Swiss Railways
              for Manchester

This site is for all  enthusiasts of Swiss Railways, especially those in the Manchester and north-west England area.

Untermutten scenes

Crocodile on the 'Mixed' at Untermutten.

The hotel inspired by Hotel Grischuna by the station at Filisur.

General view of the layout.

Below - the real Mütten in Switzerland

Mütten church & the road to Obermütten

Mütten village viewed from the church

Exhibitions attended, 2007-

March 2007 SRS AGM Bristol

December 2007 Mirfield

March 2008 SRS AGM Derby

September 2008 Halifax

14-15 March 2009 - Narrow Gauge North, Rawdon

Easter 2009 - York Model Railway Show

12-13 September 2009 - Glossop

10-11 October 2009 G-Whizz Garden Rly Exhibiton at Lytham St Annes

24-25 October 2009 - Hazel Grove

6-7 March 2010 - Macclesfield

  March 2010 SRS AGM Derby

8-9 May 2010 - Dukinfield

22 May 2010 - Mirfield

30-31 October 2010 - L&Y DCC MRG  at Rawtenstall

5-6 February 2011 - Rochdale

19-20 March 2011 - Heywood

14-15 May 2011 - Derby

22-23 October 2011 - Warrington

10-11 December 2011 - Wigan

7/8/9 April 2012 - York 50th Show

28-29 April 2012 - Liverpool

12-13 May 2012 - Cleethorpes

15-16 September 2012 - Fleetwood

10-11 November 2012 - Newcastle

12-13 January 2013 - St Albans

20th April 2013 - 009 AGM, Rainford
5/6 October 2013 - Manchester

12/13 October 2013 - Barrow in Furness

29/30 Nov/1 Dec 2013 - Wakefield

22/23 Feb 2014 - Chapel-en-le-Frith,  NMDRM

8 March 2014 - Narrow Gauge North

15 March 2014 - SRS AGM, Derby

22/23 March 2014 Perth Green, Jarrow

5/6 April 2014 Sheffield -SMRE

17 May 2014 Mirfield

13/14 September - 2014 Glossop

Feb 2015 - Eurotrack

28/29 March 2015 - London Alexandra Palace

14/15 Nov 2015 Spalding

December 2015 ERA Birmingham

March 2016 SRS AGM Derby

June 2016 Bakewell

September 2016 Blackburn

October 2016 Sheffield

1 April 2017 - 009 AGM Rainford

April 8/9 2017 - TrainWest Corsham, Wilts SN13 9DN

April 29th 2017 - Southport Model Railway Exhibition, 

May13/14 2017- Apedale, North Staffs ST 15 9LB

May 20th 2017 - Mirfield

Oct 28/29 2017 - Hazel Grove

Nov4/5 2017 - Crewe (Alsager MRC)

June23rd/24th2018 - Perth Model Rly Exhibition,

Updated June 2018

Untermutten - by Dave Howsam

Scale 3.5mm/1ft, Gauge 12mm, Size 7’ x 3’  (Modified October 2013)

Video made by Dave Long at the 2010 Macclesfield exhibition: the DVD with scenes on all layouts is available, along with many other railway DVDs, at

Below is the full article on Untermutten which would have appeared in Continental Modeller April 2012 had I sent the final version and not the first draft of the write up!

In 1984 I built a very small layout with a passing loop, purporting to represent the narrow gauge Rhaetian Railway in South East Switzerland.  The track plan did not follow any of the prototype stations and the overhead was modelled using individual masts rather than the span variety.  Nonetheless the model served its purpose and operated well for a number of years as well as forming part of a large joint  H0m layout over 35' in length.  My section was called Obermutten being named after a small locality above Thusis which can be reached by post bus in summer.  {The layout appeared in The Modeller Book of Narrow Gauge bfore being sold in the early 90s}.  Perrapswil, my HO Swiss layout, was built and exhibited while my H0m rolling stock (mostly Bemo products) lay in boxes unused.  I did not want to part with the models so it was decided that a small exhibition layout should be built so the stock could have an airing and  we could attend shows with a lot less effort and stress than Perrapswil could cause, the latter taking two weeks to dismantle at home, exhibit and re-erect and re-stock at home.

The location for the new model would again be a fictitious location on the Albula line and would be called Untermutten.  My idea was to have the layout on just two baseboards each 6'2" long with the overhead catenary confined to just one board, to  allow for a quick and easy set up at exhibitions. The design necessitated the front track being as near the edge of the layout as possible (allowing just enough space for the span masts) so that a combination of radius 1 and 2 Bemo set track curves would form a continuous run.  The track was to curve away symmetrically at both ends, under a bridge and into a tunnel.  Careful planning and design then came to nought as I discovered that whilst the station board  fitted in my car, the front seat passenger would endure very uncomfortable journeys  to and from exhibitions.  There was nothing for it but to reduce the length to 6'.  This meant I could not quite get a four-coach train (plus gepackwagen) in the station loop and so a third baseboard would have to be fashioned to go across the end for the tunnel curve.  So much for keeping baseboards, baseboard joints and set up time to a minimum. The original curved point location can be seen in the photograph which shows the early stages of development. 

The station board was built using nominal 3" x 1/2" softwood frame and 9mm ply deck; the opportunity taken to reduce the framework in one corner to allow the scenery to come below track level. The plywood was covered with 1/16" cork and the Bemo-branded code 70(Shinorara) trackwork put down.  The legs, which bolt under the baseboard for transportation, were set at a height of 3'9" (it was intended to stand above Perrapswil, originally) and locate into pockets to avoid the need for bolts.  Legs are braced, when erected,  by two removable diagonal struts located by 30mm M6 bolts, adopted as standard throughout, and fixed into captive M6 tee nuts, again standard throughout. The latter really makes setting up and dismantling easier.  Any non-standard bolt lengths are clearly marked at the appropriate fixing hole.   The baseboards are aligned with brass cabinet makers' dowels using M6 bolts  to join the boards, all nuts being captive "tee nuts".   Each end of the layout is colour coded and this is reflected on all items to be attached using symbols of the appropriate colour.

An eight-road traverser was constructed on the rear board using extended heavy-duty drawer runners. Alignment of roads is by brass rod and tube, originally one for each rail was used but this took too long at exhibitions so now common outer rails are connected by a wire, meaning that only two brass bolts have to be aligned instead of four.  A 'bridge' was made for each end of the traverser. This is high enough to clear pantographs and the road numbers were labelled on the bridge.  It was then drilled and lengths of dowel are inserted to form vertical stops resting between the running rails. The idea was that should anything be pushed, accidentally, to the end of the road whilst the traverser was out it would be prevented from crashing to the ground.  This precaution has never been needed, but we continue to use it 'just in case'.  The dowel rod is lifted to clear a departing or arriving train (and the pantograph) and held up by a sprung clothes peg.  The station tracks are connected to those of the traverser by 330 and 376 mm standard Bemo curves.  By using the smaller radius only at the centre of the curves I found I could get all stock round without any fouling of pipes etc.  Track joins between boards the rails are soldered to copper-clad strips, the brass dowels providing rail alignment.  The traverser bolts down for transportation; it travels upside down with Untermutten on top and all baseboard ends (and track)  are protected by bolt-on pieces of ply.

The points are powered by Bemo point motors under the baseboard using an arm made of brass strip for linkage and as all the contacts on the motor are used to give route indication, signal routing and frog polarity each motor has a 15-way D plug for easy interchange.  A couple of spare motors, already wired, are always taken with the layout.  The point lanterns, with a new wire for the Shinohara points, are worked by the points.  Five Repa/Bemo uncouplers with a replacement, smaller, top are strategically placed and are worked by rotary switch for selection and momentary switch for operation.

After a period of testing trackwork and controls and the servicing  of stock unused for over ten years it was time to move on to the scenic side.  Ballasting was carefully carried out using a mixture of Woodland Scenics ballast, water and diluted PVA glue applied applied by a 5ml syringe of the type supplied with childrens' medicine. Landscaping, over expanded polystyrene,   plaster bandage, and painted plaster,  uses Woodland Scenics and Anita Decor products, whilst the majority of trees, fashioned from sea moss, again make use of Anita Decor products for foliage.  A Sopa tunnel mouth and a bridge built from Wills coarse stone provide  a way for the trains to disappear from sight.  The overhead  equipment all comes from the Sommerfeldt range with their finer wire being used for the catenary. The RhB masts and fine wire have proved to be a lot less troublesome and more robust than the SBB version on Perrapswil.  I may well be tempting fate when I say that  I have never had to use the soldering iron at an exhibition yet.  To be fair my, H0 layout had 25 pieces of catenary spanning joints which makes tensioning, and retaining the tension in the overhead wires, much more difficult.

Roads are painted on the cork, carefully filled with fine plaster where needed and then weathered with fine shavings (using a craft knife) from coloured pencils rubbed in with a finger.  The station building (with modified goods platform) and the hotel (inspired by the Hotel Grischuna at Filisur) are Kibri kits.  A Fides kit provides the toilet facilities and a Bemo ready-built model is used for the Trafo (transformer) tower.  Figures of people etc are positioned sparsely so as not to overcrowd the scene in a fairly remote setting and because on protoype stations of this type passengers are not allowed on the platform until the arrival of the train.  A bell unit (a D&R product) which electronically synthesises the sound of the bells used to inform of approaching trains, is housed under the layout and has adjustable volume control. 

The backscene was merely sky painted ply until last year when I could not stand the bareness any longer.  Being unable to find a suitable commercially produced item I set to and painted  a semblance of scenary in the distance using watered down poster paints.  My crude effort and lack of artistic talent at least give me something better that a bare background to look at.

The traverser is fitted with six powered headshunts on each end, the idea being that trains could be reversed by driving off the train engine at one end and attaching a new loco at the other.  On the longer headshunts it was envisaged that a wagon and loco could be exchanged.  The idea is that 'what goes up can come down',  but we have found that the time taken to swap locos slows things down, not offering enough train movements to the  viewer at exhibitions.  As it is, at shows we have eleven trains working to a sequence timetable with two of the traverser roads accommodating two short trains each and a railcar squeezing on to another road occupied by a three coach passenger train.  Small file cards are used to list the stock and its road on the traverser to aid setting up.  Full-length Albula line trains were obviously not possible in the space available, but judging from comments received from viewers a feel for the prototype has been achieved and now I have somewhere to run my stock.

I am greatly indebted to, and appreciative of, all those who help operate the layout at exhibitions and must thank Charlie Hulme for this and all his assistance with computer generated signs and displays etc.

A train turntable has now been added to increase the variety and number of trains on the layout. Push pull trains merely return to the turntable whilst loco hauled ones pass through Untermutten crossing and swapping places with a train from a cassette (on track 1 of the traverser).

Untermutten and its stock has now been purchased by Ian and Helen Gould who would like to continue exhibiting it.