My friends since childhood know I have had a life long addiction to model trains and in the past I made several model railway layouts, albeit with mixed results.
Twice I had a nice landscape finished but on other occasions it didn’t turn out as I imagined it or it ended up unfinished due to lack of money, time and materials and I was too busy working, raising my children and loving my wife.
The model railway that I like the most myself is the one in a famous fantasy theme park called The Efteling in Swampyland. It was designed by a Dutch artist called Anton Pieck, a great man with even greater imagination. As a child I could just spend hours there forgetting there was a whole lot more to do in that park, in my mind this was it. And just to show you how impressive this model railway display is I will show you the pictures I took of it (click thumbnails to enlarge) or even better, go and see for yourself some time.
This time is different though. After I suffered a heart attack in May this year the love of my life and I decided that I should make that one unfulfilled childhood dream come true, which is the ultimate model railway layout, the one I always wanted to make.
When I was young I used Fleischmann H0 scale brass rail tracks (picture right), they were called Fleischmann Modellgleis in German. They were beautifully designed but slightly corrosive and you had to polish them regularly for which there was a special wagon available with a small rotating circular sanding block underneath.
The wheels of the locos made little yellow sparks at the connections between the tracks and it had an old-fashioned smell of electricity, ozone and oil, the smell that makes you remember model trains for the rest of your life.
The old Fleischmann Modell Gleis chart with measurements
These type of rails are no longer available and neither is its successor Profi Gleis but I was able to save up most of the rails and buy them second hand on eBay. If you want to use your own brand of rail tracks here is a nice comparison layout provided by Fleischmann (click for large view).
The newer Fleischmann Profi Gleis chart with measurements
Fleischmann Profi Gleis is made of a nickel alloy and included a die cast grey plastic gravel bed that looked very realistic (picture below). It is much less corrosive or prone to cause sparks. Since the old Modell Gleis is no longer available and there are still loads of Profi Gleis available on the internet I have decided I will go with the latter and buy whatever I need when I find it. If you want to know the technical aspects of these great type of rails download Technik-Info_Profigleis_H0.pdf, a PDF file provided by Fleischmann (in German language) which I also included in the download at the bottom of this article.
To design this ultimate model railway layout I have used RailModeller Pro as the Express version is rather limited in use compared to the RailModeller Pro edition because you can only place 50 rail tracks on the design board. At the bottom of this blog you can download the files should you want to use it for your own layout.
The RailModeller Pro file contains the entire railway plan, including the switches that connect the rings, the large turntable and locomotive maintenance workshop (water tower, coal storage etc.) and the mountain track that goes up from the left across a steel bridge to a mountain on the top right corner of the railway layout you see below. I will explain the details of that mountain track later as it has a special feature.
The game is to have a loc maintenance area with a turntable and a shunting yard to play with and have trains enter the two main tracks from there to circle around. And then there is this rack railway line going from bottom left to a little mountain railway station top right where the Grüne Carl is going up and down.
As a child I always wanted to include a turntable and curved loco shed in my layout but these turntables were so expensive that only children with rich parents could use them, they were far beyond my financial capabilities having to use my allowance and the little money I earned doing chores.
Nevertheless, as a child I was quite content with what I had but for now I decided it should be on the new display. As they are rather large (approximately 20 inch in diameter) I decided the turntable, loc shed and locomotive workshop terrain will be the main feature in the layout and the mountain railway will be the ‘distraction’.
At the top of the layout you can see a single track that will go up a steep mountain. It will be the rack railway included in the plan and I will use a rack railway loco called Grüne Carl about which I wrote in my blog Childhood dreams (linked at the top of this blog). It has this special feature, an extra gear wheel in the bottom center that goes with the rack railway tracks and enables the loco to climb up very steep tracks without slipping wheels.
Nowadays, this particular loco in mint condition is very rare and as Fleischmann is no longer producing H0 scale railway tracks (or locos and wagons) and that turntable is equally rare I am blessed to have found both at an auction in the past years.
So far I have already built the base plate and I am about to put the rail tracks and turntable on it to draw out the plan on the plywood top layer. And the next step is to cut out the bedding from the thin plywood layer so I can elevate the tracks. I have loads of material for the scenery but I will have to find a method to shape the hill sides, the mountains in the back and tunnel entrances. I am thinking of using screen mesh on wood with plaster cast and grey modelling clay.
Below you can download the images for the Fleischmann Profi Gleis layout, the RailModeller Pro file and a list of materials that you need for this layout.