The Design of Small Model Railways

“Starters Kid”

Starters Kid
[120×100 cm²]
 Station building
 Goods shed
 Engine shed
 Loading bay
 Storage track

This rather odd title is a conjunction of “starters kit” and “kid”. Let me tell why. Originally I’ve designed this layout for my own children starting off with model trains. But I think grown-ups can also learn from this design. The design doesn’t have a real eminent theme. It’s just a branch line in the hills. The design itself is a classical one with an extended loop for more running length. For this we need a tunnel, gradients and bridges. I think these are the elements kids like. There’s also a little station with an engine shed and three storage tracks. There’s some room for shunting cars around. I think there is rather a lot of shunting to be done on such a small area. What’s missing is a hidden passing loop. Firstly, I didn’t find room for it and secondly, I think a passing loop is not really needed for the way children play with model trains.

I’ve designed the plan as an alternative to the ready-made landscapes you can buy. These so called “Fertiggelände” have an landscape overdone with full but shrunken Alpine mountains. What’s worse, the manufacturers didn’t had deep thoughts about the operational potential of their plans. There’s not enough storage tracks and too many intertwined loops. I also wanted to find out what can be done on a small area working on different levels. Essentially, the plan has been designed around the gradients. In order to keep the gradients as smooth as possible, the length of the gradients have to be maximised. An the rest of the plan just falls into place. But, in my humble opinion, there isn’t much room for variation.

To speak the truth, I haven’t been very original with this plan. As I’ve said before, this is a classic plan you’ll find in lots of other planning books. Maybe not for such a small area. Most of them span more than 1½ . One of my layouts that inspired me is the exhibition layout of PIKO (Germany). Anyhow, now you’ve got an idea how this plan could look like.

PIKO Demonstration Layout
For starters?

I think this plan is suitable for beginning model railway builders, for instance children. But because this plan has gradients just within the limits of the feasible, I think extra precision should be taken into account when constructing the bench work. Because I’ve tried to keep the gradients below 50‰ (1 in 20) the distance between both levels is kept to the minimum. The technical tolerances are very small and a large amount of attention should be employed to make things fit.

Because this is a plan for beginners, I supply the part lists with my design. (Again, only in Dutch, but you’ll understand.) I’ve used Märklin C-track because Märklin is very popular for train sets in continental Europe. But it’s easy to re-design the plan for your favorite track. The drawings below show the parts needed with their respective Märklin article numbers in red. The height in millimeters of the track is shown in blue, as calculated by my computer. It’s essential that you make the height variable so you can adjust the height when needed. And you need to have a lot of trail runs. When you lack the experience for the precision bench work you’ll need here, I suggest you study books about building bench work in great detail. The track plan itself isn’t complicated. There’s no need for special pieces of track to make things fit. Well, it’s hardly possible to make such pieces when using Märklin C-track anyhow.

 This drawing show the article numbers and heights for the visible and hidden parts of the layout.

-24077  Rechte 77,5 mm-24094  Rechte 94,2 mm-24115  Bocht R1 15°
23×-24130  Bocht R1 30°
 6×-24188  Rechte 188,3 mm-24206  Bocht R2 5,7°
 6×-24230  Bocht R2 30°
 1×-24611  Wissel links
 1×-24612  Wissel rechts
 2×-24671  Geb. wissel links
 2×-24672  Geb. wissel rechts
 4×-24977  Railstuk met stootblok
Track plan with article numbers and heights (visible part)
Track plan with article numbers and heights (hidden part)

Edwin and Jonas asked me te re-draw this plan using Fleischmann Profi system. I didn’t want to use flex track to see it this track system is also suitable for this kind of track plans. And after some fiddling I managed to create the same figure on the same area. The maximum gradient is about 5%.

 This drawing show the article numbers and heights for the visible parts of the layout.

Track plan with article numbers and heights (visible part)

 And below the article numbers and heights for the hidden parts of the layout.

Track plan with article numbers and heights (hidden part)
Fl-6101 Rechte rail 200mm
 4×Fl-6102 Rechte rail 105 mmFl-6103 Rechte rail 100 mmFl-6107 Rechte rail 10 mmFl-6110 Compensatierail 80 mm - 120 mmFl-6117 Stootblok 30 mmFl-6120 Gebogen rail r=356,5 mm 36°
 5×Fl-6122 Gebogen rail r=356,5 mm 18°
 6×Fl-6125 Gebogen rail r=420 mm 36°
 4×Fl-6127 Gebogen rail r=420 mm 18°
 6×Fl-6131 Gebogen rail r=483,5 mm 18°
 1×Fl-6133 Gebogen rail r=547 mm 18°
 1×Fl-6170 Wissel links
 1×Fl-6171 Wissel rechts
 2×Fl-6174 Wissel gebogen links 36°
 2×Fl-6175 Wissel gebogen rechts 36°

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