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Carstenbahn One Begins in Earnest...

After countless hours of designing the track plan on WinRail, I finally start Carstenbahn One

May, 2002:  Okay, call me ambitious, call me a lunatic, call me Ishmael, whatever.  I finally decided on a track plan for the one-gauge layout I plan to build.  I had been working with WinRail for months, and was very pleased with the results.  Unfortunately, I quickly realized that 1 scale is juuuust a bit bigger than H.O., and even the simplest of track plans had no chance of ever fitting into the remaining space in my basement.  I decided that a modular layout, built up with four-by-eight tables, was the only possible solution, and I could set the modules up either in the garage or perhaps at our church, or try and find a building owner in Ann Arbor who would be willing to loan me some space.  I kept working on a design that included the basic track plan of the station at Königstein near Frankfurt until finally I came up with this:

That's Königstein at the bottom, and I built a simple loop with passing siding for some operational activity.  Those are four-foot squares, so the whole shebang was sixteen feet square, which would easily fit in the garage.  I have my heart set on modeling Königstein, so that alone dictated this size.  However, I was concerned with the short platform length at K-stein, plus the fact that a train would make the circuit in less time than it would take to reverse the train and send it out again.  Well, the more I looked at this layout, the less it appealed to me.  I re-measured the garage and realized that I could actually go a bit wider, to about eighteen feet square.  I also realized that carrying four-by-eight foot tables up from the basement was almost impossible, and that these tables would simply be too big for any kind of modules.  Since I had already decided that I had 18 feet at my disposal, the logical step was to redesign the layout for tables three feet by six feet.  The resulting layout design looked like this:

This is it, the final version of the Carstenbahn One track plan.  I turned the reverse loop into a full loop, added a second track to make a typical German double-track main line, and I elevated Königstein to sit above that line (in the picture above, just imagine the K-stein station area moved up to connect the two disconnected tracks).  The plan allows for nice main-line runs of longer trains, plus some switching operations at both ends of the Königstein spur.  The drawback?  Those squares are all three feet, so I will need to build FOURTEEN tables to realize this layout!  Not only that, but I need to find a place to store all this when it isn't set up!  My wife Jennifer is pretty supportive when it comes to my trains, but to ask her to park on the street for the next few years, and invest hundreds of dollars into insulating, heating and air-conditioning the garage?  Not a good move in happy-marriage-land.

Okay, first things first:  If I plan to build fourteen tables, I'm going to have to make them cheap...