My Model Railroad

It started in 1951 when I got my first Maerklin model train set for Christmas. A simple track layout was mounted on a bare plywood board. Thereafter, year after year at Christmas time, a locomotive, a wagon, some tracks or turnouts were added, and the railroad set grew bigger. In the 1960s the emphasis switched from playing to constructing the railroad in a realistic fashion with fancy landscaping, mountains, tunnels, houses and little people. When the original plywood board became too small, it was extended to the current size of about 2x3m. At that time I had 7 locomotives and about 2 dozens of railroad wagons, a Trolley bus (Eheim/Brawa) and a Gondola (Kanzelwandbahn from Brawa) running in the set.

By 1965 I designed and built an electronic control system for the locomotives to allow independent and simultaneous operation of multiple locomotives on the same track set. What is common today, was probably one of the first electronic locomotive control systems at that time, though it was analog with frequency selection of locomotives and pulse width modulation for speed. The decoders used the then novel transistors and were bulky so I could fit them in only 4 of the larger locomotives.

From 1969 to 2001 the model railroad set was sitting in a room in Stuttgart and was used only rarely at those times when I visited my home city. In 2001 the railroad set was shipped to Canada and set up in the basement of our home. Slowly but gradually the landscaping was completed and the old tracks replaced and brought up to the latest Maerklin status. The home-built analog locomotive control system still worked fine, but needed frequent adjustments due to the aging components, such as capacitors, resistors and transistors. Finally in 2011, I acquired a modern digital locomotive control system (Lenz, Germany), which I found at an estate sale at the annual model railroader exhibition in Fredericton. It took a few days and all 7 locomotives were converted to digital. Despite their age of 40 to 60 years the Maerklin locomotives and wagons still run like they did when I was young, so do the Trolley bus and the Gondola.

A webcam captures live images of my railroad set, and sometimes even shows the trains and the trolley bus in operation. Click on WebCam and select VideoCam 3.


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A 1965 home-built analog decoder installed in a locomotive ... compared to a tiny 2011 digital encoder (NCE)

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Last updated: 16 August 2012 by Bernd