The Design of Small Model Railways


[d = 39 cm]
To-1111A (C103-30), gebogen rail straal 103mm, hoek 30°
2×To-1111B (C103-60), gebogen rail straal 103mm, hoek 60°
1×To-1112A (C140-30), gebogen rail straal 140mm, hoek 30°
1×To-1231 (N-PR140-30), wissel rechts 70mmEgger-3101, gebogen rail straal 139mm, hoek 60°
3×Egger-3102, gebogen rail straal 139mm, hoek 30°

Some years ago, I discovered the pizza layout. This has nothing to do with the Italian dish. It is a special kind of model railway layout: small and circular. Carl Arendt has even dedicated a whole chapter to this kind of layout. Because I was pursuing a small project to build a narrow gauge layout, I decided to give it a go. Inspired by the narrow gauge railways on the British Isles, I started to collect some rolling stock and scenery in scale 1:76 or 4 mm scale. Together with my love for run-down areas and patches in the landscape without a dedicated purpose, I wanted to depict some non-descript piece of land. I ended up buying a shed – a so called Nissen hut – by Hornby Skaledale. A little off scale, but quite acceptable for a mini layout. Here the small adventure started.

The basis of the layout is the SNUDDA Lazy Susan from Ikea. This household utensil has a diameter of 39 cm. As an additional bonus, you can access all parts of the layout with ease by turning the platter. On top of the Lazy Suzan, I glued a sheet of foamboard. This allowed me to create a little dried-up brook bed, spanned by a small culvert. The foamboard also allows easy nailing down of the track pieces and scenic elements, like the tree. The track in the street surface and the switch are all from Tomix. The other curves are from Egger-Bahn and some pieces of N-track for the small bridge are from my scrap box. I modelled the abutments of the culvert from pieces of plastic walls from the same scrap box. The steel profiles are in model plastic profiles from Faller.

Photo Gallery (2020)
Pizza: Overview (1) Pizza: Detail (2)
Pizza: Overview (3) Pizza: Detail (4)

After glueing the Nissen hut to the surface, I added a layer of model railway plaster. The rest is straight forward model scenery building. I bought the (imposing) hand-made tree at a local model railway exhibition. The grass is made of fibres from well-known German suppliers like Noch and Busch. Woodland Scenics has been used for dirt, Slaters scatters for empty patches.

During the lockdown of the Corona pandemic, I had to use the materials at my disposal. Luckily, I had collected quite some stuff to create the scenery. Glass fibres and flocks of foam were available to me, only the miniature leaves weren’t there. Therefore, I had to use natural materials, such a crushed dried parsley leaves to create the same effect. The ivy on the hut is made of these leaves, but I had to be repaint them to give them the right colour.

Lessons learned

After all, I’m quite satisfied with the result. I learned a lot about building natural-looking scenery. Here are some learning points I want to share with you:

  1. My advice is to mix materials from different manufacturers, giving a more nuanced colour palette. (Every manufacturer uses its particular colour scheme for its scenery materials.)
  2. Keep on layering colours upon each other. This method is also used in painting. It will help you to create subtle nuances of colour.
  3. Be aware of the scale of the scene. Many field flowers, like dandelions or daisies, are in real life small flowers. Measure them in nature and divide these measurements to scale. The flowers have fractions of millimetres as diameter. Many ready-mades from Busch flowers are just too big or have leaves that are to notable in the grassland.
  4. Do you know how I created the dandelions? I used the smallest nails at hand, painted them green, glued some yellow foam flocks for Woodland Scenic “Flowers in 4 Colors” on top of it. And after all this has dried, I just pushed the nails in the foam board.
  5. Be aware of the colour temperature of the lights you’re going show the layout under. If you use artificial lighting, like fluorescent tubes or LED lights, adapt the colour palette to make it look like under daylight. Most of the time you do model outdoor scenes, don’t you?
Photo Gallery (2021)
Pizza: Overview (1) Pizza: Detail (2) Pizza: Detail (3) Pizza: Detail (4) Pizza: Detail (5) Pizza: Detail (6) Pizza: Detail (7) Pizza: Detail (8) Pizza: Detail (9) Pizza: Detail (10)

— Advertentie —