John Oxlade's Bavarian layout - the 1st year's events
Author: John Oxlade, Salfords, Surrey, UK (EMail:
(this layout is now dismanlted)
- 29th May
- Finished decorating the room, so I can start on the layout.
"The room" is approx. 14' x 11' (4.6 x 3.6m - it's not a simple
rectangle), and is the second largest room in my house - it's supposed to
be the master bedroom, but it always looked liked a railway room to me. In
case you hadn't already figured it out, I live alone.!
- 2nd June
Robin came round and helped me in the railway room. We more or less
finished the framework on the window-side of the room.
- 3rd June
- Didn't do the helix, I did the framework on the 'other' wall that will
have the helix tacked on the end. I built the girders to go from one side
of the room to the other and fitted 2 of them.
- 4th June
built the sector plate for the fiddle yard.
I test fitted the roundhouse in it's new place. Umm, it's big, it just
about fills the alcove with little space around it. Looks like I'll need
some trees to hide the fact that it'll probably only be about 6 inches
from the backdrop.
- 10th June
- Started building the framework for the helix this afternoon. What a
game..! So as not to get a join in the chipboard on the top of the helix
where there's a change of gradient into the station, I decided to cut the
station and top of the helix out of one piece of chipboard. Great fun...!
Carrying the 8'x4' chipboard upstairs was nothing compared to lifting it
up onto the frames that are almost 5' off of the ground. Anyway, I managed
to sort the frame out (not without some minor 'tweaking'), and put on the
top 2 revolutions.
I have decided that building a helix is not easy.
- 11th June
- Managed to complete all of the track bed for the helix (all 6
revolutions) and fitted the 48 brackets. On the whole, it hasn't come out
too bad. It's nothing like as substantial as the rest of the layout, but
adequate for the job.
- 17th June
- Filthy day (raining and cold) so I couldn't take any 'as of today'
pictures, which is a pity, because I actually had something worth taking a
picture of :- I laid the first bit of track and got one of my Fleischmann
GtL4/4's running with a Trix wagon. Funny thing, it worked first time. I
later tried a Micro Metakit PtzL3/4 which showed up a slight hump in a
pair of points (which I fixed), other than that it's all OK.
Cut some more baseboards to go round by the chimney breast.
I've actually beaten the target date of my birthday to get something
running. No, I'm telling when it is, nor how old I am.
- 24th June
- Cut out the baseboard for the main station, cut a hole for the
- 25th June
Fitted the backdrop for the main station.
Finished the baseboards from the fiddle yard right through the main
station, up the helix and into the middle station.
Started to fit the backdrop for the lower level leading up to the helix.
That was easier said than done.
- 8th July
- Cut and fitted some backdrop panels - easier said than done.
- 15th July
- I've been working on the roundhouse on and off over the last few weeks,
but now the railway is almost in a fit state to accept it, I'm finishing
it off this morning.
I fitted the lower-level lighting this afternoon. Wired the switch up
arse-backwards first time round and blew a fuse, but it works OK now.
- 16th July
Painted the sky on the backdrops this morning. Umm, don't know, doesn't
look too bad. It's certainly a lot more difficult to do than to read
I've also painted in some hills (they don't show in this photo). The shape
is OK, but the colours (which looked fine on the colour chart), don't look
right on the backdrop.
- 1st August
- On a trip to Nürnberg with Robin, I located the large Kibri station
building kit that was holding up the main station planning. Even at the
current lousy exchange rate (DM2.20=£1), it's still cheaper than buying
it in England.
- 17th August
- Robert is visiting from Germany. With his help, we got the track laid
right down the helix. It takes one of my rack locos nearly 8 minutes to
run from top to bottom at a 'sensible' speed.
- 18th August
- Laid the track into the main station with Robert's help. Once I'd got
the station building kit to get an idea of how big it was, the planning
was easy. From all of the Peco points I've been stock-piling for over 2
years, I've got 2 left hands spare, and I needed a curved right. I don't
think that's bad considering I had no idea when I started buying them
exactly what I wanted to do.
- 19th August
- Test fitted most of the track for the locoshed.
- 20th August
Made the ash pit, and installed the ramp for the coal road - it looks a
bit steep (actually it looks hellish steep), I'll ask Dad to see what he
- 22nd August
Dad reckons that the coal ramp is OK - he was a driver (engineer) for over
40 years, so I suppose he should know. It still looks steep to me -
perhaps it'll be better once the banks are sceniced - is that a real word?
(MS Word's spell checker seems to think so - surprisingly.)
- 28th August Bank Holiday Monday
- Made the baseboards and laid the track for the upper terminus today.
Slight problem - I don't have enough track to connect the new terminus to
the rest of the layout. Mick has some on order, so I'll just have to wait.
For now, I actually have 2 separate railways.
Mum and Dad are going on holiday to Wales, so they're going to have a look
for a bridge (Kibri B-9698 or Faller 555), and also the loco shed for the
new station, at the Kivoli centre at Bala. These 2 kits are actually
holding up progress at the moment. I can't finish the station until I know
the exact shape of the loco shed, and the bridge needs to go in where the
'missing' track is.
- 10th September
- Mum and Dad got the Kibri bridge for me, so I put it together (a doddle),
and cut a hole in the trackbed for it.
- 17th September
- Built and painted the bridge. Also built the end abutments. Had to build
new ones as the Kibri originals didn't look right.
- 20th September - 21:43
- I've just this minute fitted the last piece of track between the two
halves of the railway. Now all I need is a bucket full of switches to
start wiring the sucker up.
- 1st October
- I've had a filthy headache all day, but I hooked-up the power to the
upper station and ran a train right through from the fiddle yard. A rack
engine takes over 10 minutes at a sensible speed.
- 18th October
- Having weathered the turntable at the weekend, I installed it in it's
hole this evening, and attached all of the shed roads.
- 22nd October
- Bought a hot glue gun, and I've spent a couple of hours building card
frames for the scenery around the bridge. It's pretty easy, and the glue
gun makes the going a lot quicker. Now I've got to find some paper
towelling that won't fall apart when I try to soak it in plaster.
- 28th October
- Built up some more webbing today, and I fitted the last piece of the
backdrop. Hardboard definitely has a mind of it's own. At one point, the
wood almost won.
I finally decided what to do with the 'odd' pair of points at the middle
station. I've fitted a long siding on it that goes to some sort of
industry - to be decided.
- 29th October
- Done a fair amount of work this weekend:
Installed the last bit of the backdrop by the upper terminus.
Fitted the remainder of the facia, also by the upper terminus.
Len turned up with the first batch of switches, so I can start on the
Did some more hill webbing late this evening.
I had my first visitors today who actually came round specifically to see
the railway. A guy (from the office) brought his son and father to have a
look. I think his son was a little in awe of it all. Still seems an OK
kind of kid, he didn't even attempt to touch anything.
- 30th October
- I finished painting the backdrop. I'm not too impressed with the way
that the old sky and the new join, it's not easy matching the colour.
- 2nd November
- Funny thing, the sky looks better now after a few days looking at it,
than when I was actually painting it. The join is still a little bit
messy, but not as bad as I originally thought. In fact, I think the
slightly streaky effect looks better than the original.
- 4th/5th November
- I lifted the 2 ends of the track at the upper terminus and fitted the
buffer stops. As these are all metal, rail-built ones, you can't just tack
them on top of the track at a later date, so I had to shorten the 2 roads
(I didn't know this until I bought them, so there wasn't much I could do).
This was not made easier by the fact that there were electrical feeds on
them. Still, it's done now.
Started fitting point motors - aarrgghh..! My arms aren't long enough to
hold the motor under the baseboard, and still be able to look at them from
the top. I might get round to fitting some more later, but it's giving me
a pain in the neck, so I'm giving it a rest for now, and typing this
- 11th November
- Had Robin round this weekend, so tried to figure out what we could do so
he could lend a hand. So, we did some plastering for the scenery. The damp
plaster, combined with the weight caused the cardboard frames to subside
in several places, but on the whole, no disasters. Actually, one of the
places where it has subsided, it's made a natural looking little sort-of
boggy area. It actually looks reasonably good.
It's surprising how much plaster we got through doing just a small area.
- 16th November
- Had a long weekend to use up some spare holiday.
Cut and fitted the formers round the 'manhole' behind the upper terminus.
I've decided to leave an access space, otherwise the depth is a bit too
much for access.
Made a new control panel, then realised I needed some paint for it before
I could fit the switches - which I didn't have.
Made some more cardboard webbing for the hills.
Fitted the last 2 point motors for the upper terminus - difficult
locations - thankfully it's over.
- 18th November
- I got some deep green paint mixed at Do-It-All, and after a lot of
searching, got some plain white car 'go-faster-stripe' for the track
diagram. Gave the control panel 2 coats of paint, and started on the
- 19th November
- Applied the track diagram to the control panel, but the paint isn't
really hard enough to take too much handling, so I've left it in the
airing cupboard to harden. I don't suppose I'll do much during the coming
I've just about finished the station. I've converted a Kibri 9515 Königsmoor
into a typical Bavarian 'Würfel' (literally -
cubic) design station building. This is based on a photograph in the
August 1989 Eisenbahn Journal, where some guy has built a very nice period
Bavarian station. Dr. Hufnagel has also done similar. It involves some
work on the walls and a completely new roof, not beginners stuff, but not
- 25th November
- More-or-less finished the Pola BayWa warehouse. Started on the ordinary
Dad came round this afternoon and helped me do some more plastering on the
upper level. He mixed the stuff up whilst I 'played'.
- 10th December
- Finished wiring up the control panel for the upper terminus.
- 24th December
- I finished, most of the plastering for the upper terminus, hoping that I
won't have to carve too much of it away when the kit is fitted (shouldn't
do). So far, I've used up 25kg of plaster, and I'll definitely need
another 12.5kg bag, maybe two.
I did a test-run with a CIWL coach to see if the plaster fouled in any
places. Minor trimming required, but nothing too serious. I'll get the 96
mallet out too, that might take a few hills away with it's large front
I repainted the hills on the backdrop with my new dark green paint, and
mixed it on the brush, straight from the pot with some of the older
lighter green. They look 400% better now.
- 25th December
Whilst waiting to be picked up to go out for Christmas dinner, I've:
Touched-up the paint on the backdrop so that you can't see any white wall
where the manhole is.
Had a good clean up on the upper level - plaster bits etc.
Test fitted the BayWa shed, the station building and the goods shed. The
BayWa shed needed to be jacked-up a bit because round roofed wagons hit
Test fitted the control panel. That's all I've done, it's not wired-up or
All-in-all it looks much better now that it's a little cleaner, and there
are some buildings to give it some scale. It looks as if the overall
impression I was striving for will be achieved, in that the station looks
pretty expansive, like most German stations do. i.e. Too big for what they
really need to be.
- 27th December
- Wired up the control panel. Not difficult, but a bit tedious. Umm,
something wrong here, it worked first time.
- 29th December
- Built the hunters lodge to go near the upper terminus.
- 30th December
- Built the power supply. Amazingly, it also worked first time. There's
something wrong here, both control panel and power supply worked first
time. Is it skill (of course) or pure luck?
- 31st December
- I've given myself backache, but I've managed to hook-up the two new
controllers, and the point motors to the power supply I built yesterday.
It all works. I got the polarity of the controller output's the wrong way
round at first (i.e. the trains went the wrong way), but otherwise it also
worked first time.
One slight problem. I've found that my choice of where to put a pair of
insulating-v-conducting fishplates wasn't too hot. I may have to lift a
pair of points and swap the fishplates over.
I've test run the 96 Mallet (at least as far as I can get for now under
power), and I don't need to start hacking away lumps of hillside, so it
looks as if the clearances are OK.
- 1st January
- I've corrected the insulating-v-conducting fishplate problem in the
upper terminus. Not the easiest job I've ever had to do because I didn't
want to have to disturb too much track.
- 21st January
- Replaced the damaged pair of points (easier than I was expecting, it
only took 15 minutes).
I've given up trying to fit motors to the 4 pairs of points at the middle
station, they're situated too close to the framework of the layout. The
Peco points don't need holding over anyway, so I've fitted simple
push-rods from piano wire. I can now get on with the control panel now
that I know I only need section switches, no point motors, no switches..!
- 28th January
- Installed and wired-up the control panel at the middle station.
- 9th February
- Hoo-flipin'-ray, the Kibri locoshed has turned up at last. Made a start
on it this evening.
I feel a major attack of railway building coming on for this weekend..!
- 11th February
- More-or-less finished the locoshed for the upper terminus. Laid the 2
shed tracks, and wired it all up.
I actually spent all morning actually 'running trains' rather than
building something. That's a first.
- 18th February
- Did some more work on the upper station, including the locoshed and
powering the frogs on the Roco points.
Did the schematics for the main locoshed and main station control panels -
that took all afternoon. Now I have to make sure I have enough switches to
wire them up. I bought a 'batch' for the other panels, not knowing
precisely how many I'd need.
Had a general tidy up, and hung some curtains at the windows after Nigel
said you could see the layout from outside the house.
- 19th February
- Worked out how many switches I'd need to finish the control panels (loco
shed, main station and fiddle yard). Dad has said he'll go and pick them
up for me at some time so that (hopefully) I can finish them before Robert
- 24th February
- Started connecting up the frogs on the Roco points so that the
short-wheelbase locos don't stall on them.
- 9th March
- Had to do some 'non railway work' at the weekends, so not getting on as
well as I'd hoped. Still, I've just finished building the shells of the
control panels, so I should be able to paint them tomorrow, then get Dad
to get the switches next week.
I might just be able to get them finished before Robert
comes over, but I doubt it some how.
I wish I could resist the temptation to get more rolling stock out.
I've got too much for just the top level of the layout. When I get the
lower level wired up it'll be different, but for now, I think 4 trains and
6 locomotives is a bit much.
- 16th March
- Went to RS Components today to get all of the switches for the 2 control
panels - they didn't have enough of them. I've got enough to make a start,
but I still need 11 rotary switches.
Just for the fun of it, I've started building the large Faller church kit
I bought. Well, I'll say one thing - it's definitely big.!
- 23rd March
- With Robert's help, I just modified all of the Lemaco point motors in
the upper station so that they are mounted on foam-rubber blocks. Now they
are just noisy, before they were really noisy.
I've also wired up all of the crossing (frogs) on the points so that they
are live, so that short wheelbase locos don't stall on them anymore.
- 26th March
- Got the duff controller replaced, and bought a third. Both are now
installed and working OK. Now it gets confusing being able to move 3
trains at once.
- 28th March
- I've asked Robert to try and come up with some possible station names
that sound right for Schwabia. Seeing as he's a native he should be able
to come up with some more convincing ones than I ever could. We're looking
for 'original-sounding', but fictitious names:
At the moment, I favour the bold names.
||There are several Lechfeld s, but not a Nieder'
|Westerstädten am Mühlberg
||There's an Illerbeuren, not 'bergen
|Staudenberg a. d. Schmutter
||The Staudenbahn is not far from Augsburg
|Oberfahlheim i. Schwaben
||Not sure about this one, it sounds a bit juvenile
||'ingen is a typical ending for a Schwabian town name
- 5th April
- I've added the white lines for the track plan and drilled the holes in
the last 2 control panels. The large warped one will be OK, with the
screws in place it flattens out. Still not quite sure what went wrong
- 6th April
- I've fitted all of the switches to the last two control panels, and
wired up the one for the locoshed.
Good news and bad news:
The good news is that the control panel for the locomotive shed worked
The bad news is the turntable is causing me problems, it won't turn, which
is kind of fundamental really. It was tested in Germany before I brought
it home, so why does it have to wait until it's been modified, painted and
weathered before it starts playing up..! I've removed the deck twice and
can't find anything wrong, but it'll have to come out again.
I'll try and get the wiring up done on the main station panel tomorrow.
- 7th April
- Umm, not sure what's wrong with the turntable. It runs OK for a while,
but if you decide to run it for more than about 20 seconds it'll stop.
Finished wiring up the back of the big panel today. It almost drove me
I've also replaced the large Roco curved point with a Peco one. This means
all of the point-work in the lower station now matches. It also makes the
control easier because of Peco's over-centre springs.
- 8th April 12:45
- After wiring up the main station control panel,
and hooking up the last section, I've just run the first proper through
train (i.e. not a bodged hook-it-up-for-now job).
I've still got to finish putting the track down for the fiddle yard, so
those switches on the panel don't do anything right now, but everything
else works OK.
- A Micro-Metakit DVIII and a mixture of four Roco and Trix 4-wheel
Bavarian coaches had the honour of being the first train.
I'm tempted to say that it all worked first time. Well, apart from the odd
reverse polarity here and there as I was working my way through the panel
(which I'd kind of expect anyway) it did.!
So, at long last, my passengers can actually go somewhere on their trains.
- 15th April
- I finished laying the track on the fiddle-yard sector plate. Now all I
have to do is hook up all the wires to the control panel.
- 21st April
- I hooked-up the wires from the fiddle yard to the control panel, and it
all works OK.
- The first 'through-train' from fiddle yard to
upper station and back consisted of 4 Bavarian 6-wheel mainline
coaches (Trix) and a Bavarian bogie 3rd class coach (also Trix) hauled
by a Fleischmann 64.
- 27th April
- I had my first operating session today when my father came round for a
couple of hours. Up to this point, I had more or less just been 'testing'
things. Good fun, got ourselves into a bit of a knot at times, but that's
what comes of being able to feed almost any section from any of 3
A couple of public holidays are on the way, so - scenery time.!
- 6th May
- Gone round and finished most of the plastering at Pfarrhofen - building
up the platforms, round the buildings, roads etc. Once this has dried out,
I can start on grassing the hills, ballasting etc.
21:26 Just done some token ‘grassing’ at Pfarrhofen. This is
going to take a lot more foam than I had bargained on..!
- 11th May
- Painted the sides of the rail ‘track colour’ and ballasted all of
the track from the bridge into Pfarrhofen station. That took longer than I
bargained on too.
- 19th May
- Sprayed the ballast and ground foam with diluted matte medium (4 parts
water to 1 part medium). I was beginning to wonder if it’d work, but
when it all dried, the matte medium is invisible, and everything seems to
be bonded OK.
- 25th May
- I ground up some real coal to go around the locoshed area.
As the remaining ground foam had arrived, I set about putting down the
base cover for the area around Pfarrhofen. This ground foam doesn’t
cover as large an area as I would have thought. I’m going to need about
twice as much as I planned on originally - oh well, so what.
Spent a couple of hours this afternoon making trees. Some were made from
the dead heads of some yarrow I had in my back garden that I collected
last year (also got a new lot this year), and the rest were sumac tips
that I got from Dave
Frary in the US (well known for scenery building). These look pretty
good, and I seem to remember were not too expensive.
I need to take some more ‘as of today’ photographs as I’m making
a lot of ‘visible’ progress.
- 27th May
- Made some more trees and shrubs. I got some sea moss from an exhibition,
and it looks great.
I managed to find some fine sand to use for roads etc. Trouble is it was
raining when I collected it so it has to dry out before I can use it.
With a bit of luck, I might get round to ‘planting’ some trees later
on when the glue has dried out a little.
- 31st May
- The railway’s first birthday. One year ago today I started
construction on the layout.
[ last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]