I started chronicling progress on this layout on another blog, but have decided to move here, where people seem to actually read blogs. I will start by recycling what I wrote before, to catch up with the current situation.
24 Feb 2009: The 2mm Scale Association laid down their Golden Jubilee Layout Challenge to build a layout of 9.42 sq. ft. or less in time for their 2010 Expo. I then spent a year and a half thinking about it, leaving a year and a bit to actually build something.
The thinking bit was quite tough, coming up with criteria to be met by the eventual design, and then getting a design that met most of those criteria. The criteria included:
- max area 9.42 sq ft, of course
- maximum baseboard length, 5 ft (for transport)
- interesting to operate and view
- not too complex, given the time constraints
- Southern region, BR 1950's - 1970's
- based on a real location
Finally a suitable prototype presented itself, although it does require generous use of modeller's license. The location is the terminus at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. Combining a scan of a large scale O.S. map onto the satellite photography of Google Earth, I found that it easily fitted on a 5 ft. by 1 ft 6 inch baseboard, with a fiddle yard of 2 ft 6 inches by 9 inches (total area 9.375 sq. ft).
The original track plan shows lots of interest, with the kick-back sidings and outside single slip. Unfortunately, the layout was rationalised between the wars, and the slip, and two sidings serving the loco facilities were removed, along with the short siding to an end loading bay. An extra spur from the run round, making 3 bufferstops by the station building was added though. For operating interest, I decided to retain all the track from both periods:
(the purple lattice is 6 inch squares)
To make it possible to extend the operating life of the line, and allow more variety of stock to be used, I have invented a new course of history. Following the war, it was decided to keep the Isle of Wight's rustic charm by banning all road improvements on the island, and restricting motor vehicle use to residents and local businesses. Money saved was put towards the Lymington-Yarmouth rail bridge/tunnel link (a tunnel was actually planned, but never built, before WW1). All the existing rail routes on the island were then relied upon to convey produce, supplies and holidaymakers. (Britain's version of NASA was based near Freshwater, and might have generated some traffic if it had not been abandoned).
The line from Yarmouth to Freshwater thus became a short branch, with direct trains from Newport and Cowes. Excursions from the mainland would need to reverse at Yarmouth. This new history and generous use of modeller's license means I will call the layout "Fresherwater".
So much for the ideas, time for something practical. On a visit to the closing down sale at our local Trade Depot I found a pile of plain plywood doors for just Â£4 each. I felt sure I could do something with one of them, and for that price, I could just dismantle it and use the plywood. First, I would try to make use of the strength of the door's construction.
I started by cutting the door down to 5 ft. long. That is when I realised the faces were not ply, but MDF made to look like ply. However, I continued with my plan, and fitted a length of timber into the cut end, glued and clamped. Then the door was cut lengthways to bring it down to 1 ft. 6 inches wide, and another length of timber glued into the gap at the edge, to give the door its strength back again. The offcut from the end of the door was trimmed to 9 inches, and a length of timber glued in to form the fiddle yard.
Next, I drew out the layout (mirror imaged) to what will be the underside, to determine where point motors and uncoupler magnets will go. This area was then cut out, and the cardboard lattice strengtheners removed from inside the door. More timber framing is then glued in along the edges to return the strength. The photo shows the edge timber clamped while the glue sets, and the first of the timber framing around the central hole in place. So far, the baseboard is still light, and nice and rigid. Note this will be the underside of the layout:
28 Feb 2009: After last weekend's work on resizing the door, and making a cut-out area underneath the layout for the point mechanisms, etc, to go, this weekend's activity was a little less to do. The glue having set, all the edges were sanded down. Two cross members were screwed and glued across the underside. These will be used to locate the board on the leg trestles, but were also intended to strengthen the layout before the cut-outs for the stream and river Yar were made in the layout's top surface:
The rounded ends of the new cross members can be seen below the layout, about 4 inches in from each end. They also mean that the layout does not lie flat on the floor when off its legs, and can be picked up more easily.
The 6 inch grid has been drawn on the topside of the layout, and the trackplan sketched out on it. The locations of the strengthening timbers around the underside cutout have also be marked, to help me avoid them while track laying. The areas for the stream and river were then cut out with the jig saw and the cardboard lattice removed. The level of the river bed will not be the full depth of the door thickness. It will be as deep as the cutout in the edge timber.
I shied away from making a similar cutout in the timber at what will be the front of the layout. I decided, instead, to move the road bridge downstream a little so it covers the timber. I may change my mind again later, once I have completed the fiddle yard connection. Now, I can just await delivery of the leg trestles, and brass baseboard joining dowels. I intend to complete all the woodwork construction, including backscenes and transportation/storage boxes before starting any track laying.
7 March 2009: Another Saturday morning, and some more progress. The trestles I purchased cheap on the Internet turned up, and I have assembled them. They are just what I had hoped for, and make a steady, sturdy support for the layout, and adjust from really low (for a layout) to a bit too high.
The cabinet makers dowels and catches also turned up in the post, and so the fiddle yard board now connects to the layout. My poor carpentry skills let me down a bit, and I have ended up with a little step to be dealt with when track laying, but it should end up OK.
I scratched my head a bit over supporting the far end of the fiddle yard. The catches and dowels would not survive the stresses for very long, but the weight to be supported at the end of the fiddle yard is not very heavy. I did not want to resort to a leg, as it would not be adjustable in height like the rest of the layout. There was not really anywhere to mount a diagonal brace to, easily. I had an idea about cantilevering somehow. I found a suitable piece of timber about 5 feet long, and attached small pieces of timber at each end (see photo above). The centre of the timber rests on top of the trestle, and the attached pieces of wood hook under the layout and fiddle yard at each end (see photo below). It seems to work, but I might add some catches to hold it in place.
So, that is it for this week. The layout needs a backscene board, and I will put a safety fence around the fiddle yard. I also want to build boxes to protect the layout for transport and storage. All this heavy woodworking needs to be complete before track laying starts. I had better start building some track to lay.
21 March 2009: After some consideration, I decided to change my mind about moving the road. Instead, I added a couple of pieces of wood below the baseboard ends to reinforce the cutouts for the river bed, and added the second cutout on the front edge. I also added four small squares of wood to make locating the trestles better defined. Both these additions can be seen in the following photo:
The photo also shows a brick holding down the river bed while the glue dries. Three layers of 5mm foam board were used to form the river bed, and the stream bed that runs along behind the platform. The ends of the river that pass over the board edges had the foam and the lower face removed, and will be glued to the woodwork separately (hopefully leaving the river surface smooth). The banks will be formed from more foam board later.