Sylvanau ... Design

While planning the next section for my N-scale layout, I promised my wife that I'd name a village after her. Although the name Sylvanau seemed quite appropriate for an alpine setting, I wanted a name that was more typical of northern or central Germany. I was thinking about changing the name to something like Sylburg, but when I looked at a map of Germany, I found a few -au villages in the north!


The Evolution of the Plan

November 23, 1999

Rough plan of Sylvanau layout
First tentative plan for Sylvanau layout - 20'x9.5'.

Many modellers of continental railways tend to try to cram as much as possible into the available space. For many European modellers, space is at a premium, and so often the cram is unavoidable. But modellers on this side of the Atlantic tend to have much more space at their disposal. I prefer more open spaces and wider curves.

I like to watch trains run around a loop. So, the new layout should have a loop running around the room. Although some modellers rightfully point out that almost all train operations are point-to-point, the majority of stations are through stations, and most trains run past without stopping.

I also like switching operations, so there must also be plenty of shunting possibilities. Thus, a station on one side of the room, and a dockside area on the other side.

Locomotives and rolling stock should be typical of pre-WWI Germany, with an emphasis on Prussian stock. Although harder to find than more recent epochs, epoch I locomotives and rolling stock have much more variety. That was a time when most of the major German states had their own railways, each with their own paint schemes, and often with differing standards of rolling stock.

Some H0 train and building models
First H0 trains and building models


January 27, 2000

Second plan of Sylvanau layout
Second tentative plan for Sylvanau layout - 20'x9.5'.

The old design is out.

I'm now leaning towards a point-to-point design for the following reasons:

  1. At prototypical speeds, a train would take more than two minutes to go around the room!
  2. My first H0 locomotive is a Roco steam loc with great low speed performance. I think I may be doing more shunting than with my N-scale layout.

The layout will consist of three sections:

  1. Sylvanau is a village located somewhere in the former Grand-Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The single track line leads towards the town of...
  2. Catschershausen, which is an old town with old walls still standing. A branch line leads down to...
  3. Jittersdorf, a port town on an inland canal not far from the Elbe.

Like the original design, the this one keeps the canal docks, but on the other side of the room. In addition, this design has both urban and rural elements, and allows for an incremental construction. The original design called for much of the bench work to be complete early on. With this design, I can build Sylvanau first, which allows me to build up some H0 experience before tackling the rest.


April 3, 2000

What was I thinking? I love to sit back and relax watching a train run around my layout! Sure, I like to do some shunting activity too, but I really don't want to rule out continuous runs. And I'm not so old that a duck-under would be a problem. Fortunately, I haven't started construction yet.

The latest plan is an oval running around the room with two small stations. Sylvanau will be a small rural village. The other station will have some dockside sidings. As with the previous design, there will be no tunnels.

Final plan of Sylvanau layout
Final plan for Sylvanau layout - 20'x9.5'.