Wednesday, 6 December 2006

New layout plan!

After the inspiration (sort of!) of the Warley Model Railway Exhibition a few weeks ago I decided it was high time I stopped talking about building a model railway and actually started to do something about it. However, with the garage still in desperate need of some work before it's 'habitable' for modelling purposes, I decided I needed to work on something of a stop-gap project, but with the potential to actually run some trains on it.

The criteria were simple: it should be small enough that I'd have some hope of completing it to a high level of detail in a reasonable space of time; it should be highly portable with small-enough baseboards that I can work on it in the house; it should be capable of running trains rather than just displaying static models; it should incorporate at least some of the key elements, both technically and scenically, that I intend to (or will need to) incorporate into bigger projects in the future, providing an opportunity to try them out on something of little enough consequence that if it all goes horribly wrong I can always chuck it out and start again!

Initially I had in mind something about 6 feet long and 12 inches wide with a single track running from end to end and one or two sidings adjacent to a single platform halt or small wayside station, and cassette storage at either end. As is usually the case with these things, the idea gradually expanded until I was set on the idea of 7' x 18" split across two baseboards. I'd started to build the frames (using the pine block and ply method set out by Barry Norman in his book 'Landscape Modelling' published by Wild Swan and also on the 'Right Tracks' DVD No.5 'Modelling Landscapes' - which I happened to get for Christmas!) but was still mulling over the track plan, which had now grown to incorporate a run-round loop (extending 'off-stage' at one end) and another siding. Then it occurred to me that actually a terminus would make a lot more sense - both from a space point of view (only one 'off-stage' area required at one end) and from an operational and modelling point of view. Several modifications to the plan later I'd decided I needed to increase the layout width to 2 feet and the length to 7 1/2 feet (based on the fact that I'd already built one set of frames and the size of a sheet of 6mm plywood from B&Q is 4'x2'!

That decided, and several more pieces of wood purchased, I got on with building the baseboards over the past few days and now have them complete with just the method of joining them still to be decided. The frames are 18" wide with the surface board overhanging by 3" on either side - simply down to the fact I'd already built one set of frames and didn't want to start over!

I've continued to play with the track plan and have now arrived at the following (click the image to view a larger version):

Please excuse the rather rough-and-ready mouse-drawing on top of the Templot screenshot!

The plan depicts a small rural terminus, with a single platform capable of accomodating up to 4 coaches (although I'd only really envisage running passenger trains of up to 2 coaches). The loop runs off-stage under the bridge at the right hand end of the layout. A small engine shed and servicing facilities branch off the loop at the right had end (similar to the arrangement at Bude). A terminus of this size would hardly merit an engine shed, at least by the period I intend to model (late 50s/early 60s) although one or two did survive in such situations, usually on longer branches (as at Bude, again). Behind the station is a small goods yard comprising of 3 sidings and a small goods shed. Orginally I wasn't going to include a goods shed but would like the opportunity to model one and think there's just space to squeeze one in.

At the right hand end of the layout the surrounding landscape rises, with the exit from the scenic part of the layout being disguised by a road bridge. Trees will be used strategically to disguise corners and backscene joins (I think the backscene will be relatively plain - maybe just sky, with low-relief conifers behind the retaining wall at the back of the goods yard.)

I've not included a signal box - this could be beyond the road bridge. The structures are grouped at either end of the layout - the station building and goods shed at one end, and the engine shed, coaling stage and water tower at the other. Hopefully this will give a balanced feel.

In a layout of such diminutive proportions the biggest problem could be that it all looks too cramped, and the trick will be in trying to fool the eye into thinking it is more spacious than it really is. I've printed out the track plan at full size and I think it works ok although the proof of the pudding will be in the eating of course (or should I say the modelling!).

Regarding location, although initially I was intending to stick to the S&D Highbridge branch, the very flat landscape of that area does not lend itself well to restricted-space modelling. As I mentioned sevral posts ago I've become quite taken with the Southern Region's North Devon branch which ran from Okehampton to Bude and my track plan borrows a number of ideas from that at Bude, although on a much smaller scale - Bude could accomodate 10 coach trains in the main platorm and another 5 in the bay! Anyway, I'm not sure I want to go the whole hog and start modelling the Southern, although I am gradually being converted. After nationalisation this part of the Southern did come under the Western Region's jurisdiction, although the motive power and rolling stock seems to have remained firmly Southern. Maybe I could adjust history a bit and run a mixture of SR and WR stock? I don't know - I find it really difficult to tie myself down to one particular location and region! The other way to go is full-on Great Western (post-nationalisation of course), which has in its favour that I know a good deal more about the architicture etc than for the Southern....

Whatever, it looks like this layout is going to be my main modelling conern for some time to come, and the 'grand' plans for the garage will be on hold for some time (although I still plan to convert it into a workshop). In fact, come to think of it, this little layout could quite easily be expanded in future with additional baseboards, to the point that it could well end up being the garage layout itself... we''ll have to see!

1 comment:

  1. would it be ok if i used this track plan on new railway modeler fourm / rmweb forum as a plan for my new layout?

    email me

    cheers will