What size is Z scale?

Z scale model train layouts are increasingly popular due to the small size and hence appeal for those with limited space but what are their dimensions? How small are they really?

There are smaller scales than Z— check out T gauge at 1:450 scale — but it’s the only real contender for the smallest if you want a ready made and easy supply of products. No wonder given its second smallest mass-produced model railway gauge.

In terms of raw specifications, Z scale has a track width of 6.5 mm or 0.256 inches and a scale of 1:220 which comes out at 1.385 mm to 1 ft.

But what does this mean in actual model size? How small are Z models?

Tiny is the answer.

A Märklin Z scale locomotives is dwarfed by OO scale models, as seen here.

Märklin Modellbahnen Z gauge size compared to OO model train

A Z scale locomotive next to a OO scale model train

And they can easily and safely balance on the end of my index finger (speaking as a average size adult) or held between two fingers.

Märklin Modellbahnen Z gauge

What size is Z scale? They can easily be held between a finger and thumb.

As a rule of thumb Z scale, or Z gauge if you prefer, locos are about an inch long.

Tiny yes, but still very usable. They’re great fun, packed with detail and you can create interesting, enjoyable, layouts, as seen here.

If you’re thinking of building a Z scale layout see z gauge: six things you’ll want to know before starting.

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.

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Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
  1. Hi do you know how you can isolate locos so more than 1 can run at a time on Marklin z scale? What track parts are needed?

    • Hi, it will be exactly the same as gauge DC layout. Use insulating joiners to prevent the power running along a section of track and then points at either end with a run around to control which part of the line is receiving power. Does this make sense? Andy

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