Divide et Impera! The scenic divider helps to cope with different scenes

arendthausen-carlsfeld-550-ii

You may find the idea of having different scenes on a micro layout somewhat strange.  But it is not! There is one great tool to use: the scenic divider. Above you can see a design for 530 x 50 cm (ok…in 1:43,5 that´s still a micro, isn`t it?) called “Arendtshausen-Carlsfeld”. You may have noticed my bow to the late Carl Arendt… The road bridge plays the role of a scenic divider, splitting the layout into a more scenic part (right) and a fiddle Yard on the left.

trubemunde-strand

Other plan, same story. Also in “Trübemünde Strand” – a fictious terminus somewhere on Germanys coast – the road bridge is helpful to seperate station and the “rest of the world”. The design bases on Carl Arendt´s “Amalgamated Terminal“.

brucke-mit-zwei-lok

brucke-nahaufnahme

Quod erat demonstrandum…”Krumme Fohre” gets a scenic divider mock up…it´s not the best road bridge ever seen, I have to admit, but it may illustrate the principle.
See you! Alex

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The Backdrop Question – Is Black Beautiful?

One of the main issues of micro railroading is to simulate the wideness of landscape. Hmm…how to achieve, if there are only a few centimeters in depth? If you are a gifted painter, grap brush and colors and paint your favorite landscape on the layouts rear wall. If you are not…better try a less ambitious alternative.  Ok, no backdrop is not the best choice, that´s obvious…

without-backdrop
…”Schnakenhörn” started without a backdrop…

May be a more neutral backdrop is a possibility to solve our problem? Let´s try a black backdrop. Not bad at all…isn´t it? I liked the dramatic look…but after some time I have had enough of the permanent stormy atmosphere…

backdrop-black-1

backdrop-sky-1
…”Krumme Fohre” changed from black to sky blue…

My next attempt was to use a panoramic photo as a backdrop. I am not quite content with reflections and edges, but overall (and for the moment) I like the naturalistic version more.

backdrop-black-2

KF Panorama schmal
…the same comparison..abstract or naturalistic…

The same story once more…Also “Grub am Forst” got rid of it´s black backdrop. The new one was a commercial backdrop showing a bucolic scenery. Unfortunately I wasn´t able to avoid problems with gluing. Using spray adhesive was not one of my best ideas…

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Backdrop-landscape-1
…”Grub am Forst” moved from black to blue, too…

There are two more versions left. In Europe the sky is often more grey than blue. So I tried light grey at my harbour station “Weserkai”. Looks more friendly and reminds me of a rainy day at the coast…

backdrop-grey
…grey may be an alternative…seen at “Weserkai”…
backdrop-mirror
…”Sioux Falls” – and now for something completely different: the mirror trick…

For the sake of completeness I have to mention the mirror trick. At “Sioux Falls” the mirror was used to make the layout seem longer. Ok, your choice. There is more than one way leading to Rome…

Cheers!
Alex

Gumstumping! Zigzag offers long lines…

Early in the 60th Chuck Yungkurth created the “Gum Stump & Snowshoe Railroad“. I copied this ingenious micro layout using some stock of “Märklin-M-Tracks” and renamed it as “Sanspareil”. Ok, please connive the old-fashioned trackwork…just have a look on the trackplan. And yes…that´s a switchback. The train – starting front right – has to change direction twice before reaching it´s destination one level higher on the left hand side. In this way we are able to add a distance of approximately five (!) meters. Not bad for a plank with a total length of 2, 10 m!

Kaltenholzach Gumstumping
…an H0-adaption of the original “Gumstump&Snowshoe RR” with an additional  runaround track…

 

The problem of gumstumping are steep grades. Nearly 10 % are challenging even for short trains. If you forget about the railroad flyover in the foreground you will come to a plan like below. My “Darjeeling & Himalaya RR” (0n30) zigzags through an indian landscape using Peco 0n30 trackwork. For more informations about the famous Indian “Toy Train” see the Website of the DHRS.
Cheers!
Alex

Darjeeling Switchback Trackplan
…the “Toy Train” in 0n30 – zigzag in India…

 

…out of sight – out of mind …the mystery of sneak-off tracks

Compact bookshelf layouts have one problem in common. If you are not satisfied with a naked switching puzzle, you will need a track leading your trains into the big, wide world. Hmm…not an easy desire to fullfill, espacially on less than one squaremeter. Anyway…let´s try it. Our first approach is “Mainlände” (speak: Minelanda) in H0. The shelf measures 165 x 35 cm (meanwhile you are familiar with that, probably), the trackwork ist PECO Code 175. “Mainlände” is a small terminus near by a small river port in Bavaria. The line disappears under an elevated street. To protect you from switching in the dark tunnel (what may be really uncomfortable) I added a track from which you can reach every other track. Ok…if a train disappears under the bridge there is no possibilty to form a new one in the backstage area…sometime you have to restore it…

Mainlaende 001
“Mainlände” in H0 – trains and a harbor, not the worst idea

Should we try the same in gauge 0? “Curiouser and curiouser!” would Alice in wonderland cry… And here we go…”Lauenstein Süd” is a shrunken inglenook designed for PECO Code 124 trackwork. The sneak-off track works in the same way like it does in “Mainlände”. Ok…the headshunt is very short. To serve the industry (front left) you have to make some switching moves, and yes…the track only holds a short loco and one (!) freight wagon. To be honest, that may make switching more exciting…The platform is good for a short DMU (VT 98 of Deutsche Bundesbahn e.g.)…

Lauenstein Süd
OMG! – A 0 layout on a 165 x 35 cm shelf? “Lauenstein Süd”

Last but not least…let´s try a more elaborated one. “Westerstrand Hafen” is a harbor at the North Sea. A train coming from somewhere appears from right under the bridge, then wheeling into the headshunt on the left and finally moves right for reaching the platform. As you realized already: that´s a switchback…So you found three different layouts with three different versions of hiding trains.

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“Westerstrand Hafen”: Mock up for a H0 layout

Heavy Metal at “Schnakenhoern”- a retro-style micro layout

Let´s have a look into the junk box. Wow…a lot of old H0-tracks made of metal and made by the famous german model railroad producer Märklin. Time to create a retro-style Micro layout. “Schnakenhoern” (ok…hard to pronounce for non-german speakers…sounds like “Shnukenhearn”) is a small (fictitious) harbor at the North Sea coast of Germany. Once more I used a “sneak off track” for better operating. As you can see, the entire layout is completely woodfree…everything was made of styrofoam – except the trackwork, certainly! Lesson learned – don´t dump all old stuff, may be you can use it some day… By the way, “Schnakenhoern” has been sold some years ago.
Cheers!
Alex

When in Rome, do like the Romans do…”Stazione Montelupo”

Bella Italia! If you don´t have the time to spend your holidays in Italy, an option may be to build your next layout in italian style… “Montelupo” was my try to have the attractive mixture of ancient ruines and ordinary industrial buildings on 165 x 35 cm. Especially the aqueduct – made of styrofoam – was my favorite fixed idea. I´m not quite sure that there are such situations in italian reality…but it could be… After three Inglenooks it´s obvious that Montelupo belongs more to the category “lots of tracks”. In the northeastern corner you can find a rudimental staging track. The rare passenger trains took advantage from the single platform (please recognize the palm trees, which are signalling: “yes, that´s somewhere in the south!”) and  the scooter factory provides a lot of wagonloads – enough work for the operator. The trackwork was Piko A.

Arrivederci!
Alex

“Grub am Forst”…another inglenook…

210 cm x 45 cm ist a bit too large? Ok, let´s have a look on somewhat less. To be honest, that´s H0, 1:87. Not surprisingly, we now need only 165 x 35 cm (5,4 x 1,14 ft). The smaller scale is both a blessing and a curse. Older railroaders need stronger glasses to see details (ok…may also concern younger hobbyists), but – wow – we gaining space for a “sneak off track”, which enables the operator to spirit trains away. Despite to the track plan the spur was´nt covered by buildings…as you can see, certainly. The small Terminus “Grub am Forst” (I borrowed this name from a small town in Northern Bavaria) could handle the well- known 3:3:5 wagon inglenook configuration and short passenger trains. Not bad for only three points…should be suitable also for your bookshelf, I suppose…

Cheers!
Alex