This little layout has been around for about 18 years now. It is like "Adam's axe" in that almost everything has been improved and replaced several times over. The name stems from my German Great-Grandmother's surname, which was altered to Shuker in 1914 to sound less German, in what was at that time a very anti-German country. I have yet to find what the original name was that sounded more German! (Zucker perhaps?) At the time it was first built, we had a very small house with a spare room 9'3" x 7'4". This had to be a workshop and household storage room first and a model railway room second. My first 2 rail layout filled one side but lacked any industries to originate goods traffic. There was a space across the end wall above the work-bench which functioned as a place to "put things down", just the place for a removable baseboard section if things could be cleared away first.
MkI. A baseboard 42" x 12" (1065mm x 305mm) was constructed in two halves, designed to create a 533mm x 305mm x305mm box when closed. The track layout (see plan) had the incoming track close to the backscene to match the connecting track to the main layout and this section had a slight gradient so that wagons could not be left there to foul the main line.
The maximum train size was a 3 axle locomotive and 3x 100mm length wagons. The train would arrive from the right and travel to the left hand head shunt. It would then set back into the run around track. From there the wagons could be moved individually to their individual industry tracks, and another 3 wagons brought together to form an outbound train. This often formed an intricate puzzle taking an hour or more to accomplish!
The track was laid using second-hand Lima steel rail trackwork, all trimmed to much reduced spacing. With our second child just born, there was no money for better quality materials. The limitation of only 3 axle locomotives was a bad decision as these models tend to be the cheapest and worst operating of most ranges. the only acceptably operating model in my collection being the Piko Class 89.262 ex Saxony tank. The alloy tyres became dirty very quickly, requiring frequent cleaning.
The main layout was unsatisfying and was soon demolished, allowing a modification to be made. A strip of 75 x 25mm timber was added across each end to allow larger locomotives such as the Fleischmann BR64. 2.6.2 Tank. (1'C 1') The new overall dimensoins became 1105mm x 305mm. Some trackwork was replaced with second-hand nickel-silver rail also. An add-on section was made so that the layout could be operated without being attached to a bigger layout. Operation was now much more satisfactory.
Brewery.Mk III Oil Depot and exit track.
Mk III. While the new major layout was being constructed, the Shukerbahn was used infrequently. After one spell, the layout could not be made to function properly, in spite of considerable effort at cleaning the trackwork. The track was ripped up and a new track layout was devised. All the steel rail trackwork was discarded and more used nickel-silver track acquired. A new track layout was designed to bring the entry track to a more central position and to give the option of entry from either end. The warehouse building at the left rear remained.
Mk IV. In 1984 the limitation of locomotive size was becoming a problem as I had few suitable small models. Again, extra strips of timber were added to increase the head-shunt track lengths. The baseboard now measured 1150mm x 305mm. The main layout was again to be demolished, so the Shukerbahn gained a lot of improvements in a short period of time. In 1984 I was transfered to Christchurch, so the layout along with my railway collection was put in my campervan. I had 5 months of unsettled residence so the layout stayed on the back seat for that time. I met a fellow in a model-shop with obviously similar interests. The conversation went as you would expect until it reached the stage of: "would you like to see my layout?" "I haven't much time to spare, is it far away?" "No, it is just outside the shop door!" This reply produced a look of complete disbelief, especially as he had trailed me into the shop and was certain he would have noticed me depositing a model railway against the wall. While the position of the layout resolved these doubts, I never did overcome the reputation for being slightly eccentric with layouts. The main layout in my home was housed in a 34' x 17' garage, shared with two cars. The Shukerbahn quickly became the branch terminus which allowed operating to begin very early. Another move in 1992 brought this major layout to an end. 11/1993. I had for a number of years been involved in our local model railway exhibitions. We had a good selection of layouts but they were all based on ovals of track with trains circulating. I thought that it was time to show some operation to the public. By constructing a fiddle yard and adding a friend's (Blair Nauman) scenic diorama to a centre module, we had an operating shunting layout set up in a short space of time. I must admit that two days of shunting operation tends to reduce the brain to a mush like state!
Mk V. Following the 1993 Exhibition, we set up standards for a "Branch Line Modular System" based on 1200mm long modules. (New Zealand having gone Metric, our sheet boards are mostly 1200 x 2400mm, making 1220mm (4 foot) modules untidy at the ends). The Schukerbahn was rebuilt on a 1200mm x 450mm base, still with the same operating restrictions, but with an extra siding. (The name became longer because the layout did :-) A further siding (T16)was added later. (This was a 66% increase in size compared to Mk I.)
Enough extra modules (5) were constructed to exhibit an oval modular layout for 1994. Some of the baseboards from the garage layout were utilised for these modules. 10/1996. The Schukerbahn was pulled out from the cobwebs at the back of the garage and refurbished, along with a fiddle yard section to display my very new and underdeveloped computer/model railway control system at the exhibition. After 30 minutes, the computer died and the layout reverted to manual operation :-( I concluded that the 1992 configuration was better as the scenic module allowed a short mental break while the trains were rolling. 7/1997. The Schukerbahn now has the beginnings of a new main layout to be the branchline terminus of. Watch for a report of the "Golden Spike" about the year 2000. In the meantime, it has the largest and most strangely configured fiddle-yard ever! ;-) (It joins on, half way down a double track spiral) The Shukerbahn has now been connected to 5 main home layouts, plus 4 different fiddle yards and 3 different exhibition configurations. Back to Home-page.