It all started
with a packet of Persil! Back in 1984! Lever Brothers had a special promotion
and ferry tickets on a two for the price of one basis in exchange for
vouchers obtainable by collecting tokens. One evening after the usual
Wednesday meeting, members of the Norwich Model Railway Club were
debating what we should do with the vouchers which we had all collected for
the greter good and Allan suggested a weekend trip to Holland.
And so it was that Bob, Allan and myself found ourselves on the way
to Harwich one weekend armed with a 3-day NS railrover.
This in hindsight was a reckless adventure since we were going to a stgrange
country with no idea of where we would stay or what we would do when we
got there. It was a case of travelling stright from work, spending two
very full days on the system and getting the overnight ferry back on the
Sunday before strolling straight into work on Monday carrying the duty
free bags! Although very tiring, the trip went well and left a lasting
impression: so much so that we went
for about 10 years thereafter. In time we discovered
Amersfoort 'Beurs', which as members will know is a huge swapmeet probably
bigger than anything put on in the UK. A collection of models began to
until it was suggested that we ought to have a layout on which to display
them, and so Engelsdrecht was born.
The actual town is fictitious and is assumed to be located to the north
east of Dordrecht and on an imaginary line linking the Breda-Rotterdam
route with that from Rotterdam-Utrecht via Gouda (see map).
The name was contrived after the Dutch word for 'English', with a
'Drecht' suffix which is common in the area of the Netherlands where
Engelsdrecht is supposed to be situated. There is no literal translation
and even our Dutch friends can give us no meaning for the word.
However, it stuck, and the layout bears witness to five years of work
which regretably was never finished.
Baseboards and trackwork
In its maximum format the
layout is 22' x 8'6" with a 6" extension behind the storage
These are built in a traditional form from 2" x 1" softwood frames
in a 4' x 2' standard size and are overed by 9mm ply. Although slightly
on the heavy side they nonetheless provide a stable foundation for the
track. Legs made from softwood screw into the boards. Boards are joined by
hinges which have had the centre pin removed, and electrical connections are
by 40-way plugs and sockets which are mounted permanently
in the board ends. Connection is made when the boards are brought together
and no other wiring connection needs to be made.
The control panel is joined to the main layout in a similar fashion.
We are firm believers in mounting everything possible on to the
baseboards which assists setting up and taking down the layout.
The storage yard consists of a novel four fold hinged board system
which although heavy to transport greatly assists in assembly and
dismantling. In fact discounting stock the layout can be erected and
dismantled in the space of less than an hour despite the complexities
of overhead catenary.
Track, which is mounted on cork, is mainly Peco with some pointwork, mainly
the scissors crossings, from Shinohara and Roco, plus some
continental track of dubious origin in the storage yard. Extensive use
has been made of good quality secondhand track salvaged from other
layouts and acquired from swapmeets — anything to keep the costs down,
which is understandable when you see the amount of track and pointwork used!
Point motors are from SEEP driven by a home produced high capacity fast recycling
capacitor discharge unit which will power several points
at one push. A two-wire system of point motor control has been adopted
using diodes attached to the motors. This saves a considerable amount
of wiring and more importantly the number of pins needed in cross board electrical
connections. Hand-held controllers by AMR are used. Although
these have not been entirely successful, they are the best we have found
from the numerous types we have tried to date.
Once laid and electrically tested the trackwork was sprayed a rust colour and
then ballasted. Granite ballast is used and is applied dry in a dry mix with
powder paint and cascamite. When the ballast has been spread
around to the correct depth and profile, the track is sprayed with a plant
sprayer with water to which a couple of drops of washing up liquid have
been added. Once the whole lot has dried surplus ballast can be cleaned
off, particularly from the points. This method of ballasting is much
quicker than using a dropper with dilute PVA although if the mix of
the powdered glue is incorrect the latter method sometimes has to be
used as a back-up.
The overhead catenary has been entirely scratchbuilt by Bob from
brass and steel wire. A full study of the prototype was made over several
visits and many of the portal structures have had to be made to fit individual
sites with only a few standard types in use. We found that none
of the proprietary systems were able to meet a multiple track layout and
did not provide a satisfactory scale appearance hence the need for home
construction. At the outset we found that we could not obtain the brass angle
or channel sections in the UK in sufficient lengths and had to
import the stuff from Holland! Fortunately this situation has improved
and stock can now be found in the UK.
We feel that Engelsdrecht was somewhat unique in that we have been
able to portray accurately the Dutch system even to the point of employing
a twin contact wire as per prototype. Despite the complexity of the
wiring, the finished job is surprisingly robust. The wires are tensioned
from the anchor mast on the station boards and wires simply clip into
one another by 90 degree angles at the board joints. Strict prototype
practice has been employed particularly at turnouts, junctions and
sidings. For operational flexibility and because Bob is not a masochist(!),
the storage yard has not been wired. For similar reasons and more particularly
to keep strength in the system by not using insulated joints
etc, the trains do not draw power from the wires. This seems to disappoint
many members of the public but quite frankly there is absolutely
no benefit in energising the catenary, and anyway you can't see the
Scenery and buildings
Many of the buildings are from kits by Kibri, Vollmer and some East
The station building, which is based on that at Zwolle, was scratchbuilt
from plasticard sheet and has taken nearly four years to produce. In fact
the long gestation time has become something of a standing joke but
the end result is worth the effort.
For stict accuracy, another single storey extension should ahve been contstructed
on the other side of the main facade but at the time we did not have the
room. This may well have been addressed on the longer continuous version
but how long it would ahve taken to build would have to be the subject of
Still to be built are
a postal depot, a Van Gend en Loos goods depot and a VAM
depot (this was largely completed when construction on the layout stopped
and remains unpainted in Paul's garage), the
The canals and ditches are made from layers of varnish on an appropriate
bed. The main problem is that the 'water' attracts the dust
and it is difficult to keep clean. Miniature fishermen cast their hooks
into the water. The people are from a variety of sources and are hand
painted by Allan and liberally applied to the layout, with plenty of
bicycles. It is surprising how many are needed.
Road vehicles are from Herpa, Kibri and other sources.
Commercial vehicles are one of our weak points. Dutch prototypes
do exist but are available only in Holland and they can be expensive.
Wiking, Kibri and Herpa all appear together with some from unknown
The layout does not yet possess any signals although kits have been
acquired and made and will be installed when time permits. Very few full
size signals will be needed, the NS relying on ground signals for movements
within the station area. Fortunately these are now available, in working
form but a trifle expensive and we need about 50! Donations gratefully
Engelsdrecht has been signalled, at least on paper, by a retired NS
signal engineer who has been most helpful. We also have a copy of the
official NS signal handbook which will come in very handy when the
As the hobby in Holland has developed, more and more rolling stock
has become available from the major manufacturers and we have examples
from Lima, Roco, Marklin, Rivarossi, Liliput, Fleischmann, and
some locally produced kits.
We have examples oflocos and stock from the blue era to the present
day and can also draw on a couple of earlier livery schemes. Allan also
has some NS steam stock which makes an occasional appearance on
Notable omissions include the NS 1500 class (our own EM2's), Class
2400 diesels, and the diesel multiple units, all of which are available
in very expensive kit form from Philotrain. Until one of us comes into
some money they will continue to be absent from the layout!
Coaching stock is well represented and includes examples from other
European railways which commonly work into the country. In particular
we have rakes of French and German vehicles but there are also Belgian,
Luxembourg, Swiss and Austrian coaches.
Most of these 'foreign' vehicles are the correct 1:87 scale length. It
is a great source of regret to us that no Dutch loco-hauled coaches are
available in the proper length. Lima had a golden opportunity when
introducing double deckers which, because of their height, look very
short. The same criticism can be levelled at Marklin and Fleischmann:
European manufacturers please note!
Freight stock comes from just about every manufacturer and represents
a typical Dutch selection.
Operation is to a schedule and represents a typical day. It is not
operated to a clock but movements follow each other in sequence and
it takes about a day and a half of exhibition operating to get through
a complete 20 hour working day. The sequence is arranged so it is
possi ble for the operators to work without the need to communicate: we
no bells, telephones or other systems operated by other (English!)
layouts. The schedule was based around a set of services which are supposed
to operate through Engelsdrecht. This now needs to be rewritten to
into account the continuous run nature of the enlarged layout and
rolling stock pool, and we will probably go back to the drawing board.
present schedule could be modified but is somewhat over-complicated
although nonetheless enjoyable to operate as it gives meaning to
the movements being made.
Engelsdrecht represents our little bit of the Netherlands and serves
to remind us of many enjoyable trips. The layout has been well
received by the public, and we believe we are one of only two Dutch
layouts currently on the exhibition circuit. Notwithstanding this, some
of the public seem to think it is American, French or even Japanese!
We are very pleased to have been 'adopted' by the London office
the Netherlands Railways who have been very supportive and even
had produced for us a genuine NS station platform sign which will
be used as a fascia on the complete layout. Special thanks are
Hellmut van der Flier and Rudi Boersma for their kindness, and
also to Guillaume
Veenhuis our Dutch correspondent from Modelspoorclub Zutphen.
Well what happened to
Engelsdrecht? In the interveneing 12 years or so things have moved on.
Much has happened on the prototype scene and our bit of the Netherlands
is stuck firmly back in a 1980's time warp. Simply put, other comitments
and a job move made it difficult for the three of us to meet. Both Paul
and Bob are both now married with children and the amount of time necessary
to fully develop and maintain the layout simpy does not exist and on top
of that storage became a real issue. The layout was extended to 32 foot
and a continuous run and a start was made on the scenics with a very nice
row of dutch type houses built by Paul's wifeJanet appeared on the layout
behind the new cariage sidings. It is to be regretted that little work
was done on developing the catenary for the extension but the layout was
exhibited in its extended format during 1992. This was however beleived
to havev been its last outing. The layout still exisits although the ravages
of time and storage would mean that a considerable amount of work would
be necessary to make it operational again, particularly as a start was
made on replacing a troublesome double slip at he platform end of the original
layout. Who knows, one day Engelsdrecht may get resurected but for the
time being, these photgraphs will provide a permanent tribute to what was
believed at the time to be a pioneering layout.
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