John Oxlade's Bavarian layout - an operating session
Author: John Oxlade, Salfords, Surrey, UK (EMail:
(this layout is now dismanlted)
I had an EMail from someone in the US asking if I could describe an
operating session, as practices in different parts of the world don't always
make sense to other people.
I suppose the first thing I should mention is that I do not operate the
layout to a timetable, although I am thinking about producing one, and I am
also thinking over the idea of having my PC generate a 'task list' for an
It would be a good place to start to describe what the various sidings
and structures are for:
- The BayWa shed (1 on the track
diagram) is a supply shed for a farmers co-operative. This would
receive supplies like fertilisers etc.
- The goods shed (freight depot, 2 on
the track diagram) is used for
arriving and departing goods of just about all natures. Ordinary small
packages would probably go direct to the station rather than the goods
- I tend to use the siding at Illerbergen (3
on the track diagram) for my
train of chalk wagons, although I haven't made a final decision on what it
will be used for, but it will probably stay the same. I have a soft spot
for this type of wagon.
- The dead-end siding at Illerbergen (4
on the track diagram) will be
quite close to road access so I use this for the odd goods van (boxcar)
delivering freight to Illerbergen.
- The two sidings at Oberfahlheim' (5
on the track diagram) are used
for refrigerator and box van (boxcar) traffic.
- The next siding in (which isn't specifically marked on the diagram) is
used for open wagons, coal wagons etc.
- I tend to leave a locomotive for shunting (usually a Fleischmann BR 94)
in the back end of the head-shunt at Oberfahlheim' (6
on the track diagram).
- Locomotives going 'on shed' go in via the track closest to the operator
(8 on the track
diagram) as this is the track with the ash-pit, and come 'off shed'
using the one furthest from the operator.
Also a few operating 'rules':
- The fiddle-yard (10 on the track
diagram) represents the 'rest of Germany', and from a viewers point of
view isn't there to look at, it's just a staging area.
- Passenger trains running in to Illerbergen or Pfarrhofen should run in
to the track closest to the station building first, then subsequent tracks
working outwards. This is done so that passengers walking from the train
to the station never have the possibility to walk across in front of an
oncoming train. Conversely, freight trains should run in to the track
furthest from the station building.
- All trains on the line should have a minimum of 33% braked axles.
Remember that not all German wagons of the period that I model (1925-'35)
'Standard' trains that I have made up ready to run as of 9th November
Local passenger trains:
- One thing I do tend to try and do where possible is to have a
mixture of vehicle styles in each train. A good friend of mine always
tries to run his trains with all matching vehicles, but for the period
before the advent of the DB's 26.4m long coaches, this is not really very
realistic. After the formation of the DRG, trains could be made up of
vehicles from all over Germany. Bavarian branchline trains were still
predominantly made up of Bavarian coaches, but not exclusively. Mainline
passenger trains could have almost any combination of coaches. To me, this
is one of the things that I find appealing about this period in German
- Roco 'short' Bavarian 3rd class coach 44801
Roco 'long' Bavarian 3rd class '12-window' coach 44825
Trix 'short' Bavarian baggage/post coach 23710
Trix 'long' Bavarian 2/3rd class coach 23708
- Roco 'long' Bavarian 3rd class coach 44821
Roco 'short' Bavarian baggage coach 44805
Märklin 'G10' box van with brake cabin 4695
- Roco 'long' baggage van 44829
Fleischmann super-detailed Bavarian CiBay10 from junior series 5002
Roco 3-axle Bavarian 2/3rd class coach 44863
Roco 'short' Bavarian baggage coach 44809
Trix 2/3rd class DRG 1923, steel 2-axle coach 23743 - a bit out of it's
normal territory but what the heck
- Trix 'long' Bavarian 3rd class 23709
Fleischmann 'Thunderbox' 5072
Roco 'long' Bavarian 2nd/post coach 44833
- Trix VT858 (4-axle, jack-shaft drive) diesel railcar 22469
- Trix VT135 diesel railcar + two VB140 trailers 22473 (the railcar and
one trailer) + 22475 (additional trailer)
One middle distance passenger train:
- Two Trix 3-axle Bavarian 3rd class coaches 23733
Trix 3-axle Bavarian 1/2nd class 23732
Trix 3-axle Bavarian baggage 23734
Trix 4-axle Bavarian 3rd class 23766
- Permanent way train made up of:
Trix brake van 23580
Fleischmann 4-axle flat wagon 5285
Fleischmann 2-axle flat wagon 5254
Five Roco 2-axle hoppers 46130
sometimes additionally with Trix crane 23516
- Six Fleischmann chalk wagons 5213 - needs two more to be kit-bashed
with brake cabins
- Various other freight trains made up of almost any appropriate DRG wagon
from Roco, Fleischmann, Trix, etc.
- Not too many beer wagons. Of my approx. 130 freight wagons, I
only have 4 beer wagons, and 3 of those are all from the same brewery.
Beer wagons may look pretty in the catalogues, but they are quite rare in
real life. Additionally, it would be unusual to see wagons from different
breweries in the same train.
Accepting the fact that I do not run to an official timetable, there are
various 'standard moves' that comprise a normal operating session:
- Ensure a regular passenger train service over the branchline.
- Regularly swap the freight vehicles around in the loading dock at
Pfarrhofen (2 on the track
- Any one locomotive is normally only allowed to run over the branch twice
before it needs to go in to the loco shed to have it's fire cleaned etc.,
so regular trips to the locoshed. Actually, I just made that one up as I
was writing, but it sounds good, so I'll use it.
- Every now and then the through train from München arrives at
Oberfalhheim. To run over the branchline you need a loco at least the size
of a BR38 (ex-Prussian P8) - there's usually one in the locoshed or
The best way to operate the line is to have a couple of people operating
it. When my Father comes round for an operating session, one of us tends to
operate the upper level, one the lower. You can actually operate the line as
two separate layouts, then every now and then exchange trains from one level
to the other, whether you operate the train right through is up to you.
There's plenty of operating potential in the lower level for shunting
(switching in the US), and you can run about as far as the backdrop (9
on the track diagram) before
encroaching on the section for the helix.
On the upper level I have designed in a few little problems to make
operation more interesting. The head-shunt on the 3-way point at Pfarrhofen
(near 1 on the track
diagram) was deliberately made too short for big locos. BR38's and BR56's
will 'just' fit. I know this, but it catches other people out from time to
time, and they have to use another loco to move the train out of whichever
track it came in to. Another little 'problem' here is that the buffers are
hiding behind a tree, and it's definitely a disciplinary offence to hit them.
Which most people do do, at least once..!
The siding by the BayWa shed (2 on the track
diagram) is ever so slightly down hill, and if you don't park the wagons
in there carefully, they'll follow the locomotive out of the siding when you
pull away. I may even put a track brake of some sort (retracting pin or
similar) as it's a bit of a nuisance sometimes. This gradient wasn't planned,
it just happened.
The lack of turning facilities at Pfarrhofen can be a bit of a problem, and
all my locos need to have working couplers on both ends. This means no scale
couplers on one end for me. This is a bit of a shame, but a station of this
size couldn't warrant having a turntable. Just to make life interesting (but
partly because I didn't have the space either), the turntable at Oberfahlheim
is too small for large engines (I used the 'new' Fleischmann 'small'
turntable). Even so, the roundhouse is over 1m across (about 3 feet). A
'large' turntable would make the locoshed twice the size. I am considering
putting a turntable behind the backdrop at Oberfahlheim (there is space, it
just doesn't show on the track-plan) so that I can turn locos that are in the
The entry points in to Pfarrhofen are also lurking behind the locoshed, and
it's difficult to see when your loco is clear of them when shunting. This
tends to make you pull further away from them than you normally would on a
model, but this is more prototypical anyway.
You have to remember that the upper level of the layout is about level with
my shoulders, so I can't see over buildings or small hills, I have to look
round them - this was the whole idea. This definitely makes the layout
look more realistic, but it does have it's down side too - access. (I have a
short step-ladder in the railway room all of the time.) There is also a large
clump of trees (which you can't easily see through) exactly where the word Pfarrhofen
is on the track diagram. I did
however keep the trees away from the areas where you normally couple and
I am starting to be a firm believer in 'planned problems'. i.e. Introducing
deliberate problems to enhance operation. Operation can get boring if
everything is too easy.
[ last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]