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American Z Line GS Locomotives and Train Sets

At a Glance

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American Z Line GS Locomotives and Train Sets
American Z Lines photo.
Manufacturer: American Z Line
Scale: Z
MSRP:
• GS locomotive with tender: 1,296.40
• GS daylight passenger set with 4 cars: $1,595 - $1,664
• GS in black with 7 PFE reefers: $1,424.80 - $1,534.40

Features

  • All brass construction
  • Locomotive with tender available separately or in train sets.
  • Locomotives available in SP daylight color scheme for Daylight passenger trains or unskirted black for freight trains
  • Passenger sets have 4 articulated cars
  • Freight sets have 7 PFE reefers
  • Daylight sets include decals to customize trains with either Morning Daylight or Evening Daylight road numbers

Evaluation

With the N scale GS-4 and Morning Daylight craze in full-swing, I thought I should take a look at Southern Pacific Daylight offerings in other scales. In Z scale I found, not just a GS-4 and Morning Daylight, but an amazing line of locomotives and trains from American Z Lines (AZL).

The prices of these quality AZL products are indicative of their brass construction. These are all-brass locomotives and cars are made for AZL by the Korean firm AJin, a respected manufacturer of brass model railroad trains.

The AZL offerings include GS locomotives in the Southern Pacific daylight color scheme with or without four daylight passenger cars. In this product line, AZL also offers their GS locomotives in black. The black GS is available separately or in freight train sets which include seven PFE reefers. The reefers aren't brass however, they are injection molded plastic construction made by Pennzee.

Clearly these trains are for serious collectors; with that in mind, the manufacturer includes decals with the passenger sets which allow modelers to customize their Daylight train with either Morning Daylight or Evening Daylight road numbers. The casual collector isn't likely to know or care what number locomotive pulled which train.

Options

This line of trains, originally offered at the end of 2003, included both GS-3 and GS-4 locomotives. GS-3 locomotives and sets are listed as "sold out" by the manufacturer, but at the time of this writing Reynaulds still lists them as available. Do a search for "AZL" on the Reynaulds site; you'll have to advance through a few pages to find the GS/Daylight products, as Reynaulds offers many items from AZL.

Though promotional images on the AZL and Reynaulds sites show only two passenger cars and three freight cars for their respective train sets, the text on the AZL site indicates that the passenger sets include four cars and the freight trains come with seven. It would be nice if Reynaulds indicated this in their product listings.

For 2008, AZL plans to release a 12 car Daylight passenger set. This will give Z scalers the means to have a full-consist Daylight train.

DCC Questions

The one disappointment to me about the AZL offerings is that I find no mention of DCC decoder installation in any of the literature. Decoder installation is always challenging in tiny Z scale locomotives, and its almost always more difficult in steam locomotives than diesels. Having been released in 2003, I have to wonder just how DCC friendly the locomotive's design is. I've done my share of N scale decoder installations where no instructions were available, but with a Z scale locomotive in this price range I would not want to be the trail-blazer.

With today's tiny MRC M1 and Digitrax DZ125 decoders its likely that these GS locomotives could be converted to DCC. If not, AZL might do another run of these locomotives with DCC friendly wiring in the tender. I'd like to see them do another run of GS-3s anyway; I'd definitely start saving up for a set if they did... and I don't even model Z scale.
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