Model trains

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"Terminus": Track plan

"Terminus": Making of

Pictures: On the track

Pictures: City scenery

Pictures: Countryside

Pictures: Engines

Pictures: N scale details



Wiring & electronics

Terminus: 4x8 version

Track planning & design

N scale: myths & facts


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The "Terminus Layout": Pictures and Making of

When I came up in 2008 with an idea of a big terminus station on a small model train layout, Munich Central Station (= München, Bavaria) had been in my head as an inspiration. Munich has a dead end terminus station, hence a topic, which would require enormous space. But time, room space, and budget were short. So how to proceed? Here´s the result:

A N scale layout on 2 x 1 meter (6,6 x 3,3 ft)

Model train

The track plan allows both continuous runs and "dead end traffic", and presents a busy urban station scenery as an attracting eye-catcher.

Model trains

The next picture shows the station from the rear. A long freight trains passes by. The pillars of the station hall assembly kit are placed on a "wall" to get more height.

Model train layout design

Parking N scale vehicles along the station halls:

Model trains N scale

Advertising posters are self-made (PC & printer):

Model trains in N scale

Although I prefer a "keep it easy" philosophy, this does not implicate boring model train layouts. Even on a small door size layout a setup should be inherently consistent. So getting a good idea is the most important job when planning and building a layout. In my case it was …

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…the "cover" idea

Hide what you dont´t like! The idea was to place everything which is not worth to see, like narrow curves, under two lids - one on the left side, one on the right side. Both caps can be opened up. The "covered" construction makes this model railway layout very easy to build. The basic table has almost no landscaping or scenery. Some retaining walls, arcades and banks - that´s all.

Opened up: Rails are Fleischmann N scale ("piccolo")

Model train table

Benchwork or simple table?

I´m not a carpenter! A simple press board with 2 x 1 meters is the basis of this model railroad layout (= approx. 6,6 x 3,3 ft). Of course, a real benchwork usually is a better choice. But this scenery is small, and there are no slopes or gradients for the tracks. It works perfectly - since 2008, the date of construction. Wooden strips underneath the basic plate protect agains warping.

Photo: Passengers on the station platforms

Model train benchwork

Bird´s eye views: The lids

The covers also provide enough space to create a model train landscape, because all rails run underneath. Here the shape of the right lid. It features a rural scenery with a lake and a farmhouse in a typical "Bavarian style". A small industrial zone completes the scenery. For detailed photos also see: Countryside pictures.

The "landscape lid"

Model trains for beginners

The "city lid"

The left lid with the station and some city buildings. In front of the station building the terminal halls, selfmade from corrugated paperboard on a wooden subconstruction. They have the same shape as the "station hall" assembly kit from Faller, a German manufacturer for model train supplies. The Faller kit is not visible here; it´s placed directly on the model train table as an extension of the self-made halls.

The "city lid" (showing work in progress)

How to make a model train


Checklist: How to make a model train

What makes a perfect model train layout? The answer is: It´s up to you! Model railroading is a hobby, where everybody has its own philosophy. For me a track plan must be easy to realize, fit the size of a compact desktop format, and I want to come to an end quickly within some weeks. Usually the hobby starts with a model train set consisting of a simple oval, a loco and some wagons. But when time comes for higher standards, these model trains for beginners are not enough. The following checklist may help to specify your personal needs and wants for the perfect layout:

  • Topic? For example: Main line, branch line, industry, station, harbor…
  • Region? For example: rural, urban, mountains, seaside shore…
  • Epoch? For example: Era of steam locomotives…
  • Rolling stock? For example: long or short model train sets, passenger trains, freight trains…
  • Activity? For example: Shunting, realistic railway schedule, watching trains running around…
  • Floor space requirements?
  • Scale? Read more: Finding the best scale
  • If HO scale: 2-rail or 3-rail system? Also read more about the spelling of HO or H0?
  • Shape for the layout? For example: "U-", "L-", "E-" shape, along the wall, simple table…
  • How do you persue the hobby? Alone, with friends…
  • Must it be transportable? So go for planning in segments or modules
  • Digital controlled (DCC) or analog control?
  • Any special topics, like bridges or buildings?

And what about the epochs? I don´t care much about model railroad epochs, but many modellers are oriented towards a certain era to be as realistic as possible.

Epoches for model railroads in Germany

  • Epoch 1: The railway beginnings up to the end of WW I. Only steam engines.
  • Epoch 2: Up to the end of WW II. The first electric locomotives and diesel engines came up.
  • Epoch 3: Up to 1970; also called the era of the "young Bundesrepublik". Many hobbyist prefer that era, because everything is possible - from steam engines up to diesel or electric locos. No more 3rd-class compartments.
  • Epoch 4: 1970 - 1990: End of the steamers. UI Codes were introduced for standardization by the UIC, an international association of railways.
  • Epoch 5: 1990 - 2006: Germany is united, DR (East) and DB (West) go together in the new DB.
  • Epoch 6: 2007 - up to…? 12-place UIC numbers for locos. Many private railroad companies.

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