My first US-Locomotive

MP15AC CSX 1137 by Athearn

For a US-Railroad layout I need an american locomotive. As an experienced arm-chair modeler I am great in acquiring rolling stock. After reading some of Lance Mindheim’s books I really fell in love with the look of the CSX locomotives, especially the YN2 theme (bright future). I like switchers and small road switchers most, like the EMD MP15 or GP38 and similar. Due to my experiences with sound and for such a small layout with slow operations I think sound is a must.

With all my available patience, which is not very much, I found a new Athearn Genesis EMD MP15AC in CSX livery. The CSX 1173. It is equipped with sound and comes with the YN3 “Dark Future” theme. It is not my preferred YN2 theme but it is in use since 2002, so it is more than appropriate for modeling the modern era.

As far as I know, it has been built from 2009 to 2011. I bought it on eBay. For my taste the price was fair. Adding shipping to Germany and purchases tax it was not inexpensive but still about half as expensive than the last german locomotive I had on my which list.

I have testet it on some Märklin K-Track with narrow turnouts. It runs smoothly and sounds great. I had no idea what its DCC address was, but it was no problem to configure it with my Intellibox. I also reduced the volume of the sound as it seemed to loud for my taste.

The RP25 wheels do work on simple K-Track but it does does get stuck on the turnouts. Time to get some cars and some track to deal with these wheels.


Model Railroading: My Intentions

As I mentioned before I am very interested in north american railways. I like the operational aspect of switching small industries and the modern era railroad. Here in Germany it is hard to find prototypes for small rail served industries for a small switching layout. This and the huge amount of available information about american prototypes (Magazines, Videos, Google-Streetview) strengthens my interest in north american railroads as a subject for my modeling activities.

As my last experiences in this craft are nearly 20 decades old, I am certainly what you would call a beginner. However I would like to scratch build the structures for the layout and plan to weather the rolling stock. By keeping the layout small this might be achievable. By small I mean about 3.6 m by 0.5 m (12′ by 20″). I want to build a small switching layout in my basement. The layout should be prototypical but not necessarily based on a specific prototype.

On these pages I want to document my forthcoming, errors and insights in this “business”. So, let’s have fun with trains…



Model railroading: My history

My name is Hagen Langbartels and I live in northern Germany, near Hamburg. On these pages I plan to collect information about modeling railroads and to document my forthcoming in the conversion from an armchair modeler to an active model railroad hobbyist.

I startet my career in ‘playing with trains’ when I was about seven or eight years old. One day, a few weeks before christmas, we have visited my uncle and returned with three or four packing cases full of railroad stuff. These boxes contained the railroad my dad and uncle have played with in the mid 1950’s. It was all Märklin with its M-Track. There were two locomotives (a V200 and a BR24), some cars, a lot structures and automobile models from Wiking. I had a lot of fun with this stuff. A friend and I were playing with the railroad on the carpet in a spare room of our house. On christmas I got some additional track and my dad set up a baseboard in my room. The baseboard had a size of 1.35 m by 2,7 m (about 4.5′ by 9′). I loved it. We had lots of fun with this layout.

After a move to a new house I had a full spare room to use for the railroad, so the layout grew to 1.85 m by 3.6 m (about 6′ by 12′). Even with the increased size, the track layout was very similar but we could build more scenery. My rolling stock had grown by two more locos (another V200 and a V100) and some further cars. In 1997 I tore the layout down. I had different priorities and a new use for the room.

Märklin layout in the attic

My model railroad inventory had a very long sleep on the attic of our house. Years later my railroad boxes made another move. Into my own house. In 2012 i stumbled about an archive of many issues of the magazine MIBA. I have spent a lot of time reading through many issues and this gave my interest a new life. In October I decided to look through my railroad stuff and unpacked the boxes, together with my  to my son. He was six years old at that time. At first I decided to convert my locomotives to a digital system. I bought some inexpensive decoders and got an used Intellibox on eBay. Me and my kids set up a some track on the floor in the attic. The attic is not insulated, that was a climate challenge with low temperatures during this time of the year. I bought some of the new C-Track, so we could set up a really large layout. On Christmas a new locomotive (V60) was added to my roster. My kids and I had some fun on the floor with the new tracks and locomotive (it has “Telex”-Couplers).


During the winter I made plans for gigantic layouts to fill every squar inch the attic. I did not build anything. Two years later, I think that is not a bad thing. During the warmer period of the year, I tend not to pursue this hobby, but every year during fall the interest awakes.

Kids playing inglenook

In 2013 I bought more track, added another locomotive (Mehano MAK G1206 Veolia, with sound!). I planed more layouts. Got some books and bought some inexpensive rolling stock and locomotives for the DC-System. I actually like industrial layouts and scenes and it is easier to integrate track into roadbed or under gravel for the DC-System as to use the Three-Rail track of Märklin’s AC-System. I liked the DC-Locomotives and how they run but I did not build any layout so far.

Inglenook with a modern switcher
Inglenook with a modern switcher

In 2013 I discovered Model Railroad Hobbyist, listend to all episodes of The Model Railway Show with Jim Martin and Trevor Marshal. And I stumbled upon Lance Mindheim, his philosophy and his books. All this awoke my interest in north american railways.