It doesn’t come up every day but it most definitely does come up: how big should my tunnel portal be, how much height do I need under a bridge, why didn’t I think of train clearance before I built my layout? It’s really unfortunate when someone builds a scene and only then realizes they can’t run those cool new double stack intermodal cars because the tunnel openings are not big enough.
Well there’s a cool little tool, a pack of three tools to be more specific, that will not only help you avoid clearance problems but it will also guide you in building more accurate era-specific scenes. NTZ Products has just released a Z Scale Clearance Gauge Set and it’s something every Z scale toolbox should have.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, or in this case the gauge set description, from the NZT website:
This set of three clearance gauges handles different railroading eras as defined by the NMRA: pre-1920, 1920-1969, and post-1983. The dimensions adhere strictly to NMRA S-7 (02-11). Each gauge has index pins that align it precisely to the rails, plus a hole in the center so it can be affixed to a rod and inserted into tunnels, between buildings and in other tight spots where fingers won’t fit. Precision-milled from durable 0.5mm stainless steel, these unique tools will last a lifetime.
You may not need them today or tomorrow but if you build a Z scale layout… you’ll wish you had them in your toolbox! Aside from being a really useful set of tools, I’m glad to see that Z scale is taking more and more care with details like being era-accurate in something like a tunnel opening. Subtle in Z scale, no question, but if we’re going to invest the time and effort in modeling… let’s try and model accurately!
Priced at under $10 for the 3 gauge set from online Z scale dealers, owning these gauges is an easy decision… do it!