When I was a child I received an American Flyer train set for Christmas but it consisted of only an oval. I began collecting Märklin trains in 1972. My wife gave me a small starter set for Christmas AND a Märklin catalog. When I read the Märklin catalog I realized that my dream of having some switches on a layout could be realized. And so it began. I purchased some switches which of course required more track. With more track I had room for more trains. You get the picture. My wife created a monster which she kept feeding. Every Christmas she has bought me one or more engines and cars to go with the engine.
Initially I had a layout in our first home in Chappaqua, New York. Unfortunately I have no pictures of that layout.
We move to Garden City, New York where I had plenty of room in a finished basement. The layout there began as an 8 feet by 4 feet layout. I added a second 8 by 4 bench and connected the two. Then I added an "L" to the two 8 by 4's. That layout grew considerably since that first starter set with a simple oval in Chappaqua. We moved to Westbury, New York and had limited space in our finished basement. But there was enough space to create a very functional layout but on three levels rather than just one.
As a gift an artist friend and colleague at Nassau Community College painted a picture of Heaven as he thought it would be for me. I found a sign in a train store which says it best. The little guy in the lower left of the picture is an engineer bear created by a student in the Nassau Community College Fashion Design Program. There was room for this picture and sign in my Garden City home but, unfortunately, not enough room in my new home.
Most of the pictures on this web site are of my "old" Garden City layout which was begun in 1982. The old layout was 23 feet by 24 feet. That layout is now history as of November 2009! I moved in November 2009 to a new home and started to build a new layout one year later in November 2010.
My New Layout
The new layout is only 12 feet by 14 feet but has enough space for an exciting layout. The new layout, is three tiered. It was assembled using pre-built benchwork modules. The modules were designed by Zeke Sampson and built by Barry Kreigsman. Go to the Layout Section to see the construction of the layout, the track installation and pictures of the completed layout. Although no layout is every completed. They are always a work in progress as is mine. Each time that I run the trains on it I get another idea to improve it.
I have added pictures of the construction of the new layout as well as picutures of some old and some new engines and sets that I have been running on the new layout. As I get new items and put them on the layout I will post new pictures. Of course that presents a problem since there is limited space on the layout and so I have decided, as many of fellow train enthusiasts have, to rotate trains.
One last point. I run the new layout using one Central Station, two Mobile Stations and two Marklin boosters. I also use my iPad and my iPhone as well to control trains and turnouts using the Central Station program iPad program and the Mobile Station iPhone program. I find that of all the control systems that I have used or tried, the Central Station is the best and most versatile.
Most of the information below pertains to my old Garden City layout.
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My old layout consisted of, , engines and cars and one engine and one Morep railcar. Initially the Märklin engines were conventional but when Märklin began its digital line I converted all of my engines to digital and have purchased digital engines ever since. The HAG engines are also digital with most of them purchased as digital engines converted at the factory with Märklin decoders, most of them 6090's. The Roco engines all have Motorola (Märklin) decoders in them. Most were purchased with the decoder factory installed and several earlier models had the decoder installed by a dealer. I installed two myself since recent Roco engines come with a connector for decoders. The Brawa engine has a Roco decoder and the Morep railcar has the only decoder. I am still using most of these loks.
The old layout was 24 feet by 20 feet and was divided into sections. There were two large sections, one a German city and the other an industrial area with a sidings, a turntable, a roundhouse and assorted factories and industrial buildings. There was a long section between these two that is 10 tracks wide which was both a yard and a main line connecting the city and industrial sections. There was a fourth section that was a two tiered yard with a combined total of 15 sidings. Finally, there was a section with a small village and farm. All of these were interconnected allowing a train to run from one to the other, making stops at the various stations along the way.
The buildings were mainly Vollmer with some Kibri. I hoped to add some tunnels and mountains to the layout which would have allowed me to add a village or two. That never happened.
The old layout was originally powered by 6 Mărklin transformers and 5 Mărklin boosters. I replaced them with a single Eckert EE 300D digital power unit which provides both a power source and booster for 12 preset wattage channels. I used 4 channels for track power to 4 layout sections and 2 for switches and signals. The remaining channels were used for accessories and future layout expansion. I completely rewired the layout using stranded 12 gauge bare copper wires for track power, switches/signals, common ground and accessories. In some places I used insulated 12 gauge wire. I connected distribution points throughout the layout from each of these allowing for easy connections to tracks and switches/signals. The layout was totally digital.
Click here to see the entire 360o view of the layout. Click on the picture and move the cursor.
Click here to see a panoramic view of the farm-siding-city sections of the layout. Click on the picture and move the cursor. Move the cursor to the left to start viewing.
Click here to see a 360° panoramic view of the of the layout. Click on the picture and move the cursor. Move the cursor to the left to start viewing.
Click here to see a video taken of the Industrial section as a consist with the camera facing at a right angle to the direction of travel travels around the mainline.
I controlled the layout with an made by and to which had attached a Märklin keyboard, control 80f and an interface attached. I added an Uhlenbrock IB Remote, two Uhlenbrock IB Switches, three Uhlenbrock Daisy's two Uhlenbrock FREDS and an IRIS (IR unit). These were all connected with a LocoNet system with Loy's Toys connectors located all around the layout. I also controlled my trains using a Windows program, , which allowed me to run a train as if I had a Control 80F and keyboards. With TPL you can run various routes that you create using simple commands. I had routes that ran five trains at the same time. With planning one could run ten or more trains at the same time. The program also has a graphing module which allowed me to diagram my layout and control switches and signals from the diagram.
I used to control the trains with an infra-red system developed by Modellbahn Ott connected to the Mărklin interface in order to run the trains when I was a distance away from the computer or the Control 80F. While it was still connected, I used the Uhlenbrock IRIS which is a far more versatile and powerful infra-red unit. It allowed the control of any four loks and could control functions 1-12. It can set any turnout and can even control routes created with the IB. The Iris is a really powerful unit to have. If makes working on switches under the layout easier to test, allows easy control of a lok when it derails a good distance from the other controls. I just walked to the lok, corrected the problem and turned the layout back on and controlled the lok from right there.
There were 120 switches, including slip and three way switches and a dozen or so signals. The layout had 5 Mărklin S 88's which had 60 contact tracks connected to them. I replaced the Mărklin S 88's with Uhlenbrock S 88's which connect directly to the LocoNet. This saved a tremendous amount of wiring.
Initially, the layout had all Mărklin metal track but I converted most of the mainlines to C track for better conductivity since the layout was entirely digital. I made my own transition tracks allowing me to connect C track to M track virtually anywhere on the layout. The only problem I encountered with the change to C track was the unavailability of wide double slip C track switches forcing me to retain the M track switches. I replaced many of the M contact tracks with C contact tracks.
I no longer need any of the IB items and also, the Eckert unit. Any one interested in these items can contact me at:
My MTH Trains
I have several Mike's Train House 0 Gauge engines with appropriate car sets that I ran on the floor surrounding my layout. I was attracted to these engines because of their realistic scale, the sounds that they make and the quality of the product. I got hooked and, as happened with my Märklin layout, the MTH layout has grown over the past several years. I have added a few pictures of the engines and will eventually put them all on this home page as time permits. I have a limited MTH layout in my new home. It is a simple dog-bone layout with a single siding. I have it for my grandchildren who love to run the "big" trains.
Your Host.The trains in the picture of me above are not New York City subway cars; they are Idee+Spiel M ärklin cars from a passenger train consist pulled by a BR 111, also graffiti covered. The graffiti is different on each car and on each side of the cars as well. The train is really a colorful sight and can be seen in the "Pictures" section of my web site.
Additional photos will be posted periodically to give a better view of the total layout. I hope you enjoy your visit to my page.