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What-if I could build my 'What-If' layout (the CardiBach as a heritage railway)

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On 18/05/2020 at 15:24, mdvle said:

There is a lot of track that is unreachable - bad design as it doesn't allow for derailments, stalled trains, cleaning track, etc. - consider what your reach is with your arm, allowing for not destroying any scenery, and a reach of about more than 2' quickly becomes a problem.  For estimation, if you are going for say 24" radius curves then that means your 2 short wall sections are 4' deep and say 5' to 6' deep - far too difficult to reach those track areas.


And while the access holes in the bottom left solve the track access in that area, in general it is a bad idea - what works when you are young and flexible doesn't age well.


There are some good ideas there, but I suspect you need to rethink things.

Yup, certainly some rethinking needed...


Apart perhaps from the 'not destroying any scenery' part (which might reduce the safe reaching distance to the 2ft you recomend) I think I can reach about 3ft. However in OO a radius 4 semi-circle requires a baseboard width of getting on for 4ft. Thus a continuous run requires either access from both sides or an access hole in the centre. My brain is stuck thinking inside a box which dictates the layout is against a wall, so access from both sides is a tricky one for me to design something interesting. Regarding the access hole, the obvious solution is to make it a room-sized access hole and have a shop-counter style lifting section across the doorway.


I can't see a way to make a reverse loop that fits in a reasonable space AND allows me to reach any derailments so sadly I have been forced to omit them from the latest iteration of my plan. Following the advice above I have used only Streamline points - minimum radius should be Peco/Hornby 3rd radius (unless I have accidently gone tighter with the flexi). Here's what the lower level looks like:



As you can see, I have now had a proper go at Whitland station and following DavidCBroad's advice to turn the dead end into a loop I brought in elements of an earlier track plan (although I'm not sure where the turntable was in reality). The east end of Whitland station (confusingly at the left side of the layout diagram) has a footbridge which I thought could be used as a scenic break, hence me excluding the east-end platform ramps on the drawing.


I think this is a big improvement in terms of access on the previous design but I'm not sure what to do about the left hand short-edge which is very inaccessible due to being under Cardigan:



Whitland station itself is also quite wide, which could lead to issues if there are derailments in the bay platform (against the wall) but again I can't see a solution. Also evident is that there is no space for a fiddle yard for the main line. Trying to think of novel ways to get one in (the front-runner being a vertical traverser giving access to a low-level fiddle yard) made me realise I don't know how I'd operate the thing anyway. With Wales & West's wide selection of liveries (rebranded Regional Railways, Heart Of Wales orange, Devon & Cornwall black etc.) I thought* I would try to run a realistic timetable (so if a unit heads off to Cardiff it doesn't come straight back on the next train). But how would I keep track of which one is due back next without getting very bored keeping track rather than running trains. Maybe a layout this big just isn't cut out for single-person operation - more of a club thing to take to exhibitions perhaps? I would like to upload the SCARM file to share with anyone who would like to build something along these lines, but the forum doesn't appear to allow that.


So, Challenge/Question N.2 - is a large secondary mainline layout practical for one-person operation?


Perhaps more importantly, there's no room for a workbench for building scenery and no room for my other layout (the 2ft by 4ft one that I started building** because I had no space to build Whitland and Cardigan). Maybe I should just build some extensions to the small layout to make it more than just a shunting plank and forget Whitland, but how do I let go of a dream I've had for so long? And I still want to build something I can run my longer trains on (eg. IC125s).


Finally, I note that the branch apparently rejoining the main line raised some concern previously. The reason I have done this is that the branch that diverges at Whitland is NOT the Cardigan branch. It is the Pembroke Dock branch that you see diverging 'on-stage', the Cardigan branch in reality diverged a little further on, well out of site of the station. I considered a seperate set of hidden sidings to represent the Pembroke Dock branch, but since Pembroke Dock is the primary destination for HSTs (which if they end up being 2+8 would probably be the longest trains on the layout and thus probably want to have a dedicated road in the fiddle yard that they always 'go home to') I decided against that.


* if I ever find the units at a reasonable price on ebay or elsewhere.

** it's still unfinished

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