Model railway

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Model railway: FREMO - modular system in scale 1:87 ( H0 ) operated with two-rail DC voltage
Simple H0 toy model of the DR series 80 for AC voltage and central conductor track from Märklin
More filigree model of a Prussian T 10 by Fleischmann in scale H0

A model train is a replica of part of the real train on a smaller scale. The size ranges from a train in a suitcase to a train in table format to a model train that requires several rooms. Mostly landscapes, buildings and vehicles are reproduced, but they do not necessarily have a real model. It is typical that the locomotives can drive themselves with a built-in drive . It is controlled either manually or semi-automatically via a control panel or fully automatically (relay, electronics, computer).

General overview

The size ratio between model and prototype (for example 1:87) is called the scale , with common scales each being assigned a letter abbreviation ( Z , N , TT , H0 where H0 is a letter / number abbreviation, spoken Ha-zero). While model railways on a smaller scale can usually be found indoors, model railways on a particularly large scale are often designed as garden railways in the open air.

Due to the complexity and extent of the overall railway system, a thematic limitation is usually made when replicating the model. Often the topic is a railway company , a railway line , a train station , an operating point , a certain epoch , a certain landscape or several of these criteria - up to the specialization on "station xx in year yy " with locomotives and wagons in the number corresponding to the prototype . The typical “ fairway ”, on the other hand, is not limited at all or only very roughly - something like “German-speaking part of Europe from 1950 to today” is typical. The replica can also relate to the representation of buildings, track systems and / or vehicles (e.g. as a diorama ) that is as true to the original as possible , or the focus can be placed on the representation of a typical operational sequence, for example by recreating a train station, such as it could have existed (which does not have to have a real model, but complies with building regulations and other specifications).

For rolling stock and accessories (tracks, buildings, model cars, odds and ends, vegetation, electronics) there is now a large industry that produces the corresponding finished products or kits. In most cases, the actual system is put together by yourself; But there are also a few offers for more or less finished systems.

When it comes to systems, a distinction is made between system systems (complete systems on one or more panels), which reproduce an independent, self-contained topic and can be displayed and operated independently, and modules with standardized interfaces or transitions. These represent a limited part or section of the railway (landscape). In principle, they can be freely connected to one another at any time. Tram systems have become particularly popular in modular construction in recent years .

Model railroaders

People who deal with model railways are not a homogeneous group. While many focus on the operation of their model railways, others devote themselves to collecting locomotives, wagons or accessories from a specific era or a specific manufacturer, or to converting and building vehicles themselves. The demands on how far and in what aspect your own concept replicates the model also differ significantly in many ways.

However, the collector's value of today's model railroad objects is hardly increasing any more due to the high circulation, declining number of collectors and often very good availability (for example via internet auction houses). A few, mostly older, less common objects and trains in above-average or perfectly restored condition still fetch high prices.

Gauge 0 model of the class 18 express locomotive, self-made from brass

The conversion or self-construction of model trains, wagons or accessories has lost importance worldwide, mainly because of the very large range of industrially manufactured products, but also as a result of changes in vocational training, away from the manual professions (precision mechanic, electronics technician, ...). In contrast, the construction of home systems, the modular construction, as well as the construction of systems in the model railroad clubs is still widespread.

Plant forms

A play area with Märklin M-track, finished area from Noch
Detailed view of the model railway system in the Märklin Museum in Göppingen - the point contacts of the
three-rail, two-rail system used by Märklin are clearly visible

Three typical forms have become established for designed model railroad layouts, which are sometimes combined:

  • The simplest and best known consists of a rectangular (wooden) plate with a single or multi-track oval of track running along the edge . The curve radii define the required width of the plate and the length of the trains that should fit into the (mostly straight) station, the length of the plate. Since the size of these systems is strikingly often around 200 × 80 cm, the designation door leaf system appears here and there. The rest of the design (for reasons of space almost entirely inside the circle) often follows a uniform pattern, not very prototypical, but suitable for games: at the front another station track, behind it the station building of a station. On one side a locomotive shed or a turntable, another track as a loading track for a company leads somewhere into the center of the layout. In one or both back corners there is a mountain with a tunnel; the space in between is filled with houses of often incompatible architectural styles .
  • Systems that follow the course of the wall in some form are somewhat rarer - that is, systems with L , U , T , E or even more complex shapes. This often makes it possible to accommodate areas without buildings and - especially in wall corners - with very large curve radii that are closer to the original (a realistic curve in H0 would have a radius of at least 2 m), even in relatively narrow spaces . In addition, the station can be completely designed with signal boxes, one or more goods sheds and, above all, long usable lengths that justify a depot in the first place. It is also possible to accommodate a second train station at another end of the room in order to simulate realistic shuttle traffic or the transport of goods. This can often than railhead be formed if the space does not allow reverse loop behind it or it necessary shunting be regarded as an additional game. So-called shadow stations are also widespread with this type of system - simple parking groups under or next to (then also referred to as fiddle yard ) the system, which can be reached via "the way into the distance" and thus offer concealed parking options when operating with a large number of trains.
    Large systems of this type are often divided into segments that can be separated from one another. They are usually built one behind the other so that parts of the system can already be driven on / played on without it having to be completely finished. They also offer the advantage of being able to be removed for maintenance or other work in which the segment has to be worked on in positions that are difficult to reach when installed (for example, cabling on the underside). The segment construction thus combines many advantages of fixed and modular construction.
  • The supreme discipline of model railways is modular systems . Initially, only relatively small, thematically matching groups are built, which are provided with standardized end pieces and can thus be connected to one another as required. Since these types of systems can be set up and dismantled easily, space is a much smaller problem. With such systems, it is not uncommon for complete stations to be built only slightly shorter - sometimes with usable lengths of 10 m and more. In addition, when building a module you don't have to implement every topic that you want to build at some point on a plate and condense it contrary to the model - you just build it on another, independent module. One of the best-known supraregional associations that have dedicated themselves to modular construction is the Friends of European Model Railroaders (FREMO).

Permanent exhibition facilities

The Swiss Alps in the Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg

The miniature wonderland in Hamburg is currently (as of 2020) the largest model railway in the world with very detailed and lavishly designed landscape themes . The facility is located in the Speicherstadt and is a permanent exhibition on two floors with more than 1040 trains. The third largest model railway, Loxx Miniature Welten Berlin , was located in downtown Berlin in the Alexa shopping center on Alexanderplatz. It closed its doors on August 31, 2017. Other systems are e.g. As the more than 700 m² large Germany Express in Gelsenkirchen and the Model Railways in Bad Driburg . The former largest model railway in the world, Northlandz , is located in Flemington / USA . The facility lost its "title" in July 2005 when the Scandinavian section of the miniature wonderland , which began in 2004 , was completed.

Railway operating fields

A special feature are model railway systems for teaching and research purposes. These so-called railway operating fields are used for research and teaching of processes in railway operations , especially train protection . For this purpose, they have prototypical signaling and control. In some cases, the control takes place via real interlocking technology in original size. The model railway is only used as a display medium to visualize the movement of trains between the operating points. To this end, an attempt is made to match the driving behavior of the trains to the real models. In order to be able to optimally use the existing route lengths, the speed of the vehicles is reduced beyond the model scale. It is common to drive a speed scale of 1: 100 to 1: 250 on a scale of 1:87 (H0). In contrast, landscaping is usually not done.

The oldest of these systems had been in the premises of what was then the TH Darmstadt since the mid-1930s . It has now merged into the Darmstadt railway operations area.

An incomplete list of attachments of this type:

Country Institution (s) Name of the operating field Model scale Length
simulated route Track
Special Swell)
Germany TU Dresden "Railway Operations Laboratory (EBL)" 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) 1: 200 106 km 1300 m 1963
Germany Technical school Gotha "Gotha Railway Operation Area" 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) 1: 200 80 km 400 m 1966
Germany TU Darmstadt , Deutsche Bahn and AKA Bahn eV "Darmstadt Railway Area (EBD)" 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) 1: 250 90 km 900 m 2006
Germany RWTH Aachen "Railway technical teaching and testing facility (ELVA)" 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) 1: 200 100 km 1200 m
Germany TU Berlin "Railway operating and experimental field Berlin (EBuEf)" 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) 1: 250 28.6 km 270 m 1962
Germany Chemnitz Industrial School 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) no original control and safety technology
Germany TU Cottbus 1: 120 ( nominal size TT ) with landscaping
Germany University of Hanover
Germany Jade University in Oldenburg
Germany Deutsche Bahn Magdeburg training signal box 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) 2015
Switzerland ETH Zurich "Railway Operations Laboratory (EBL)" 600 m 1955
Switzerland SBB training center Loewenberg near Murten 1:87 ( nominal size H0 ) 900 m 1983
Russia Omsk State Railway University


Typical Märklin play area from the 1960s / 1970s without design: desert track

The simplest form of the design of a model railway is the so-called track desert - on the bare wooden plate there are only tracks, but no landscape. The ideal next level are realistic landscape elevations - the landscape is never really flat. Now a finer design follows: ballasting the tracks (on a multi-track line, the space between the tracks is completely ballasted), adding streets, houses and green spaces. Finally, you can decorate the whole thing with various accessories from cars and lamps to figures to garbage cans or individual plants. In addition, it is advisable to give plastic models a slight color treatment in order to get rid of the plastic sheen.

In the last few years, the ever smaller electronics made it possible to design and control accessories that are more and more complex. In the past only cable cars, mill wheels and railway barriers moved. Today buses, trucks and even cars without rails do their laps on a modern facility, smoke chimneys and blink traffic lights and blue lights. Trees fall under the moving ax of woodcutters, etc. More and more is possible, which means more and more effort and costs for the accessories.

Of course, existing designs or designs that are much simpler to create are also conceivable for a playground, such as houses made of Lego bricks or knight's castles , mills / ports or high-rise car parks for toy cars ; they incorporate earlier forms and pieces .

Model railway scales

A comparison: The DB BR 103 in size H0 and size Z
Self-made according to your imagination for LGB (size IIm)

There are model railways in a number of scales, with sizes between 1: 22.5 and 1: 220 being common today. By far the most common scale worldwide is probably 1:87 with the nominal size H0. In addition, in German-speaking countries (in approximate order of distribution) the nominal size N (1: 160), nominal size TT (1: 120), nominal size IIm (1: 22.5, garden railroad), nominal size Z (1: 220) and nominal size 1 (1:32) larger market shares. There are also sizes 0 (1: 43.5 or 1:45) and sizes S (1:64).


The history of the railways in Germany and other parts of Europe has been divided into different periods of time, epochs , to ensure that it is historically uniform and is appropriate to the era . In the regular operation of the railway companies, the ICE does not travel at the same time as a crocodile or a passenger steam locomotive on a branch line . In the course of the railway development, however, there were always important deadlines after which a change was made within a relatively short time - above all, of course, the establishment and renaming of railway companies. In order to facilitate the temporal allocation of the material, these are therefore allocated to the epochs, and sometimes even narrower periods within these epochs are given. In Germany, for example, a locomotive from Era II a represents the condition of the locomotive series between 1920 and 1925 - this typically means that newer lettering from the Deutsche Reichsbahn and older paintwork from the Länderbahn era coincided. Model railroaders often use these as one of the simplest means of delimiting their collection over time . There are different systems of epochs. The best known with five epochs was suggested by the railway historian G. Barthel around 1971 and standardized within the association . Nevertheless, there are still controversial interpretations to this day, for example when several selective changes were made within a relatively short time (e.g. the abolition of the third class in the mid-1950s, the introduction of the third headlight on locomotives and the reduction of smoke deflectors).


Live steam locomotive

The first models for the toy market were powered by a wind-up clockwork. Although this made it difficult to control the models, they were robustly built so that they could withstand the switches being gripped at full speed. There were also slow-travel and stop tracks that took control of the locomotive and could safely stop it. Other locomotives, mostly on a larger scale, were equipped with steam engines (live steam ).

The tracks for the clockworks were made of metal, with the left and right rails electrically connected to each other. For the upcoming electrically powered locomotives, a central rail was added to the tracks to ensure the greatest possible compatibility. This is electrically isolated from the rest of the track. The power is supplied via the center conductor, not via an overhead line or a side busbar, as in the original. As in the prototype, the track body represents the return conductor (= track mass). In addition, the construction is electrically symmetrical and therefore allows track figures that would have required additional electrical engineering that was hardly affordable at the time with a more prototypical two-track power supply. In the age of modern electronics, however, this is irrelevant.

Two-rail track
Märklin central conductor track

After the Second World War, the change from play to model railroad began, miniaturization and the demands on model fidelity progressed. The center conductor was therefore perceived as annoying. Märklin is the last major supplier to use a center conductor; however, since around 1955 this has been implemented in the form of optically inconspicuous point contacts. Most of the systems developed after the Second World War use plastic tracks in which the two rails are electrically separated from each other (pole and opposite pole). This two-rail system is internationally standardized ( NMRA and NEM ) and is used today by all manufacturers except Märklin.

Until the Second World War, at least in Germany, household electricity supplies were inconsistent. H. partly alternating, partly direct voltage, each at different levels. From today's perspective, the technical possibilities were also modest. For this reason, field winding or all-current motors were mainly used; the voltage was already around 20 V back then. Today, low voltage (typically 16 V, max. 24 V) and galvanic separation from the power supply network are used so that touching the tracks is harmless. Märklin uses AC voltage to this day in order to remain compatible with the earlier system. Systems developed since the Second World War (e.g. Fleischmann) use direct voltage, since rectifiers and durable permanent magnets were already available, which meant that the travel direction switching relay in the model locomotives could be saved.

There were also some analog multi-train control systems, the most important of which was Trix EMS. These systems are no longer manufactured today, partly due to technical difficulties. Digital multi-train control systems have existed since around 1985, i. H. Commands for locomotives are coded and transmitted in the supply voltage in the track and decoded by decoders built into the vehicle . After there were initially various protocols for these systems, the ones used by Märklin (Motorola, mfx) and the DCC system standardized according to NMRA have established themselves today . The SelecTRIX protocol is also widespread, especially for size N. What they all have in common is that they work with a kind of high-frequency square-wave alternating voltage .

Contrary to popular belief, there is or was any combination between central and double-bar systems on the one hand and direct and alternating voltage on the other, e.g. B. Märklin track 1 (two-rail alternating voltage) and Trix Express (central conductor direct voltage). Nevertheless, direct current / voltage is often incorrectly equated with a two-wire system, alternating current / voltage with a central conductor system.

Model railway control

Electric model railway systems can basically be controlled manually or automatically; both are possible in the "classic" form, either analog or with digital technology. There is also the option of semi-automatic control, in which the model railroader enters the commands manually, but is supported by an automatic system, for example for routes or with prototypical slow braking.

History of the model railway (focus on Germany)

The year 1784 can be seen as the beginning of model railroad history . The English engineer William Murdock built a test model of a trackless steam car that year . An essential difference to the toy train is certainly the drive, like the attempt to approximate the technical side of the models to the prototype.

Motherland England

In the motherland of the railway, in England , models of railway trains have been made since the beginning of the 19th century. At first they were also promotional models for the originals, which is reminiscent of the car models of the post-war period. In 1829 , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe received a model of the Rocket "for his grandchildren" from English friends (see illustration). This model is on display today in the permanent exhibition of the Goethe National Museum.

Model of the Rocket (gift to Goethe). Photo: German Museum of Technology Foundation, Feldhaus Collection.

Also in 1829, Diez Imbrechts built an operational model railway as a gift for the Spanish royal court.

In 1835, when the eagle travels from Nuremberg to Fürth for the first time and the railroad in Germany had its modest start, a colored cut-out sheet of the eagle procession and matching tin figures appeared . Five years later, in 1840, the first railway replicas made from sheet metal appeared in Germany.

The first child who demonstrably owned a model railroad was the imperial Prince Napoléon Eugène Louis Bonaparte in 1859 .

In 1862 the Myers company in London offered steam-powered locomotives in their catalog, and in 1869 the first verifiable advertisement was also found in Germany. The Carogatti company in Königsberg is praising "... locomotives with oscillating cylinders moving in the room ".

The first electrically powered railroad appeared in 1882 (Planck), and just a year later the two-rail, two-wire system was used for the first time in electrical railways. Models before that were operated without rails and are therefore referred to as floor runners . There is also the name dripper , which refers to early real steam models that left a trail of droplets on the floor.


Sheet metal model of a steam locomotive from around 1935 with a clockwork drive from Kraus Fandor

The first documented locomotive model with clockwork drive dates from 1886. Mind you, it is the first documented model, because it would have been technically feasible from around 1855, when other toys with clockwork drive appeared for the first time. Also in 1886, the toy manufacturer Bing from Nuremberg offered the first complete train set with tracks .

In 1887 Schönner moved from Nuremberg and presented steam-powered models with locomotives , wagons and tracks in several gauges (65 mm, approx. 1:22, 72 mm, 80 mm and 115 mm, approx. 1:12).

In 1891, the still leading German model railroad manufacturer, Märklin, presented rail models for the first time at the Leipzig trade fair , which could be traced back to a predecessor company "Lutz", whose designs Märklin had adopted. Märklin was the first manufacturer to classify the gauges in its range: 0, 1, 2 and 3, names that are still valid today. The shape called “Storchenbein” was typical of the first Märklin locomotive models: the large drive wheels were found on the first axle, the significantly smaller running wheels on the second axle according to the A1 axle sequence (the more common 1A axle sequence with a small pair of wheels on the the first axle and the larger drive wheels on the second axle is sometimes incorrectly called "Storchenbein"). In 1895 it was also Märklin who first offered switches and railway accessories (buildings, signals , tunnels ).

The first model locomotive based on the German model was manufactured by Schönner in 1900. In the same year there was the three- rail track from Märklin (central rail for power supply) and a year later, in 1901, also from Märklin a mechanical and an electrical remote control for points.

In addition, in 1901 the first discussions took place in magazines that dealt with the standardization of model railways. They probably resulted in the first manual of the model railroad by Bassett-Lowkes , in which the proposed standard developed by Greenly became known, which in turn was based on the Märklin standard of 1891 and which the manufacturers will follow in the future.

The gauge 00, later H0 (H stands for "half", the gauge was halved compared to zero gauge), with a gauge of 16.5 mm, made its debut in 1922. Is the first volume manufacturers of these gauge Bing in Nuremberg , they are not under the name 00 (or H0) but as Bing Table Railway ( Bing table top ), first in 1922 as a clockwork train with metal embankment track, starting in 1924 with electric drive, brought out. This train was made of thin lithographed sheet metal and was still developed as a toy. Although Bing was a Nuremberg company, the products were heavily geared towards the English market.

As a result of the global economic crisis, production of the Bing table track had to be stopped in 1932. The molds and tools were taken over by Bub, who continued production in a slightly different form or with their own products until 1937.

Before that, Märklin had a 00 track in its range, but not with the 16.5 mm track, but with 26 mm (1908, Märklin's Liliput track). Bing and Bub also had tracks in gauges between 20 and 28 mm (1912, Bing, battery drive), i.e. smaller than track 0.

When the Deutsche Reichsbahn celebrated the 100th anniversary of the railroad in Germany at great expense in 1935, the 00 gauge Trix Express with a three-conductor Bakelite track that enabled two-train operation was first presented and launched on the market at the Leipzig spring fair. The remote-controlled travel direction switch in this size was also new. The Trix Express program was already designed as a model railway and, thanks to the great response and demand, was gradually expanded and supplemented with new functions (e.g. automatic couplers, remote-controlled uncoupling tracks, locomotives with light change and remote-controlled couplings, signals with train control). The locomotives were now made of die-cast zinc, the cars were still made of lithographed sheet metal. Märklin presented its 00 program at the Leipzig Autumn Fair in 1935 and also expanded it in competition with Trix. Due to the Nuremberg race laws, the Jewish founder of Trix, Stephan Bing, was forced to sell his company and leave his home country Germany in 1938. He continued the development of the Trix-Express-Bahn under the name Trix Twin Railway in England. The products of the German and English Trix production can still be combined. The same fate befell the founders of Doll & Co. , who emigrated to Boston in the United States and after the war had their shares from Fleischmann , from which they were taken over in 1938, cashed out.

After the Second World War (between 1949 and 1952) the 00 gauge was designated as the H0 gauge .

Trix Express train station system, as it has been found in many German train stations since the 1970s (Wuppertal Hbf, now dismantled as part of the Döppersberg conversion )

In 1927 the VDE introduced a limitation of the operating voltage for toys and model trains to a maximum of 24  volts . The connection devices with lamp series resistors that were customary up to that point were no longer allowed to be sold or used because of the risk of electric shock (danger to life). Now transformers with galvanic isolation of the coils and circuit breakers were used (or rotating converters in households with a direct current network). The corresponding symbol for identification is therefore a stylized electric locomotive to this day.

It can be made even smaller

After the Second World War, the production and delivery of model railways to private sellers by the well-known companies only started slowly again. During this time, some small companies developed new, very small railways, such as the Staiger company with the Mignon-Bahn (10 mm gauge) and the Löhmann company with the Precix-Bahn (13 mm gauge). These tracks were only produced for a few years, but proved the technical possibility of building smaller nominal sizes.

At the Hanover Fair in 1949, Rokal presented a 1: 120 scale track with a 12 mm gauge, which was produced over a longer period of time and led to the establishment of the TT track . In the GDR , the center track - as it is often called after the appearance of the nominal size N - gained greater importance than in the Federal Republic of Germany . The Lower Rhine company Rokal (later Röwa ) remained the only manufacturer of this size in the west. When it filed for bankruptcy in 1974/75, the end of this trail in the west was sealed. Not so in the GDR, where it was a popular and widespread nominal size ( Zeuke ).

Two Märklin models of the class 103

In 1952, the Fleischmann company from Nuremberg presented their H0 train for the first time. Since then, Fleischmann has been one of the leading model railway manufacturers in Germany.

From 1958 the Trix company offered non-motorized roller models on a scale of 1: 180 for a few years.

In 1960, the toy company Arnold from Nuremberg succeeded in introducing a model railroad in a scale of 1: 160, initially with an 8 mm gauge. This then became a more scaled track of 9 mm. The nominal size N was the next milestone in the sense of: "It can be made even smaller". Minitrix and Fleischmann Piccolo followed a few years later. In the nominal size N, the power system and couplings were standardized between all manufacturers for the first time. The joint use of vehicles from all manufacturers is possible without any modifications.

Twelve years later, in 1972, Märklin reduced this mark to 6.5 mm gauge ( nominal size Z ), which, with a scale of 1: 220, was the smallest functional, industrially manufactured model railway by 2008.

In 2008, at the Nuremberg Toy Fair, the small Japanese company Eishindo presented a 1: 480 scale train on a 3 mm gauge, which so far has only been offered by Japanese multiple units.

measure up

The world's most important trade fair for model railways is the Nuremberg Toy Fair , where innovations have been presented since it was founded; however, their importance has decreased. The largest commercial trade fair in this sector in German-speaking countries is the annual Intermodellbau in Dortmund. In addition, several regional and local exhibitions and sales fairs have developed over the past few decades.

Limits to scale and conscious immeasurability

Model of an ABm 225 from the model railway manufacturer Roco in scale H0 length

The first model railroad items were only roughly approximated to the prototype, but this changed very quickly towards true-to-scale replicas - with a few exceptions. The immeasurability is due, on the one hand, to the fact that the production methods must be adapted to what is technically and economically feasible for the respective production time. Another reason is the physics, which does not change in scale, for example in inertia behavior .

Due to the sometimes extremely narrow curve radii (model radii of only a good 20 m converted to prototype radii of as close as 180 m), passenger coaches in particular are still offered in various shortened versions to this day. In gauge H0, there are cars in the length scale 1: 110 (hardly offered today), 1: 100 (now mostly as entry-level models), 1:93 ( Märklin and Fleischmann ) and unabridged cars, i.e. 1:87. Building models are often scaled down even more. In order to accommodate more houses per area, buildings are often only designed on a scale of 1: 120; there are sometimes even greater shortenings in the height: especially very high structures such as wind turbines are often shortened to 1: 200 and more. In recent years, however, there has also been a trend towards objects that are more scaled, at least horizontally.

The wheel-rail system, which in many sizes dates back to before the Second World War, is also not true to scale. A scale wheel in H0 would have a width of around 1.5 mm and a flange of 0.3 mm height. Internationally, the designation Proto: (here the number of the scale follows, in H0 for example 87 ) has established itself for vehicles that are exactly to scale on precisely-to-scale track systems . Such wheels can certainly be bought, but they require adjustments to the turnouts, which must also have exact 1:87 dimensions.

Commercial track systems are operated in H0 with the usual NEM wheels with a width of 2.8 mm and a flange of up to 1.2 mm. The latter in particular has recently been reduced more and more often (usually to 0.68 mm, which means that the ratio to the wheel width is correct again), also because the wheel spacing is too small on many steam locomotives - in the past, the center distance was increased or the wheel diameter was reduced instead .

Many of these model railroad-typical compromises are due to downward compatibility, but also to conservative customers who consider these deviations to be operationally necessary. It is difficult to assess exactly where the limits of what is feasible or even sensible are - some model railroaders already consider what is common today to be exaggerated and unnecessarily susceptible, on the other hand there are hobbyists who, for example, real steam models (see next paragraph) in Z gauge, i.e. scale 1: 220 build. The tendency of the last few years (in particular the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s) has largely been in the direction of exact scale. This development is summarized under the keyword Finescale .

Real steam

Another line of development in model making is represented by many replicas in real steam . Like the original, the model vehicle is operated with a steam engine. To this end, clubs on the subject have been founded in continental Europe since the 1980s , after such clubs had previously existed mainly in England. Regular viewing meetings are held in some places in Europe; Examples of this are the Echtdampf- Stainz and the Echtdampf-Hallentreffen Karlsruhe ( Echtdampf Sinsheim until 2009 ). The standard sizes are naturally more in the area of ​​the garden railroad , but also in the larger nominal sizes, such as 0, I and IIm, there are real steam locomotives as series and small series models. In H0 and other small nominal sizes, real steam locomotives are only offered sporadically.

In the past, handling in closed rooms was not entirely unproblematic, since the drive is not interrupted when derailing, as is the case with electric locomotives. Leaking and igniting alcohol has repeatedly led to fires. The more modern gas-heated real steam models, on the other hand, are considered to be operationally reliable.

Other rail models

In addition to the faithful replicas of the model railways, other replicas focus on their use.

See also


  • Wolfgang Bahnert: My technology, my models - building structures for the model railroad based on specific models, Bildverlag Böttger, Witzschdorf 2006, ISBN 978-3-937496-14-6 .
  • Manfred Hoße: Lexicon of the model railway . Transpress, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-613-71239-3 . 352 pages.
  • Uwe Lechner: Model railway dreams. The most beautiful layouts from the "model railroader" . Transpress, 3rd edition 2002, ISBN 3-613-71117-6 . 125 pages.
  • Horst Meier: The USA model railway book. American-style systems - and how they are built . Geramond, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-7654-7332-4 , 168 pages.
  • Rudolf Ring: The illustrated lexicon of model railway technology . Geramond, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-86245-503-4 , 184 pages.
  • Alexander Schleberger: Course book digital model railroad . Publisher: Sybex. 2006. 383 pages, ISBN 3-8155-0608-5 .


  • Götz Adriani: On the trail of the game. The myth of the model railway . Hatje Cantz Publishing House. 2003, ISBN 3-7757-9183-3 . (320 pages on the Märklin history)
  • Gustav Reder : With clockwork, steam and electricity: from toys to model trains . Alba, Düsseldorf, 1988 (2nd edition), 258 pages, ISBN 3-87094-455-2 .
  • Bernhard Stein: International type manual. Model railway . Bechtermünz Vlg., Augsburg, ISBN 3-8289-5323-9 . 576 pages (partly reprint of a catalog from 1978)

An important part of the “literature” on this hobby are the company catalogs , which mostly appear in autumn (before Christmas business). The suggestions for plant construction were and are very important for spreading the hobby. Larger companies rely on their "in-house authors" who, in addition to easily reproducible systems, always present complex replicas of depots and train stations as appetizers. Newer catalogs are available on CD and on the Internet .

Also the meanwhile strongly expanded trade in video films from tv programs, congress reports (trade fairs, annual meetings of individual sectors) or product promotions by manufacturers are mentioned. This multimedia area must be processed separately.

Web links

Commons : Model railway  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Model railroad  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Lecture by TU Dresden (PDF; 2.7 MB)
  2. Website of the EBL Dresden ( Memento of the original of February 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ^ Website of the Darmstadt railway operations field
  5. ^ Website of the academic working group for rail transport at TU Darmstadt eV
  6. RWTH Aachen: The railway technology teaching and testing facility of RWTH Aachen
  7. Model railway layout ELVA of RWTH Aachen newly opened. In: Rail Jobs. March 26, 2019, accessed on June 19, 2019 (German).
  10. Archived copy ( Memento of the original dated December 7, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. ^ Laboratory for Railway Technology ( Memento of the original from March 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. Volksstimme: Clear the way in the training signal box , July 30, 2015, accessed on July 31, 2015
  13. ^ Catalog Weimar Classic. Karl Hanser Verlag, Munich, Volume 2, p. 852.
  14. SWR series Railway Romanticism, part 223: Wonderful world made of tinplate , Schönner
  15. Manufacturer's website from Eishido (Japanese)
  16. Due to the various physical quantities that flow into the force calculation when cornering, the force does not change linearly, but with the fourth (!) Power, i.e. for the scale H0 (1:87) to 1: 57.289.761.