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Following the sale of my American layout Colton Junction I needed a small layout for shunting which could also serve as a Digital Command Control (DCC) test and programming track.

The seeds for the layout were sown whilst I was reading Erskine Childers 1903 spy novel The Riddle of the Sands. This, combined with an electric guitar case that I had lying around the house, lead to a profusion of sketches to achieve a workable track plan. After several months Selbstgefällig was born. As the novel is set around the islands on the North German coast, this gave me the opportunity to build a pre-war German layout without a Bavarian locomotive in sight. Like my previous layouts the plan is to create an illusion of space within a limited area. I can also operate the layout as Dutch era III/IV, again, on the North Sea coast or East German DR III/IV on the Baltic coast.


The layout, measuring 102 x 34.5 cm, is built in an electric guitar case which rests on a keyboard stand and is therefore portable. Following my experience with the varying quality of exhibition hall floors I decided to build a levelling mechanism within the guitar case.After consideration, I finally settled on the idea of suspending the baseboard similar to turntables in older record players and levelling is achieved by either tightening or loosening bolts. Two low voltage light fittings are attached to aluminium arms which swing out of the lid.

Overview of the layout in its case

The track plan is based on a back to back inglenook, an idea regularly covered in Model Trains International magazine. Initially I used Fleischmann 'Profi' track as their point motors are some of the smallest on market. Useful when the bottom half of the guitar case is only 5 cm deep. The track has since been re-laid with Peco code 75 to accommodate the RP25 wheel profile.

High level view of the layout

I do not usually enjoy the scenery aspect of layout building but decided to use this layout to try the Silfor range of grass matting alongside my regular use of Woodland Scenic products. The backscene was painted using artists acrylic watercolour paints and mounted in the lid of the guitar case. This ensures that the viewers look at the layout rather than be distracted by the backscene. The street furniture is scratch built mainly from scrap brass and wood. Information was gleaned from photographs of the period in order to achieve the correct atmosphere. The Vollmer signal box gives the layout height and is removed for transportation

Modus operandi has not yet been decided as I shall experiment with tiddlywinks and playing cards. At the moment shunting is random. Generally there are seven wagons to be shunted by two locomotives.

Locomotives and rolling stock

For those who are interested the DRG locomotives are a Weinert BR81, a Fleischmann BR89 with its wheels turned to RP25 profile and a Brawa Köf. In it’s NS guise the layout operates with a Roco 600 class, the English Electric 0-6-0 diesel shunter, and a Roco 200 class Sik (goat) - the Dutch equivalent of the Köf. Finally, in East German mode, the layout is operated with a Roco BR 80 and a Piko BR 106 both re-motored and detailed in my usual manner.

The rolling stock, being only a few vehicles, also receives my treatment such as; handrails replaced with wire, brake rodding, brake hoses and RP25 wheels. At the end of the day you can add as much or as little detail as you like to your locomotives and rolling stock.

Kadee couplers are fitted as standard as they are the best I have used for shunting. Both locomotives and rolling stock are weathered to varying degrees using artists acrylic watercolour paints - an idea obtained from Model Railroader magazine. More recently I have experimented with enamel paints and thinners.

My aim is to obtain at least one example of every wagon type i.e. box van, refrigerated van, open wagon, tank wagon, flat wagon, brake van, etc.


I use the Lenz ‘Compact’ and find this is suitable for the shunting layouts I build. Generally locomotives are, or will be, fitted with Lenz HO ‘Gold’, Lenz ‘Gold mini’ N gauge or Zimo decoders.

The Future

Until I build another small shunting layout, for which I have several ideas, Selbstgefällig will be used and no doubt constant detailing will take place. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the photographs.

BR89 and van on the layout A man's eye view of the layout

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This page last updated 21/10/2007. Copyright © Euram Solutions and David Illingworth 2005,2006. All Rights Reserved.
David Illingworth can be contacted through the contacts page