Friday, 28 September 2012

Product Feature - Viessmann E-motion Series

We have just received a new 23 minute (!) long video from Viessmann demonstrating the full line of eMotion products as well as the HO scale Plasser & Theurer Stopfexpress 09-3X track maintenance car with its animated ballast tampers.  This is an amazing product line and has been one our best-sellers since it launched. Figures range from firemen to farmers to chickens and a rearing horse, and other products include fountains, railroad water cranes, a children's see-saw and even a helicopter with moving blades. Like the Faller Car System, these products allow you to add animation and movement to your layout beyond your trains. They are also a guaranteed highlight if you have children or other visitors to your layout.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Building a N-Scale Layout – Stable Benchwork

For any model railroad, a stable, well thought out foundation is extremely important.  I found this out the hard way when I rushed into using something new on my last N-scale layout. I made some snap decisions building the foundation of the layout that in part led to me tearing up that layout and starting anew. 

I wanted to ensure that my layout could be disassembled and moved without being destroyed so the benchwork needed to be built in modules and be as lightweight and easy to move as possible. I decided to keep the roughly the same dimensions as the last layout (L-shaped approx 10x7 feet) as it worked well in the room and I also wanted to reuse the old staging yard (along one wall) if possible. I decided on dividing the layout into three modules, one 6x3 foot and two roughly 4x3. There are many resources on the internet and books that cover benchwork construction so I am not going to get into detail but I will highlight a couple of the techniques I used help make my benchwork work for me.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Product Feature - The Viessmann 09-3x Stopfexpress Rail Stabilizer in HO Scale

Available now in our store!
This has to be one of the more exciting products we have seen in the store this year. The Viessmann 2906x series are detailed and animated scale models of the Plasser & Theurer 09-3x Stopfexpress modern track stabilizer. This track maintance car aligns rail and tamps and levels track & ballast in one continuous operation. The prototype can be found on modern railways around the world.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Building a N-Scale Layout – Beginning to plan...

Before I even made the decision to tear down my previous N scale layout I drew up a quick list of elements the layout must have or improve on and others that were not as important to me. This is a great way to get a lot of ideas and layout elements down on paper and help focus the planning of a layout. Keep in mind that these are only my personal preferences based on my likes, dislikes and experiences so far. Everyone is going to have different elements they want to emphasize on a layout and others that are not as important to them.

iPhone & iPad Apps for European Model Railroaders - PART TWO

The Apple app store for iOS devices is full of useful items for model railroaders. Here are a few more of our favorites. Click on the titles of each app to go to the Apple app store.


One of the trickiest bits of layout building is getting grades and inclines correct. This is where Clinometer comes in. It uses the iPhone's built-in gyroscopes to become an accurate inclinometer to measure percentage grade. There are plenty of other apps that work as carpenter's levels or inclinometers but we like this one as it was the only one we found that displays grade as a percentage, which is the measurement model railroaders often use. This app works best with the newer iphones which have one perfectly flat side so you can leave the phone on your grade to measure it without having to hold it in place.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Our HO Store Layout

Our latest HO scale store display layout came to us in early 2010 after touring European train shows and the German Toy Fair for 2 years with Brawa. The layout was built in Germany by well-known modeler Karl Gebel as an automated display layout for Brawa. Two trains can run automatically using a combination of Digital Command Control (DCC), reed switches, relays & signals.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

iPhone & iPad Apps for European Model Railroaders - PART ONE

With the impending arrival of the Roco Z21 digital system and its tablet based control system we thought we would take a look at some other model railroading related apps for those who own an Apple iPad or iPhone (we will try to cover Android apps at a later date). Click on the titles of each app to go to the Apple app store.


SEPTEMBER 2012 ONLY:  To promote the app, VGB has made all 2010 back issues and some special issues of the magazines available for FREE during September 2012. 


Free app with in-app purchases
Bahn_Kiosk is the free mobile app from VGB, the distribution group for MIBA, Eisenbahn Journal and Modelleisenbahner magazines.  The app lets you purchase and read the monthly magazines as well as special issues and other books and publications right on your iOS device. This is a great way to get access to the latest German model railroading publications without have to pay for an expensive overseas subscription. While the magazines are in german, the app is localized for a  english so non-german speakers will still be able to find their way around the app.  All the publications have a preview of the cover, table of contents, and first few pages you can download without cost. The digital magazines cannot be transferred off your device but the app does support printing from iOS.

Using ESU Switchpilots for bi-polar Switch Machines

ESU 51800 Switchpilot
One of our favorite products is the ESU Switchpilot line of accessory DCC/Motorola decoders. The basic ESU Switchpilot (ESU # 51800) can control 4 twin-coil switch machines or 8 electrical loads such as lights, uncoupling tracks etc.  It also comes with two connections for controlling servo motors (which can be used for animation or throwing turnouts). The Switchpilot Servo (ESU # 51820) is the all-servo version of the Switchpilot decoder with only 4 servo connections.  Both versions offer a wealth of programming options that let you completely customize the way the decoders operate. We don't know of any other accessory decoders that feature the wide range of control and customization that the Switchpilot offers.  Additionally ESU also produces the optional Switchpilot Extension (ESU # 51801) which adds 4 twin relay outputs linked to the Switchpilot/Switchpilot Servo 4 main outputs.  These relays are great for isolating electrical loads, polarizing turnout frogs, or any other wiring situation you may encounter.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Building a N-Scale Layout – The old layout and lessons learned

The Old Layout Track Plan
Early this summer I decided I was not happy with my previous n-scale layout. A move to a new home forced me to disassemble my previous small layout (it would not fit down a hallway into the new space I had for a layout).  I was eager to get something built again and rushed into planning and building a new layout.  In our house I have a 12 x 9 foot room available to me but it is down a hallway with an awkward tight corner.  I didn’t want the layout to be ‘trapped’ in the train room so I decided to build an L-shaped layout made up of 3 modules that could be taken apart so the layout could leave the room if needed.

Marklin's Visit to Euro Rail Hobbies

We are  often having customers comment on this video when they discover it on our YouTube Channel so we thought it would be a good idea to feature it here as well!

Back in 2007 we were very fortunate to have Hagen von Ortlof and his team here in Vancouver to film for that year's "A Year with Marklin" DVD (distributed to all Marklin Insider Club members). The video includes a glimpse of our store and some of the beautiful scenery of British Columbia as well as interviews with Walter Menzel and his son Taylor, and a look at Walter's large Marklin HO layout under construction. Walter's layout features backdrops hand painted by his friend, artist Peter Bomhard (Insider Club members can see a feature on Peter on the Marklin TV episode 52 found on the Marklin club web site.) Enjoy!