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  1. I did start a blog last year, but being an old fashioned old fogey, I am more comfortable with what I know, so we'll carry on here. Several people have asked if there is to be a replacement for Peterborough, well, yes there is. Why did I tear that up? Several reasons. The loft location was the main one. I'm not getting any younger, and I suspect I won't be any more mobile than I am now in a few years time, so access via ladder is only going to get more difficult. Next is the usual loft problem in that it is cold in winter and very hot in summer.Too many excuses for an idle old ****** like me not to go up there. Then there were operational problems I built into the thing by trying to be too clever. Those are detailed in my article in BRM this month, so I'm not going to repeat all that here. Finally, although I called it Peterborough, it was nothing like the real thing. So, when in conversation one day with Dave Shakespeare, Tetley's as he is on here, I discovered that I may be able to knock down a connecting wall within the house itself, and create a nice big space. Professional advice confirmed that could be done, and it would not be too expensive. So we now have a room 25 ft by 10 to play with, which is not that much smaller than what I had in the loft.The old layout just grew as I though up new ideas, with predictable results, so I decided that this time I would plan properly before I started.The list I drew up may be of some interest so here it is. "Must have" 1. Good operating potential 2.Main line location 3. Plenty of storage 4.Minimum 2ft 9 inch operating well All of these have been achieved, though I now find I could have got away with a narrower operating well. I've finished up with the classic station on one side and storage on the other, so I can only run round and round or terminating trains, but there is more than enough to do to prevent boredom setting in. "highly desirable". 1. Finescale track and turnouts 2. Use of some existing buildings 3. Some "railway in countryside" 4. Use of existing signals 5. Prototype location 6. Minimum 3ft radius curves 7. Minimum 5ft radius turnouts 8. Access to windows. That last one of course should have gone in the "must have" section. Fortunately a space no more than a foot wide turns out to be sufficient for window opening and cleaning. I have to stick with OO gauge, as regauging nearly 100 locos and 200 coaches didn't appeal, but at least I could have "proper" track on the scenic side. Unless I win the lottery, this will be my last layout, so I'm going for it and biting the bullet on the expense. Most of Allan Downes' lovely buildings have had to go, but they were bought as a job lot by one of our members, so I know they have gone to a good home. Signals? One or two can slot straight in, as they are actual ones from Peterborough North. Others nearly are, but were adapted to the previous layout plan. Ken Gibbons will be altering them armed with a very big heat sink, and a lot of prayers. Minimum radius curves? Nearly. Most on the scenic side are more than 3ft, though some sidings access is less as I am happy for them to be more or less cosmetic.I am re-using as much Peco track as I can from the old layout in the storage area, but 5ft radius is not possible unless I accept drastically reduced length storage loops. which would contravene one of my must haves, so I must compromise there. Finally, prototype location. I just don't personally get on with "made up" names, so it had to be somewhere that really existed. If I then add in another of my foibles, which is that I only run locos and rolling stock that would have been seen together in the period I want to model, I am rapidly painting myself into a corner. I want ECML pacifics, Gresley B17's Ivatt C12 tank engines and GE D16 Claud Hamiltons on the same layout. That reduces the choice to one location - the old Peterborough North. Well yes, but it was a very big station wasn't it? The answer surprisingly is not that big, so a reduction in length of about one third would do the trick. Compromise again. It is becoming an increasingly unfashionable word, but to me it is what makes the world go round. So, I achive 5 out of 8 here, and the rest aren't far off, apart from my length of railway in countryside. I really wanted that, as scenic modelling is I think my strength, but it can't be done, so time to compromise again. "would like" Only one thing here - a continuous run. I don't mind admitting that at times I find just watching trains go round very therapeutic. Two empty roads in the storage sidings will allow this. "avoid at all costs". 1. Gradients. 2. Hidden track 3. Over complicated track work 4. Lack of operating interest. The heading says it all, so I'd have been crazy to incorporate any of these. Gradients need to be very gentle if you want to run 10 coach trains. I haven't room. Hidden track is where derailments will inevitably happen in my experience, so none of that. The other two again I have learned to avoid by bitter experience. " avoid if possible." 1. tight curves 2. 3 foot radius turnouts. We have two short lengths of 33 inch radius to make the storage area work, and some sharper stuff in places where only the station pilot or shunting engines would have gone in real life. Compromise again. So, how close did I get to my counsel of perfection? 8 out of 10 I reckon, but unless you have an aircraft hangar to work in, how can you hope to do much better than that. That's nearly enough for now. I hope some at least will have found it interesting, and that I may have hepled to avoid some pitfalls for anyone planning a new layout. Finally then, where has it got to? We have all baseboards complete, and the tops in position but not finally fixed. Track building on the scenic side will start in September, and hopefully be finshed by Christmas. Our own Gravy Train is making the buildings, which I gather are progressing well, and I and my team of helpers will I hope soon be able to start laying and wiring the storage yard and its approaches. I will post some photos of the site and what has been done so far in due course. Gilbert
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