The Design of Small Model Railways

Inside a coffee table

Coffee Table Layout
[100×50 cm²]

A slightly modified version of this page has been published in Model Trains International magazine, issue no.36, September-October 2001. Steffen has built a N-scale model railway  in a Vinninga coffee table made by IKEA.

While I was building these webpages I wondered if I’ve really gone to the minimum. For a European size coffee table the other plans can be too large. So I’ve tried to design a shunting layout without a loop. And this is what evolved. It has a surface area of ½ . Even if you view this plan as a theoretical exercise only, I’m quite surprised that something useful came out. The layout can be build inside a coffee table. The best is a table with a glass top, so your layout can attract the admiration of you visitors. This imposes demands on the table itself. You’ve to be able to slide the layout out of the table. Some tables have a drawer. This drawer has to be removable so you can work on the layout on a more comfortable level. Kneeling for my design is great, but your knees will hurt very soon. The glass top should also be removable. You can play with the trains without having to slide the layout out anytime minor “accidents” happen.

 This coffee table has been supplied by IKEA under the name  Vinninga (w×d×h=104×78×45 cm³, out of stock in the Netherlands). This table has modest dimensions and features a drawer. I didn’t study the table extensively but I assume this table forms a good basis for a coffee table layout. You’l need to adapt the dimensions of the design to the inside space of the table.

IKEA Vinninga coffee table

The layout can be made transportable. You can even transport it  by rail. Maybe you can find a box-like suitcase (e.g. the aluminium ones) which can be used to build this layout in.

The layout is inspired by Swiss-style industrial layouts with lots of turntables and narrow curves between buildings. All the track is laid within the surface of the streets. This makes building this layout not as easy as it seems. You can probably use the segment turntable by Faller, nr. 120275, at the upper-right corner. Or you can use components of a kit for a turntable, like the one offered by Dapol to scratch-built your own. The other turntable is from Atlas, but has to be modified. All the buildings have to be scratch-build or kit-bashed. Except for the rolling stock you cannot use anything out-of-the-box! The advantage is that you can spend lots of hours building and detailing this miniature.

This time I’ve used the standard Lima track. I happen to have some spare track at home and I wondered what you can do with it. When you’re going to bury the track under the pavement the looks of the sleepers aren’t that important. And Lima tracks aren’t expensive so you can afford some mishaps. You can also build the trackwork by yourself using the kits available. Because the tracks are all covered you can simply nail or solder the tracks directly on the baseboard.

 This photograph, made on 24 May 2011 in Germany, shows the desolate industrial atmosphere I’m looking for to re-create in a model railway; not the usual idyllic railway scenery.


— Advertentie —