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MandraStation

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  1. In keeping with my “build it fast and fix it later” approach here is what things looked like a week later. Not perfect by any stretch but it’s starting to look like a small Greek town I reused all the buildings and many of the trees from the old layout. The rest of the ground was covered with various mats (grass, fields, gravel) and Busch and Noch wall card. In time I hope to replace all this with more sophisticated materials, but I’m in no hurry.
  2. Unlike many more patient and skilled modellers my goal was to get to something that looked reasonably complete right away. I admire the patience of those who can live with a bare baseboard for years as they work to get every detail just right. That’s not me! I will eventually and leisurely improve the track and scenery, I think of this as a multi year project. But I need to start with instant progress to get motivated. To start with, I cut two 36” x 24” pieces of 2” thick foam board insulation to rest on top of the 36” x 18” module stands and test fit some buildings and Kato track.
  3. After five years of working with the joys and limitations of a fixed layout in a closet. I decided to take it apart and try something different. I discovered that I could just about fit two Woodland Scenics Mod-U-Rail stands in the lower part of my closet. The next couple of posts will be about redoing the layout to fit on to these module stands.
  4. On to describing the layout ... Mandra station is a small fictional branchline terminus station on the Aegean coast. The fictional branch leaves the Athens - Thessaloniki mainline and leads to a isolated seaside town which coincidentally has not been blessed with a good road system. The closest real life analogues are the branch lines at Stylida and Chalkis. The station (a Modelling Centre kit) bears a striking resemblance to the French style Bralos station in the mountainous portion of the Athens-Thessaloniki mainline. Thanks to its location the station hosts a fair bit of rail traffic. - Early in the morning a Desiro DMU commuter service departs track 1 towards Athens SKA (and on to the Airport) taking commuters and tourists to the big city. - Later in the morning the express (a diesel ADtranz pulling two modern Modularwagen style coaches) leaves track 2 for Athens Central Station. The first class coach provides travelers with a more comfortable trip. While a two coach train is not typical in real life, there have been recent examples on the Stylida line. more to come....
  5. Despite the physical limitations of my space, my goal was to come up with something interesting, a fictional place that didn't stretch plausibility too far, while providing just enough railroad interest. I didn't want the railroad to overwhelm the space, but I still wanted it to be the focal point. Fortunately, there are a lot of great Greek layouts out there to provide inspiration: - Yiannis Hazapis excellent Halkida layout in the February 2011 Continental Modeller with its focus on a seaside station and era V/VI - Baz Ward's Megalo Horio in the June 2016 Continental Modeller with its emphasis on a typical village -The expansive and fully realized Project Panorama on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/projectpanorama). Much bigger than I could dream of but lots of scenic, rolling stock and design inspiration. This layout really deserves to be featured in the modelling press. - My friends at the Modelling Centre shop in Athens, have done a number of layouts for customers, but this typical Greek village especially caught my eye as an inspiration with the railway playing second fiddle to the village itself: https://www.modellingcentre.gr/en/portfolio/archetypal-greek-village - too many to mention who have posted their work to the Balkan Models forum: http://balkanmodels.biz/forum/index.php For ease of maintenance and construction, settrack sitting on top of the scenery was the only option. A huge visual compromise to be sure (and one that I am still not reconciled to), but the only plausible way to ensure operational reliability in an awkward closet space. So here was the plan: A terminus station by the sea with three tracks. Trains could either disappear behind the trees at the far end (suitable for a small DMU) or exit via the TrainSafe adaptor in the middle. more to come...
  6. Given that a 211 x 73 HO scale layout in a closet is what I had to work with, coming up with a workable track plan was the next challenge. A loop was impossible, and because of the closet walls I could not have trains enter and exit the station from the ends of the layout. The solution was a 3 way switch that leaves the layout in the front middle. The switch is attached to a Train Safe adapter piece to connect with Train Safe Vision tubes. An expensive solution, but the most painless way to ensure trains could move on and off the layout with a minimum of fuss. more to come....
  7. So why a closet? Before I get into describing the layout I thought I would address this very reasonable question. As an adult I started off my modelling with a small Canadian N scale layout that was a simple oval with sidings on a 30" x 72" table. More than adequate for a starter layout. As kids came along with the associated need to finish our basement and create more comfortable space for one of our children with special needs, we decided to include a multi purpose closet in our basement plan. The top of the closet could safely accommodate an N scale loop and keep the living space unencumbered. After many happy years modelling CN and CP in N scale, the urge to model something more exotic struck. Back in 2004, I came across a photo book called Greek Trainscapes in a local bookstore. Being of Greek descent and having visited Greece many times and ridden its trains, I was blown away, and while I didn't buy the book (I did 12 years later), it inspired me to start doing some research, and the plan to build a Greek layout was hatched. For many years I hung on to the vague hope that Greek N scale would be viable, as I couldn't see any other way to work within my allotted space. I was envious of all the cool stuff available from Balkan Models in England and the growing number of Greek sellers who were offering appropriate rolling stock, buildings and figures in HO. In 2014 I happened upon a magazine in my local bookstore (Hornby Design Manual (vol one, 2014)), which opened my eyes to the British way of doing things. I had been so hung up on a North American approach and the Design Manual was a revelation. The Barton plan on p.54 (modelling just a single location, imagine that!) looked like it could fit into my 211 x 73 cm closet - I just needed to make some adaptations. At that point I packed up and started selling my N scale and started planning for an HO layout based on a branch line terminus somewhere in Greece. more to come....
  8. Thanks John! I regret that I have never had the opportunity to visit the Athens model shops - both my visits to Athens in the last 10 years were during the second half of August when it seems that everything is closed. Modelling Centre on Ippokratous did invite me to visit them in their basement workshop around the corner from their shop, I was able to see an in-progress version of the incredible Nauplion layout that they were working on for a customer: https://www.modellingcentre.gr/en/portfolio/nafplion-railway-station That ADtranz you bought is probably worth its weight in gold now! They have become rare and quite in demand. Too bad AlphaTrains didn't last long enough to make more - I'm sure there is an interesting story there, but I don't know it. Cheers, John
  9. There are a couple of options I know of for the new Greek coaches - both are imperfect but the overall effect is convincing. I have some of each and am happy with both options: 1) A Greek modeller named Nondas Moyzes has a Facebook group called Paper Model Factory where he provides instructions for producing paper and wood models for all 5 variants of the Greek Modularwagen. I was fortunate to pick up a few finished models from the man himself when I last visited Athens in 2018. An Athens shop sold completed models in the past, not sure if they still do: https://www.marklin.gr/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=8559&search=ADmz+&description=true The paper models are very well designed and look great - the main drawback is the lack of interiors 2) Another Athens shop offers Roco Railjet wagons as a look-alike (but not fully accurate model) with a redesigned roof and bogies: https://www.modellingcentre.gr/en/portfolio/ose-kioleidika-wagons These run better and are of course sturdier than the paper models.
  10. Inspired by @manosfromgreece I thought I would present a bit of my own Greek themed layout (or possibly more accurately described as an operating diorama). The layout is located in a closet in my Toronto, Canada basement. Mandra Station attempts to portray a small seaside station at the end of a branch line. It does not really resemble any specific location, either operationally or scenically. There are a handful of places named "Mandra" in Greece - most notably a town not far from Athens (no rail station) and a small halt station in the far northeast of Greece bordering Turkey. My Mandra is named for my mother's maiden name. As with many 'overseas' modellers, I was trying to capture a mix of happy vacation memories and my Mandra includes a beach with a beachside cafe, a small station, some picturesque houses, a village square (the ubiquitous "plateia"), some countryside and a farmhouse that resembles my grandfather's house near Florina. This place could never exist in real life, combining elements from many far flung parts of Greece, and the rail traffic - both passenger and freight - is well beyond what a small village could possibly generate. Many compromises had to be made to make the layout work in a narrow (73 cm) closet - more on that and how I came to model the Greek railway in a future post. Cheers! John
  11. I'm new to this forum, and I agree with the new-ish poster above - what a delightful layout concept and execution. I will follow with interest. The Italian railways are so interesting both from a scenic and rolling stock perspective and you have done your corner of Liguria justice! Someday I'd love to tackle a small section of the Adriatic coast in Abruzzo, where my wife's family hails from. Hoping that selection in N scale will improve in time as H0 is not an option. Best, John
  12. It is certainly difficult to keep the momentum going especially in these challenging times - the reward of a functioning layout is certainly worth it though!
  13. The main line between Athens and Thessaloniki is now double tracked and electrified and sees regular service, as do the various suburban lines. A number of secondary lines are in operation with more limited service. Unfortunately the metre gauge network in the Peloponnesus has been inactive since 2011.
  14. So happy to have found this thread and this forum. In time I hope to document some of my modest adventures in Greek railway modeling
  15. I recently discovered your thread Manos - excellent work! And very inspiring - I look forward to seeing more of your progress! Greetings from a fellow Greek modeller (from Canada), John
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