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Do you model in ‘Ho’ scale or in ‘O’ scale and haven’t got enough space for a layout? This can be a problem! But what about modelling in 1/35th to the inch scale – this can be a real problem finding enough space. I model in 1/4" to the foot scale, but have wanted for awhile to dapple in 1/35th to the foot scale. I had been collecting odds and sods for awhile in this scale. Items like packets of plastic military figures that could be modified, a couple of 1/35th scale model car kits and some old 'OO' scale four wheel wagons with large chucky wheels and flanges. But I still had no idea or project in mind for this box of stuff I had been collecting.

Then the 5th Australian Narrow Gauge Convention announced that part of their model competition would include a section called ''A layout in a case''. The rules were quite simple. The entry had to be a fully operating model railway layout, with everything fitting into a case no bigger than an airline carry on bag, whose maximum space of 19” by 13” by 9” (48cm x 33cm x 23cm). The object behind this section was to encourage interstate visitors to the convention to build a layout and give attendees an opportunity to build that idea that had been lurking in their sub-conscience trying to get out. The layout can be seen in the photo opposite.

This seemed the ideal challenge and opportunity to use all that 1/35th stuff I had been accumulating. But could I fit it into the space, and if I could what sort of layout and what style and location would I do? First thing to do. Set down on paper what I had to achieve and what I thought possible.

The first object was to find out just how big could the foot print of the layout be, given the size restrictions. After much fiddling with a pencil, ruler and paper, it seemed that the maximum size would be two baseboards of the biggest dimensions available. That meant two boards 19” by 13”, which made the layout's maximum size of 38” by 13”. Next decision to be made - what type of layout? In 1/35th scale, the size ruled out an oval, so it had to be a switching layout.

The two baseboards available weren't just quite long enough to accommodate the required track plan, so a small wedged shaped board was added in the middle to add the necessary length. This gave just enough length for the track plan, as well as giving the layout a slight ‘V’ shape, which also suited the track plan envisaged (see photo of the track plan below). Taking into account the size of the locomotive and rolling stock to be used, the length of the mainline had to be 41 inches. 

The next decision was what type of scenery to place the layout in? Because of the space restrictions, the flatter the better. Thus a desert scene seemed best, and what better place than Monument Valley in Arizona, with it’s spectacular buttes. With that decided, and the right red soil available, a start was made. 



The final  problem to solve,  given that the layout was to be fully operational, was how was it to be switched? A  simple card system would do the job, with each car having it’s own card.  The cars would be positioned at the start of the session on the mainline, with the cards shuffled and placed left to right in the three switching locations (A, B or C). The cars would then have to be positioned as the cards fall. When completed, the cards are shuffled and placed in the outgoing section on the switching board seen above, and the train re-made up into this new order. Then the whole system starts again.