Hallo 'allo, Motorised Dandruffen, and greetings from de Netherlands, where I have been posted by Dandruffcorp International to report on developments. As such, as I went to a train show today.
The country is only a quarter the land area of NZ, and this show was exclusively N scale, and was held in the church of a small village... so I was surprised that there were 25 layouts on display, from the large ...
...to the small
Other than the tiny ones, most of the layouts were modular of course.
This was a nice Dutch layout (below) where different short consists, including railcars, trams and a Thomas the Tank Engine train were run to the 'branch line' terminal station at right - which acted as visible staging - and then back again. A surprisingly effective concept.
I was there to meet a husband and wife team from the really nice 'Cattle Bay' layout in the first pic and some other US outline modelers. Below is the other side of it.
I really like what they have achieved with this layout which appeared in a 2012 N Scale Railroading magazine and looks really "finished" and "professional" (he says, searching for the perfect word), with the lighting valences which encourage you to swim in the scenes and that in turn makes the whole thing seem larger than its actual depth and length.
It's simple, but check out that first pic again. Not bad for a 30.5cm (1 foot) wide layout, eh? No excuses! The modules are about 1 foot by 1 tall (the backdrop) by three long; with two modules per side and two semicircular end modules. Each pair of two side modules bolt together (think of two L shaped cross sections bolting together to form a square) as do the ends, and that plus legs, overhead valances, lighting Digitrax, and rolling stock all fit in their Nissan car. I used the same bolting together concept with the four Otaki modules back in the day. These are built to the OneTrack standard so they can be combined with other people's modules at exhibitions. Twotrack and Ntrak standards are also popular in the Netherlands.
It was quite neat to see some portable/modular layouts working:
But also, in a small, densely populated country where they cleverly use every square centimetre of house, its not a surprise to see some neat wee pizza box style layouts. A few of the representatives here - note the 'three dimensional' coal mine layout in the middle which is quite a neat idea:
And note the semi-circular staging cassettes in this circular one which presumably can be stored in the base:
What really struck me, was the amount of automation and technology on display. There were several vendors and layouts touting automation.. This one had multiple workings, sound and the signals and points were all switching and trains moving into loops, crossing each other and then moving into staging automatically, with the dude in the background just looking bored. I suppose one of the challenges of such systems might be to mix automation, but to allow you to run "your train" though the rest of the systemised chaos.
iPad throttles and control:
Another computer controlled prototype:
Even Rhysus van Batcheloot showed up with his mobile track making display:
And lastly, here's a neat idea to keep the mums and kids busy while the dad's drool over the trains: