity between the rail and the wheel. Careful and professional maintenance enables problem-free operation.

Z-gauge model railways are operated according to the two-wire direct current system; the operating voltage is usually 10 volts.

Manufacturer (selection)

On Jens Wimmel's Z-layout Julierbahn, there are Zm-gauge tracks at the goods shed at Surava station of the Rhaetian Railway (RhB)

Locomotives and wagons based on European models are offered by the market leader Märklin, as well as by many small series manufacturers (e.g. Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik, Z-Modellbau, N-Tram, Bahls, Heckl, Swiss Z Lines (SZL), Z-Bahn, Railex) . Narrow-gauge vehicles are currently offered by Freudenreich Feinwerktechnik and Mr. Ahnert (finished models) based on the Swiss model. In addition to the market leaders Märklin , Faller and Viessmann-Modelltechnik GmbH, buildings are also offered by many small-series manufacturers. Zi gauge field tracks (2.75 mm) are currently only available as standing models from Saller.

American rolling stock can be found at American Z Lines (AZL), Märklin, Micro-Trains Line and again in small series (e.g. Full Throttle, InterMountain, Aspenmodel, Freudenreich, Marsilius, Penzeee). Micro-Trains Line has been offering a bedding track since 2005, which adheres to the geometrical specifications of the Märklingleissystem.

In 2011, the Japanese manufacturer Rokuhan brought a track system onto the market that is very similar to the American bedding track, also adheres to the usual standards for the nominal size Z, but significantly increases the available radii (from 45 mm to 490 mm). This alternative track system is now being sold for the local market by the German company NOCH . Furthermore, Rokuhan has been offering diesel locomotives and railcars , as well as passenger and freight cars based on Japanese and German models for some time . The Shinkansen Type 500 of the West Japan Railway is completely new to the range .


For the nominal size Z, the following model gauges are specified in the European Model Railways (NEM) standards on a scale of 1: 220 :

track designation Model gauge Prototype gauge Use with prototype gauges
Z Standard gauge 6.5 mm 1435 mm from 1250 mm to 1700 mm
Zm Meter gauge 4.5 mm 1000 mm from 850 mm to <1250 mm

Web links

Commons : Z gauge  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Spur Zm  - collection of images, videos and audio files