Friday, 30 December 2005

The story begins

It must have been one lunch time back in November when I happened to be walking past Dominos toy shop in Leicester. I guess I was bored and decided to pop in and have a quick look at the model trains - just out of curiosity.

I'd been 'into' model railways as a kid but that was 12 or 13 years ago and apart from the occasional passing thought, hadn't really given the subject much consideration since.

Anyway, that lunchtime proved to be the start of something. I was hooked as soon as I stepped into the shop!

So here I am, several months on. I've purchased a couple of OO gauge Bachmann 45xx tank engines and a set of three Mk1 corridor coaches in maroon and cream livery - currently sitting in their boxes awaiting something to run on!

After much deliberation I came up with a cunning plan for how to fit a workable model railway into our little house without too much disruption or loss of valuable space. The spare room (formerly office until I stopped working for myself three months ago) has one wall 13' long currently occupied by a couple of tall bookcases. But it suddenly occurred to me that by running a series of lower bookcases the lenght of the room we could have the same amount of storage but with a perfect platform on which to run a model railway!

The resulting surface would be 13' x 1' but I figured that I might be able to supplement this slightly by squeezing in a couple of extra inches width-ways along one half of the length and then tapering out the other half to about 20" at one end, making just enough space (I hope) for a small terminus station and goods yard.

After a number of false starts and variations here is the track plan I have arrived at (for now at least!).

(You can click on the image to see a larger version)

One of the things I'm keen to do is make sure that as many aspects of the railway are covered at the planning stages as possible. Past experience has taught me that once you've started, you're stuck with it! So a good deal of careful thought has gone into the track plan to ensure that it works in the available space without looking cramped, and incorporating all the key elements that I wanted it to, including passenger and goods operations, maximum operating and scenic potential, etc.

The concept is that of a small, rural branch line terminus, jointly operated by the Western and Midland regions, and set sometime during the days of BR steam. Cliched? Probably. But who cares?!

A good deal of inspiration has already come from Chris Nevard's 'Combwich', which is a very similar size, shape and concept to what I'm planning. If I can achieve a similar standard of realism I will be happy.

I'm planning to build solid-top baseboards (not ideal as it doesn't allow for any contours below track level but I don't feel this is too problematic give the size of the area being modelled) using MDF with a simple softwood framework beneath. The layout will not be moved often but to allow for house moves at the very least, I need to construct two baseboards and find a semi-permanent (but accessible) method of connecting them. At the very least I will ensure that there is a track join directly over the basebaord join but I'm prepared to do a little scenic remodelling subsequent to any future move.

Trackwork will be OO gauge - I considered EM for added realism but after seeing several OO finescale layouts using SMP trackwork I've decided this is realistic enough for my own standards - besides which I'd like the option at least to be able to run stock out of the box without the need for re-wheeling first. I've just ordered a set of Marcway pointwork templates. Marcway build pointwork to match SMP Scaleway track for a reasonable price and I preferred not to have to build all my own.

Well, I think that's enough for now. The new flatpack shelf units have just arrived so I need to get to work putting them together.

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