Encouraged by others, I have finally got around to starting to document my 'project of a lifetime'; I hope that it may be of wider interest.
The brief history is that I have had model railways of various descriptions ever since I was given a second hand Hornby trainset for Christmas at the age of 4, and this interest has continued and developed alongside my interest in full size trains, interrupted only by such things as work, children, family life & availability of funds. I am now retired, but by about 20 years ago my interest had settled on the Southern Railway and on a period stretching from just before WW2 until just prior to nationalisation.
At the time there were almost no RTR SR locos available, and those that existed were pretty awful ( Sir Dinadan etc ); although I had some time available to start a layout, pressure of work & a complete lack of skills meant that I did not have the means to build my own kits and so I settled on having these built for me professionally. As time has gone by, many of those early kits have become available as good quality RTR models and in many cases my collection now includes both.
As I moved towards retirement I realised that I now had such a wide collection of SR locos, including ex-SECR, ex-LB&SCR, ex-LSWR and SR itself, that modelling a single prototypical location would be difficult, and so I made two key decisions:
1. To model an imaginary location, but to ensure that it shouted "Southern Railway", and
2. To complete my loco collection so as to include at least one of every loco that the SR had on its books at nationalisation
I am now some way along the route to achieving both of these aims and will try to provide more of the details here, with pictures - BUT, I stress that almost nothing is finished at this point, although I am working hard towards this with considerable help from others whom I will name as we go along.
The layout is housed in purpose re-built accommodation above my garage; the railway room measures 32' x 17'6"; a reasonably early picture shows most of the overall space (note my tendency to make the trackwork as complex as possible...!).
Although the layout is non-prototypical, a number of principals drove my design - as much storage as possible ( I like to be able to just pull trains out when wanted, rather than storing them in a drawer) - all 90 degree bends to be hidden - stations to allow minimum 6 coach trains to stop (with longer ones passing through) - storage to allow at least some trains up to 12 coaches long - everything controllable from a single position (this is a one man layout, although there are plenty of options for multiple operators if needed). I also wanted to include facilities for "watching the trains go by", as well as shunting, being shedmaster, and eventually, running to some sort of schedule.
The layout is built in Peco code 75 track, excepting the main fiddle yard which is code 100 as I had this available from a previous layout; it consists of a double track main line around the perimeter, which passes through the junction station at Stowe Magna and later, through the main fiddle yard. The main yard is split between 10 up and 10 down lines, each of which will hold two trains; the second train moves up when the first vacates, controlled by Heathcote Electronics IRDOT detectors.
Stowe Magna Station was largely completed about 10 years ago, and as with all things, my standards and skills have progressed since then, nevertheless I am unlikely to get back to re-do anything in the forseeable future:
(Picture courtesy of Tony Wright)
I have laid the main fiddle yard 3 times - the first re-laying occurred after I first visited Tony Wright's magnificent 'Little Bytham' and understood how he had squeezed in 50% more tracks than I had managed; the second re-laying then followed when I realised that having 2 double tracks entering at one end was causing massive complication, conflicting routes, and a lot of space lost in unnecessary pointwork.
Main fiddle yard - original:
Main fiddle yard - final:
Two double track branches leave the main line in opposing directions, the first in the Up direction at Stowe Magna station and provides what looks like a 4 track main line down one side of the layout; this leads ultimately to a reversing loop which includes a further fiddle yard which sits above the main yard and comprises 13 storage roads. The second branch leaves the main line in the opposite (Down) direction, just before the main line enters the main fiddle yard, and this leads first through Churminster station and then into a second reverse loop (in the opposite direction to the first - otherwise all trains would end up facing one way!), and a third fiddle yard comprising 14 roads.
Current efforts are focussed in about 3 main areas; the first is in the area of Churminster Station where the loco & goods yards are receiving a lot of attention:
The second focus is on installing back scenes which will hide the fiddle yards from view; I will cover these in a later post.
The third is on rebuilding and developing the Control Panel, where I am having massive help from John Freer and Giles Walburn of Elite Baseboards - again, this is very much work in progress!
I suspect that is enough for a starter, and I will post more in due course.