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Little Wicket Layout - Help/Advice/Opinions Sought

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Hi All,


I'm new to all this so please be kind. My layout started as the 6 x 4ft Hornby track mat train set and rapidly morphed into trying to (very loosely) recreate the Harborne branch line coming off Birmingham New Street in the LMS (ish) era, heavily compromised by space (4ft x 11ft), time, money, etc. 


I'm learning as I go along and making all the mistakes. It's looped in reality, but in the diagram I've stretched it out as the mainlines disappear into tunnels to London and Wolverhampton in model land. Build status is that most of the track is now down and wired up with droppers, some modelling has taken place, so it's a bit late to make any major changes, but I'd be really interested to know:


1) Is this close to prototypical? I'm starting to care more about this as a learn.


- Have I got this massively wrong? Could it be more prototypical without starting from scratch?

- I've made platform 3 bi-directional as operationally it allows a through train in both directions, would that have happened?

- If a local service returns from Harborne via Rotton Park along the branch line back into New Street then it would need to travel the "wrong way" through platform 4 to head to the hidden sidings, would that have been allowed? I'm aware that in reality Harborne didn't have a direct connection back to the mainline, but I wanted locos to be able to access the turntable without having to go all the way round the branch line.

- Would a steam locomotive ever push rolling stock over extended distances? For example, if I picked up from wagons from the M&B sidings and rejoined the branch, could I  then push them down the line into Harborne sidings or would this never have happened? In reality the M&B spur had access from both directions (track triangle), so this wasn't an issue, but I only had space for one set of points. This is an elevated section and I've not pinned the track yet, so any changes here are still possible, but space limited.

- I included the station approach passing loop because I had the track and the space, and it's another place to store a train which makes things more interesting.


2) Signalling


I now know I should have considered this at the start if I wanted realism, but here we are. Any advice on where to drop the signals to give this a flavour of reality? Especially interested in the bi-directional areas. Or is this too "train set" to stress about accurate signalling?


It's OO gauge and DCC should that be relevant.


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Hi Grouse101,

Just picking up a couple of points:-

1) The M&B siding:-

Ignoring that in reality there was a triangle junction, siding such as this would be worked only by trains coming out of Harbourne. So wagons for M&B would be worked into Harbourne via the branch, run round and left in the M&B siding on the way back to Birmingham. If there were wagons to be taken from M&B the train would leave its brake van on the branch, move forward past the M&B point, back into the M&B siding, pick up the outward wagons, go back to the branch, attach the outward wagons to the brake van, uncouple from them, move forward, then back into the siding to leave the inward wagons. it would then return to the branch and couple up to the train and move off towards Birmingham.

2) Access to the turntable:-

I would move the turntable to come off of the main line to represent Monument Lane Shed. It is ok to have the shed on the wrong side of the main line (sorry not familiar with the exact layout in the area!).

Then the un prototypical connection direct from Harbourne to the mainline can be removed (the point on the main line could be left in place to be the access to the turntable placed beside the main line).


If the above makes sense and is helpful, I will tackle some other questions in a future post, although I will admit I am not a specialist in LMS signals being a GWR man!


Best regards


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Thanks Paul, really appreciate the reply.


Thanks for the insight into the operations. Having M&B sidings served from the Harborne side solves one of my problems. Do you know if passenger services and wagons would ever be mixed on the same service?


I think I might be too far in to change the turntable position now. I wanted to put in the turntable that the original station had (see photo) which was pretty small, without a turntable the run around loop meant that the platform would be really short. Then my Dad gifted me a massive Hornby electric turntable which I could convert to DCC, would just about fit in the space and was big enough to turn all my locos (hence the addition of the mainline connection).


I'm afraid given the space my tiny loco engine shed is representing Monument Lane. I suppose I could have moved the turntable to be in the centre of the layout behind New Street, but I wanted to keep some space to model a small city centre. Otherwise it'd just be track everywhere.


I've attached the JMRI layout and a couple of photos of the turntable area which give a better idea of how the layout is in reality, cramped! The curved passing loops on the right of the JMRI layout are hidden under the M&B sidings and Rotton Park. Starting to regret putting those in really, as nice as it is to have a small goods train appear out of a tunnel that it didn't just go into they do seem to be the cause of a few derailments that aren't easy to access.





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Answering your question about mixed trains first:-

Not knowing the operating history of the Harbourne branch, I cannot we absolutely certain, but in general, mixed trains were limited to a few rural branches, so are not too likely in the Birmingham area. It was often practice however to add the odd goods van or two or a cattle wagon to a passenger train on a branch line. The idea behind this was to get urgent, or high value, or prerishable items on their way as quickly as possible.

There are a number off reasons for your problems with derailments etc. in the tunnels under the M&B sidings:-

1) Highly likely bearing in mind that you have 4 tracks going round 180 degrees in an overall width of 4 foot, is that either your inner track is just too tight in radius or that there is a kink in the track particularly likely where the track sections join.

2) Also it is best not to have points in tunnels where you cannot easily get at them.

3) it might be that trains going in opposite directions on adjacent tracks are hitting each other because the clearance between the tracks is too small.

4) You may be sending trains round those tight curves too fast?


Looking at the plan and your photos, I am concerned that your incline from Harbourne up to the M&B sidings may be too steep. Steep inclines on curves are generally a bad idea. How many coaches or wagons can your branch loco laul up the incline from Harbourne to the M&B sidings? Looking at the your photos the incline from New Street to Harbourne is quite  steep and would be better if the incline round the curve were less and some of it were along the back straight track. You may get away with it as it is as the curve is around the outside of the layout so is reasonably large. The other incline however seems to me to be shorter and on smaller radii so it needs careful testing if you have not yet done so before track is fixed down.


Moving on to another of your questions in your original posting about platforms being used in both directions:-

In large through stations platforms were often used in both directions. This meant for instance that in a cramped site like New Street, they could move more trains in rush hours in the direction of the main flow than they could if they maintained single direction flow. So for example in the mornings they could use 6 platforms for in coming trains and 4 for outgoing trains and in the evening 6 platforms for outgoing trains and 4 for incoming trains.

You need the expertise of someone who knows New Street well to give a definitive answer.

You could try posting a question on this in the Prototype  section of this forum?


I hope the above is useful?

Best regards



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Thanks, all really useful.


The incline from Harborne to M&B (1 in 66 in reality) is challengingly steep. I introduced the slight curves to reduce the gradient and the raised level is the lowest I could get away with. In testing smaller engines made it up with wagons without issue (and unrealistically some of the bigger more powerful stuff). There's only space for a handful of wagons or 2 short carriages so only smallish locos will be going up there. Considering gaugemaster power track just to be safe. Frustratingly my compounds are too light over the driving wheels and my black 5 is too heavy in all the wrong places to pull anything even up the slightest incline.

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