Chapter 1. Off the Rails

Those familiar with my work know I'm über-fussy about realism. But on this occasion, it may seem as if I've gone completely off the rails. Another small layout? And one with no attention paid to reality?

Well, all of the research I'd been doing for the The Birth of N Scale made me rather nostalgic, and eventually I succumbed to a wistful yearning for simpler times, when people were happy to see train-like objects go round and round through fanciful landscapes, none of which resembled anything in real life. So, with a surfeit of old Postage Stamp merchandise that was only collecting dust, I decided to put some of it to use, and thus I arrived at the Postage Stamp Central, a nonsense railroad recursively serving the bustling 'burb of Aurora in a strange mashup country called Germerica.

Inspiration was derived from a demo layout Faller built to promote their new bus system (above). They either built a second layout for the American market, or heavily modified the original (below). Yet another variation can be seen in a video.

I decided to modify the plan—as I'm wont to do, naturally—to make it just a wee bit more interesting. The original was simply an oval with a long alternate route; I turned it into a twice-around (below).

A given for this layout was of course a bus system. (AnyRail doesn't have the bus track library, so I made my own using images from the track packages.) Here too I tweaked the original design a bit for added interest: the bypass I created will allow me to run two buses, each alternately in the opposite direction. Using two of the same direction of switch offers a passive means to control the buses: they will naturally go straight, so each one will take the route the other does not, and a relay circuit will park one bus while the other does the rounds.

To be fair, the original Faller plan, above, was based on their standard bus set (blue) plus a curve track set (yellow) and a bypass track set (red), so they were constrained by those parts, whereas I have a large stockpile of used leftover track from which I can pick and choose the pieces that work best—all of which is to say this isn't an out-of-the-box solution. But my motive for building the layout is not to adhere slavishly to period merchandise or logical product combinations; it's to cut loose and have fun.

As for the setting, given the increase in railroad and bus track congestion as compared to the original version, I've opted for over-the-top suburban, featuring a veritable glut of housing—I've got a boatload of kits, so I may as well use them (and yes, I'm also making a statement about overdevelopment). Plus there's two stupidly large stations facing each other, one of which will serve as a bus terminal/shopping mall. And nearly everything is aligned on 45- and 90-degree angles as a nod and a wink to that design sense. I'll admit it: I'm easily amused, and this project will allow me to satisfy my inner child in a big way.

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