Modelling The German Railway In H0


Storing Your Model Railway Tracks

I do not have a permanent layout. I build dioramas, modules and I build a lot of temporary layouts with my Trix C-track.

Whenever I do not use my track I store them in plastic containers from a Swedish company called Orthex Group. Their SmartStore boxes are very good and come in all sorts of sizes and variations.

I mainly use the SmartStore Classic 31, 32 liter box (Orthex Group #3510070) and SmartStore Classic 50, 52 liter box (Orthex Group #3542070) and I use the smaller organizer boxes (Orthex Group #3618190) with small compartments for small parts. You can buy inserts for your SmartStore boxes to keep smaller parts safe and the smaller boxes and organizers will fit inside the bigger SmartStore boxes. The system is very flexible.

I use my SmartStore boxes for

  • Tracks
  • Landscaping materials
  • Small parts
  • Paints
  • Tools

You can store whatever you want, even food. They also produce special robust storage solutions for tools.

The SmartStore 50 is very good for storing your C-track boxes.

My Mobile Stations reside on the upper level of the storage box a long with points and other tools.

I use the small organizers for plugs, electrical stuff and spareparts.


You can also buy a wall mounting system for your SmartStore boxes. I think this is really neat and it makes it even easier to reach for stuff in a box.

You can buy SmartStore boxes in almost every home supply store that have plastic containers. There are a lot of copies on the market, so beware for cheap reproductions. SmartStore comes with a 10 year warranty.

Happy modelling

Making Trees With Woodland Scenics Realistic Tree Kit

Earlier I did an article on the Noch DIY trees, but I was not really happy with the result. I thought it was to complicated to get it to work. I decided not to go with that product.

I still need a lot of pine trees for my branch line project though, so some sort of DIY trees will indeed be a cheaper way to go than bying factory made trees.

Woodland Scenics has a product called Realistic Trees. You can buy them factory assembled or you can buy them in kits (including both armatures and clump foliage) and assemble them yourself. The kit price is obviously way cheaper, you can also buy a value-pack of armatures and buy the clump foliage seperately, which is even cheaper.

The package contents. The Hob-e-tac glue is not included, but you will need it.

To test it out I bought the Realistic Tree Kit with 24 pine trees (Woodland Scenics #TR1113). The kit contains 24 pine amatures in different heights from 6 cm to 15 cm and a bag of clumb foliage of the Conifer Blend kind (Woodland Scenics #FC185).

There is no glue in the package, so you will have to buy that as well. You need to buy Woodland Scenics Hob-e-tac glue (Woodland Scenics #S195). The Hob-e-tac glue has a built-in applicator brush in the lid.

Your First Tree

The process is really dead easy.

  1. Prepare a box of clump foliage. I find it to work best if I rip the foliage into small bits. Not too small, but not too big either. You will have to experiment, but my experience was that I needed smaller pieces than first anticipated.
  2. Bend and twist the armature in a spriral motion so the branches of your pine tree goes in every direction. The plastic is very flexible, so you can keep bending and twisting until you are satisfied with the look.
  3. Paint the branches of the tree armature with the Hob-e-tac glue. Make sure you do not get anything on the trunk. Normally chunks of leaves will not sit on the trunk of a tree.
  4. Wait for approx. 15 minutes for the glue to dry completely clear. When it does, it will become extremely tacky.
  5. Dip the tree armature in the box of clump foliage. Voila: Instant tree!

NOTE: I noticed that the Hob-e-tac glue stays tacky for a very long time (several hours), so you will have plenty of time to modify your tree.

The Woodland Scenics Youtube channel have a video that shows the process. Go Trevor! :-)

From the Woodland Scenics Youtube channel

Here are a couple of samples that I have made. I do not use the base plate on the layout, but I do use it while the Hob-e-tac glue dries and when I test-fit the tree on the layout. I plant the tree on the layout by putting a needle in the bottom of the trunk and stick the tree into the layout. This gives me a solid fit.

My first self made pine trees.

Tips For Pimping Your Tree

You can pimp your trees with additional detailing.

One way is to spray your tree using Scenic Cement (Woodland Scenics #S191) and sprinkle blended turf over the tree. This will resemble leaves or sunny spots and make your tree look more realistic. It does not matter if any of the blended turf should make its way to the trunk, because trunks do have stuff growing on them, so give your tree a more realistic look. Just remember that less is more. The Scenic Cement will dry to a clear matt finish.

Before you assemble the tree, you can give the armature a coat of matt varnish. I use Vallejo Matt Varnish (Vallejo #70.520) in an airbrush. This will remove the plastic look of the tree armature.

The Verdict

The product works very well and I will recommend it. If you are looking for a cheap and easy way to create lots of trees, you should take a look at the Woodland Scenics realistic tree kits, I think you will be happy with the result.

Further Reading

Happy modelling!

Station "Blumenfeld" from Faller

The Station Building and Prototype

For my branch line project I wanted a small station building with perhaps some storage and nothing else, really. I also wanted a station building design, that I could use on other stations as well, since many railway lines use station buildings of similar architecture. I think this is an easy way to enhance the feeling of the different stations belonging on the same railway line. I wanted a kit, that I could easily kit bash, or a kit of which larger versions existed.

The station building test-fitted into my diorama

Auhagen produces several stations of similar architecture, most of them based on the "Krakow am See" kit (Auhagen #11381). These stations have a north-east German look. For my railway I wanted to go with a more southern German appearance, so I went with the kit "Blumenfeld" (Faller #110097) from Faller. This station is actually a fictivious station, but it is based on another kit "Güglingen" (Faller #110107), which is a real station building.


Blumenfeld Station. Photo by Faller.

Güglingen Station. Photo by Faller.

Güglingen and Similar Stations

Güglingen was a station on Zabergäu Railway a branch line from the Franconian Railway. The station building is very common in these areas, as it is a standardized building design called "Württembergische Einheitsbahnhof typ. IIIa" (Württemberg Standard Railway Station Building Type 3a).

The station building of type IIa and IIIa are well known, and thus models are very easy to come by. Faller's Güglingen is a type IIIa station building. Kibri produces a model "Dettingen" of the type IIa (Kibri #39507), and you can buy a real wooden kit "Kupferzell" (it'll cost you) from Busch (also type IIa) (Busch #1468).

The key here is not to look at the station name, but the building type. All buildings originating from the Württemberg design, will have similar features and will go together on your model railway. Great!

Read more on the station building type (German text).

The "Blumenfeld" kit from Faller is a freelance version of the IIIa design, with the third floor missing. To my knowledge no such station building exists or have ever existed in reality. The designs I and II all had one and three floors respectively. Does not matter though, because the building looks like a smaller version of the bigger one, which was what I was going for in the first place.

The station of Marbach in 2006, photo by Klaus Enslin via Wikipedia

The Model

As usual with Faller kits, they come in a nice cardboard box which you can use for storing stuff afterwards. Faller included a storage label with the box. Obviously, you also get building instructions and you get several different station names to put on your station. I have not decided on a name for my station, and I do not know if I will use one of those in the box, or come up with my own name.

Before I started assembling the building I painted all the plastic parts with a matt varnish using an airbrush. I did this to kill the plastic glow that most plastic kits suffer from. I use trusty Vallejo Matt Varnish (Vallejo #70.520) for the job. When the building is complete I will weather it using different weathering techniques.

I will use this model in a small winter diorama with the theme "a small station on a winter day". The first thing I did was to test-fit the baseplate to see how much space the building the building will take up.

I test-fit the baseplate and station platform to get an idea of the size.

Because of the quality of this kit, assembling the station is very easy. All the bits and pieces fit together with no problems at all. The instruction tells you to glue the station building to the base plate, but I would not recommend doing that, if you want to be able to service any interior lighting, because the instruction also tells you to glue the roof on. I usually build my base plates into the layout, or create a different baseplate, so I glued the building together with the help of the baseplate but without gluing it to the building.

I use the baseplate as a guide for assembling the building, but I do not glue the building to the baseplate.

When gluing building together I use a technique I have learnt on the Auhagen YouTube channel. People tend to think, that you need a lot of glue to build plastic kits, but what you actually need is almost no glue. Gluing plastic together is not like gluing paper. Gluing plastic is more like welding or soldering. You weld the pieces together to form a strong bond. The glue simply starts the welding process.

The Auhagen YouTube channel has a video demonstrating how to create details with windows and doors. In the process, they also show how they glue plastic pieces together. Take a look, even though the video is in German, you should get the general idea:

Video from the Auhagen YouTube Channel.

It is much easier this way. When gluing the window glazing this technique will help you not to get any glue on the windows themselves. Just a few small blobs of glue on each side of the window and it will hold.

I put a small blob of glue where the arrows point.

Another great benefit from gluing this way, is when you realize you put the glazing on before the actual window detailing, and have to take the model apart again, you will be happy that the windows is only held in place a few places instead of all over. Trust me on this one.

The roof on the storage building is loose.

I glued all the small plastic parts together before finally assembling the building. That way you only need to concentrate on getting the walls straight and getting the roof on.

With the assembled building I did another test fit on the diorama base. For the sub terrain I use styrofoam insulation boards and I use Woodland Scenics Track-Bed Sheets (Woodland Scenics #ST1470) to level the station platform with the rails. I lay the rails on Woodland Scenics Track-Bed Seamless Roll (Woodland Scenics #ST1474).

Test fitting the station into the diorama.

Now that the building is complete I will continue on prepping the diorama baseplate for the winter theme. I will take pictures of the process, so eventually an article will show up.

Happy modelling!

Building a module

I build my model railway modules according to the FREMO standards or at least somewhat close to that. What this means you can read about on the FREMO website. This article is about building a module.

I am building a standard main line module approx. 1 meter in length and 50 cm wide and is the first of two or three modules that will go together as a section of a main line. My initial thoughts on landscape were some sort of forest or perhaps a railway at the outskirts of a forest. I think that would be a nice setting.

But first, I need the basic module structure to come together.  

The module has a solid bottom plate and a road bed of wood. The road bed will be re-inforced.

Assembling the module is pretty basic wood work. I am by no means a carpenter all star, so I had a friend help me with the assempling part. But I think I would be able to assemble the next module myself.

The corners are put together by screws and I have not glued anything. The reason being that I want to be able to adjust and correct stuff, should that ever be necessary. I am not sure whether or not it ever will be, but time will tell us that. 

The corners are held in place by wood blocks. These wood blocks will also work as part of the leg locks.

The module profiles go on the outside of the module sides. Giving the module a width of 50 cm and a length of 100 cm. You can choose whatever length you feel like, but I find 100 cm to be a good length to work with, because you will easily be able to lift the module up and move it around. Longer length will require two persons. 

The screws will be covered by some kind of filler and painted over.

The legs of the modules is held in place by leg locks. There are several different approaches to choose from, but my friends and I have choosen a simple clamp type lock. We designed the parts so the big metal screws will not be visible from the outside.

The metal parts will not be visible from the outside of the module. Giving the sides a cleaner look.

Before assembling the leg lock, I need to make sure that the leg fits. When the lock parts are in place, I put a piece of wood over them, that, when tightened, will work as the lock itself.

The leg lock is really simple, and makes it easy to work with the module. It will work on any module you can come up with. And you can adapt it to different situations.

That's it for now. The module is about done, and the work on the electronics can begin. More on this in a later post!

Update: The FREMO end pieces used are the type B96 (hill). I later found out, that there is a newer type B02. I will use that for future modules with hills. For modules without hills I use the F02v1 module piece. I will try to only use FREMO "official" pieces. This will work best when I need to connect my modules with others. My plan is to have my railway end in a flat piece. This will ease the transition to other modules and landscape types.

Happy modelling!

Create A Simple Programming Track For The Märklin Mobile Station 2

My Märklin Mobile Station 2 does not include a programming track feature. I have to do all my programming on the main line. This can get ugly when I have more locomotives on the track during a programming session, since all the locomotive- and accessory decoders will apply any changes I send their way. Suddenly all of my decoders could have the same address and make a mess. We can't have that, now can we...

With the Märklin Digital system I have some options, one being to buy a Central Station 2 that have the programming track feature. BUT I could also create my own simple "programming track" using a contact and some wires. In this article I will show you what I did.

Note: This setup will of course work with any type of digital system that you may have. Also, you can use any type of contacts and plugs that you like.

Setting Up

For this setup I used:

  • A Märklin contact box (p/n 72730)
  • Two distribution strips
  • Various plugs in different colours

Plugs and contact boxes just makes setting up easier, especially if you build temporary layouts like I do. You can buy plugs and contact boxes from various manufacturers. Brawa produces plugs and coloured distribution strips. I stick with Märklin's plugs because I like the design of the contact boxes and because Märklin accessories, in Denmark, are easier to come by than Brawa or Viessmann for that matter.

The setup can quickly be a mess of wires, but I think you will get the general idea.

The idea is to take a good length of track where the layout is connected to the railbox and make that our programming track. This track will be isolated from the rest of the layout.

I power the rest of the layout through the contact box, which allows me to turn off the power to everything else before a programming session. You must remember to include any accessory decoders you may have, since they will receive the digital commands as well.

Make sure the railbox is connected directly to the isolated track. Make sure the rest of the layout is connected to the railbox through the contact box.

If you have any accessory decoders, they must also be connected through the contact box. Here my Lenz LS110 is powered through the contact box.

Some plugs allow you to easily join more plugs.

You can connect the return wire the way you normally do.

You should now be able to switch of the rest of the layout and safely program your locomotive.

The WinTrack figure shows how to create the setup on a 2-rail layout.

If you need a small programming track, but your digital system does not support it, try using a contact box. I think you will be happy with the result.

Tip: If you do not need your programming track to be part of your layout, you can use a switch that redirects the current to a completely isolated track. That way you are absolutely sure that you will not accidentally program another decoder.

Happy modelling