The Design of Small Model Railways

Polder layout

Polder layout
[200×100 cm²]
 Station building
 Bicycle store
 Signal cabin
 Goods yard
 Farmers’ co-operation

This plan has been made upon request of Holland Scale, a manufacturer of scale models of Dutch houses. The objective was to create a typical Dutch layout. The plan has been published on the site of Holland Scale.

Koen Nederlof  has used this design as a starting point for his own model railway.

This plan makes use of Märklin C-track. Märklin is the most commonly used system in continental Europe and lots of people start their hobby with this brand. But you’re free to modify this plan with other track systems of Märklin or another manufacturer. Track number 1 is the continuous main line. Track 2 is the second track. Laying the platform inside the curve leaves enough room for the switches, which in turn creates more space for sidings. Track 2ª is the goods loop, where goods trains start and end. From this track the goods wagons are distributed along the various sidings 3, 4 and 5. Track 3 and 4 are our basic goods yard. All types of goods wagons can be used here, according to the local village businesses you envision. Track 5 leads to a goods shed, for example of the local farmers’ co-operation.

Track 1 is an oval. There’re many experiences modelers who disapprove of using ovals. In order to mask this unnatural shape parts of the track have to be covered. But in the flat Dutch polder landscape without any natural elevations this only man-made ones, like bridges, can be used. And using those on a small layout like this makes the layout look artificial because it contradicts the rural character of the landscape. In my opinion it is better to use woods and scrubs to partion the scenery in pieces. The track can be hidden behind large trees. The layout will look larger.

In the Netherlands, branch lines can have overhead wires. So there’re no objections against electrifying the railway. In fact, only track 1 and 2 need overhead wires. The other tracks are for goods trains only. They don’t need, certainly at a branch line, overhead lines. When you want to ride both passenger and goods trains simultaneously, you can employ a simple system. When you use an electric train-unit for the passenger service and a diesel locomotive for the goods train, the first can get its power from the overhead wire while the latter uses the supply current from the tracks.

Rolling stock

For non-European modelers the following paragraphs may sound far fetched. But I’ve translated them to give some insight in the deliberations we make over here.

The train operation is simple. With a passenger and a goods train you can setup a nice schedule. In fact, their no room for more trains. Shunting can be done with the mainline engine, which is quite prototypical with this size of goods facilities. There’s no need for a separate shunter. This kind of operation was common until the 1970’s. Later almost all small-sized goods yards have been closed because of the rapidly decline in coal transport. But you can disregard this real-life rationale on your layout.

Currently there’s enough Dutch rolling stock on sale. There’s also enough (modified) rolling stock available for the Märklin system. If you want to use only original Märklin articles, you must use some more creativity. Märklin doesn’t supply any Dutch branch lines rolling stock. Or you should use a pulled train, which forces you to use overhead wires. (In the Netherlands passenger trains can only be pulled by electrical locomotives.) Or you can situate the layout near the border. In that case you can use Belgium or German diesel trains for passenger services across the border.

 This demonstration layout at the Pecorama shows the beauty of a curved station. Please keep in mind the clearances needed to allow the carriages to roll between the sides of the platforms without scraping the paint off.

Peco Demonstration Layout
Construction of the layout

The layout can be build on an even surface like a sheet of board. Tracks in a polder are always somewhat elevated. So you need to make an embankment. This allows to construct a small bridge over the canal, next to the level crossing. The landscape itself is a typical Dutch polder. The station is situated outside the village. In front of the station building you’ll find a typical Dutch station square. Nothing happens there, except waiting for a bus. The Dutch railway building can be scratch-build from German examples. The station building can be the modified Kibri station “Reichelsheim”, no. B-9492. The attaches goods shed of the station has to be removed. You also need to remove the decorations on the facade to make the building more austere. For the other buildings I suggest using the following Faller kits: for the signal cabin no. 120 and for the goods shed no. 152. By painting the brick nogging grey you can suggest a steel framework, which has been used in Dutch industrial buildings. The roof tops should be replaced by tiled roofs. For all other building you can use kits of dwelling houses from Holland Scale.

Polder layout
-24077  Rechte 77,5 mm-24094  Rechte 94,2 mm-24107  Bocht R1 7,5°
 8×-24130  Bocht R1 30°
 9×-24172  Rechte 171,7 mm-24188  Rechte 188,3 mm-24206  Bocht R2 5,7°
14×-24230  Bocht R2 30°
 3×-24611  Wissel links
 4×-24612  Wissel rechts
 1×-24620  Engelse wissel
 1×-24649  Kruising 48,6°
 1×-24671  Meegebogen wissel links
 4×-24977  Railstuk met stootblok
Making everything smaller

Evert Jan, a reader of this site, has asked me to redraw this design in N-scale 1:160. He uses Fleischmann «piccolo» sectional track. I’ve used this system for the design below. I’ve used the crossing with nr. 9198. This crossing has mechanical barriers, operated by the weight of the train. This isn’nt very realistic, because the barriers close too late. You can use a crossing with electrically controlled barriers from another manufacturer. How you control the barriers, is up to you. I would link them with the signals on either side of the crossing (not drawn). So when the signals show red, the barriers are open.

Polder layout (N-scale)
[120×55 cm²]
Fl-9100  Rechte 222 mmFl-9101  Rechte 111 mmFl-9102  Rechte 57,5 mmFl-9103  Rechte 55,5 mmFl-9104  Rechte 27,75 mmFl-9116  Stootblok
5×Fl-9120  Bocht R1-45°
2×Fl-9122  Bocht R1-15°
8×Fl-9125  Bocht R2-45°
3×Fl-9127  Bocht R2-15°
1×Fl-9131  Bocht R3-15°
1×Fl-9161  Kruising 30°
3×Fl-9172  Electrische wissel links
4×Fl-9173  Electrische wissel rechts
1×Fl-9176  Electrische meegebogen wissel links
1×Fl-9186  Electrische Engelse wissel links
1×Fl-9198  Overweg

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