Wednesday, August 12, 2015


The z-scale coffee table project is to be split diagonally creating two separate dioramas or scenes with a simple loop of track and a few switches.    A blast furnace complex will occupy the one side and an open hearth furnace the other.    Despite the diminutive z-scale, space is tight since I'm creating larger industrial scaled scenes.   I came up with a rough plan but in trying to copy the prototypes exactly I needed to build some of the structures so things could be adjusted before gluing down the track.

Z scale is 1:220 scale.  I have an inexpensive large format printer.  The difference between 8x11 and 11x17 is significant for me in modeling, in terms of being able to decipher details and take off measurements.  The trick is to convert the HABS/HAER drawings I use to exact scale.  Once exact scale I'm able to simply take off measurements and even cut out sections of the drawings to use as templates.    HABS/HAER drawing files are sized to print out full sized plan sheets - you could always take the files to Staples,..etc. and have them print out, but you will still need to use the scale on the drawing and convert to HO scale or whatever.      For example to print the open hearth drawings I first just print as is to 11x17 - most print drivers will scale the drawing down to "fit the page"  - make note of the percentage it's scaled to.   Then measure something on the drawing that has an actual measurement noted on it - HAER drawings usually have a 30 foot scale.   You can determine what that measurement should actually measure in any scale by dividing by the scale - so for example in z-scale - convert the 30 feet to inches - 360 inches and then divide by 220 (remember z-scale is 220 times smaller than real life)    So in z-scale the 30 feet on the drawing should actually measure 1.636 inches.    You could start adjusting the scale of the print out and measuring the results until you get to what you want - 15 sheets of paper later, or you can go one more step and use algebra to determine the exact scale to tell your printer.    I'll use abbreviations -

A= % Scale from initial "print to fit page"
B= Measurement in inches of 30' HAER scale on the "print to fit page
C= Measurement in inches that 30' HAER scale should measure in the whatever scale you are modeling in.
X= % Scale to be determined to print to a specific scale

The computer will tell you A; you can measure B; and C you can calculate - X is the unknown.

A/B = X/C    take this to (AxC)/B and you will get X

Ok sorry to bore with math - some photos.
Blast furnace and high line bases

Ripping open hearth roof profiles - The open hearth is a z scale exact duplicate of  the Pittsburgh Steel Plant at Monessen, PA
Buildings will be covered with paper siding and other details.  Large building is the open hearth proper, the smallest depth building is the scrap prep plant, the narrow t-shaped building the gas producers, and the longer one on the right is the stripper building.  
Z-scale steel mill rolling stock and a Sharpie 

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