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!
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.
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…
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.)…
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.
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.
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…