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GW Branch Line (III) - a Portable Layout Puzzle


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2 hours ago, Harlequin said:

Without redesigning the plan from scratch, maybe the simplest and most open position would be alongside the goods shed track, something like this:

1710511184_KAFairfordish19.png.40a093364cd73434039bf2d5e9454409.png

That's just a quick hack: You can see that I haven't aligned the new turnout properly. (Also, the extra required trap is not yet inserted and the run round loop is still longer than strictly needed.)

 

I think the yard looks better with the extra siding.  The goods loop still doesn't achieve anything except having a loop for a loop's sake - it would work as well without the right hand point as a plain headshunt.

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The goods loop is pretty important for the feel of Fairford in my opinion. I would still carry the goods loop track on beyond a crossover back to the main to provide the two tracks and an engine shed at the end of the scene that was there.

Of course it's not supposed to be a high fidelity model of Fairford, but even so for my 50p it is essential to achieving the feel.

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44 minutes ago, Zomboid said:

The goods loop is pretty important for the feel of Fairford in my opinion.

 

The goods loop at Fairford was a functionally quite different from what we have here - it was a long siding that could be accessed at both ends and via an intermediate crossover.  The goods shed and cattle pen were sited on different parts of it. As far as I can tell from the s-r-s site it didn't even always form a complete loop.

 

Adding a separate kickback yard completely changes the balance of the layout anyway.  Retaining a loop simply for the sake of having one even though it doesn't really reflect the prototype or add anything to the operation of the model makes no sense to me.  If you want to model the yard at Fairford, model the yard at Fairford.  If not then the layout needs to work in its own terms.

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Thanks all.  Just to let you know I’ve been taking a bit of time to re-measure everything and think more about the practicalities: having established this overall layout project is definitely viable and there are some real options, it made sense before committing further.
 

There will be some changes which I’ll pull together for updates over the weekend - if this evening is quiet then quite likely tomorrow morning (Saturday is my day off).  These will include a couple of alternate ideas too.
 

Just some quick observations here:

 

On 03/09/2020 at 14:43, Zomboid said:

It'll be even more fun with the turntable and a requirement that all locos depart smokebox first.


Looking at the Karau book, there are photos of Panniers that I think appear to be both arriving and departing bunker first on occasion, so the turntable - while prototypical and fully justified here - may not have been used for every train, sorry.

 

5 hours ago, Harlequin said:

 

It's encouraging that Mike thinks that the Fairford variations with the kickback goods shed are workable. The addition of a coal siding would make sense but the danger is that the plan might start to look a bit overdeveloped.

 

Without redesigning the plan from scratch, maybe the simplest and most open position would be alongside the goods shed track, something like this:

1710511184_KAFairfordish19.png.40a093364cd73434039bf2d5e9454409.png

That's just a quick hack: You can see that I haven't aligned the new turnout properly. (Also, the extra required trap is not yet inserted and the run round loop is still longer than strictly needed.)

 


That would certainly be an option - it doesn’t result in any more sidings than the original had post-war (as I count them) but they are different.  I realise it’s a quick amendment to test the idea so is not finalised, but the suggestion I’d make now would be to put some space between the two sidings so they can both be accessed. Note, I’ve been playing around with options that put the Goods Shed back onto the loop which I just need to finalise, taking on board the valid operational questions as to why I have the loop (other than Fairford wasn’t supposed to be a Terminus).

 

It took me a while, but I think I can see the Marlin now - very good :).

 

5 hours ago, clachnaharry said:

What about moving the turntable road to the right and running the carriage siding off the run round, parallel with that?


It would work I think, but the wider the tracks get, the less easily recognisable it is as Fairford (though it may operate the same). Looking at the OS 25-inch maps, I notice that, until the 20th Century, the OS show the Engine Shed and Turntable without any link to the rest of the railway network at all!

 

5 hours ago, Jeff Smith said:

Better longer than too short - unless you are in to puzzles!

 

When space is tight (which it always is) I’m afraid I am into puzzles; note the title of the thread, for example.  But it is also true that if space were not an issue my first priority would be to spread out a simple plan rather than add complications.  The real trick is often to create the illusion of space.  For example, platforms longer than train length - as we’ve been doing and as others have done.

 

3 hours ago, Zomboid said:

The goods loop is pretty important for the feel of Fairford in my opinion. I would still carry the goods loop track on beyond a crossover back to the main to provide the two tracks and an engine shed at the end of the scene that was there.

Of course it's not supposed to be a high fidelity model of Fairford, but even so for my 50p it is essential to achieving the feel.

 

I’ll make good on the 50p.  For me, the three ‘signature ‘ scenes at Fairford are:

 

1.  Open platform immediately the line comes under the bridge.

2.  The three track yard (with the two loops).

3.  The end of the line - two tracks and an Engine Shed just stopping in a field.

 

I’ve tested 1. in some of my sketches, with either the Carriage Siding or Engine Shed, but these versions haven’t really flown.  I think it’s OK to begin a loop before the platform ends (Roy Link did with “The Art of Compromise” in RM Oct ‘78), as the first Goods Shed Crossover looks like it begins alongside the platform end ramp in photos.  But I wouldn’t start it straight after the bridge.

 

2 hours ago, Flying Pig said:

 

The goods loop at Fairford was a functionally quite different from what we have here - it was a long siding that could be accessed at both ends and via an intermediate crossover.  The goods shed and cattle pen were sited on different parts of it. As far as I can tell from the s-r-s site it didn't even always form a complete loop.

 

Adding a separate kickback yard completely changes the balance of the layout anyway.  Retaining a loop simply for the sake of having one even though it doesn't really reflect the prototype or add anything to the operation of the model makes no sense to me.  If you want to model the yard at Fairford, model the yard at Fairford.  If not then the layout needs to work in its own terms.


Thank you for the s-r-s link: I’ve not seen that before.  The later plan in Karau’s book also shows the Goods Loop having been converted to a long stub end Siding.  I think the Cattle Dock disappeared at some point as well.

 

When the additional long stub siding was added during the War, it appears to have been joined to the loop immediately after the Goods Shed and before the second crossover, so the only way to use it was via the Goods Shed?

 

I am having another look at the Goods side of the operations - I don’t really know enough about UK Freight running - I kept a loop to satisfy ‘signature’ test 2, but will try and make it more functional with the next iterations.  Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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7 minutes ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

Looking at the Karau book, there are photos of Panniers that I think appear to be both arriving and departing bunker first on occasion, so the turntable - while prototypical and fully justified here - may not have been used for every train, sorry

Obviously no compulsion to put one in, but at least according to http://www.fairfordbranch.co.uk/Fairford.htm whilst bunker first running was far from unheard of, they would normally run smokebox first (presumably they didn't turn them if the arrival was delayed and they just needed to get the outward train started as soon as possible).

 

My point there was that having to turn the locos as well would add to the challenge/ play value, especially when the yard has 3 trains to handle and a relatively short amount of time to deal with them.

 

But as always, rule 1 applies and you're free to have or not have a turntable as you see fit.

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11 hours ago, Zomboid said:

Obviously no compulsion to put one in, but at least according to http://www.fairfordbranch.co.uk/Fairford.htm whilst bunker first running was far from unheard of, they would normally run smokebox first (presumably they didn't turn them if the arrival was delayed and they just needed to get the outward train started as soon as possible).

 

My point there was that having to turn the locos as well would add to the challenge/ play value, especially when the yard has 3 trains to handle and a relatively short amount of time to deal with them.

 

But as always, rule 1 applies and you're free to have or not have a turntable as you see fit.


Agreed - my guess was also that bunker first running was a result of delays: I’ve seen a video interview with a lady who used to catch the train to get to school and she said it was “always” late.  As @Harlequin said, lots of modellers want to include turntables - and here is an excellent example of a Terminus where we know it was used.

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Yesterday evening was quiet, so I had a chance to read through my notes for a general update on my thinking.  If this all works, it's possible I'm nearly ready to begin work on the layout.  3 parts:

 

1.  Reality Check

 

The start of September and the end of Summer holidays has reminded me of the gap between my ideas and seeing trains run on a layout.  I’ve been thinking more about the logistics of building a layout as I have less time available, and I’ve taken more measurements of the room to double-check everything.

 

A realistic assessment suggests I should not have an overhang across the desk – it is very tight at that end of the room and a lot of things need to be stored on and around the desk (things we can't move into the cellar due to the damp).  There’s a big risk of damaging items in the room when setting up, so I’ve redrawn the layout space: (Note - just to clarify this is not the whole room, just the centre where the layout space is).

 

998409263_RoomTemplate3.jpg.890b413aab6465bc205c693f6d761b85.jpg

 

I’ve shown the baseboard width here as 20” but there is flexibility as long as the Min. aisle width is 2’ (for turning round safely).  The U-shape suggested by @Harlequin is the best idea for the space, and I’m using it for all my Schemes.  I’ve added a ‘safety gap’ of 2” between the layout and the furniture all round. 

 

I can increase the overhang above the bed, but will need to avoid shunting in the far corner.  I’m now preparing all my plans to be viewed as if entering the room as it helps the visualisation process, so the layout template now looks like this:

 

2088235594_EasyBuild1a.jpg.b33245503b6995fbb597955c0faf69b5.jpg

 

I’ve had a look at three Schemes to fit this revision of the space, including two new ones.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
Clarification (note in italics)
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2.  New Schemes 1 and 2:

 

Scheme 1: A development of the ‘Generic BLT’ concept:

 

1301187823_EasyBuild3.jpg.b6b2123ef44a6b6db58ab44dbe5901dc.jpg

 

We’ve been discussing the Goods Loops at Fairford, and this clicked for me when I put one in.

 

The Fiddle Yard obviously stands out.  This is the biggest change – I don’t think there is still room to curve round onto Cassettes.  I can accept coupling on curves to keep the Max. train length at 40”.  I'm thinking of a Loco Lift for taking engines off the tracks - I don't have one, so am not sure if they can "unload" onto a curved track piece or if they have to be over a flat straight piece?  Setrack curves are R3.

 

The three points on the visible running line are Long points and there is a full train length between the Fiddle Yard and the start of the Platform.  The Engine Shed entrance is convoluted, but I didn’t want to take it off the Platform line or Bay, and didn’t want to be reaching over into the far corners of the layout.  Engines up to 10” can use it, which should fit all my locos.  The Engine Release is 11” long.

 

Goods trains would need to be short - the Goods Loop before the Shed needs to be kept clear for access to the Engine Shed.  

 

I’m not decided if the Bay should be a carriage siding / loading dock (which it probably would be in reality), or a second platform; I’m thinking it might end up being used as an occasional second platform for Summer Specials, hence it doesn’t show a Trap point.  It is 43” long (35” of platform).  The run-round should be long enough: the flextrack on the Platform line is 34” from the Bay, while the total run-round (both running line and loop) is about 43”.  The Platform itself is 48” long.

 

The Engine Shed, Goods Shed and Station (with its awnings :D ) are ones I have, either built or in the queue.  If I was starting from scratch I’d go for smaller ones, especially for the Good Shed – I bought the Ratio kit for a different Scheme a while back: it’s big, but I think it does look like a GW Goods Shed.

 

Boards 1 and 2 are bigger.  While 9 tracks cross joints only the Engine Shed point is close to a joint.  I could see me building and operating this, so I'm happy that revising the layout space has options (better than no layout).

 

Scheme 2:  I find it helpful to have alternatives to compare, to see what I've missed.  For an alternate Scheme here, I didn’t try to recreate Hemyock – the long dairy siding would have to be in the furthest corner, with the Carriage Siding and Engine Shed in the other back corner, but I did want something a bit different.  I kept elements from Scheme 1 and moved the Goods Shed loop:

 

1755593861_EasyBuild4.jpg.a6b903bdfd142196872bdd2f4c6a1039.jpg

 

This Goods Shed arrangement was inspired by Tetbury – though by the time I’d finished it’s hard to tell.  The Engine Shed could be on the siding by the Station (eg: Wallingford).  I put it on the kickback so as not to block the view of the Station Building, or get in the way reaching over the bed to uncouple Engines on the Loco Release.  This means there is a headshunt for the Goods Shed and Loop.  I reduced the Fiddle Yard to three tracks as this is a light branch: trains might be one Passenger train, a Goods Train and a Mixed Train.

 

The practical problem was where to put Baseboard joints for the Station – spreading out the points means I could only see the one option I've shown.  Board 2 (which is the anchor board) is very long: 56” (4’8”).  Board 1 only has 11” supported, and twice as much (23”) unsupported.  Using the I-beams and trestles suggested by @Harlequin means it could be done, but for me the long Board 2 rules this Scheme out for a portable layout.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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3.  “Return to Fairford (3rd Class)”

 

I think credit for first suggesting Fairford for this project goes to @AndyB (on page 2).  It’s a favourite of mine, but I wouldn’t have considered it here without the prompt.  The increased overhang over the bed using trestles and I-beam supports means the net loss in length on the station side is only 10” (1 carriage), but it also means that a Scheme where uncoupling and shunting takes place in the first part of the Station has real practical benefits.  Fairford remains ideal.  Using the ‘spine’ from the revised Scheme 1 above, this is what I’m thinking:

 

73483703_EasyBuild5.jpg.b23fb1ce24aa547382cb34d7b92a134d.jpg

 

I think the generous 4-Track Fiddle Yard (which I’d say operating Fairford requires) is balanced for a BLT of this size.  It does mean the platform has to curve around a 45-degree section of 3rd Radius track to start with, but the curve then opens up.  In my experience, the inside view of a tight curve is not as bad as the exposed track on the outside, and here the trains themselves will help hide the gap to the platform.  On the inside of a tight curve the ends of longer carriages can get pushed together, which helps visually.  I can live with this.

 

Platform length is around 43”, exceeding the 40” Max. train length.  I think it’s impossible to avoid points in front of the Station now, but as the loop doesn’t start straightaway, and there is nothing else there, I think enough of the essence of the original has been retained for me (now my awnings have gone :().

 

Operationally, I have swapped the running line to the outside, with the run-round loop in the middle (it also doubles as the overnight carriage siding).  The Goods Shed is back on the loop, so can now be shunted per the original.  It’s not on the same side as the Platform, but it’s the Station that has switched sides.  With limited room for scenery, the question of road access for both sides is left unanswered - but the A417 road bridge is probably the answer.

 

The Siding beyond the Goods Shed wasn’t in my previous drawings, and is a bit of a hybrid: it’s in the same position as the later, wartime Siding that was added, but is also shown as the short Loading Dock Siding that was really a kickback behind the end of the Platform.  The awkward placement of the point is intentional, as it is exactly how both the stub Sidings were (one either side of the Goods Shed).

 

Along with the open platform and the three track yard, I think the third ‘signature’ scene at Fairford is the end of the line, with two tracks and the Engine Shed just stopping in a field.  Although my three lines aren’t parallel, I have managed to include this scene to my satisfaction.  The Engine Shed comes off the running line, again like the original.  As this end is on the overhang across the bed, the sense of it feeling like a bit of a dead end is, if anything, probably enhanced.  

 

I’ve put Trap points in the Goods Loop and Run-round loop, but left the running line as I wasn’t sure how to show it becoming a Yard line after the end of the platform (at Fairford, the first crossover to the Goods Shed was before the Trap point).  I’ve put a Trap by the Engine Shed instead, but this could be changed (I didn’t try and fit in the turntable, sorry).

 

This is obviously a very compressed version, but although I can’t convey the true length of Fairford, I think it can be operated largely as the prototype was (though goods trains will be short).  Keeping the tracks within a narrow ‘corridor’ means it still works well enough for me visually.  I think it is recognisable and I’m happy with this:

 

1453764818_EasyBuild6.jpg.1d34b79c766c5d96582b05db8c4de42c.jpg

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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I confess to not having read every word of this thread, but re the overhang over the bed - is it at all possible to place a discreet batten on the right hand wall above the bed, so that the baseboard there could be longer (right into the corner), as it would no longer be an overhang per se. Obviously, the batten would support the board in the corner. I see that reach access to it for operations may be tricky, but even if ithe extended area was scenic only, it may add something.

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Just now, ITG said:

I confess to not having read every word of this thread, but re the overhang over the bed - is it at all possible to place a discreet batten on the right hand wall above the bed, so that the baseboard there could be longer (right into the corner), as it would no longer be an overhang per se. Obviously, the batten would support the board in the corner. I see that reach access to it for operations may be tricky, but even if ithe extended area was scenic only, it may add something.

 

Thanks - in this particular instance it's not an option (several reasons).  It is something I had wondered about mentioning though, as it would definitely be helpful in other circumstances, for exactly the reasons you suggest.

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I can't immediately see how you'd handle 3 trains on scene in the latest fairford variant. Maybe that doesn't matter to you - having 2 would seem critical as it was a station that could and did handle more than one, but 3 maybe less so. 

 

I'd consider curving it back towards parallel with the edge at the right hand end, so the engine shed could move to the front, as per reality.

 

Alternative #1 looks very good too. The goods shed on a loop takes it away from being generic, but I would resist having the bay as a passenger platform though, that's just too much of a cliche. 

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5 minutes ago, Zomboid said:

I can't immediately see how you'd handle 3 trains on scene in the latest fairford variant. Maybe that doesn't matter to you - having 2 would seem critical as it was a station that could and did handle more than one, but 3 maybe less so. 

 

I'd consider curving it back towards parallel with the edge at the right hand end, so the engine shed could move to the front, as per reality.

 

Alternative #1 looks very good too. The goods shed on a loop takes it away from being generic, but I would resist having the bay as a passenger platform though, that's just too much of a cliche. 


Thanks - only problem if I move the Engine Shed to the front is how to avoid it coming off the Goods Siding, which is now functional again? (I know I did exactly that in Scheme 1, but at the expense of Goods Capacity).
 

Good point about the 3 trains.  I think I can just about hold 3 trains if the Goods Train Engine goes on shed, and the Goods train is short enough to fit into the Goods Siding extending to the end of the layout, but it would be tight: well spotted.

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42 minutes ago, Zomboid said:

Alternative #1 looks very good too. The goods shed on a loop takes it away from being generic, but I would resist having the bay as a passenger platform though, that's just too much of a cliche. 


Thanks - I quite like it, but Fairford has the advantage of a prototype basis.  Agree about the Bay - none of my other plans have had a second platform (they’ve all been for loading / parcels).  Ironically, I kept it for passengers here after the discussion about two passenger trains being at Fairford at the same time, so I could replicate that in a different way :D

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This is what I could get into 90"x20", based on the plan at http://www.fairfordbranch.co.uk/Plans.htm

 

fairfordish.png.78c451772157c35838f3313744ccf2f9.png

 

I think one major compromise here is the train length. The top right carriage siding is a 2 coach job, but you can easily run round 3.

 

I don't think there's really enough single track adjacent to the platform for my liking either, but this is very much a squeeze...

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The necessity of having the platform on a curve, to me, adds a pleasing visual aspect to this design. Looking back at the prototype track plan on The Fairford Branch - plans the original was straight and IMHO was less interesting. 

 

@Keith Addenbrooke , I believe you've worked this plan up in Anyrail. Was this based on a particular manufacturer's turnouts, e.g. Peco? 

 

@Zomboid you mentioned a while back Grainge & Hodder. Now you've got me thinking about the possibilities  (one day, not now) of a circular, 2m diameter, N gauge layout. 

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23 hours ago, Zomboid said:

The goods loop is pretty important for the feel of Fairford in my opinion. I would still carry the goods loop track on beyond a crossover back to the main to provide the two tracks and an engine shed at the end of the scene that was there.

Of course it's not supposed to be a high fidelity model of Fairford, but even so for my 50p it is essential to achieving the feel.

In this layout the goods loop, or whatever it is called, is the only way to shunt the kickback sidings and it needs headroom on the centre road, or an extension to a dead end siding, in order to do that most effectively,  without that headroom you can't readily shunt an arriving freight train.  This is where that layout plan diverges considerably from Fairford because the goods loop there wasn't essentially needed in order to shunt anything.

 

As far as the turntable is concerned there was one at Fairford because it was a legal requirement to provide it at a relatively early stage in the history of the branch.  Of course providing one does not create a legal requirement to use it.  Interestingly from what little I can pick up for the Station Working Book at Oxford if a tank engine arrived chimney first from Fairford it would not necessarily have been 'the right way round' for its next job (which was not on the branch).  equally I doubt if some crews were happy slogging to turn the table when they could have been in the cabin having a break or a cuppa.

 

Now the new schemes.  Schemes 1 & 2 can't really handle three trains - too crowded.  But with a bit of train length compression Scheme 3 could just about handle three trains provide the trap point is immediately beyond the platform end - I think (without a close detail check and slightly different references to which line is which) that you can more or less follow the sequence I laid out previously starting the day with the two coaching sets on the centre road and the goods arriving on the platform line extension road  - headed towards the spur stop block, not towards the engine shed.  I'm not so sure an bout later moves but only because I haven't looked at them.

Edited by The Stationmaster
correct minor typos - no change in meaning
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On the cassettes v fan of sidings issue, how about .....

 

644052792_keithjpg.jpg.eba802ddee747aac882948f68f820580.jpg

 

Gives you an extra foot for scenery on the left hand side too ..... which could give you an easier curve through the platform at "Fairfordish"

 

Cheers, Chris

Edited by Chimer
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2 hours ago, AndyB said:

The necessity of having the platform on a curve, to me, adds a pleasing visual aspect to this design. Looking back at the prototype track plan on The Fairford Branch - plans the original was straight and IMHO was less interesting. 

 

@Keith Addenbrooke , I believe you've worked this plan up in Anyrail. Was this based on a particular manufacturer's turnouts, e.g. Peco? 

 

@Zomboid you mentioned a while back Grainge & Hodder. Now you've got me thinking about the possibilities  (one day, not now) of a circular, 2m diameter, N gauge layout. 

 

Hi Andy, thanks for this. 

 

Turnouts are as follows: Peco Streamline Code 100 Curved Turnouts and Long Turnouts, also Peco Streamline Medium Turnouts.  These all diverge at 12 degrees, so can easily be swapped about when track planning.

 

Long points are a luxury, but I like them.

 

The two Y-points I've shown are Setrack ones - I just happen to have them unused so included them instead of the Streamline version.  The radius for the Y-points is quoted on the Hornby Website as 852mm (33.5"), but note the angle of divergence is very slightly different as it follows Setrack Geometry and is 11.25 degrees.

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2 hours ago, RJS1977 said:

Pardon me for asking, but are you sure your dimensions are correct? On your latest diagram, the bed seems to be only 4'6" long!

 

Thanks  - I should perhaps clarify: the layout space diagram is not the whole room - it's just the relevant central portion.  As you say, in the extract I've shown the bed is too short (also, the door can't fit into the doorway).

 

I am as confident as I can be that the dimensions are now correct (which means you are quite right to check them, of course - there's a reason my icon is a mug :D).  The 2" safety gap allows room is my insurance: I should have included it before of course.

 

The context of my puzzle is that the room (all of it) belongs to one of my grown-up daughters, who is working away from home on a Training Programme and living in student digs, so has a room for a base when home.  I've been offered use of the room when she is away on the two conditions (which I am happy with) that the room is unaffected and it can be completely cleared of layout when she is home.  It means I can have space for a compact, portable layout which can be up most of the time.  While it means the space is tight and I can't use shelves or other fixings, the upside is that I don't have to take down the layout at the end of each operating session - which would actually have been the case in the first idea that was discussed for a layout in the study.

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19 minutes ago, Chimer said:

On the cassettes v fan of sidings issue, how about .....

 

644052792_keithjpg.jpg.eba802ddee747aac882948f68f820580.jpg

 

Gives you an extra foot for scenery on the left hand side too ..... which could give you an easier curve through the platform at "Fairfordish"

 

Cheers, Chris

 

Thanks Chris - good idea: I hadn't thought of that option. 

 

Although my maximum train length is 40", I'd only need a couple of longer cassettes for those: the standard 2-coach train I expect to run for regular Services will easily fit in 3'.  A 42" cassette for a 40" train would only overhang by 14", which is less than the 17" before the end of the furniture, so wouldn't get knocked by anyone coming into the room.

 

Incidentally the bed has a fixed frame which does hurt when you kick it, so I'd not want to eat further into the entrance with a diagonal end baseboard but I can't see this suggestion being a problem, thank you.

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