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A new French urban layout for 2018





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#1 Barry Ten

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 16:26

I thought it was time I introduced a new layout that's been under quiet development for a little while. Just over ten years ago I got bitten by the French bug and built Cogirep, a small industrial layout that was created initially as an entrant in the RMweb "six foot challenge". The layout went on to have an extended life on the local exhibition circuit, with appearances mostly in the South Wales area, but also popping up as far away as Stafford, Melksham, Stow-on-the-Wold, Blandford and Bradford-upon-Avon.

 

Here''s the concept sketch for Cogirep, drawn in about 2006:

 

post-6720-0-92802000-1337376745.jpg

 

The layout altered a bit during construction, but the finished article wasn't a million miles away from the concept, with the "grotty pond" being a central feature:

 

post-6720-0-41078900-1337376000.jpg

 

post-6720-0-86572300-1337376045.jpg

 

Inevitably one thing led to another and over the ensuing ten years, I've acquired a few more items of French railway equipment ...

far more than could ever be plausibly accommodated on this little layout. So, thoughts naturally turned to a sequel ... not a replacement

for Cogirep, which is still extant, but a possible extension with a more urban feel, allowing for larger locomotives and perhaps some

passenger workings.

 

Here's the concept for this next phase, then:

 

French.jpg

 

The "dream" was of a station, goods yard and connecting branch to Cogirep, all nestling amid attractive French town buildings,

all in a scenic area measuring 8 foot long by a shade under 1.5 feet wide. As a bonus, I also wanted to incorporate the

Faller car system, which had been intriguing me more and more.

 

The reality soon bit: unless I went for a more minimalist concept, it was all going to be unreasonably cramped. So, rather

than having a station, run around loop, connecting branch and so on, I settled on the idea of a large diorama in which the

operational possibilities are necessarily restricted, but with (I hope) scope for atmosphere and urban ambience aplenty. Having

operated not only Cogirep, but also the layouts of friends, I'm of the opinion that a low-key, minimalist operational set-up can

still provide plenty of entertainment in an exhibition context, provided the modelling's of a good standard and there's plenty

of atmosphere to soak up when the trains aren't doing much.

 

So I eventually whittled down my ambitions to a single track mainline, with a trailing connection to a small but ample goods

yard, of which the highlight is a characteristic Nord-style concrete goods shed. There's no run-around loop, and only three

sidings in the yard. However, with a sound-equipped loco pottering about moving wagons, while the occasional goods or

passenger train passes through on the main line, I reckon there should be just enough to sustain interest. The module

will be fed by two sets of storage sidings, one on either end, and unusually, there's an 1" elevation difference between

them, due to the contortions needed to get the mainline and road-system to co-exist.

 

Adding interest, the mainline enters the module to the left over an elegant bow-string bridge, crossing an urban river

and then vanishing behind a series of tall tenement buildings. As the mainline progresses to the right, the ambience

shifts from cozy cafes and hotels to a more run-down, seedy side of things, culminating in the area around the

goods yard.

 

I've made a head-start on many of the buildings, most of which feature interior detailing and illumination:

 

blogentry-6720-0-85622000-1460225463.jpg

 

blogentry-6720-0-34136800-1467983384.jpg

 

As for the layout itself, the boards, backscenes and lighting arrangements are already in place, as is much of the substructure for the tracks and road system. The road system is now in the process of being finished and thoroughly de-bugged before further construction continues. The layout - which still needs a name - is due to have its first outing later this year at Larkrail, and I hope to continue documenting the build between now and then. Fingers crossed it all goes well!


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#2 Captain Kernow

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 16:35

Vive la France!

 

Looking forward to seeing this one progress, Al.

 

Superb start with those lovely buildings, very atmospheric.


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#3 Brian Hawkins

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 16:35

Very impressive Barry, i'll be watching this progress with great interest.


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#4 Barry Ten

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 21:18

I'm going to need three or four buffer stops for this layout, so I was keeping my eye open for some suitable products when the new issue of Loco Revue arrived:

 

lr1.jpg

 

Handily, there's a nice one-page article on scratchbuilding a concrete buffer stop, so I thought I'd have a go at making a couple, so that I have at least two units ready

for the layout. The plans are very clear, although comparing the drawings to the photos of the finished model in the article, I decided to adjust the depth of the back

piece slightly, as the 2mm given on the drawing didn't look quite large enough to my eyes. I went for 4mm, on the basis that it won't really matter once the unit is embedded

in ballast, weeds and so on. I also made a note to myself on the drawing, in case I come back in a few months to make another pair.

 

The drawings and a pair of completed buffer stops. I've kept the page oblique to avoid copyright issues, but hopefully it gives an idea of the typical sort of project you

can find in LR, which is increasingly becoming one of my favorite monthly magazines, even if I have to crawl through it with a dictionary.

 

lr2.jpg

 

The buffers were assembled from 1mm plastic card, then filled at the corners and finally sanded. The wooden planks across the front were cut from a sheet of

Wills material, and the height guestimated with reference to the article. Luckily it's about right as is, although either the track or the buffer could be packed up 

if needed:

 

lr3.jpg

 

Next the buffers will be given a paint and weathering treatment, with the end result hopefully resembling concrete!


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#5 Fat Controller

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 21:32

Reminds me of a lot of the area north of Gare du Nord; the only thing that's missing is the hotel offering rooms by the hour.


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#6 NHY 581

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 22:16

Mouton du Nord takes shape......


Rob.
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#7 Barry Ten

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Posted 28 March 2018 - 22:29

Rue du Mouton... (hastily checks Google...)


Edited by Barry Ten, 28 March 2018 - 22:30 .


#8 TT-Pete

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 07:08

Rue du Mouton... (hastily checks Google...)

 

Wouldn't that be "Rue des Moutons"?



#9 Oldddudders

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Posted 29 March 2018 - 08:04

Then there’s Mouton Cadet.....
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#10 Mike Storey

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 18:47

Then there’s Mouton Cadet.....

 

.......hic! Pardon.


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#11 Mike Storey

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 19:39

Your "Regions et Compagnies" laser cut buildings are outstanding. I don't recognise one or two, and the corner cafe has one more storey than the one I have bought (but not yet built - a whimsical purchase, of no use whatsoever for my layout, but it is lurvely). Have you modified other kits or scratch built one or two?

 

Makers of UK kits have an awful lot to learn from the continental firms such as this and Artitec. 


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#12 NHY 581

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 16:17

I rather like the sound of this Old Boy.

There's a lot to be said for keeping it simple.....things get finished for a start...(?!)


I often think of doing a very simple rural Czech layout.....minimal trackwork, accent firmly on detail and scenery.

Rob

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  • 2016-08-03 12.31.30.jpg
  • 2016-08-03 12.30.29.jpg

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#13 Barry Ten

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 21:23

Your "Regions et Compagnies" laser cut buildings are outstanding. I don't recognise one or two, and the corner cafe has one more storey than the one I have bought (but not yet built - a whimsical purchase, of no use whatsoever for my layout, but it is lurvely). Have you modified other kits or scratch built one or two?

 

Makers of UK kits have an awful lot to learn from the continental firms such as this and Artitec. 

 

Hi Mike, thanks, I am pleased with the way they came out. They are all Regions et Compagnies kits in that row of buildings, and built without any modifications other than some better roof material and a few small details such as drain pipes which I added after those photos. The corner cafe does have the option to make it one storey lower, if I remember rightly, but I think I just built the default option. I've since toned them down a bit with pencils, as well, but they need more work in that direction. The blue shutters need to be weathered to a much more faded tone, or perhaps replaced entirely. I've also got some nice etched balcony railings to go on if needed, from Decapod.

 

In addition to these card buildings there are some Artitec facades being worked on for different parts of the layout, and I'm hoping they'll look of a piece when finished. Finally, although not yet started, are a couple of Faller buildings in their "Special France" range, which I again hope can be blended in reasonably satisfactorily.


I rather like the sound of this Old Boy.

There's a lot to be said for keeping it simple.....things get finished for a start...(?!)


I often think of doing a very simple rural Czech layout.....minimal trackwork, accent firmly on detail and scenery.

Rob

 

Looks tantalising to me, Rob.


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#14 Pacific231G

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 22:00

Hi Barry

 

Cogirep really captured the atmosphere of run-down urban industrial so I'm really looking forward to seeing this one.

The idea of the "main line" disappearing behind buildings then reappearing is interesting and should provide opportunities for a series of vignettes within the overal scene.

I'm also impressed by how the Regions & Compagnies card kits turned out. I've looked at them at shows in France but have always been put off by the price.


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#15 Barry Ten

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 18:12

Here are some shots showing the layout in its current state of development. Unusually for me, I decided to do all the "boring" stuff first on this layout, which meant

tackling the fascia, backscene and lighting before going anywhere near track laying. In fact I still haven't fixed down a single piece of track, although that won't

be far off, hopefully.

 

Half the work was done for me, though, as the scenic part makes use of two Tim Horn baseboard modules, which go together very nicely and already provide a

neat basis for the lighting strip.

 

This is the left side of the layout, with scenic items in roughly the arrangement they'll have when everything's finalised. The bridge carries a single track line  which

enters through the backscene, with the the opening concealed by view-block elements. The single track crosses over a river/canal with walled banks then disappears

behind the row of tall buildings in the foreground.

 

french1.jpg

 

This gives an idea of the ambience I'm shooting for, with a hazy grey sky and misty outlines of buildings on the backscene. I studied some photos of the Paris

skyline to get an idea of some typical outlines. A narrow pedestrian footbridge will cross the river in the foreground, providing a justification for the name of bar!

 

french2.jpg

 

Looking down the length of the layout from the right side. The roadway in the foreground drops down 2 inches to meet the level of the bar and shops. It's already

had the Faller car system guide wire installed for part of its length, so I could make sure that the gradient and curves posed no problems for a short wheelbase

vehicle. The blue foam was picked up at a radio-control aircraft show and is nicely dense, providing the ground level for the goods yard and associated tracks.

 

french3.jpg

 

At the right side of things, the dominating feature is this Nord goods shed, again built from a Regions et Compagnies kit. I've yet to add the roof, as I want to make

sure I'm satisfied with the interior detailing before doing so, as it'll be damn near impossible to get at it afterwards. These kits are indeed somewhat expensive for

what is "just" card, but I don't need too many of them and they certainly provide a good few hours of constructing time.

 

Originally the shed was going to sit nearer the front, which is why there's a recess in the roadway. However, it'll now be situated a couple of inches further back,

as in this shot, to allow the Faller vehicle to drive past a van already parked at one of the loading docks.

 

french4.jpg  

 

On the extreme right, the road again has to dip down, this time ducking under the mainline. To avoid too steep a gradient in the road, I opted to raise the mainline

by about an inch compared with the left side. The clearances are tight but adequate, and again the vehicle has no trouble going up and down in either

direction. The gradient in the mainline should provide some additional visual interest, I hope, in contrast with the level tracks serving the goods yard. There's

going to have to be some nifty view-blocking going on here, and to be honest I haven't yet worked out all the details, but it'd be no fun if there wasn't a headache

or two down the line!

 

french5.jpg

 


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#16 NHY 581

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 18:52

Mange tout.

Rob.
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#17 Mike Storey

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 19:07

Very inventive Barry - can't wait for the next instalment!


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#18 Joseph_Pestell

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 07:42

Mange tout.

Rob.

???


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#19 Andy Hayter

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 07:49

Perhaps he is taking the pea Joseph.

 

Lovely work Barry.


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#20 SNCF stephen

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 18:15

This is a great looking layout! I am very much looking forward to seeing it develop.
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#21 Barry Ten

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 20:05

french.jpg

 

A bit more work done on the left side of the layout. The Faller road has been extended to form a continuous loop, so I can get on with testing it; so far so good although there are one or two areas where I may adjust the course of the wire a bit. I ordered some bits to add stopping points and junctions, but with the snow we had in March, the mail from Germany ended up getting stuck in limbo and I'm still waiting on some of the parts. I've decided to press on and only think about adding those bits later, when I've made more progress with the layout as a whole.

 

I've also made a start on the pedestrian bridge; no prizes for spotting the Wills viaducts used here. Rather than make the bridge cross the river/canal at a strict right angle, I've skewed it slightly for more visual interest. I don't like to have too many parallels or right angles on a layout if I can help it, and varying the angles just a bit can help create an illusion of greater space, I feel.

 

Next I'll be thinking about the sides of the river/canal, and working on the continuation of the railway line to the right of the bridge.


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#22 NHY 581

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Posted 09 April 2018 - 20:33

That looks rather nice, Al.

I really think the buildings either side of the bridges are spot on and identify the location.


Some nice cast railings at the waters edge will set it off perfectly...


Rob.
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#23 rue_d_etropal

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 11:48

The buildings do look good,but are too clean as they are. What is the building on the left?

I recommend the work of Emmanuel Nouaillier for inspiration, and technical ideas for French buildings. He has had loads of articles in Continental Modeller and quite a few books. Not just railway modellers but military modellers refer to his work..

 

Wills kits are not out of place for French models, as the MKD range of kits had a lot of Wills kit parts. No-one can tell me how they got there, even Peco are unsure, but I thin it was before Peco took over the range.


Edited by rue_d_etropal, 10 April 2018 - 11:51 .


#24 Barry Ten

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 14:21

The buildings do look good,but are too clean as they are. What is the building on the left?

I recommend the work of Emmanuel Nouaillier for inspiration, and technical ideas for French buildings. He has had loads of articles in Continental Modeller and quite a few books. Not just railway modellers but military modellers refer to his work..

 

Wills kits are not out of place for French models, as the MKD range of kits had a lot of Wills kit parts. No-one can tell me how they got there, even Peco are unsure, but I thin it was before Peco took over the range.

 

The building on the left is an Artitec facade, one of several that looked French-enough to me to pass as background structures. Yes, I greatly admire Mr Nouallier's work, in fact I've seen some of his dioramas at first hand in the Musee Miniature et Cinema in Lyon: https://www.museeminiatureetcinema.fr/


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#25 rue_d_etropal

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 16:41

The only fault in his work for me, is that he has not done any typically southern/Mediteranean architecture, as it is an area ignored my most of the model manufacturers.

Had forgotten about the Artitec models. To be fair, many of their kits are suitable for some French buildings, pity they are again mainly northern Europe, not southern.

Having said that, I am happy to design my own buildings for 3D printing.