Wednesday 14 February 2024

A journey from here to there

A personal philosophy 

In order to be a modeller of railways there needs to be a model railway. It doesn't matter if it is a loft or an Ikea box, there has to be a railway, otherwise we are mere collectors of things in boxes.

Occasionally, a thought begins to become a concern, why build a model railway and why choose a particular subject? My obsession, for it is an obsession, is to create something that pleases the eye and restores old memories of quiet rural railways of Southern Germany. 

I greatly admire those individuals who devout a lifetime to build a perfect representation of a actual location, set at a specific time/date. Their dedication is admirable but there are constraints, as they can utilise space and have access to information, neither of which I enjoy. By contrast, my world is one of limited to just 5m x 1m and limited information from both the internet and the few books that feature my chosen subject.

My project is based upon a notion that a modest rural line in the Fichtelgebirge  had been extended a few more kilometres before funding was finally exhausted and the planned wayside station became a terminus for the remainder of its short life.

The generic trackplan is simple, the only extravagance is a tiny wooden loco shed with fuel+water and the style of the station buildings is typical of the builder.

Various features (LDEs) from around the location are recycled, all chosen for their similarity to other local features. Colours are carefully chosen from a palette used in the location, mostly natural, a mix of greens + earth, subtle rather than brash.

The stock was carefully selected with help from local experts, there are no 'special' visitors as everything must have been used on rural lines within 25kms during the timeframe 1950-68.

I hope that this explains my approach.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

An introduction

The blog is about building a small fictitious terminus based on Leupoldsdorf but definitely not a copy, it is merely an amalgam of features of existing locations in Fichtelgebirge, in short, a plausible fiction.

This is a track plan of the layout.


Construction of the replacement layout began in October 2022 built on some old baseboards, this is the layout in March 2023

February 2024 The platform receives a coat of Acrylmasse textured light grey paint and the roads and station yard have been repainted with limestone paint and layer of Acrylmasse.
 All the track has been ballasted, ready for testing

The wherefore of operation on Pottendorf
The layout in the shed is small, only about 3,4m of scenic area with four storage roads, this means that it is a shunting puzzle rather than ‘parade’ style layout. Four is the magic number as there were just four trains per day on a typical branch in the mid ‘50s. 
The stocklist reflects the purpose of the layout, just six wagons, three coaches and a railbus are the four trains that shuffle backwards and forwards. The wagons form two trains, the coaches another with the railbus as the simple shuttle that does not shunt at all. 
Each of the four scenic roads has at least one uncoupler, the platform has two so that after uncoupling from the head of the train, the loco can pick off vehicles from the train and set them into sidings. 
Running through all four trains should take about 25-30 minutes of intense concentration, enough to keep me happy.

The allotments

There are a couple of vegetable gardens on Pottendorf, examples of the Schrebergärten movement started by Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (15 October 1808 – 10 November 1861) His publications predominantly dealt with the subject of children's health and the social consequences of urbanization at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Schreber was the founder of the eponymous "Schreber movement".  In 1864, the first Schrebergärten , was established by leasing land for the physical exercise of children.



 Move forward 150+ years and you're zipping along in an ICE high-speed train, munching happily away on your bratwurst , just as you're wiping the last blob of mustard from the corner of your mouth, a lazy glance out the window, though, comes as a shock. Rather than the well-ordered suburbs or well-kept factories you have come to expect- miniature houses tucked in next to the train tracks as far as the eye can see.

It's a sight that greets visitors on the approach to almost every town in Germany --  the clutter of ladders and rakes leaning against the back of the structures, neatly ordered flowerbeds, well-tended fruit trees and picture-perfect picket fences are lined up like regiments of tin soldiers. The phenomenon is known as a Schrebergärten -- an area outside the city where the gardening-obsessed Germans can rent out a small plot and plunge their fingers into the soil.

But while getting back to nature is an instinct many of us indulge in, the German gardener takes it very seriously indeed. Flawlessly clipped lawns, neatly sculpted bushes, and flowerbeds entirely free of even the tiniest weed are the norm with many gardens revealing a feng shui exactness that would put a Japanese bonsai master to shame. Other vegetation virtuosos prefer a more playful perfection and opt for a liberal distribution of garden gnomes and plastic windmills with cheap replicas of Greek fountains and other water features a must for those with a bit of cash to burn.


  Ordered, trimmed, enclosed, ornamental, each strip has some kind of glorified shed with floral and vegetable displays. As for people, they’re only temporary visitors, because however fabulous the summerhouse/cottage/shed – and some are very fancy –one of the many hundreds of rules is that a Schrebergärten is strictly non-residential and rules are there to be obeyed. These enclosures are the garden equivalent of white bread: nature with the wildness extracted – and with more fertilizer per square metre than any farmer would dare to use.


I like creating Schrebergärten, mine are largely Busch, Noch and scratch, they include strawberries, green and red cabbage, cauliflower, green and red lettuce. Over the next couple of weeks, I would like to share the creation of a Schrebergärten for Pottendorf.


The Fichtelgebirge, the hills and the valleys 

Around the region

 A short film of another local railway line - the Sekundärbahn Erlangen–Eschenau

Thursday 5 October 2023

Stock for Pottendorf

The passenger and goods stock, there are just half a dozen of each.

Four-wheel coaches of great antiquity were in use right up to the end of steam on surviving branches, into the 1960s, these being the original ‘turn of the century’ designs for branch work. The nearest thing to ‘modern’ was the appearance of the steel four-wheel coaches of ‘Thunderbox’ type on some lines and these dated from the 1920s, but even these were not so common in Bavaria where the old Bavarian short and long four-wheelers were available in some numbers.
A few images of passenger and other related rolling stock locos on Bavarian branchlines with thanks to Robert Zintl


Most of the locos would have been used on a branchline in Oberfranken.


Monday 26 June 2023

The Farm

The farm comprises of both a farm house and a small yard separated by a railway line. The farm buildings include a Wills SS30 barn kit that has been improved with a layer of Polyfilla fine surface render.

Below is the farmhouse, from a resin kit from Martin Mueller.

The farm is the most noticeable feature of the layout and comprises of buildings commonly found in Oberfranken

The erdkeller

Whilst looking around an old farm we found an odd feature found behind thje farmhouse, it was a small stone hut built into the side of the hill. It was the entrance to a cold store or 'Erdkeller' for the 18th century farm, although farmhouse had a basement it also had a separate earth cellar. 

In terms of room height and shape, it penetrates far less deeply into the ground, only two steps lead down to the brick entrance. The quarry stone vault of the cellar is also completely covered with soil and potatoes are stored here over the winter - dark, cool, but frost-free.

There were a couple of other similar garden cellars in the village, one was not built into the side of a hill, instead merely cut into the farm garden and covered with the displaced soil. 

This is the completed model after weathering and a layer of dust

Never seen this modelled but easy to do.

There is also a farm cottage and its garden

These images are the originals on a previous layout

Friday 23 June 2023


 Roads in 1950s Germany

When looking at German layouts, I do wonder just how much research has been done by the creator of the layout, especially those few who attempt to model any period prior to the '60s. The neat rural roads, perfectly maintained bear almost no resemblence to reality as few, unless exceptionally old, can either remember prior to the '60s or have made an attempt to simply look at images of any road except the autobahn. The reality was grim, little wonder that ground movement beyond the autobahn was mostly by train with heavy goods by barge.
Work on a water-bound gravel road in the 1950s near Wörnitz The horse-drawn wagon waters the road before the top layer is compacted with the help of the steam roller. This process, which was common until the 1970s, was replaced late from asphalt road construction.

 The severe frost damage on a federal road in the 1950s in the Brand area, about 5 km north of Gunzenhausen (current federal road 466) are clearly visible. The increasing burden on roads occurred again and again, especially in the winter months, there have been road shots. Geteeren or federal roads with a tear-bearing surface protection layer still had an exceptional character in post-war Germany for a long time.
Model roads
The roads are nominally 60mm wide pieces of picture mounting card covered with a base layer of Heki textured concrete road paint and a second layer of a diluted coat of Johnstone's China Clay emulsion with chincilla dust as additional texture. The dust is fixed with dilute PVA or AK Gravel & Sand fixer. 

This is an example of acrylmasse, it works well on undercoats of a similar  colour. 

An example of a road vehicle of the period

Wednesday 7 June 2023

The station buildings

The station is a modified Pola based on Rothausen, chosen for its similarity to other wooden stations,  It was made by Mike Hitchen

The other major railway buildings is the locoshed by MBZ Modellbau, lacking a prototype, it is a simple single road wooden shed. It was made by Neil Rushby
The locoshed has a small coaling stage and corrugated iron flammable store.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

The books

The collection of books is just a few old favourites about the region but these books were invaluable:-