No active modeling project stays the same
for very long — everything changes and evolves over
time. Here are some projects from past Scrapbook articles
that have changed and improved ever since. There’s a wealth of
good ideas in these stories that can help us transform our own projects!


Hayward RR

Background? Who needs a background? Gavin Sowry, from near Wellington, New Zealand, showed us his Haywards Estate Railway, a 43x24in (109x61cm) Gn15 pizza layout in Scrapbook #67a photographed out of doors in a natural setting. Since then, he’s been steadily embellishing and detailing it, to the point that he won a bronze award in the 2008 New Zealand Model Railway convention. On the way home, he stopped off at a Kiwi iconic site, a well-known historic brewery building, and shot a photo with the building in the background. Looks great! Only the single tree behind the loco shed is a model (as shown below right). There’s no background in sight except the natural one, looking great!

Another design trick Gavin used is to paint the baseboard around the entire rim of the layout a flat black, including the corners (below left). The effect is to emphasize the layout colors, much the way a diamond is displayed against black velvet. Very effective! For an extreme example, see Totternhoe Mineral Railway in Scrapbook #55a, a railway surrounded by an all-black “limbo” set.

Haywards RR Haywards RR


Two Turnout Layout

In Scrapbook #71, Vincent Wesstein designed a clever point-to-point trolley (tram) line using only two double-slip switches. More recently, Bob Moroch, from Frisco, Texas USA, independently came up with much the same design for use as an operation-intensive switching layout in a very small space (about 1x8ft (30x240cm) in HO or On30). It’s an ingenious design, using a minimum of trackage to produce a considerable amount of operating fun!



Fat City Layout

Fat City Layout

In Scrapbook #65a, Alexander Lösch, from Elfershausen, Bavaria, Germany, gave us a preview of his new layout, Fat City Terminal Railroad. It’s a U.S. style road modeling the Delaware & Hudson, and he included impressive shots of his first nearly-completed building (right of center, above). Now Alexander has nearly doubled the size of the layout, literally moving “through the walls” behind the imposing SunRay building to a whole new layout section (left). See more photos at his website. We’ll keep you posted!



Photo: A. Johanßen, Gummersbach

Brausbach city gate

In Scrapbook #67 we discussed various ways for trains to make a “graceful exit” from the visible parts of the layout into the fiddle yard that represents “the rest of the world.” Herbert Fackeldey, from Aachen, Germany, has sent in several more ideas for exits, primarily collected from his experienced observations of European trains.

Photo: Foto Mertens, Euskirchen

German gate exit

Herbert writes, “Some light railways gained access to walled towns through the town gates. At Braubach, on the Rhine, both the metre gauge Nassauische Kleinbahn and the 750 mm gauge works railway of the Braubach smelting works ran trough the town gate (at right) to reach the river and the standard gauge railway. This was a most unusual arrangement with four rails per track. The metre gauge Euskirchener Kreisbahn (at left) even entered Lechenich by one gate and left by the other.

“Sometimes light railways also passed through houses, but the only example I know of a standard gauge railway once stood in Warnemünde, near Rostock, where a house was built above the railway tracks. The Laon cogwheel railway also went through a house. While all those examples are long gone, some urban tramways still go through town gates, although nowadays they go around them in most cases for clearance reasons. A few weeks ago, I took a trip on the ‘Strassenbahn’ of Freiburg, Germany, and it passes through both a town gate and a house.”

Exit on Enigma Engineering Rly

Also contributing interesting ideas for “graceful exits” was Paul Gittins, from Wakefield, Yorkshire, England. Paul comments, “Here’s the exit on my Enigma Engineering shunting layout (right). The track disappears between two buildings which hide the minimum sized hole in the layout end. The gate (which has to be kept closed while all shunting operations are carried out) helps to draw the eye away from the actual hole.” The Enigma Engineering layout was featured in Scrapbook #70, where you can also see a video of switching in action using this exit.

Notice that Paul has also included a nicely-modeled horizontal tank and a delightfully detailed junk pile near the exit, to attract your eye and prevent you from noticing the hole in the wall just beyond.

Helmbach station Helmbach station

Herbert Fackeldey contributed several more examples of prototypically inspired entrances and exits. “Trains enter Heimbach station, the terminus of a line branching off the Cologne-Brussels line, through a narrow cutting (above). Its rocky nature is evident in the photograph with the diesel locomotive which is just running around its passenger train. The other photograph was taken from above the cutting in early autumn when vegetation covers much of the rocks. I made both photographs about 25 years ago; the situation has changed a little since, but the station still sees passenger service.”

hole in the dike hole in the dike

Herbert concluded with an idea that is completely new to me. “The picture (above) does not show a bridge although one might assume that. It is in fact a Deichschaart — a gap in a dike to let roads or railways pass through. The concrete structure to the left houses materials to close the gap during an emergency such as a flood. This particular example was near Bonn on the Rhein-Sieg-Eisenbahn and has been modelled by members of the Eisenbahn- und Modellbahnfreunde Siebengebirge for their H0e modular layout. This was once a common situation, particularly on the North Sea coast, but this one was more than 200 kms from the sea, and the dike is there to control the annual floods of the river Rhine. I made the photo at the annual H0e meeting in the Cologne area in 2006.

“At the exhibition Expo-Trains Luxembourg this year, they had 17 layouts from six countries, as befits a club in a country that was one of the founding members of the European Union 50 years ago. I saw this one (at right) on the H0 layout Grolschwitz of the Dutch association, Team Ferkeltaxi. It depicts a fictitious seaside resort on the Baltic Sea coast of Germany. The Deichschaart isn’t used as a means to let the trains escape inconspicuously to the fiddle yard, but it acts as a scenic divider between the station and the harbour (where you would probably find a Deichschaart on the real thing).” Herbert has added a new word to my railroading vocabulary!


Plan of Box Strasse

Back in Scrapbook #59 Nick Palette, from Handsacre in Staffordshire, England, showed us a glimpse of his work in progress, Box Straße, a German-prototype version of Jack Trollope’s classic design, Box Street Yard. Now Nick shares the track plan of his layout along with a couple snapshots showing progress in detailing and adding a backdrop. This work illustrates the flexibility of a good track plan to portray a railway in virtually any part of the world.

Box Strasse Box Strasse


Pine Creek RR

Pine Creek RR

In Scrapbook #66a, we took a look at an unfinished but very original 40x18in (101x45cm) On30 layout, Pine Creek, by Bob Moroch, from Frisco, Texas USA. At that time we concentrated on the unusual track plan and unique operating system of the line.

Now Bob has sent some photos of the nearly-finished layout to show off its scenic side — and there’s a lot to look at! For still more shots of this delightful road, as well as construction and operation details, see Bob’s thread at FreeRails.

Pine Creek RR Pine Creek RR


El Tortuga and Pine Creek RR

Influenced by Pine Creek, as well as Don Sibley’s El Tortuga layout in Scrapbook #61a, Brian Wilson designed the On18 El Tortuga & Pine Creek Railroad to fit in a Rubbermaid™ under-bed storage box measuring 32x18in (81x45cm) by 5in (12cm) high. He showed us the track plan in Scrapbook #72, and now has sent along a photo of the baseboard, ready to lay track and install a turntable based on a plastic drainpipe cover.

Brian lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and the layout is designed for On18 scale (1:48 running on 9mm track).



Trollope's Sliding Shoebox Trollope's Sliding Shoebox

Trollope's Sliding Shoebox

Trollope's Sliding Shoebox

It all started with my (Carl Arendt’s) Sliding Shoebox layout concept unveiled in Scrapbook #72. The stack of small photos (above right) shows the idea — a shoebox is disguised as a factory building, and one end pulls out to reveal a train yard which in turn folds out to create additional yard tracks. Well, Jack Trollope, from the Scottish Highlands, is notorious for grabbing a good idea and making even more of it, and in this case he actually documented his thought process:

“I see The Sliding Shoebox, and ‘click’ — on goes the lightbulb! Now if I make it single-track and use the Trackmobile, and just add a couple of bits, how can I get them to join? Jigsaw ends? No, Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets will lock them in place… And I end up with this (above left)Arendt Industries. Not sure if it will ever get built, but the idea is there!” We leave the rest to your imagination (notice that Jack has slyly changed the scale to HO)!



N scale Inglenook

N-scale Inglenook

We’ve often covered Inglenook switching puzzles in these pages (most recently in Scrapbook #69). Increasingly we’re seeing layouts with three parallel spur tracks, served by a traverser or cassette, replacing the traditional switch ladder and head shunt (yard lead). The game’s the same, but the format has been simplified, following the lead of Jack Trollope’s Shortover Yard design.

This excellent N-scale example was built by Martin Hogg, from Mansfield, England. It’s a 3-2-2 Inglenook layout built on a 570mm (22.4in) pine shelf. Notice that, because the head shunt must hold a loco and two cars, the traverser is slightly longer than the longest siding! For more photos and information about Martin’s other projects, see his blog.

O scale inglenook

Carl Arendt declares, “I believe this layout is the smallest two-rail, O-scale configuration that will allow an RS-3 and 50-foot cars to be used in a railroadlike way.” Western Shore Terminal represents a car-float serving yard, somewhere in the Chesapeake country (or maybe in the ever-popular Brooklyn waterfront). The sector table is the plug-in variety, 30 inches long. The RS-3 or a 2-8-0 can be used to switch either track, using 50-foot or 40-foot cars. The 14-inch car float will hold one car up to 52 feet long.

One interesting maneuver is to use the switcher to fish a car out of the car float and spot it in front of the low-relief warehouse that hides the sector table. It’s done with a simple trick: the loco picks up the car from the float and pulls it to the sector plate which then switches to the rear track. The loco pushes the car into the Weigh House, uncouples, and backs away. The hidden shelter is 14 inches long — enough to hide a car up to 52 feet in length. A hidden Giant Hand reaches in from the back and removes the car from the track. The loco runs through to the left hand end. The concealed Hand returns the car to the track, and the loco pushes it to the sector plate, pulls it towards the car float (clearing the turnout), and shoves it into position at the lower right. Whew!

This little line is a true micro layout at 495 square inches (3.4 square feet) in area. The single track switch is a No. 4. This is not a classic Inglenook puzzle, but it uses a similar idea, and it can provide a surprising amount of operation in a miniscule space for O scale!

O scale Inglenooks


By Casey Sterbenz

A 1:48 scale standard gauge (1¼in or 32mm gauge) 3-2-2 Inglenook Sidings layout that will accommodate 36ft American-style freight cars and a small locomotive will fit on a true micro-sized (four square feet) platform (top layout at right). There’s no room for scenery other than ground cover, but it can be done using off-the-shelf Atlas-O two-rail track components. Atlas-O offers RTR 36ft freight cars, and Rich Yoder sells a tiny Plymouth 25-ton locomotive ideal for this small layout. This would be a good starter layout for someone who might want to try quarter-inch scale standard gauge modeling without a huge investment.

The second design shows how the same concept might look using a variety of rolling stock in 50, 40 and 36 foot lengths. The layout is somewhat larger, but still very compact. Similiarly, in the third layout we can see the size effect of using a Weaver RS-3 diesel road switcher along with 40ft rolling stock to form a full-sized 5-3-3 Inglenook. The bottom layout is a 5-3-3 pattern Inglenook Sidings design sized to accommodate an RS-3 and at least one 50ft freight car along with 40ft freight cars on each leg. This design will fit comfortably on a platform about a foot wide by a bit over 10′ long (0.3×3.1m).

[Casey shared some more ambitious O-scale portable Inglenook layout designs in Scrapbook #69.]



Peter-John Sanders, from Balmer, North Shropshire in England, has nearly completed detailing his Blackwood Valley Railway in O-16.5/On30 scale. He first showed us the line last year in Scrapbook #62, shortly after it had won a prize in its very first exhibition. Now nearing completion, the layout will be making the rounds of the exhibition circuit. P-J tells me that he is already at work on a new layout… watch this space!



Bigelow Bigelow

Simon Leigh, from Auckland, New Zealand, provided some photos of progress on Bigelow, his Maine two-footer model in HOn30 scale that we first saw in Scrapbook #71a. Simon is receiving some help from fellow members of his model railroad club, so the pace of progress is picking up. I was particularly interested in the two lower photos, which show Simon’s unusual fiddle yard arrangement with turntable and sector plate both pivoted on the center point of the turntable. In addition, the wide shot shows his shelf-bracket storage setup for the bridge section that blocks the bedroom door during operations (above, right). For more photos, a history of the line and a revised track plan, see Simon’s website.

Bigelow Bigelow


Rip Traxx at the Trackmobile The True Rip

Matt and daughter Grace

Since 2004, when he authored an article in Scrapbook #30a, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About a Car Repair Shop,” ‘Rip Traxx’ has been a man of mystery, his identity concealed behind a pseudonym. Supposedly he feared reprisals from his employers at a railroad car shop in the western U.S. because he was revealing in print (well… in electronics) the secrets of their operations.

Now he has stepped out from the shadows and revealed his real name, Matt Deemer. He’s currently living with his wife and young daughter at an unidentified location in Queensland, Australia. Matt hastens to assure us that his departure from the U.S. was not related to his employment—his wife is Australian. That’s Matt and his daughter, Grace, pictured at the right.

He also sent along from Down Under two photos (above) taken just before he closed out his U.S. railroading career. That’s Matt on the right, looking at the camera while his co-worker is “removing the brake valves of a coal car.” On the left is the only known photo of the co-worker driving a yellow Trackmobile (yes!) to “move some coal cars.” In fact, it was Matt’s sketch of his employer’s repair shop and Trackmobile that inspired our current layout design contest (see Scrapbook #73 for more details about this story and a copy of the sketch and my model of it).

Matt has provided a lot of inspiration to the model railway community with his yarns about the RIP track, and I’m sure you all join me in wishing him the very best in his new home and occupation (not related to railroading)! As a final note, Matt says that he has started work on an HO layout, Two Metre Yard, inspired by Giles Barnabe’s Mettrick Yard in Scrapbook #47. We’ll keep you posted.


Don’t miss your chance to enter our first layout design contest!
The goal is to design a micro layout suitable for the new Factory Direct Trackmobile.
No purchase is necessary. See full details on the Contest Page!


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