Deciphering Oliver’s HO-scale Neustadt Layout

While commuting to and from work, I had the time to read thoroughly, and repeatedly Oliver Bachmeier’s Neustadt HO-scale layout. I read his descriptions of his layout building as well as analysed closely the track plans and photos to decipher some missing information. The more I read and analysed his layout, the more I like his layout. Overall, his layout is based on 2 oval tracks on a 3.3m by 1.5m base. However, the beauty of his layout is compounded by the presence of a helix and a staging yard below the top main layers. In fact, there are 3 layers. Let’s me peel his layout layer by layer and describe what he has done.


This track plan shows a top view of all the visible tracks on Oliver’s layout. The middle top part is the Neustadt railway station with top 2 tracks heading west direction (left side of layout) and bottom 3 tracks heading east direction. Remember that in the German railway, the north or west direction is always the right track based on compass direction. The island platform is between track 2 and 3, and track 4 and 5. On one end of the station is the turntable and 3-stall roundhouse, still operational. On the other end are tracks leading to a warehouse. From there is one track (track 1) heading east and makes a trip up to the Waldstein castle.


The main railway station is partially cut off by the margin. You will see locomotive at the platform is facing the south/east direction. The loco at the top is on a pass-through track, which could be used as shunting yard. As this layout depicts a small city scene, regional and long distance trains pass through hourly while the commuter trains connect smaller town to Neustadt.

Travelling westward trains will make a turn along the curve towards the lower part of the layout and crosses a viaduct and into the tunnel. After the tunnel, trains could descend a helix to the staging tracks.


This above track plan shows the main railway station level. Compared to the top track plan, this track plan removes the track leading to Waldstein castle but shows the earlier invisible tracks after the viaduct tunnel. You will notice that one track branches to the right and joins the track that heads back to the main railway station. This is basically the oval layout that I was referring too. However, you will notice that if trains do not branch to the right and back to the main station, they will descend to the middle level. To avoid the collision between the tracks to the middle level and the right track towards the main station, the right track actually make a short ascend and then descend back to the main station level. This short ascend and descend is okay since for a short distance, the gradient would not impact the train’s pulling power.

Trains make a one-and-a-half round helix to the staging yard. The distance between the top and bottom level is 8cm. Judging from the size of this helix, I believe the gradient is more than 2%. While Oliver did not describe this helix clearly and the gradient he made, I imputed the gradient based on the width of the layout at 1.5m. The radius of the helix could be about 40cm. You notice that there is an S-curve track. The track starts from the track entering the tunnel from the east of the station and make a short descend to the middle level and then back again at the bottom left corner. It exits that tunnel and heads back to the viaduct. By taking this track, a train that leaves that platform and heads east will make a trip to the middle level and then switch to the westward direction as it exits the other tunnel.


At the bottom level, the staging yard is directly below the railway station. Remember from the middle level, tracks make a helix turn. The westward train continues and enters the staging yard from the east, completing an oval at the bottom level. Trains that leave the staging yard will make an S-curve and heads back to the helix and ascend to the top level and exit the viaduct tunnel.

Overall, Oliver has made a simple oval track layout looks more interesting to operate. Instead of trains running in circle and facing the “risk” of appearing at the same spot in a short period, the helix and staging yard makes trains “disappeared” into another town and make a reappearance some time later. With only a 2 x 5 square meter space, Oliver has definitely make a compact layout more interesting to run and operate. The challenge is to address the 3 layers built-up on that space.

As I said in my earlier post, I am adopting his track plan for my N-scale and adapt to my interpretation of a new Neustadt. I chose to scale his 3.3 x 1.5m layout by 70% to fit nicely into my 2.3 x 1.0m IKEA IVAR shelf. The reason I chose 70% instead of 55%, which is the correct proportion of HO to N-scale, is to ensure that the modern long trains (those 89ft/26.4m coaches and wagons) can negotiate curves with minimal overhang. Also by using 70%, the tracks at station platform could be lengthened to fit trains of up to 7-8 coaches configuration. The German ICE trains, such as ICE3 has 8-coach configurations, could fit into the main platform length (on track 2 and 3). To model ICE 1 and 2, the consists would have to be cut down to 8-coach configurations. Regional trains such as the InterCity (IC) or EuroCity (EC) or regional trains such as Regional Bahn (RB) and Regional Express (RE) could fit the platform length.

In my next post, I will discuss how I will adapt this layout plan.

Note: In Germany (or German-speaking countries), HO-scale is called Spur H0 (Hah-Null)


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