The Design of Small Model Railways

The smallest oval

The smallest oval
[130×90 cm²]
 Station with goods shed
 Office building
 Interchange track

This is one of the smallest layouts I’ve designed until now. Well, except for the 1  follies from the previous pages. This layouts offers more serious operations. I don’t think you can build them much smaller without loosing the loop. I think it’s a likely candidate for a coffee-table layout. Sometimes you see coffee-table layout with a surface area of 2 . Maybe the situation is different in America, but when you can locate such a coffee table layout, you also have room for a “normal” layout. I’ve used Fleischmann Profi track for this layout. Fleischmann doesn’t offer a 90° degree crossing. These type of crossings are seldom used in Europe, in fact only on industrial lines. You’ll have to use one from a different manufacturer, e.g. Atlas.

I’ve tried to avoid overloading the layout with structures. E.g. the warehouse at point  has three tracks coming in from different locations instead of having three warehouses. I prefer to have one building which is somewhat to scale over having three building which are far too small.

Another well-known trick I’ve used is suggesting more track at the factory at point . With a mirror between the buildings you can suggest a longer track than physically present. I’ve also added a small stream. This visually breaks the layout in two, making the layout look larger. The polution of the stream depends on the era you situate the layout in.

To give you some suggestion how this layout will look I’ve tried to make a three dimensional view. Adding trees and shrubs will make the overall impression more pleasing. Maybe I’ll add them in the picture later.

The smallest oval
Interchange tracks

It’s a goods only operation. If you like some passenger service the only option I can think about is some form of museum operation with a railcar. You can add some station facilities next to the goods shed at point , but these facilities will be limited. One or two shunters and a couple of short goods cars will do the job. If you want to run both shunters at the same time Digital Command Control is almost obligatory. I’ve provided for one interchange track at point , which is the connection to the outside world. You can attach a fiddle yard to it. Quite frankly, you need it because otherwise it will be hard to get some cars at the warehouse at point . If you like you can also use the track at point  as interchange track. I think interchange tracks are important on such layouts to have some variation in your cars you’re using. A fiddle yard offers you the possibility to put together different trains without interfering on operation on the layout itself. It adds to the realism and decreases the risk of damage to the scenery.

For experts only?

I’m afraid you’ll have to kit-bash or scratch build most of the structures on the layout. I don’t think there are kits available which can be used for all structures I’ve planned. I personally like to kit-bash structures: It’s fun, you’ll get a personal look to your layout and the buildings will fit perfectly in the scenery. But you’re free to change the plan in order to use the buildings you favour or can manage.

Another feature of the layout which is not an easy job to build are the tracks in the street surface. There’re several methods you can use. The most commonly used is filling the space between the tracks with some kind of filler. In most books about advanced scenery building this method is described. But you can also try making fill-in pieces of plywood to fit between the rails. Because I use standard track with fixed measurements, this should be a feasible solution.

 A piece of track in the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam is put into the surface of the quay. Also noticable are the rails for the cranes. Photo taken on May 29, 2011.

Het Havenmuseum in Rotterdam

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