So - the wagon works layout project described here is now on. And very much as forshadowed in the subsequent comment.
Several things have pushed me into actually doing something. The first and most powerful is a problem that has developed with my right eye. Gloomy reflection suggested that if anything was to be done with the N gauge bits it had better be done quickly, whilst I was capable of it.
(I am glad to report that I saw the eye specialists yesterday, and they stated firmly that it is not macular degeneration, but something completely different , which is eminently treatable with an 85% success rate - and also that my left eye is entirely fine. To quote Mark Twain reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated, and I should have a long term future in constructional model-making. I am feeling a great deal more cheerful.)
Secondly, the "corporate developments at work" duly resulted in redundancy as I privately feared. However I have found a new job and start there on Tuesday, so I've actually only been off work for 5 weeks or so. This gap created a little time to do things, though rather less than I had been expecting. The labour market, at least in freight, is quite strong - indeed at one point, for the first time in my life, I actually found myself with two job offers.
Over and above all that, I haven't started a new layout project in over 15 years (January 2007 with Blacklade). The previous 28 years saw 8 layout projects (Flaxborough, versions 1 and 2 of Blacklade Corporation Tramways, Ravenser, Tramlink (Kent), the club project, the Boxfile, and Blacklade, if you ask). So I've been getting a little stale and restive and it shows, in the various speculative layout postings in this blog. .
Of all these schemes, the wagon works in N is the only one that is "oven ready" in the sense that I have a core of rolling stock available and a place to put the layout. The OO9 scheme comes close, but the space isn't quite there. The possible house move is definitely on hold until I have my feet securely under the table in the new job and the eye is sorted out, but it remains very much in the frame thereafter. At which point the OO9 layout should become a genuine starter. In the meantime the OO9 bits can be test-run on the N gauge layout, rather than the N gauge bits test-run on the OO9 layout....
And the last few months have prompted some very sobering reflections about just how many projects and things that "might come in very handy at some point" - points that have failed actually to arise in the last 20-30 years - I have stuffed into various cupboards and drawers. Not to mention how slowly I am building things. As Dr Johnson remarked "the prospect of imminent hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully". Lockdown only grazed the surface of this mass, and the last 12 months have managed to produce two coaches and a 1/72 scale aircraft. I am not quite in the mood to start disposing of stuff, but the clamp on buying any new projects is firm. Purchase for immediate constructional need only.
I was a good boy at Ally Pally , except for bits for the N gauge project.
If I am being more ruthless with my prospective commitments, then a half-built diorama layout started in 1999 and untouched since 2007, that needs significant work to restore to operation, and a lot of work on stock and scenics to finish - but has limited operating potential and some reliability issues - is a good place to start.
So poor old Tramlink (Kent) is no more.
The buildings have been carefully salvaged and boxed up in one of the many cardboard boxes lying around since lockdown ("Waste not, want not..."). Most of the scenery was mounted on foamcore packing and came off fairly easily. The track and ballast has been removed by pouring on hot water and scraping with a kitchen fish slice, ready for reuse of the boards.
Track will be Peco code 55 live frog, which was bought at Ally Pally. Although this will be an essentially RTR layout, I see no reason to compromise and use less than the best available commercial products . These will be live frog and control will be DC analogue. I am not up for the hassle and expense of trying to fit decoders into N gauge stock, and I'm not sure the job can be done with the one shunter I own, an 04. In practice, the layout will need a shunter and a mainline loco, perhaps with a backup for each. There is no obvious benefit from DCC in such a scenario (unlike Blacklade with its multiple units and intensive operation). Point motors will be solenoid, because the framing of the Tramlink boards is quite shallow and Cobolts won't fit. This is entirely acceptable with commercial track, and Peco motors have given reliable service on the Boxfile . The Gaugemaster 100A and external CDU box used for the Boxfile can be redeployed for this layout too, along with the interboard connector - DIN sockets had been sourced when this was simply going to be a rewire of Tramlink
A roll of 1/32 cork sheet was also bought at Ally Pally , and I've sourced some Pikestuff N gauge buildings. However they are quite small, and I'll need more material to construct a rather larger shed.
The layout also has a provisional name: Mercia Wagon Repair - Guthlac Road Site. This is suitably generic - Mercia was a large kingdom, so the layout could in principle be anywhere from Grimsby to Gloucester, or from Cambridge to Chester, inclusive. We are in a largish Midlands town, housebacks will be seen along the backscene, and that's all that needs to be said. The business is generic and not tied to any particular railway company, so the stock tells no real tales.
Site clearance has now reached this stage:
If you are wondering why the old platform hasn't been removed, well it's very firmly stuck down 4mm ply. My intention is to lay the front siding (departure/finished wagons) on top of it, which means the siding will sit about 3-4mm higher than the other tracks. This introduces a little bit of accidental relief onto the site : it amounts to a 2' difference in levels full-size. Sanded cork underlay will provide an approach ramp at 1 in 75 to 1 in 100, which I don't expect to be an issue when shunting a single wagon.
One issue still not quite settled is the couplings to be used. I'm dimly aware that the "standard" N gauge Rapido coupling doesn't have a great reputation as a coupling for shunting. Everything I own has NEM pockets bar a Farish VBA and VGA , and those look fairly easy to convert. So Dapol's replacement knuckle couplers , or even Kadees, look like a practical option
I am also likely to join the N Gauge Society. Their Hunslet loco would be ideal as a shunter for this layout, and a few of their wagon kits would be suitable and interesting
Edited by Ravenser