Monday, 11 February 2019

Pennstadt is my new Märklin train set!

Firstly, an update on the previous post. The Lenovo laptop didn't work out. We now have a very good Dell laptop. Mind you, it was very slow until I replaced the 4GB of memory with 16GB and also took out the hard disk and put an SSD in. Now it roars along. Secondly, I did build the baseboard out of foam core but strengthened the underneath with a sandwich of 3 layers and beams rather than box sections.

I now have the baseboard finished and the track laid. I was very lucky as I mentioned on the Märklin forum that I was planning to buy all of the track and had an offer from a local chap. This offer was for a mix of new and used track and was generally around half price. I now have the layout down but I found that the board was a bit too deep to reach over easily. I have had to disobey my wife's request that it all be run manually as I have installed point motors and digital controllers in the points on the far side of the board.

It got even better as,  when I mentioned that I was going to extend the rolling stock with some purchases from Germany, my new friend who sold me the track made me an offer of two locos, 6 coaches and a pile of freight wagons, all at exceedingly good prices. I also picked up some local coaches and a collection of freight cars from my local hobby shop (LHS) Scograil. He doesn't sell Märklin but Roco cars work perfectly fine. As a result I now have four locos (or Loks as I am learning to call them), six mainline coaches (Rheingold express), four locos, four 4-wheel, coaches, around 20 freight cars and a few kits for stations and so on. More than enough to be getting on with.

The locos are: Class 23, Class 24, Class 78 and Class 94.  These numbers don't mean much to me at the moment but I am learning.


First off, a panoramic view of the layout:


Class 23

Class 24

Class 78

Class 94

Class 23 Train and Class 24 (in the background)

(with only 2 out of the 6 Rheingold coaches)

The box below, with the lights, is the control box for the uncoupling tracks.

Interim Tunnel and cliffs

What Next?

I have to complete the tunnel and scenery around it. I have kits for two stations that need to be made so that I can think about the rest of the towns can be created. I need to get some freight wagons onto the layout to get a better idea of how traffic could be run. Once I get the last point motor, I will be able to create the "fiddle yard" - or "staging" off the right hand end of the layout. Once this has been done, I  will be able to think about the total traffic flow. I can't wait!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Gentle Model Railways is back again!

Unexpectedly, we are back. This is how it happened.

I sold all of the N Gauge stuff with a plan to purchase a replacement concertina and put some funds into my modelling stash. I ended up swapping my old 20 button concertina (and as it was made in 1885 it really was old) for an equivalent 30 button one (made in around 1910). You can see the story on my 'Other Hobbies' blog. I also invested in lots of new paint sets and tools.

However, my wonderful arthritis intervened so I am in the process of sending back my new concertina. I am also disposing of a Lenovo all-in-one that I bought some months ago. This is going to leave me with about £1,000 un-allocated!. At the same time, my wife was fussing gently about the desk in the bedroom. She is very supportive of my hobbies - mainly so that I support hers - grin. Valerie asked if there wasn't a way that we could clear out the desk. We have been having some issues with the big 27" iMac so we decided to get rid of it - sell it on EBay where it should realise £750 (it is 4 years old after all) - and replace it with a laptop. After looking at the Apple laptops, I realised that I didn't want to spend £1,200 on a replacement so we picked up a nice Lenovo for £330 - and so the money rolls in!

I now had to decide what to do with this rather large pot of funds.  As the big computer was going, I now had a whole desktop free as I can use the laptop in the living room. I have always been attracted to the Horny-Dublo trainsets that are at all of the model railway shows. Track laid on a table top and trains going round and round. Thinking how I could recreate this caused me to consider everything that I had done before. US Outline - nope - too expensive; British OO - nope  - I don't know enough about it; British N Gauge - no, same argument.

So, what did I come up with? Märklin 3 rail! Explain that? I know nothing about German/Swiss/Austrian railways;  there is no decent Märklin  agents in the UK; 3 rail and AC? Still, I have a budget; Märklin have a nice track set up that can be taken up and put down again; everything is proprietary. I have joined the forum and everyone seems to be very supportive - no snarky comments or put downs. Just nice helpful people. I have been asking lots of questions and now have a good idea of what I am going to do. It is a mile away from previous ideas. Although it is DCC (or at least Märklin's version) I am not going to link it to any computer or run the track using remote techniques. After a good bit of working with Anyrail and with help from the forum, I have come up with a simple layout as follows.

Add in one of Märklin's  train sets plus the buildings and some extra wagons and I have spent £500 or so of my stash. I am planning on buying their Era III Digital Freight Set.

We now have the desk clear. I am just waiting for the funds to come back from the concertina and it will all be ordered. I have been looking at a German web shop that has very good recommendations from the UK crowd. Their shipping is reasonable and you get bonus points towards next purchases to encourage you to come back. Let's see how I get on.

First step will be to build the baseboard. As I have the solid desk underneath, and I need it to be light so that I can lift it, I will be using my usual foam core. However, as I don't need the 3" height underneath for point motors, I will be reducing that to 1" and making square tubes of the foam core as supports across underneath. I have the specialised tools for doing that so it should be nice and easy. 

Once I have the basics running, I will be looking at extending this to include a passenger train and then, who knows. I just love those steam engines with their red chassis and wheels.