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Good stuff :) might want to put a bit of acceleration into 4014 though if you’re going to use auto control as it surged away and you’ll not get full advantage from the dynamic sound. 

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39 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

Good stuff :) might want to put a bit of acceleration into 4014 though if you’re going to use auto control as it surged away and you’ll not get full advantage from the dynamic sound. 

 

Thank you :)

 

I was not very happy either with how 4014 starts away in this video. It was under the control of iTrain and within the software, you have the ability to speed calibrate your locomotives (indeed, it is essential if iTrain is to automate your layout); that calibration shows that each speed step is precisely 1mph (which is also what the manual says). So in thory, with iTrain simulating accceleration, it should have been super smooth. Also, the advice you're given when using iTrain is to disable acceleration and deceleration, so that iTrain can accurately track the positin of the train (which it does exceptionally well), so I am not really sure what caused this. More investigation is required...

 

I love your Sud Harz layout. I am not sure if you remember but I spoke to you at the Warley show last year when you were exhibiting it; I mentioned that I have been lucky enough to fire a Brokenlok between Schierke and Brocken on the FRfWHR/HSB exchange a few years ago... 

Edited by benjy14
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2 hours ago, benjy14 said:

The genesis of my layout (and hence this thread) can be traced back nearly 40 years, to the much missed Forest Railroad Adventure Park at Dobwalls in Cornwall. As a young lad, my late grandmother lived in Plymouth and we would visit her for a week every summer holidays, and the first day of those holidays were always spent at "Dobwalls" as we always referred to it in our family. I became friendly with the park's owner, John Southern, and would always write to him before we visited to arrange to meet him. He was always so welcoming and friendly, and when I found out that it had closed with relatively little notice, I was heartbroken. But my time there sowed the seeds for my love affair with the Union Pacific and, in particular, the Big Boys... One of my small claims to fame is that I actually drove the Dobwalls Big Boy; it was the first steam locomotive that I ever drove and as you might imagine, it left quite an impression. I am very fortunate to have a video footage, taken by my father, of the event.

 

Nice intro and back story for your layout.

 

I too remember the Forest Railway with fondness. We holidayed in Cornwall in the late 60s and early 70s and always visited Dobwalls after the line opened. The first time was before it went American, with the Royal Scot and others, and before the trees had grown much. John Southern was, as you say, always very welcoming, even to a spotty teenaged know-all!

 

I never went again but, like you, I was sorry to learn of its closure.

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1 hour ago, benjy14 said:

. Also, the advice you're given when using iTrain is to disable acceleration and deceleration, so that iTrain can accurately track the positin of the train (which it does exceptionally well), so I am not really sure what caused this. More investigation is required...

Ah yes learning the dark arts! ;) 

 

1 hour ago, benjy14 said:

 I am not sure if you remember but I spoke to you at the Warley show last year when you were exhibiting it; I mentioned that I have been lucky enough to fire a Brokenlok between Schierke and Brocken on the FRfWHR/HSB exchange a few years ago... 

Yes I do :) Your comments and the two chaps from Germany I had a chat with who also knew the HSB very well were much appreciated as it means I’m getting it somewhere near right. 
 

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Wow!  I’m not as familiar with Sherman Hill as some of the other iconic Railroad routes, but this looks very impressive - as you say, the planning has been done in detail: the whole thing (from storage tracks upwards) looks and feels just like the kind of basement empire you’d see in an American house.  It’s also brought back memories of a family trip to Dobwall’s when I was a kid - I was into N Gauge at the time and was as impressed by the model railroad as the outdoor ones: somewhere I still have photos of that trip.  Thank you for sharing this, it’s something to follow.  Keith.

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Fantastic!

This is the sort of layout I aspire to and cannot wait to get started (just need to finish my house move) so I will be watching with great interest.

In your first picture, it looks like you have some very high numbered points, what are they please? Those big articulateds look good traversing them.

Cheers,

John.

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First of all, a huge thanks to everybody who has reacted to my opening post and those who have subsequently commented. I've been in the railway room for most of today working on Helix A (photos coming up).

 

20 hours ago, St Enodoc said:

I too remember the Forest Railway with fondness. We holidayed in Cornwall in the late 60s and early 70s and always visited Dobwalls after the line opened. The first time was before it went American, with the Royal Scot and others, and before the trees had grown much. John Southern was, as you say, always very welcoming, even to a spotty teenaged know-all!

 

I never went again but, like you, I was sorry to learn of its closure.

 

We have some family cine film of the early American period when the trees were freshly planted and what became the Rio Grande route opened, so shortly after you went by the sounds of it. I think a lot of people knew Mr Southern (as I always called him!) and he was such a lovely person. As I'm sure you know, all bar one of the locomotives now reside in Australia, I think at the Diamond Valley Railway and in various states of repair. I hope to see them running again, even though it will never be at Dobwalls again. I assume that after the holiday home scheme failed, it's gone back to being either a farm or brownfield site. So sad.

 

19 hours ago, PaulRhB said:

Yes I do :) Your comments and the two chaps from Germany I had a chat with who also knew the HSB very well were much appreciated as it means I’m getting it somewhere near right.

 

:)  I am by no means an expert but the Brockenloks are magnificent locomotives. On the second day of out trip, we spent the day on the Nordhausen turn, which operates Nordhausen - Drei Annen Hohne - Eisfelder Talmuhle - Drei Annen Hohne - Nordhausen (the loco comes off the carriages at DAH and they then continue to the Broken whilst the locomotive takes carriages from Wernigerode on to ET and back to DAH). I fired all of it except the section north of Nordhausen, where they have to keep to the tram timings. Watching Jens (the driver) handling his locomotive was a masterclass of the art from years of pratice. As I'm sure you know, the Brokenloks have Trofimoff valves, which means that to get the locomotive moving, you have to open the regulator to just the right spot to emit enough steam to push the valves on their stops on the spindle before opening up further. When this happens, there is a very distinctive "clunk-clunk" noise. With Jens, it was one smooth motion to the perfect spot, clunk-clunk, regulator in the roof (this is how they keep to the tram times and why he drove!). Coming into stations at what seemed like frightening speeds, it took one brake application to stop in precisely the right place. Incredible.

 

13 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

Wow!  I’m not as familiar with Sherman Hill as some of the other iconic Railroad routes, but this looks very impressive - as you say, the planning has been done in detail: the whole thing (from storage tracks upwards) looks and feels just like the kind of basement empire you’d see in an American house.  It’s also brought back memories of a family trip to Dobwall’s when I was a kid - I was into N Gauge at the time and was as impressed by the model railroad as the outdoor ones: somewhere I still have photos of that trip.  Thank you for sharing this, it’s something to follow.  Keith.

 

Thank you Keith, very kind of you to say. I am very lucky to have the space that I do :)  Did you ever see the N gauge layout at Dobwalls running?  I think I did once but I might be mistaken as I was young at the time and I can't recall if it was a static model. I would love to see some photos or videos of it but sadly, I have not been able to find anything online.

 

10 hours ago, Allegheny1600 said:

Fantastic!

This is the sort of layout I aspire to and cannot wait to get started (just need to finish my house move) so I will be watching with great interest.

In your first picture, it looks like you have some very high numbered points, what are they please? Those big articulateds look good traversing them.

 

Thank you John.

 

As you have probably worked out, all of the visible track on the layout is Peco Code 83; in Dale Junction itself, the straight turnouts are #8, used in conjunction with their curved turnouts. I faced a bit of a dilemma with the Junction and went through a number of designs before settling on this arrangement... Had I used shorter turnouts, I may have been able to use all straight turnouts (which is how the prototype is) but I was not sure how the big articulated locomotives would have looked. I therefore felt a better compromise was to use #8s with curved turnouts to "bend" the junction at either end so that it would fit into the space I had available on that wall. I think it's worked reasonably well, especially for photography in the junction itself and you have picked that up, so I think it's worked ;) 

 

So, to work from today...

 

6.jpg.4af295b114729d6953e7c28262f8c7c4.jpg

 

Above: Helix A in its current state, with two test trains having climbed to the "head of steel" (I didn't notice the caboose had uncoupled from the rear of the train on Track 1 until after I'd taken the photo, obviously!). The first thing I did today was to get the wiring in place, which comprises a Digikeijs DR4088 for block occupency detection and two LS Digital 5410 reverse loop modules (which are necessary as the upper level of the layout is a ballon loop and so requires polarity switching). I then installed 1.5 turns of the helix, complete with getting the track down and wired. This now leaves "just" the final 1.5 turns to go and this Helix will be complete! 

 

1.jpg.f2e40ba2d6f75d5c72e054a0e6eec306.jpg

 

Above: For comparison, this is Helix B, which was completed last weekend and with the first section of the Upper Level baseboard installed. It has 7.5 turns in total.

 

Thanks again to everybody for the comments and reactions. The day job beckons for the week ahead, so there may not be much progress, but I will try to post a few photos taken during the layout's construction. To finish off for today, the photo below shows FEF-3 #844 coming off Track 3 and onto Track 2 with a westbound reefer working.

 

7.JPG.3464966f49ae84e2b3125682db61876f.JPG

 

 

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Hi there, from memory the N Gauge layout was running when I saw it at Dobwalls, but that could be my memory.  

IIRC it was around the time it appeared in the modelling press (Continental Modeller?). which for me made it a famous layout.  We only ever went once though.  Impressed by the update - the helixes look the business, as they say!

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13 minutes ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

Hi there, from memory the N Gauge layout was running when I saw it at Dobwalls, but that could be my memory.  

IIRC it was around the time it appeared in the modelling press (Continental Modeller?). which for me made it a famous layout.  We only ever went once though.  Impressed by the update - the helixes look the business, as they say!

 

I think it's unlikely that we're both mistaken about it running!  Have tried searching to see if I could find any reference to it Continental Modeller but drew a blank; I think I might email Peco to see if they can help as I would love to see it again.

 

Thanks for the comment about the update and helixes (helices?). I was nervous of building them at first but an article in Model Railroader demonstrated the very simple yet effective stacking method that I've employed. Having never built anything like this before, I am pleased with how they have turned out.

 

Ben

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1 hour ago, benjy14 said:

 As I'm sure you know, all bar one of the locomotives now reside in Australia, I think at the Diamond Valley Railway and in various states of repair.

That's right. A fine miniature railway in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

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The N gauge was definitely running when I visited in 1981. I hadn't even realised that Dobwalls had closed until I found out when returning to Cornwall for the first time since then  in 2010. Such a disappointment, even the Lost Gardens and the Eden Project couldn't make up for that!!

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4 hours ago, z4driver said:

The N gauge was definitely running when I visited in 1981. I hadn't even realised that Dobwalls had closed until I found out when returning to Cornwall for the first time since then  in 2010. Such a disappointment, even the Lost Gardens and the Eden Project couldn't make up for that!!

 

So it was clearly a working model then. And you're right, nothing really can make up for it closing :( 

 

42 minutes ago, Michael Edge said:

How long a train can you get on the helix? It's intriguing to see it going round the circles but how many can one be on without everything falling off?

 

My record so far is #4014, #3999, 31 x 40' freight cars and a caboose. I'm sure one day I will try with an even longer train!

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6 hours ago, z4driver said:

The N gauge was definitely running when I visited in 1981. I hadn't even realised that Dobwalls had closed until I found out when returning to Cornwall for the first time since then  in 2010. Such a disappointment, even the Lost Gardens and the Eden Project couldn't make up for that!!

 

That would fit with the timeframe when I would have gone there - maybe a year or two earlier?  Somewhere I’ll have a couple of non-digital photos taken on a simple 110 camera (without a flash), and I know I first had that camera In the late 1970s (‘78 / ‘79 ?).

 

My memories could be completely wrong - but we do all seem to be saying more or less the same thing (there is hope for me yet...)

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4 hours ago, Michael Edge said:

You'll have to push it to the limit to find out - assuming you have enough stock of course.

 

I have a little over 100 freight cars of various sorts, so in theory I could run a scale length train... I might try running something around the 60-car mark but would need to think carefully about what would be suitable motive power!

 

4 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

 

That would fit with the timeframe when I would have gone there - maybe a year or two earlier?  Somewhere I’ll have a couple of non-digital photos taken on a simple 110 camera (without a flash), and I know I first had that camera In the late 1970s (‘78 / ‘79 ?).

 

My memories could be completely wrong - but we do all seem to be saying more or less the same thing (there is hope for me yet...)

 

I would love to see your photos if you have any way scanning them in (assuming you can find them of course!). Whilst I have still drawn a blank on finding any photos or videos of the layout, but I did find this lovely footage of Mr Southern driving the Big Boy:

 

 

As stupid as it sounds, it still brings a tear to my eye seeing it running like this in its heyday knowing what subsequently happened. I can remember queues back into the village of Dobwalls during the height of the summer and having to wait for seemed like ages to ride the trains (even with two trains running on each circuit). So sad what happened.

 

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Hi Ben, these are the photos I have (the poor quality is the originals, especially the indoor photo - I had no flash).
 

8712074C-C985-47A1-B83B-BABFA6EB5EFA.jpeg.cf7274cb4432504c05ab4a9044874a6c.jpeg
 

There are no dates or captions on the back - so if it isn’t Dobwalls I have no idea where they were taken!  The date may have been a bit later than I thought previously - as if the N Gauge layout was in Continental Modeller, it only began publishing in 1983.

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3 minutes ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

There are no dates or captions on the back - so if it isn’t Dobwalls I have no idea where they were taken!  The date may have been a bit later than I thought previously - as if the N Gauge layout was in Continental Modeller, it only began publishing in 1983.

 

Thanks Keith; definitely Dobwalls and by the looks of it, in its heyday when Union Pacific stock worked the Union Pacific route and Rio Grande route worked the Rio Grande route. They also used to run a steamer and diesel on both routes during peak times. By the time of my last visit in 2001, one of the Mikados (General Palmer) was working the UP route and the Amtrack-livieried diesel was on the RG route i.e. both locos were wrong but I suspect nobody cared :( 

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15 minutes ago, benjy14 said:

 

Thanks Keith; definitely Dobwalls and by the looks of it, in its heyday when Union Pacific stock worked the Union Pacific route and Rio Grande route worked the Rio Grande route. They also used to run a steamer and diesel on both routes during peak times. By the time of my last visit in 2001, one of the Mikados (General Palmer) was working the UP route and the Amtrack-livieried diesel was on the RG route i.e. both locos were wrong but I suspect nobody cared :( 


Thanks Ben, it might be worth putting out an appeal in the right part of RMweb to see if anyone has an archive index for Continental Modeller from the early days - if I’m right and the layout was featured, it may have been under the layout name (not the Dobwalls name).  The “Overseas Modelling” part of this Forum may be the place to try.  Just a thought, Keith.

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10 minutes ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:


Thanks Ben, it might be worth putting out an appeal in the right part of RMweb to see if anyone has an archive index for Continental Modeller from the early days - if I’m right and the layout was featured, it may have been under the layout name (not the Dobwalls name).  The “Overseas Modelling” part of this Forum may be the place to try.  Just a thought, Keith.

 

I have just emailed Peco in the hope that they might be able to help out; if they don't know then there probably isn't much hope!

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10 hours ago, benjy14 said:

 

I have a little over 100 freight cars of various sorts, so in theory I could run a scale length train... I might try running something around the 60-car mark but would need to think carefully about what would be suitable motive power!

 

 

 

 

 

That sounds more like it! Seriously though, it would be interesting to know what the limit is with a helix of this sort.

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14 hours ago, benjy14 said:

 

I have a little over 100 freight cars of various sorts, so in theory I could run a scale length train... I might try running something around the 60-car mark but would need to think carefully about what would be suitable motive power!

 

 

I would love to see your photos if you have any way scanning them in (assuming you can find them of course!). Whilst I have still drawn a blank on finding any photos or videos of the layout, but I did find this lovely footage of Mr Southern driving the Big Boy:

 

 

As stupid as it sounds, it still brings a tear to my eye seeing it running like this in its heyday knowing what subsequently happened. I can remember queues back into the village of Dobwalls during the height of the summer and having to wait for seemed like ages to ride the trains (even with two trains running on each circuit). So sad what happened.

 

Just as I remember him - Elvis sideburns and all! I think the footbridge was the only "scenic" item there when I visited.

 

BTW Youtube threw up this too:

 

 

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3 hours ago, St Enodoc said:

Just as I remember him - Elvis

I misread that post, imagining there to be a full stop at the end of that phrase, and was disappointed to realise that you haven’t discovered his hiding place...

 

Fond memories of a visit to Dobwalls in 1977. Don’t recall any queues, but then it was during the first week of a holiday fortnight in Cornwall, memorable because of how sunny the second week was. Unlike the first half.

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On 28/06/2020 at 22:18, Keith Addenbrooke said:

IIRC it was around the time it appeared in the modelling press (Continental Modeller?). which for me made it a famous layout. 

 

17 hours ago, benjy14 said:

 

I have just emailed Peco in the hope that they might be able to help out; if they don't know then there probably isn't much hope!

 

I have received a lovely email Andrew Burnham, editor of Continental Modeller. He has had a look through the index and can find no reference to any article about the layout in CM, so it must have been another magazine in which that the article you remember appeared. However, Andrew did mention that he had found a undated flyer that mentioned the layout in the shed above the carriage sidings and that is exactly as I remember it; it was at the north end of the site, next to to the second entrance that was used for coach parties. At some point, the layout was removed to make way for the Southern Exhibition, which was used to display John Southern's collection of wildlife fine artwork (which I can recall quite clearly, as some of the paintings were absolutely stunning). I will continue my search for any photos of the layout and perhaps somebody reading this might recall which magazine the article was published in...? Here's hoping anyway!

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