This nonsense all started when I was a small child. Travelling on the Tauern Expess from Oostende to Stuttgart for the summer holidays left a lasting impression and must have started my love for railways. That and the Märklin starter I got as a Christmas present when I was three years old.
A few years have ‘disappeared’ since then but the excitement of watching a model train rush past as you hold your eye as near as possible to the track has remained. Or imagining yourself walking into the restaurant across the road from the miniature railway station you built in your own private model world.
I have always wanted to build a real model railway of my own but when you are young you don’t have the money – when you get older there are other things such as career and family which prevent you from creating that dream. This is why many of us model railway enthusiasts end up as a “grey” group! Just a load of aging kids whose eye-sight determines the scale.
I started to build another simple "trainset". For 50 deutsche Mark I bought a Roco starter set. A circle of track, a BR215 diesel and two goods wagons. It ran around my kitchen table.
I started to build a more permanent model on a baseboard. I never really finished it and it was still just a "toy". It didn't look realistic enough having a train looping around and chasing it's tail.
I was reduced to further dreaming and planning and surfing the net for model railway sites to try and get some inspiration. Then I stumbled on the FREMO site
I started on three modules. Each was a meter by fortyfive centimeters giving me an initial length of three meters. The units would comprise the station module, the brewery module and the loco shed module. I drew up some plans for these modules as can be seen below.
The modules are just boxes of 10mm beech plywood which I had cut for me at the timber yard. Then it was just a case of drilling the appropriate holes and gluing & screwing the pieces together.
I then laid the tracks on top of each box, with an underlay of cork (I know - I shouldn't have used cork. It will shrink and cause all sorts of problems in the future). Modules #1 (loco shed) and #2 (station) were straight forward. Module #3 (brewery) was a little more work due to a road underpass which had to be cut into the baseboard and front side of the module. This meant a bit of terra forming before the track could be laid.
After laying the track I joined the modules and did a test run with very primitive electrics to make sure the trains could travel from module to module without problem. I was surprised how well it worked! I was expecting all the usual problems you have when you fiddle with motor cars!
The modules were put up in front of my bookcase. But that was all.
And then..... early in 2010 I bought a house!!...
It had a large cellar room (4.95m x 3.26m) with another room next to it which I could use as a workshop. All with tiled floors & heating!
The plan of the cellar. The Railway Room and the Workshop behind it. Perfect! But first there were things to do in the house and garden.
The empty Railway Room waiting for mad dreams of expansion !
Now..., I do realise that this is probably an unforgivable waste of space and far too simplistic..... but..., frankly I don't care. I just want a simple operation with a reasonably convincing scenery. And now I had the room to do it!
I decided to have the nominal track height at 115cm, this would give reasonable accessabilty without making it too "birds-eye", if you know what I mean. The hidden stations (fiddle yards) would be at 90cm so the helices would drop the track about 24cm, this allows enough room to get your arm in and do some "fiddling".
I built two "tables" each 130cm x 45cm for the Adelheim fiddle yard. Another one 130cm x 120cm for the base of the "Old Town" helix.
I decided this was the way I wanted to proceed. One route after the other, like the original engineers. Station "D" (Adelheim) via the "Old Town" helix to Pupenhausen.
After that then Station "A" (Thomasburg) via the "Castle Hill" helix to Pupenhausen. Then, finally, Station "C" Maiklingen. So, next thing was to get the base boards (10cm plywood)
and the Roco tracks for the "Old Town" helix, do some cutting outand try it for size, including a bit of 'town planning' by adding the few models I had started to build.