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  • [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    John Oxlade's Bavarian layout - the 1st year's events

    Author: John Oxlade, Salfords, Surrey, UK (EMail: )

    (this layout is now dismanlted)


    1995

    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
    I 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 turntable.

     

    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 about.
    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 thinks.

     

    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 wiring.
    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 instead.

     

    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 station building.

     

    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 week.
    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 too bad.

     

    25th November
    More-or-less finished the Pola BayWa warehouse. Started on the ordinary goods shed.
    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 cylinders.
    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 the roof.
    Test fitted the control panel. That's all I've done, it's not wired-up or anything.
    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.

     

    1996

    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 comes over.

     

    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:
    Niederlechfeld There are several Lechfeld s, but not a Nieder'
    Oberbachtal
    Westerstädten am Mühlberg
    Illerbergen There's an Illerbeuren, not 'bergen
    Staudenberg a. d. Schmutter The Staudenbahn is not far from Augsburg
    Pfarrhofen
    Kirchhofen-Pfaffenheim
    Markt Felding
    Oberfahlheim i. Schwaben
    Großkirchheim
    Kleinkleckersdorf Not sure about this one, it sounds a bit juvenile
    Bad Wörishausen
    Weitingen 'ingen is a typical ending for a Schwabian town name
    Mittelkötz
    At the moment, I favour the bold names.

     

    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 there.

     

    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 first time.
    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. Most odd..?!
    Finished wiring up the back of the big panel today. It almost drove me crazy.
    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).
    • 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'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.
    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 different controllers.
    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 ]