Stein am Berg, Part 2

Stein am Berg, Part 2

The plan — and initial structures

By Ernest H. Robl

This is the second installment of a series about the ideas, structures, and background that went into the development of the town of Stein am Berg for my current layout project. What follows will make more sense if you first read the original part:

By Ernest H. Robl

Okay, the town of Stein am Berg currently exists only as part of my layout plan — and as a collection of structures that will make up that town. But, these structures are what the town is all about. And, because, as I pointed out in the initial installment of this series, this is at least in part a tribute to someone whose work I respected, I wanted to do a good job with these structures. So, I thought I would share what went into selecting and modifying these structures.

Here’s a look at an earlier and then the current version — two of many versions that have evolved over time — of the plan for the layout peninsula that will contain Stein am Berg. (There’s hidden trackage below, that is not shown on this plan.)


This was an earlier concept for this peninsula. The upper and left borders of this image are actual walls of the room. The edge of this section of the layout will run parallel with the station tracks at Stein am Berg. An even earlier version had three tracks in the station area — one of which I eliminated at least partly to provide a wider aisle. (As with most illustrations in these Blog posts, click on the images to view a larger version.)


But, after giving this concept a lot of thought, it evolved into this version, with several operational improvements.

The town will have four — maybe five — major structures. (At this point, I;m not yet sure what will go on the spur at the top center of the plan.):

  • The station
  • A small hotel adjoining the station
  • A structure for the Bahnmeister (roadmaster/track supervisor) for this section, including a “garage” to house a track maintenance vehicle and a short spur for one or two freight cars related to track maintenance.
  • The large agricultural co-op complex that will receive and ship a variety of freight.

(Of course, there is more to the town of Stein, but it’s on the other side of the tracks — beyond the edge of the layout.)

Evolving the plan

The initial plan had a spur — possibly for a grave loading facility (I already had a Kibri kit built) — on the grade up from the main station at Mittelstadt to Stein. I decided that having a switch on the grade might be problematic — and that it would be difficult to provide a reasonable road access to the facility.

I also shortened the length of the station siding at Stein slightly, by moving the curved crossover switchers closer to the front. This still provides plenty of length for even moderate size freight trains of up to about six to eight cars, depending on the length of the cars. Moving the curved turnouts also made it somewhat easier locate the grade crossing that leads off the layout to the left.

I slightly changed the arrangement of the tracks in the Bahnmeister complex to make a little more space for the town square in the middle of the layout.

What will go on the spur at the top of the layout hasn’t been decided yet, but the gravel loader won’t really fit in the middle of an otherwise scenic town.


Operations on this branch will consist of three main types of traffic:

  • A local passenger train (only running twice a day) from Mittelstadt up to the end of the branch at Kleinbach. Normally this will be provided by a solo diesel Triebwagen (powered railcar), though it may sometimes pull a bicycle transport boxcar. On special occasions, or when the Triebwagen is out of service, the train may be operated by a diesel locomotive and two passenger cars.
  • A local freight operating between Mittelstadt and Kleinbach.
  • Steam powered excursion trains from the railroad museum at Kleinbach will run between other traffic and terminate at Stein, with the locomotive running around its short train there. (On special occasions, the steam train may operate all the way to Mittelstadt.)

The Bahnmeister may send out his track maintenance vehicle (a Viessmann model of an Austrian version of a Robel utility vehicle) up or down the track for inspection and maintenance work. And, on occasion, a larger work train with various equipment may show up.

The normal operation for the local freight would be to have cars for Stein at the front and cars for Kleinbach at the rear.

On reaching Stein, the train goes into track 2 (next to the station) and the engine cuts off from the train, pulling all outgoing cars from Stein and placing them on track 1. The engine then returns to its train and this time pulls out the new cars for Stein, leaving the cars for Kleinbach on track 2. The engine then places the inbound cars on various tracks at Stein and returns to its remaining train on track 1, departing for Kleinbach. (Normally there would not be any cars going from Stein to Kleinbach.)

The train then proceeds to Kleinbach and switches the tracks there. On its return trip with outbound cars from Kleinbach, the train proceeds through track 1 and backs into track 2 to pick up the outbound cars from Stein, before proceeding back to Mittelstadt.

Once the entire freight is in track 1, it could have a meet with an up-bound passenger train using track 2.

One reason the outbound cars are stored on track 1 is that the station track remains open for passenger (or other) trains. However, with the stored cars, an engine from another train cannot run around its train — without a lot of extra work.,

The structures

The station and hotel are essentially complete and the subject of this installment; The Bahnmeister building is also essentially complete, and, as it involved the complete reworking of two Kibri structures, will likely be the subject of a future article. The co-op complex is currently (March 2018) a work in progress and will get a look in a later part in this series.

As noted in the introductory part, it was the stone station — based on the original appearance of the station at Flirsch on the Arlberg line in Austria, that would set the tone for the town’s character. Fortunately, I found several similar kits that would fit that style. Some of these were built as intended; others received a substantial reworking.

The station

The station is a Pola kit, one of that company’s “Meister” (master) series, that was originally built — many years ago — fairly much as intended in the kit’s instructions. It had been sitting on a bookshelf in my living room (along with some display track and a few pieces of rolling stock) while I’ve lived at three different locations.

When I first built this kit, probably about 20 years ago, LED lighting was still well off in the future, so, I had wired the structure with a series of tiny light bulbs. The first step was to remove these and rewire the structure with LEDs, particularly with a strip of LED lights under the trackside canopy.


This Pola catalog illustration shows the station as it was intended to look. Note the lack of shutters and flower boxes — and the old-style station signs.



And, here’s the station as I built it, after its “modernization.”

Then, as the station has only a short section of usable platform, I built an entirely new platform around the building — with short extensions the left and right. The platform around the building came from left-over parts from when I turned several modern Kibri station kits into a department store.


Of course, the platforms to the left and right also needed platform lights, though these were not yet hooked up in the photos here. (The platform lamps are from Viessmann, and have LEDs.)

As I am using Roco Line track with roadbed, both the main structure and the accompanying platforms had to be shimmed up to a more appropriate height in comparison to the top of the track.

Because the kit depicts the station in its era 1-2 appearance, I had originally built it with details appropriate to that era, for example with crates and barrels piled around the station. All those obviously dated details were removed and more figures appropriate to era 5-6 were added.

I made station signs matching the current Austrian style in two different sizes.

I also added shutters and flower boxes, as well as ÖBB “Pflatsch” logos A few parts that had come loose over the years were reglued. Fortunately, I had not glued the roofs during original construction, which made wring in the LEDs much simpler.

(The shutters came from a Kibri accessory kit that is not currently offered by that company but that can still be found on the Internet from some European dealers.)

On the whole, these changes were not a huge project, and the made a substantial impact on the appearance of the station. I’ll add more details after final installation, because many of these details have a tendency to break or fall off during handling.

The hotel

An obvious second key structure was a small hotel — actually more of a guesthouse/bed and breakfast for visitors to the town.

For this I used another Pola kit, which was actually supposed to represent an administration building for a BayWa agricultural co-op. Though this kit was based on a real prototype, it was similar enough in style to have used many of the same moldings as the Flirsch station kit.

The L-shaped structure was basically built as intended. (The main building has a small annex at a right angle.) It was the addition of details that turned the structure into a hotel. These included:

  • The hotel signs
  • Shutters on all the windows, along with some flower boxes
  • Outdoor furniture populated by a few “touristy” figures
  • The addition of a large vent on the annex, which is now the kitchen for the hotel


This overview shows the basically completed hotel.


And here’s a closer look at some of the details added to the structure.


Finally this image shows approximately how the hotel and station will be placed in relation to each other.

At the time that these photos were made, I had not yet added lighting to the hotel, but that is certainly on the project list, as almost all the structures in this town will have lights.

Something to think about

My goal for this series is not to have you exactly copy any of these structures but to think about how you can modify structures to more closely reflect your vision of a scene you are trying to build.

To be continued

The next installment of this series will take a small detour from the progression of this thread to look at the real town of Flirsch and to provide an overview of models made by Pola. (Though this firm has not existed for more than two decades, it still has a loyal following among European modelers, and unbuilt kits can still be found from Internet vendors from time to time. And, of course, Faller now offers many of the former HO  and N Pola kits as parts of its line, though sometimes with modifications from their initial appearance.)

The fourth installment will look at the agricultural co-op that is the main industry at Stein am Berg — and how I managed to fit a lot of features into about two and a half feet of space.


As always, comments are welcome.


3 Responses to Stein am Berg, Part 2

  1. Gordon says:

    What kind of “LED strip” did you use under the station canopy? I plan to do something similar on mine, though I would, of course, use something appropriate to N scale. Also, on the hotel’s kitchen annex, what is the green reclining chair shaped thing?

    As always, I enjoyed this essay.


  2. Ernest Robl says:

    The LED strips I have been using so far have been white Radio Shack strips bought at close-out prices. These are designed for 12 volt power supplies, and can be dimmed with an analog DC model railroad throttle. Though they have the same product number, it is obvious that some of these are from different manufacturers, as they have small differences. The last 1-meter strip has had some problems, so I have bought another LED strip on Ebay, which I have not yet received. (Should arrive within the next few days.) This strip was considerably less expensive than the Radio Shack ones and even included a 12-volt power supply.

    As you cannot really see the lights themselves, I would consider these LED strips scale independent — as they weren’t really designed for model railroad use — but work quite well for it. I have also installed LED segments on some older island passenger platforms. Because of the columns that support the roof, I could not use one continuous strip. So I had to solder small jumper wires between the strips of either three or six LEDs. (The strips I have been using were designed to be cut every three LEDs.)

    The green item on the outside of the kitchen annex is supposed to represent external drain pipes. It came with the kit, so I figured it would still be appropriate, regardless of how the annex is used.


    – Ernest

  3. Ernest Robl says:

    Forgot to mention: The Radio Shack strips came with plastic waterproofing, which I removed, as it served on useful purpose on an indoor layout — just adding bulk to the strips.

    Also, the LED strips I have installed so far have been mounted with thin double-sided foam tape. I have been using the thinnest version I could find.

    – Ernest

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