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Chester Northgate reimagined


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I've wanted to do something like Bradfield Gloucester Square in terms of operation without copying it.   I found this station by chance whilst reading a book about Cheshire Lines Committee signal boxes and saw something with lots of operational interest but at the same time very compact - it had multiple platforms and a junction but the track layout was very simple.  Once I saw it I knew it would be my next layout, I did want it to operate in a sort of Bradfield style with my Black 5, Jubilee and Royal Scot plus other LMS engines and green diesels but plumped to make it BR Blue as I had all the stock I needed - or so I thought.....

 

When it came to the build I had already started thinking about the wiring and switches which I detest and decided it was time to finally look at DCC, the tipping point being that apart from 2 class 40s and a peak, all my diesel locos are DCC ready and I discovered the DCCConcepts IP Cobalts.   I tried to find a DCC system, the plan was NCE Powercab but at the time they were out of stock everywhere and it was suggested that I try a Sprog and JMRI, I ordered one, a couple of chips and tested it out on a short test track - all worked and that was it, I was ready to convert.

 

First thing I did was sell a load of locos - all my N gauge non DCC engines apart from an 08 and an 04 plus my OO engines larger than 0-6-0 tender engines, some coaches and all my ancient 009 stock - this paid for my initial foray - the Sprog, a new class 40, a pile of ROS DCC chips and the Cobalts, I've also added a sound 31 and a Dapol 50 since with the sound cards for the 40 and 50 currently in the post from Digitrains.  I've still got a lot of DCC ready steam engines and some green hydraulics, a potential alternate world involving these may also play out on this layout, but for the time being it is 1975/76 in my Chester Northgate world.

 

The station in my universe has remained open, the real station closed in 1969, I've added an extra platform face and I've imagined that the lines out each way have been singled (this is for practical reasons on entering the fiddleyard, I would have preferred to keep the double tracks in situ).  There is a hint of the second tracks to be left in place to give the impression the singling work is underway.  For traffic there is going to be a lot of parcels traffic and DMUs but I've also allowed myself Rule 1 loco hauled services with trains to Cardiff, Sheffield and York.

 

Because I've picked 1975/76 then I can allow myself Westerns, Class 50s and Class 24s in the Northwest as well as the more usual feasts of 25, 40s, 47s.

 

Services will be in as follows:

DMU services to Birkenhead, Wrexham, Manchester and a Shotton Shuttle bubblecar service.  When the Revolution 313 becomes available I might plump for one as some were tested in Merseyside before the 507s were authorised - but as they were introduced in late 1976 I would need to stretch my timeline a little.

 

Parcels services will serve Paddington (class 31, 50 or Western) - sort of rump of GW services from Paddington, Manchester, York, Newcastle etc using 24/25/40/47s , nightly postal which could also draw in a 50 from Crewe Diesel as at that time they still operated in the Northwest in dwindling numbers.  I fancy a Revolution 128 as well for these services.

 

Loco hauled services will serve Cardiff - class 25 as a nod to the Crewe - Cardiff trains, class 31/40 to Sheffield and York.

 

No freight  though, it wouldn't sit right with me to force a freight depot into the layout, but I will put in a small stabling area - sort of like Arpley in the place where the cattle pens existed in the real station - then I might allow my 37s to visit, coming off the sidings at Shotton to stable.

 

Tracklaying was completed on the main layout this evening, I still need to lay the stabling point and the point motors have not been installed yet, also I need to cut back the main lines within the station, they are overlong at present whilst I decide the final length of the lines.

 

IMG_4457.JPG.21be62033fd7dcec233b00857bdaecaf.JPG

IMG_4458.JPG.dc6d7563e6f443e34814042b73e090c6.JPG

 

I was going to have a kickback in the fiddleyard for some of the coaches, then it struck me I could use this scenically so the tracks curve around with the main and will be part of the scenic layout as well as being useful storage

IMG_4459.JPG.5b10f10c4931fffbfdba78cdabbea7f4.JPG

 

Finally the fiddleyard - just enough space for the stock I have opened - my grey/blue Pullmans won't see use here, I do like them but I've accepted it's not good to have all your stock out all of the time.  Trains that go out to Birkenhead/Wrexham only have three sidings, the rest of the the trains out to the east via the CLC.

IMG_4456.JPG.1cd0dc68e0a5c51707c0a8fed70bacf1.JPG

 

The little track to the side is a DC Test Track.

 

The 31, 40s and 50 will all be sound fitted, I intend to also fit sound to the 108s and 101 as they have speaker spaces in the body (didn't know that until yesterday!).  The other locos will remain silent for the time being though I do have to wire in DCC to my 08 and maybe the 04 too.  Perhaps once I have mastered wiring in the chips on the 08 and 04 I might use the Zimo PCB replacement sound decoder that you wire in on the 37s and 47s, the 25 and 24s are a step too far unless I pay someone to do the work - perhaps last of all eh.

 

If Farish want to do some new Peaks, I will be happy to buy a new one, I do hope my old one went to a good home.

 

PS, how do I turn the images round that are on their sides?

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48 minutes ago, woodenhead said:

I've wanted to do something like Bradfield Gloucester Square in terms of operation without copying it.   I found this station by chance whilst reading a book about Cheshire Lines Committee signal boxes and saw something with lots of operational interest but at the same time very compact - it had multiple platforms and a junction but the track layout was very simple.  Once I saw it I knew it would be my next layout, I did want it to operate in a sort of Bradfield style with my Black 5, Jubilee and Royal Scot plus other LMS engines and green diesels but plumped to make it BR Blue as I had all the stock I needed - or so I thought.....

 

When it came to the build I had already started thinking about the wiring and switches which I detest and decided it was time to finally look at DCC, the tipping point being that apart from 2 class 40s and a peak, all my diesel locos are DCC ready and I discovered the DCCConcepts IP Cobalts.   I tried to find a DCC system, the plan was NCE Powercab but at the time they were out of stock everywhere and it was suggested that I try a Sprog and JMRI, I ordered one, a couple of chips and tested it out on a short test track - all worked and that was it, I was ready to convert.

 

First thing I did was sell a load of locos - all my N gauge non DCC engines apart from an 08 and an 04 plus my OO engines larger than 0-6-0 tender engines, some coaches and all my ancient 009 stock - this paid for my initial foray - the Sprog, a new class 40, a pile of ROS DCC chips and the Cobalts, I've also added a sound 31 and a Dapol 50 since with the sound cards for the 40 and 50 currently in the post from Digitrains.  I've still got a lot of DCC ready steam engines and some green hydraulics, a potential alternate world involving these may also play out on this layout, but for the time being it is 1975/76 in my Chester Northgate world.

 

The station in my universe has remained open, the real station closed in 1969, I've added an extra platform face and I've imagined that the lines out each way have been singled (this is for practical reasons on entering the fiddleyard, I would have preferred to keep the double tracks in situ).  There is a hint of the second tracks to be left in place to give the impression the singling work is underway.  For traffic there is going to be a lot of parcels traffic and DMUs but I've also allowed myself Rule 1 loco hauled services with trains to Cardiff, Sheffield and York.

 

Because I've picked 1975/76 then I can allow myself Westerns, Class 50s and Class 24s in the Northwest as well as the more usual feasts of 25, 40s, 47s.

 

Services will be in as follows:

DMU services to Birkenhead, Wrexham, Manchester and a Shotton Shuttle bubblecar service.  When the Revolution 313 becomes available I might plump for one as some were tested in Merseyside before the 507s were authorised - but as they were introduced in late 1976 I would need to stretch my timeline a little.

 

Parcels services will serve Paddington (class 31, 50 or Western) - sort of rump of GW services from Paddington, Manchester, York, Newcastle etc using 24/25/40/47s , nightly postal which could also draw in a 50 from Crewe Diesel as at that time they still operated in the Northwest in dwindling numbers.  I fancy a Revolution 128 as well for these services.

 

Loco hauled services will serve Cardiff - class 25 as a nod to the Crewe - Cardiff trains, class 31/40 to Sheffield and York.

 

No freight  though, it wouldn't sit right with me to force a freight depot into the layout, but I will put in a small stabling area - sort of like Arpley in the place where the cattle pens existed in the real station - then I might allow my 37s to visit, coming off the sidings at Shotton to stable.

 

Tracklaying was completed on the main layout this evening, I still need to lay the stabling point and the point motors have not been installed yet, also I need to cut back the main lines within the station, they are overlong at present whilst I decide the final length of the lines.

 

IMG_4457.JPG.21be62033fd7dcec233b00857bdaecaf.JPG

IMG_4458.JPG.dc6d7563e6f443e34814042b73e090c6.JPG

 

I was going to have a kickback in the fiddleyard for some of the coaches, then it struck me I could use this scenically so the tracks curve around with the main and will be part of the scenic layout as well as being useful storage

IMG_4459.JPG.5b10f10c4931fffbfdba78cdabbea7f4.JPG

 

Finally the fiddleyard - just enough space for the stock I have opened - my grey/blue Pullmans won't see use here, I do like them but I've accepted it's not good to have all your stock out all of the time.  Trains that go out to Birkenhead/Wrexham only have three sidings, the rest of the the trains out to the east via the CLC.

IMG_4456.JPG.1cd0dc68e0a5c51707c0a8fed70bacf1.JPG

 

The little track to the side is a DC Test Track.

 

The 31, 40s and 50 will all be sound fitted, I intend to also fit sound to the 108s and 101 as they have speaker spaces in the body (didn't know that until yesterday!).  The other locos will remain silent for the time being though I do have to wire in DCC to my 08 and maybe the 04 too.  Perhaps once I have mastered wiring in the chips on the 08 and 04 I might use the Zimo PCB replacement sound decoder that you wire in on the 37s and 47s, the 25 and 24s are a step too far unless I pay someone to do the work - perhaps last of all eh.

 

If Farish want to do some new Peaks, I will be happy to buy a new one, I do hope my old one went to a good home.

 

PS, how do I turn the images round that are on their sides?

Looks good start this im now following my frend

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1 hour ago, scottystitch said:

Very good to see a new layout in N.  This looks good.

 

What will be your maximum train length?

 

Best of luck with it all!

 

Best

 

Scott

Thanks

 

The station would take 6 plus a loco at either end - but the fiddleyard is more restricted so I will be going for 5 coach trains which reflects the nature of the station - it's not big mainline services you would get at Chester General, it's a development of CLC services out of the station with loco hauled regional trains out to the Hope Valley line, Sheffield and beyond via Skelton Junction.  DMUs are restricted to Birkenhead, Wrexham and Manchester via Altrincham as they would have been from Northgate.  As I liked the class 25 services from Crewe to Cardiff, I've decided I'll have a couple of those from Northgate too.

 

Parcels services give me scope for other traction in the form of the a Western, 50 or 31 on trains from Paddington as a rump of the old GW mainline services to Merseyside and I might have a Crewe 50 doing a postal train to Stockport where it joins with the Aberystwyth-York postal.

 

I loved the back story on Bradfield as it resonates with me that I need my model trains to be based on some sort of potential reality, hence no MPD or freight - it wouldn't happen on a real location like this, but a rundown corner of some old sidings as a stabling point for a few locos would be feasible.  I want a layout I can imagine myself stood on spotting and this does that.

 

On my last foray I was doing a North Cornwall line, I ended up with a Maunsell catering vehicle, baggage vehicles that wouldn't have been required and locos like T9s and Moguls that wouldn't have made it to the location when all that was needed was an M7 and an O2.  My GW collection was also very pointedly Welsh - a Dukedog, 2251 and Dean Goods in Cornwall.  I had fun with that layout but the stock was getting out of control.  This time I have only got out what I will use, if it's not on rails it's in it's box - and I am thankful I sold my 8 coach HST a couple of years back.

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I had a look at Northgate on the nls maps, and I wonder if you’d consider the Line to Hawarden being lifted (it’s marked on the map as being ‘Great Central’?  You’d be able then to provide a double track approach to the station as you said you desired. 
 

just a thought. 
 

best

 

scott. 

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5 minutes ago, scottystitch said:

I had a look at Northgate on the nls maps, and I wonder if you’d consider the Line to Hawarden being lifted (it’s marked on the map as being ‘Great Central’?  You’d be able then to provide a double track approach to the station as you said you desired. 
 

just a thought. 
 

best

 

scott. 

Its the limitation of the baseboards that forced me to singled line approaches, the original plan was to insert another point and a crossing, but it looked very cramped, perhaps too cramped so I opted to single to retain the essence of the approach I wanted.  I figured being so close to the actual main line that a railway looking for economies in the 70s may have decided on singled approaches - the junction is more important to me in this case than the number of tracks - having a junction allowed me three more sidings in the fiddleyard, it also means that trains arrive and depart over more than one route which is also important to my imagining of the scene.

 

Subtle differences in traction will also build the scene - the Western, 31 and 101 will only come from the Welsh route, the 108s will work towards Manchester - in my spotting days I used to associate the 101s more in Wales and the North East than with Manchester where it was a diet of 104s, 108s and 110s

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That all makes perfect sense.  I know what you mean with regards the distinct traffic from each route. 

 

As I say, it was just a thought. 
 

I shall follow it all with enthusiasm. 
 

Best

 

Scott. 

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Nice idea this, Northgate was closed long before I was born but I just about remember the Chester to Harwarden line before its final closure in the early 90s. Used to watch in awe from a friends' garden as 37s shuffled past the fence, just a few feet from us (young me remembers seeing a DMU once as well, presumably a 101 on a railtour / route learning / inspection run).

 

I'll be watching this with interest. I suppose I'll have to make some changes to this poster I have :lol:

 

Alan

 

IMG_3386.JPG.4210fba63c35b034e89dc1721bee7f5b.JPG

 

 

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One forty whistling away courtesy of Digitrains, accompanied by some warbling 31.

 

They aint half a to get the bodies off, 4 side windows pinged off when I removed the shell.

 

Still not as difficult as a 108, had to glue some of the underside of the motor unit back on in my struggle to get that one to part from it's chassis.  I am thinking I don't want to have to lift the bodies more than once so maybe I just order the sound chips and speakers for these too.

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Posted (edited)

Dapol 50 speaker fitted - those are the thinnest wires I have ever soldered.  Need to find the hoover sound, it's there somewhere in the options.  This is Digitrains again.

 

Having wired this speaker to the loco and the speaker itself I do now feel confident to move on to the 108s, so I need to get those ordered.

 

 

Then I had a play with forty again...

 

The Forty and the 31 don't seem to like the Peco medium radius points, this is new, never had issues in the past - a bit of fettling I imagine.

 

Edited by woodenhead
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Dapol 52, 121 chipped and working, second Farish 24 chipped then there was an upset - my other 47 had a split gear, the loco is probably 10 years old so I was expecting one somewhere.  Dropped the wheelset, found the errant wheel, removed its gear and all back together - nice and smooth again.

 

Starting to play with the trains now and find what needs attention.

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Just made an order on Digitrains for my DMU sound cards, they have had to shut temporarily due to a member of staff contracting Covid. 

 

I can wait, I hope the member of staff makes a quick recovery.

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Bit more practice at driving.

 

Relearning the perculiarities of n gauge couplings - Dapol 50 drops the same wagon at the same two spots each time it runs - flat track but there must be something there I haven't seen yet.

 

Also getting used to JMRI - swapping locos, remembering which way a loco is facing and to test before engaging power and seeing the loco go the opposite way!  DC is so much easier to drive, but it's a pain to set up all the switching whereas this one requires more thinking when driving but was a doddle to wire up.

 

Anyway on to driving, a departure of the parcels to Paddington, the 50 was hoovering at one point but it's not being picked up in the sound.

 

And behind it the Sheffield passenger service with a class 40 sneaking up to the end of the platform at the end - again some learning, when I released the 31 to power up the 40 the 31 coasted to a stop off camera.

 

 

Edited by woodenhead
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Great stuff. Thank for sharing.

 

One of my biggest bugbears (along with visible non-scale curves) on a model layout is the lack of effort made to have trains move as per the real thing, so kudos to you for biting the bullet and learning to drive the trains properly.

 

This layout and thread is shaping up nicely.

 

Best

 

Scott.

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Have been looking at my loco hauled passenger stock for Northgate, the intention is to use these on trains to:

  • Cardiff (4 MK1 coaches)
  • Sheffield/Hull or York (5 MK1/2 coaches)

Realised yesterday that I had three 5 coach trains each of which had a buffet - not really suitable for the short range regional services I am portraying at Northgate.  So I've reformed the trains without buffets, now I have two five coach trains, a 4 coach day train for Cardiff and a mixed train for an overnight service to Cardiff. 

 

This feels more appropriate to the scope of the trains from the station.

 

My 4 speakers arrived this morning for my DMUs, just awaiting the sound decoders which should arrive sometime next week.

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Some more thoughts on services from this station in my re-imagined world.

 

DMU services:

  1. Wrexham via Shotton - class 101
  2. Crewe via Middlewich/Sandbach  - single class 121 - gives the good people of cheshire a train to Crewe away from the mainlines
  3. Romiley via Lymm class 108 - this assumes the scissors connections to the Chester-Warrington route existed even though they didn't close Northgate.  Service would route & stop at Warrington Arpley, Lymm, Broadheath, Baguley, Northenden, Cheadle, Stockport Tiviot and Romiley.  Some may also route via Northwich & Altrincham using Skelton Junction.
  4. Manchester via Northwich
  5. Birkenhead via Neston

Loco hauled trains go to Sheffield or York via either Lymm or Northwich, stopping at Stockport, Romiley and Sheffield, the York trains would follow the same route and then via Normanton, all formed of 5 Mk1/2 coaches.  The other LHCS service will be to Cardiff formed of 4 Mk1s.  No catering on any of the trains.

 

Parcels will serve a number of locations: Cardiff, Paddington, Manchester, Sheffield & York, a short TPO will be detached / attached at Stockport Edgeley for onto the York to Aberyswyth service.

 

The stock that is out is the stock for the railway, apart from a second class 40 and a class 128 I have all the motive power I now need.

 

Attention now turns to a few dodgy points in the fiddleyard which probably need a good clean, in the scenic area the IP Cobalts need fixing in place and the live frog wired to the point frogs.

 

Overall image of the fiddleyard, looking very blue.

IMG_4482.JPG.8e149ba125e2c9a10169fc7ad01a5bd4.JPG

 

Sound fitting has gone as far as I can go for the time being but I am now thinking of having my 24/25 and 47s sound fitted through someone like Digitrains, my experience frying a chip has turned me off the idea of cutting metal to fit a speaker.

 

Few new videos:

Arriving class 108

 

Departing 101

 

Class 40 getting away

 

This is all Sprog/JMRI controlled, I've been having a few issues getting the mobile devices to connect on the wifi option, it's hit and miss whether it wants to work making control a little clunky if I am having to use the laptop to control.  I might take a look at something like a ROCO z21 down the line.

 

Still given I was a complete technophile in December, firmly DC and not interested in sound, so far in the past month I've moved a long way including wiring speakers into the DMUs.  The sounds are all Digitrains Active Drive on Zimo, I need to get used to the control more but so far I am very pleased with the noise coming out of my engines.

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