Like others in the model railroad industry, I’m interested in the model trains on more than just a business level. I collect trains, mostly old and obscure ones, but I also have operating layouts. Probably the most prominent is this Gauge 1 model railroad.  Photos of this railroad have appeared in the Walthers Large Scale catalog and in an issue of Model Railroader magazine.

I like Gauge 1, which is manufactured to a proportion of 1:32 (3/8” on the model equals one foot on the real train).  Märklin developed their No. 1 Gauge in 1878, which uses a track gauge of 45 mm. Other manufacturers have used the same track gauge, but have proportioned their trains to other scales such as 1:29, 1:22.5, 1:20 and others.  It’s confusing to beginners but it’s also way too late for any manufacturer to correct the problem.  Märklin justifiably feels that they should not change, and other manufacturers have too much invested to make such a substantial change to their product line.  So, this situation is unlikely to change. For what it’s  worth, Mike’s Train House also uses the 1:32 proportion operating on 45 mm gauged track, but there are other differences between these two product lines.

In any case, here are a few shots of my home railroad:

At the center of the railroad is the station building, a Piko product. A Märklin Class 80 0-6-0T steam engine slips out of the engine terminal.

An overhead signal tower controls the Amstetten station, which is also a junction between the main line and a branch line to Gerstetten. Behind, an abandoned narrow gauge line which went to Nellingen.

A V60 diesel switcher gets ready to leave the car yard.

A KöF switching diesel drags a beer container car toward the brewery.

The beer car is now spotted at the brewery in the background. In the foreground, a garden railroad.

The car yard.

A Schrebergarten between the main and the yard lead, using a cutoff segment from a baggage car body.  Beyond, a biergarten in development.

The other end of that baggage car body, with a new end fabricated from styrene, repainted and placed on a chopped & channeled passenger car frame.

I like V200’s, and Märklin did a beautiful job with this one, their first in a long series.

Repair shop at the engine terminal, using a wrecked local passenger car for a tool shed. The “wrecked passenger car” is real; this model was damaged in shipping and ended up in my hands.  Not operable, I did what the real railroads did, made it into a useful structure.  The open air shop was made with styrene, many of the tools, gas bottles and such are 1:35 military models. The proportion difference between Gauge 1’s 1:32 and 1:35 is almost inconsequential.

The coaling stage, with a Pola water crane in the  foreground.  The engine terminal administration building is another Piko product, the coal stage is by Märklin.

A recent acquisition, an orphaned V100 bought on eBay.  This engine was part of a larger set which the seller was breaking up.

Current Projects

When I originally built my railroad in the mid-1990’s, there were several  features incorporated into the design which were not immediately implemented. After a couple years of disinterest, I am now back on the railroad again, working on several projects.  The motivation for this was the return of my V60 from Göppingen; it had been to the Factory for a refurb, and when it came back, it had been significantly improved.  The engine’s slow speed performance is exceptional, helped by the fact that the die-cast metal structure of the engine makes it very heavy, which improves electrical track contact. It appears that the motor had been upgraded while in Germany.

The V60, back home

Car Forwarding:

Because the railroad is point-to-point, train operation happens in short bursts. A locomotive and cars enter the station scene, stop at the station building, then depart.  This gets old fast, so having the V60, and its able sister the Class 80 switcher, makes for interesting car switching operations.

At the heart of things are individual cards for each of the freight cars on the railroad.  Each card is on computer-printed business card stock; a picture of the car, its road number and the various destinations for each car is printed on the card.  A paper clip is located over the destination and moved to the next destination after it is spotted. Because there are more cars than railroad, some of these destinations are “Display", putting them off the railroad and onto a display shelf.

Likewise, the locomotives have their own cards, which identify each locomotive address and fuel capacity. The fuel capacities are currently an not utilized feature, meant to work with the railroad operating software, Railroad & Co. This program feature uses the capacities of a locomotive (coal & water for steam, oil for the diesels) to determine when it must return to be refueled.

Locomotive cards

Ambient sound:

Another project that I am currently working on uses inexpensive MP3 players and hidden speakers around the railroad. Using the WavePad sound editor, sounds are created from recordings and from online downloads. WavePad allows you to create very long wave files, followed by longer periods of silence.  A hidden speaker located near a stream plays the sounds of water flowing, interspersed periodically with frog calls and such.  Another speaker set near the engine house  periodically plays the sound of an air compressor. The idea is to make the sound fairly low and seemingly random. Initially, I used small computer speakers, but now have found that the ear buds which come with the cheap MP3 players do fine for the very soft background sound I’m looking for.  This is still a work in progress.

An N-Scale farm, located very far back from the viewer, with a hidden speaker below.

A closer look, with the speaker hidden by foliage.

The Track Layout

The track plan for Amstetten was based on the “Rossberg” railroad pictured in the Märklin 0324 book “Märklin I für Haus + Garten”.   The railroad is about 28 feet in length, and most areas are 4 feet from the front to the back wall.  Four hidden storage tracks store the waiting trains.


The Amstetten Station layout uses Märklin (Motorola format) Digital command control.

Although not currently implemented, the railroad will eventually operate with computer control using Juergen Freiwald’s operating software “Railroad & Co.” Here is a screen shot of the program with small windows for different locomotives and a large screen icon for operation of the railroad’s turnouts and signals.

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