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Paris 1889 - 009 micro

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During a conversation on the Aircraft WIP forum the subject of model railway layouts came up, and I showed a 'mystery' picture of my NG micro layout. Turned out it wasn't that much of a mystery because the very first poster got it straightaway.


This is the picture:




As correctly guessed, this is a shot of the Eiffeltower from straight up. It features on my little layout named 'Paris 1889' that I would like to show here. I built this last summer.


A word of warning first: scale-wise I committed some atrocious crimes against mankind here, so if such things bother you please look away now.



The inspiration came from two items l've had in my possession for a long time but that I almost forgot about.


A little Jouef/Playcraft 009/H0e trainset with a Decauville NG loco and a set of delightful open coaches:




and a booklet (in Swedish) about such Decauville railways, and specifically the one that ran on the Paris 1889 World Exhibition:




The booklet contains some wonderful photo's of the exhibition and the little railway:






Adding one and one together I decided that I was going to build a small layout, almost a diorama, to reflect some of this atmosphere, if I could.






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The first consideration was the layout size and the trackplan. The original line ran round the periphery of the Exhibition from one end station to another. The line served to move visitors around but of course also to showcase this (at the time) new technology to the world.


The Exhibition was laid out along the banks of the Seine, mainly on what is known as the Champ de Mars. Today this area is famous because it is where the Eiffel tower stands, which indeed was built specifically for this exhibition.




A contemporary plan of the Exhibition:




You can just about make out the railway, running from top left to the Seine, then curving down along the river, past the Eiffeltower (next to the bridge over the river), and onwards towards the end station on the Quay d'Orsay.


Conceivably one could make a layout of most of the actual railway, or at least one that models both end stations. Unfortunately I had only very limited space. Moreover, I am not convinced about the way the little Jouef train navigates pointwork so I wanted to minimise that. Eventually I decided to minimise it altogether and simply build a pointless pizza-layout. I leave the trackplan as an exercise for the reader.


Benchwork was simple: I obtained a pe-cut circle of MDF with a diameter of 50 cm. and three wooden cabinet feet. I sandwiched a second MDF circle with a diameter of 40 cm. on top. Like this:




A circle of Peco Setrack 009 rails fits perfectly. The little train has no problem going round a curve of this radius.




Next I disguised the sleepers with some black paper and scatter, placed bits of a grass mat in the middle, and added some hedging and edging:




Phew, that is the heavy work done :)


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Now, on to the elephant in the room: that Eiffel tower.




Obviously a layout of the 1889 World Exhibition needs one. Also obvious is that the real thing is 324 m. high which works out as 4.26 m. at scale 1/76 - a bit tall for my living room!


Still, I want one - so I decided to forget all about scale and I sourced a Heller plastic kit of the thing, at scale 1/650. That reduces it to a more manageable height of 47 cm.




Placed on the layout it looks like this:




This is beginning to look like something!


(to be continued)

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Posted (edited)

Next step was to put up some structures and the general decoration. On some of the photos you can see the type of shelters they had put up at the stations - basically some jolly striped canopies. A dash to the spares box and some plastic card later, and the passengers on the micro have a shelter too:




When studying an old print of the exhibition I spotted something wonderful in the air that just had to be incorporated in the layout:




Like this:






The next big question was, what to do at the back? Initially I thought of making a backscreen based on a wonderful picture of the Champ de Mars during the exhibition:




That proved problematical so I then decided to make some kind of train shed. Some kitbashing gave me a structure in the style of the great exhibition buildings, with an iron framework and a corrugated roof. A bit like the Galerie des Machines but quite a bit smaller :)




The roof caused some problems because of the dual curvature but in the end something reasonable emerged:



To complete it all I then added some more decoration (lamps, flags, the fountain under the tower) and of course staff and visitors.














The station master has one of those chairs that you can see in the old photographs:






So that's basically it. An overview looks like this:




At night:




I made a little movie that you can watch on Youtube.


Later I found a wonderful French movie, also on Youtube, of how they made a completely digital reconstruction of the exhibition, complete with the build of the Eiffeltower. Absolutely stunnig and it contains a lot of the same details I've tried to include. They only forgot to include the little Decauville train.


Later someone pointed me to a great Heineken beer commercial that is also set during the Exhibition. The beginning shows the red Eiffeltower and the balloon.


Edited by Jur

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I love that - fantastic!

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3 hours ago, Jur said:

scale-wise I committed some atrocious crimes against mankind here

Burn the heretic. 😉

No hang on, I like that, a nice bit of modelling and fun at the same time. 😀

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Fabulous! Great modelling of a fascinating subject.


Kind regards,



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Amazing work. :thumbsup:



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