New Layout Extension Takes Shape

Category: Trains
Tue, 31 Jan 2006, 19:17

I mentioned before that I was in the middle of a major renovation in my basement. One aspect of the improvement is that I plan to move my study from one end of the basement to the recreation room, half of which is already occupied by my train layout. In retrospect, this seems like a pretty obvious arrangement. But before I can make the change, a lot of work has to be done first, such as pulling out four tonnes of stone and concrete (done), ripping out 40 square meters of parquet flooring (done), putting in new windows (done), as well as a new wall and floor.

The new arrangement will offer some additional advantages other than having all my stuff in one room. For instance, I'll also be able to increase the size of my H0 layout somewhat. The one thing my layout currently lacks is a decent setup yard. My plan is to run a spur track off the mainline to a new four-track setup yard positioned above my computer desk. This way, I'll have some space to park trains when not in use.

New spur track
Roadbed for new spur track.

The above photo shows some of the work already in progress. I cut a section of track out of the mainline where I'll add a Peco large radius Y turnout. I really didn't want to put the mainline on the curved side of a turnout, but it was really the only good alternative. Besides, the large radius Y has gentle curves on both branches. And when viewed from the middle of the layout, the curve will be barely noticable.

I cut out a section of the landscape and added a length of 11mm plywood. The photo shows the cork roadbed already in place, but no track yet. That track will be laid after the turnout is glued into place and after the new scenery is installed. The details of the landscape beside the spur aren't important since it will be largely hidden from normal view, but it will represent a shallow cut through the hill.


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2006 New Items - Fleischmann, Roco

Category: Trains
Fri, 27 Jan 2006, 19:49

The new items flyer from Fleischmann has been released. Ever since I started seriously into model railroading, I've been a fan of Fleischmann models, which make up most of my rolling stock. But as an Era I fan, I'm limited to their annual limited edition series'. Generally, I need to read their Neuheiten flyer and put in my order early in the year.

This year, they have two limited edition sets covering Era I. As expected, one is a commuter train pulled by a T10. The train, in K.P.u.G.H.St.E. colors, includes a three-axle baggage van, a three-axle 2nd/3rd class compartment coach, and a three-axle 4th class compartment coach. An additional 4th class coach will also be offered to extend the train. The other set commemorates the 90th anniversary of MITROPA, a company famous for its restaurant and sleeper coaches. The train consists of a T18 in P.St.E.V. markings, a bogie baggage wagon, a six-axle bogie restaurant wagon, and two bogie sleeper coaches. An additional sleeper coach will be available separately.

Elsewhere in the flyer, you can read about a new version of the BR17 locomotive, in DRG markings. Based on the past, most people will expect that next year's Fleischmann limited edition set will feature a Prussian S10.1 pulling an express passenger train.

What will I order from Fleischmann this year? Nothing, unfortunately. First, I'll pass on the T10 commuter train since Hessen is a bit too far south for my layout. Secondly, although I think the T18 was one of the most attractive of the Prussian locomotives, the P.St.E.V. is somewhat outside of my layout's time frame. Besides, I still don't need any new passenger trains! And why isn't Fleischmann offering any Era I freight wagons this year?

And what about Roco? I haven't seen their new items flyer yet, but I did find a price list at one on-line retailer. As usual, they don't have much in the way of Era I offerings. I see three green three-axle compartment coaches and a green three-axle post van with KPEV markings. I'll pass on these too, since I prefer the more colorful Prussian paint schemes. But that price list also includes a two-axle Rungenwagen from the MFFE! As someone whose paternal ancesters came from Mecklenburg, this is the one item I'll absolutely have to have.


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2006 New Items - Piko, Trix, Märklin

Category: Trains
Fri, 20 Jan 2006, 13:01

As is eagerly expected by most modellers of the German railroads, we're starting to see the 2006 new product flyers roll out. This week, we saw the release of flyers from Piko, Trix, and Märklin. Fans of Era I (1835-1920) have much smaller selections to choose from than other modellers, and so the new product flyers are very useful resources that help us plan our purchases for the year.

Piko offers a modest selection of affordable models. These days, their products tend towards Era III DR. When they venture into Era I, they lean heavily towards the Sachsen railroad. Their 2006 new product flyer shows a few items from the KSStEB. The first is a locomotive of class VT (BR 89). However, this locomotive has been offered before in Sachsen colors. As in the past few years, there are no Era I freight wagons, but they do offer a pair of 1st/2nd class compartment coaches from the Sachsen railroad, one with brake cab, the other without.

Trix and Märklin, as expected, have similar offerings. They usually have some token Era I offerings, with Trix covering the Bavarian railway and Märklin the Württemberg railway. This year, Trix will offer a new version of the Bavarian PtL 2/2 (Glaskasten), as well as two sets. The first is a Bavarian freight train pulled by a D XII locomotive in brown paint. The three freight cars include a private owner beer van, a tanker, and a wine transport. (Märklin will offer its own version of this train.) The other set includes a Prussian Glaskasten (class T2) and two freight cars: a beer van of the Görlitzer Aktien-Brauerei and a bogie flat car carrying two vehicles from the Hamburg fire department.

Am I tempted by any of these offerings so far? The Prussian Glaskasten train, with the two Hamburg fire trucks, is very tempting. But I'd be getting it only for the fire trucks, since I bought a Roco T2 two years ago. Apart from that, nothing else would really fit on my Prussian layout.

Over the next few weeks, we'll see what Roco and Fleischmann have to say. From Fleischmann, I'm still hoping for an all freight KPEV set, but I'm guessing it will be a Prussian commuter train pulled by a T10.


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2005 - Year in Review

Category: Trains
Sun, 01 Jan 2006, 16:35

For those of us with a permanent train layout, there are a couple of things that we dread. The biggest fear is having to move. Following close behind is having to renovate the train room. That latter applied to me this past year.

Last winter more than ever, I felt how cold the basement was, and I finally decided to do something about it. The basement floors were poorly insulated with vinyl tile, wood parquet, or a thin carpet laid directly on the concrete floor. I decided to add a Dricore subfloor, starting in the train room. Just two complications: First, there's the train layout permanently attached to two walls. Second, there was a curious fake fireplace in the middle of one wall, with decorative stone along the rest of that wall. I figured the train layout would be easy to deal with when laying down the new floor. When approaching a leg, I would add a scaffold support, cut about 10cm off the end of the leg, install the new flooring underneath, and finally insert a new footing for the leg. The stonework would be much more work.

Sometimes I think I wouldn't embark on certain projects if I knew in advance how much work it would be, and removing the stonework was be one of those cases. Pounding away at the stone, it took a couple of months working about 10 hours a week to get the stone out of the basement. The following photos show what the wall looked like before I started building my layout, and the wall half-way through the stone removal.

Train room before
Stone wall before starting my H0 train layout.

During renovation
Stone removed from half the wall.

Oh yeah, one additional complication: Part of my train layout was blocking access to about three meters of wall. Fortunately, that section was not attached to the stonework and was fully supported on four legs. I was able to cut that section out and move it aside.

By June, I'd gotten practically all the stone and concrete out. I estimated that I'd hauled about four tonnes out. Unfortunately, my doctor found a 10mm by 5mm kidney stone, and I was taken out of action for a couple of weeks. When that was all taken care of, it took a couple months more to get back to the renovation. We decided to hire someone to upgrade the windows and put up the new wall, but I still wanted to lay with the new floor myself.

Below, the photo at left shows the first two rows of subflooring in place. Dricore is easy to install. The panels interlock and simply float on top of the concrete floor without the need for nails or screws. The right photo shows the new footer for one leg of the layout, with a temporary piece of laminate flooring in place.

Starting to lay subfloor
Laying first two rows of subflooring.

New footer
New footer for one leg of layout.

I agonized a while over the choice of finished flooring. In order to keep costs down, I first wanted 12" vinyl tile. But after working out all the costs involved, I later decided on laminate flooring. Vinyl tile is fairly inexpensive, but requires an additional layer of plywood on top of the Dricore subfloor. The lowest cost laminate plus underpad is more expensive, but not by much. Laminate is also much easier to install.

The left photo above shows where I'm currently at with the renovation. I still have a week left of my Christmas vacation, and I fully expect to be done with the subfloor during this time. The laminate can wait until after the windows and wall are done, hopefully in a couple of weeks.

Another plus to this project is that I'll be able to add an additional 25cm of length to my layout, as well as a new setup yard. Hopefully, by Spring I'll be able to run trains around my layout again. Our daughter already misses seeing the trains run.


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