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Ex-Great Central London Extension in the East Midlands.


Chamby
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INDEX

 

Page 1: 

Layout design and evolution

Baseboards

Trackwork

Control

The Station

Embankments and cuttings

 

 

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LAYOUT  DESIGN  AND  EVOLUTION

 

Initially, I had half a room to work with, fortunately I was able to negotiate a split along the length of the room, allowing me to take advantage of the maximum possible length of 15'9" (4.8 metres).  

 

It was tempting to build the classic format with a station along one side, and a fiddle yard down the other to park up the trains.  But I like running trains, which is why a full circuit was a given, and I like seeing trains run through the countryside.  

 

Leicester Central station was long and relatively thin, raised above the surrounding city on a brick arched viaduct.  With two long outer platforms and four bays (two inset at each end of the station), it was an elongated H shape with several passing loops running down either side.  Almost like a fiddle-yard in fact.  Copyright prevents me from posting original images here, but you can access a range of images on google.  

 

By extending the four central bay platforms to meet up with each other in the middle of the station, four full-length platforms would become available, increasing capacity.  And by building the layout using sectional baseboards, if a longer model railway room becomes available in the future, it would be possible to insert an additional section in the middle to re-instate the bays, build the central station buildings and achieve a closer to scale length.  Station sorted then, for now.  The return run down the middle of the room would be an open run, but of necessity on relatively narrow boards 400mm wide.

 

Leicester Central saw a fascinating variety of trains, including a number of inter-regional cross-country services, more of which later.  But locomotive exchanges at Leicester were an operational feature that I wanted to replicate.   An MPD was also possible along one end wall, giving rise to this first iteration of the layout, and construction started in the winter of 2016:

1733094927_Currentlayout.jpg.0761019a34e6aa8eb29c866efa62d2af.jpg

 

In 2019 we converted the garage in our home and I was hoping to move the model railway there, giving me an extra four feet of length.  However the back room in our home is dark, whereas the garage was bright and sunny, with views over the local cove out to a headland and the open sea.  My wife is an artist, so she won the discussion and I got the back room.  However, there was room for me to have a dedicated modelling bench in the former garage, allowing me to have the whole back room for the railway.

 

Fiddling around with options, I settled on a plan to insert a small additional section of baseboard that would open up the operating well, and ease the curves at each end of the layout.  This work was undertaken as the winter project in 2019, as follows:

860545262_proposedlayout.jpg.70061d08283f3ff74b6cec8a896330ff.jpg

 

Finally, during 2020's lockdown, I also installed 'kickback' sidings to represent off-scene carriage sidings for additional train storage.  So the current state of the layout is as follows:  A double-track mainline circuit, 15'9" x 7'6", with a station able to take 8-coach trains, an MPD at one end, carriage sidings at the other, and the circuit completed by a decent open run through countryside:

IMG_4287small.jpg.3244fd919beb03141ff69e72b22d89ba.jpg

 

Next:  Musings on baseboard construction.

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BASEBOARDS

 

This layout is not intended to be exhibited, but given that it is likely to evolve and hopefully grow in time, I needed it to be transportable.  Plywood box construction was chosen, and sufficient boards of the right size were ordered from White Rose Modelworks.  Given the space constraints of half-a-room, a width of 400 and 600 mm was ordered, and 1200mm in length.  The flat-packed boards duly arrived and I was impressed with the quality of timber used, and they went together very well, albeit with a lot of PVA glue and the help of a mallet in places!  One board along each length was cut down a little, to allow about three inches of 'wiggle room' within the available room dimensions, to ease erection and dismantling of the layout.

 

The White Rose boards came with a few small holes along their length, ideal to use as pilot holes for the alignment dowels.  Brass pattern makers dowels were used, sourced from the interweb, two being used for each baseboard join, and No.6 bolts being used to hold the boards together.

 

Brass pattern makers dowels:

IMG_2117small.jpg.11c59bc91fc747927a9fb5763ab43cf4.jpg

 

A view of a baseboard end.  Pattern makers dowels ensure perfect alignment every time.  Two 8mm holes on the outside of the dowels are for the retaining bolts.  6mm bolts with wing-nuts fit through these holes to hold adjacent boards together.  Some of the pre-laser-drilled pilot holes are visible along the centre line of the baseboard end, these make aligning the dowels and bolt-holes a simple task.  Wiring connections are made using computer D plugs recessed into the end plate:

 

IMG_4291.jpg.7689931ff5b943c635a7ce3cd6bac6f3.jpg

 

A view underneath the boards, showing the joints secured by the bolts.  The additional discs of plywood are glued to the main boards to provide extra thickness where the alignment dowels and bolts are used:

IMG_4286.jpg.99399ceb1f2132674683d1a11d39bc82.jpg

 

I spent some time deliberating about baseboard height.  I would need to be able to 'duck under' the boards to access the operating well.  In the end I settled on a baseboard height of about 50 inches (1250mm) which has worked really well.  This gives me an eye-level view of the layout when I sit in my office chair.  I also have a couple of bar stools which are the ideal height for operating the layout.  There is plenty of room under the layout for storing all my stuff.  The extra height makes it much easier to work underneath the baseboards.

 

As the layout was to be transportable, I decided to keep the main circuit and MPD free-standing, so not affixed to the walls.  IKEA's IVAR shelving units were used to support the layout, being robust enough and with timber framing they could be easily cut to the right height.  A batten fixed to the top of each upright provides a good seat for the baseboards, and the shelves themselves provide rigidity and useful storage space:

IMG_4158.jpg.7793be28c0a8b8ec70e031346bd1374a.jpg

 

Using the sectional boards gives me the flexibility I need.  It should be relatively easy to 'drop in' an extra board or two if I, as hoped, am able to relocate to a larger space.  Boards can be easily removed for working on, for either doing messy work such as static grass application or working on the underside.  Happy days!

 

 

 

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TRACKWORK

 

A variety of commercial track has been used, some code 100 streamline in one corner of the layout and the off-scene carriage sidings, to take advantage of the range of curved points available.  But the scenic part of the layout is all laid with code 75 bullhead track, a mixture of PECO and C&L (their thick sleeper variety).  I found the C&L rail joiners to be very flimsy, so have used the excellent PECO bullhead joiners (SL-114) for both trackage systems.  

 

Woodland scenics foam underlay was used, a mixture of their flat sheets and chamfered edge roll.  The track was laid on top of the foam using the fine Peco pins, gently tapped through pre-drilled holes in the sleepers to avoid bending them.  Tracksetta's and a long ruler were used to achieve flowing curves and straight sections that are truly straight.  I have a real dislike of track and platform edges that should be straight but are horribly wonky when viewed along their length, and am amazed how often you see this on layouts featured in the modelling press!  So great care was taken to get this looking right.

 

As DCC control is used, every section of rail has a wire dropper soldered to it, connecting to the electrical supply running underneath the baseboards.

 

Tracklaying in progress at the station throat: flowing curves for the most part, but a couple of compromises owing to commercial paintwork geometry.  The curved points are gently 'bent' PECO bullhead points, but I will replace a couple of them with custom built pointwork sometime in the future, to achieve a more consistent radius on the approach curves: 

172168522_IMG_1860small.jpg.0c5167037befb162847845b0e12a2c3d.jpg

 

 

Dead straight track work and platform edges in the station area.  Once laid, the track work was sprayed with Humbrol matt earth paint to provide a base colour.  This is C&L track, the webbing between sleepers is continuous down both rails and needs cutting for curves, but it is ideal where dead straight track is required:

1205961583_IMG_1390small.jpg.7f9e94044fd334878be99cadf1e1af32.jpg

 

 

A simple jig was made for laying the double track running lines.  One track was carefully laid, the second simply placed equidistant from it using the jig:

1167596849_IMG_3657small.jpeg.f073207473f770bd4e539c7c99113f26.jpeg

 

 

Joining the code 75 bullhead rail to code 100 flat-bottomed rail proved to be easier than expected.  Using a slitting disc, the end centimetre of code 100 rail was trimmed so that just the flat-bottom part of the rail is left.  Code 75 bullhead rail is simply soldered on top of this tongue, and it is the correct height at the rail top:

995578437_IMG_2241small.jpeg.b6e3c59f83b492abd7677cc9243199bd.jpeg

 

 

Timber fillets were sawn to the same profile as the track underlay, and firmly glued and pinned to the baseboard to provide a solid edge.  Track was laid directly across the baseboard join, but approximately 5-6 sleepers were removed and replaced with either copper clad or DCC concepts fibreglass sleepers.  These were super-glued to the wooden fillets, making everything rock-solid.  The track was then soldered to the sleepers, and cut at the baseboard join using a slitting disc.

 

Tracklaying in progress across a baseboard join:

428775273_IMG_3656small.jpg.51456501f6c0bd8efba2958735a7fb8d.jpg 

 

 

This shot shows the completed baseboard join, the timber fillet painted black to match the underlay. The sleepers were painted with Railmatch 'Sleeper Grime' and the rails using Humbrol acrylic rust colour.   Just the ballasting to do now:

933651188_IMG_3671small.jpg.b1a6bf3cede32a070cb5a4a2da0e0304.jpg

 

 

Ballast in place, the baseboard join is visible here.  I have found that with this method of baseboard join and track laying, a perfect alignment is achieved every time the boards are re-assembled, even on curved track.  Woodland Scenics medium grey blend ballast is used, with washed sand from the local beach in the cess.  It still needs a bit of weathering to tone it all down a bit:

1378465321_IMG_4292small.jpg.d2aced22c818f665867de97f17ce074a.jpg

 

FOOTNOTE:  I won't labour the point here, as it has been extensively covered in the thread on PECO bullhead points, but I have taken a dislike to the 'Unifrog' concept now being used by PECO, including on this code 75 bullhead range.  After installation, I found that some locomotives shorted out on the unifrog due to the tight electrical gaps between the frog and adjacent rails of opposite polarity.  I have overcome this by converting the points to the 'electrofrog' configuration previously used by PECO for their flat-bottomed rail products and they now perform perfectly, and look good too. 

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CONTROL

 

I chose DCC control for a number of reasons.  Firstly I had become familiar with it from operating a club layout, and through converting some of my own locomotives to run on this, all fear of the unknown was diminished.  Secondly, I wanted the layout to be fully integrated, with signals, lighting, sound, turnouts etc. all working together as they should.  Thirdly, the 'two wires' principle of DCC had a lot going for it, as analogue control would require  individual wires for almost everything, and many of the wiring runs would need to bridge several baseboard joins.  Whilst I had learned that even with DCC control, everything needs its own wiring connection into the bus, but this can be kept local to each board, with only bus wires needing to span the baseboard joins.  No more wiring looms for me!

 

I also had the benefit of trying out a number of different DCC systems with the help of different club members.  I liked the Digitrax system with two independent control knobs on each handset, the NCE Procab felt good in the hand and the roller-control was intuitive, the ESU panel was superb but rather more expensive than the other systems, in the end I went with the Gaugemaster Prodigy system for no other reason than I liked it, and it was available at a reasonable price at the time.

 

I was conscious that as time went by, I was likely to accumulate a lot of accessory decoders and that the 4 amps available from the Prodigy unit might not be powerful enough to control everything.  Also, as the layout was being built, it quickly became clear what a faff it was to input every address, every time you wanted to throw a point or signal, or switch between loco's.  Something more intuitive was required, with a visual means of showing how everything was set... a full control panel.    

 

In the end I decided on a DCC Concepts Alpha Control system (operating independently of the Gaugemaster unit) for the accessories.  This expandable system currently controls all the points, and in time will also control the signals and lighting on the layout.  The following schematic shows how things are set up at present:

IMG_4317.jpg.815651d6166d7f6b1b09b27266eaaf97.jpg

I have three pairs of bus wires running underneath the whole layout... so six wires.   Two for the accessories, two for the up lines and two for the down lines.  The up and down line buses are each protected by a Circuit Breaker (CB1 and 2 above) so that if one shorts out, the other continues to operate unaffected... both these buses share a common power source allowing seamless operation when crossing from the up to the down lines, and vice-versa.  

 

 

 

96453764_IMG_4315small.jpg.341f4858d9abc14a71ca74a5e4cac861.jpg

 

The above photo shows the Alpha Control panels in front of the layout.  They are a nice slim unit, with a very nice finish.  They have two buttons for each address and these are positioned one above the other.  The upper button illuminates red when selected, the lower one green.  I have programmed these all to operate so that the route is set either towards the operator, or away... the upper red one for away, the lower green one for towards...  I have found this to be the most intuitive way to set things up.  So far so good, the point control works really well this way, and leaves the Prodigy handsets free for locomotive driving only.

 

However, I still found myself squinting at the track work so see which way each point was set, even though the Alpha Control box showed me.  What it doesn't do is show how each route has been set, so I supplemented the system with an Alpha-Mimic display.  This consists of a set of red/green LED's connected to an accessory unit that responds to the same digital commands as the points.  Press the button to throw point one, and the LED's for number one correspondingly change colour.  All you need to do is drill a hole for each LED in the appropriate location on your track diagram display, slot in the LED, plug it in to the appropriate output on the accessory unit and hey presto!  

 

I have mounted the track diagram displays on the wall behind the layout.  Note that there are only two wires running down to the layout, these are simply wired into the accessory bus.  The panel on the left represents the main station area, the one on the right is the MPD.  Each point is numbered on the diagram to show its accessory address: the lights change colour when the point is switched.  A quick scan of the track diagrams along your intended route to make sure there are no red lights, and you're good to go.  In the photo below, you cans see that both the up and down lines are set for through running along the centre platforms.

 

2072118267_IMG_4314small.jpg.4e1bf4629895273d198be04859f8c28f.jpg

 

In time I will be installing working signals that will operate according to how the points are set.  This will require a simple local installation: a signal control accessory decoder under the baseboard, wired into the accessory bus, will respond to the same address as the turnout, and throw the signal in much the same way as the control panel LED's change.  That's the theory anyway... although some will additionally require interlocking, which will be another brain-teasing adventure I guess! 

 

A final staged picture whilst I am here... showing illuminated locomotive lamps and tail light on the rake of coaches.  Yes, you can do this with DC control as well, but with DCC it can be very reassuring to just flash the loco lamps to check that you have selected the right loco, and it is responding to the controller!

 

62807925_IMG_4316small.jpg.72c60cd0bfdc0a0f300018c3a76cc438.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 20/02/2021 at 22:36, tigerburnie said:

Looking good, kinda wished I'd stuck at my effort at Leicester Central, it is such a beast to model.

 

Hi Tigerburnie.   I followed your own project on Leicester Central with interest, and was sorry when you decided to move on.  I can understand it though, it is not easy to model with some unusual (non-commercially available) track configurations and the prototype length raises challenges when you have space considerations.

 

I Hope that you are enjoying your new modelled location and that you have no regrets.  It looks an equally interesting project.

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Posted (edited)

THE STATION

 

The station is very much based on Leicester Central, though because of limitations on the available space (and my modelling ability) the model does deviate from the original in a number of key respects.  Hats off to those who are able to model an exact prototype - This personal project makes no claim to be one of those, but I will be pushing my modelling to get as much of a likeness of the station as possible within the constraints I have.  The intent is to initially use proprietary items to get things up and running, then to progressively replace and upgrade individual parts of the model over time.  This is very much a personal retirement project, so the 'ongoing modelling journey' is more important to me than reaching an end product by a set deadline.

 

Leicester Central was a long station with a single island platform 1,245 feet long.  That's five metres long in 4mm scale, plus the approach tracks.   Set into each end were bay platforms, creating an H shaped layout with the station buildings in the middle.  The bays were used for local services that started or terminated at Leicester, for locomotives waiting to take over long-distance through services and for storing/unloading parcels stock.  The platform was raised above the surrounding cityscape on arches constructed of the characteristic Staffordshire Blue Brick that typifies much of the former Great Central line's London Extension.  The through running lines therefore ran along the outside faces of the platform, with additional loops in both directions used to store rolling stock and allow freight trains to wait up whilst faster passenger services overtook them.

 

20fc7598b62e21ee785e949616b19e08.jpg.f963c1059feaa8662e787b9eefc9cda6.jpg 

 

An aerial view of Leicester Central station, probably around 1937.  Loco facilities in the right foreground, with station concourse facing the road and the parcels offices behind.  As with most available photo's of Leicester Central, this low-resolution image is internet-sourced with no indication of any provenance or copyright restrictions, but will be removed if required.

 

A few furlongs south of the station were the loco facilities, and the main goods depot: the latter is not being modelled but those interested can refer to the excellent exhibition standard model produced by Shipley MRS.  Leicester Central had its own smaller loco facilities including a 70 foot turntable and a parcels office.  Several cross-country passenger services took advantage of these facilities to exchange locomotives here: ex-GW Halls and Bulleid light pacific locomotives were among the recorded visitors.

 

I have been fortunate to speak with a few people who recalled the station before the line was closed by Dr Beeching in the mid-sixties.  They described it as being a cold and windswept place with a desolate air during winter months, because it stood above the surrounding cityscape, very open to the prevailing wind.  The waiting room and buffet facilities were therefore very popular and heavily used by passengers!

 

THE MODEL

 

The initial big dilemma was how to best reproduce the station in model form using the available space.  I was able to accommodate platforms 8 feet (2.4m) long, so able to hold an 8-9 coach train of Mk1 coaches.  This represents a little under half the length of the prototype.  The platform canopies were of a distinctive design that very much characterised the station, so I wanted to model sufficient of this to retain the character.  Given the fact that the overall layout does not include a fiddle yard, I decided to omit the central part of the station with the buildings, and model each end so that the bay platforms butted up to each other, therefore forming two more through lines.  This means that the model will for now have four platforms, with four through lines but no bays.  I can then model each end of the station reasonably accurately.  (For the future, by strategically placing a baseboard join halfway down the platform length this will allow me to build an additional module comprising the central station buildings, buffer-stops etc.  All in good time!)

 

12755405_IMG_1388small.jpeg.5d4117703f3896cf4d88514d7c618482.jpeg

 

The platforms during construction.  Wooden timbers of correct height were laid along the length of the platforms to form the platform faces.  Self-adhesive brick paper was used to cover these.  An additional longitudinal batten of the same height was used to both support the centre of the platform and provide something solid to drill holes in, for stuff like canopy support columns and running-in boards.  The platform surface was formed using 2mm high-density MDF sourced from a supplier of laser-cutting materials - this was a quality material to work with.  The square platforms on the ramps will support the stations distinctive water towers.

 

 

1506518325_IMG_1390small.jpg.dbf2a9ee567c7dd52dc8625768114e80.jpg

 

The above photo shows the strategically placed baseboard join that will, sometime in the future, allow the central platform area to be inserted into the model. 

 

 

IMG_3180_small.jpg.9e31e36f027f1594603fabed0ebe9246.jpg

 

The above photograph shows the current status of the station.  At the time this was taken, I was exercising my BR blue-era stock and china clay trains rather than the nationalisation-era eastern region stock, but it shows the basic station layout that provides a total of eight through paths in the station area: four in the middle with platform faces, and four outer passing loops.  Bachman 'Ready-to-plonk' GC station buildings provide an interim solution to passenger catering and shelter requirements, until future relocation of the layout permits the station's central section to be built and inserted.   The platform canopies are currently under construction on my workbench, when installed they will start to make the model more recognisable as Leicester. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Chamby
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Phil - this looks like a model of great promise! The location and era are firmly within my interests, so I look forward to seeing how this develops. Many thanks for sharing your work. 

Mark

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ILooks like a great retirement project. A really busy and interesting station!

 

My version of the GCR mainline takes in just two small suburban stations and that's a big enough challenge. 

 

I found that even though I'm operating it now with 2020 era stock, I don't have nearly enough in the way of a fiddle yard space for a GCR main line layout. Just a suggestion but you might want to check that you have enough before you complete all the trackwork. 

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Posted (edited)

THE PLATFORM CANOPY

 

Most people modelling a reasonably sized station will need to include a platform canopy of some sort, however there is a relative dearth of commercially available items.  Those that are available are quite widely used, so stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.   Ho hum, yet another Peco overall canopy roof…. and usually without modification, plonked in place straight out of the box.  It is a good product, but...    Anyone wanting to model a specific station, or replicate a railway company style, is probably going to have to do it themselves.   Leicester Central station is no exception, it had a very characteristic canopy shape, particularly over the bay platforms where it was undoubtedly the most distinctive feature.   Therefore any reasonable model of this location just has to get the canopy right:

 

445713700_LeicesterCentralBayPlatforms.jpg.c85560efca36d00957d2b6e2f0d960b2.jpg   

   

After some deliberation about methodology, including trialling a lining pen on acrylic sheet, measuring and costing up brass section, playing around with Plastruct beams and Slaters valences etc, I came to the conclusion that 3D printing technology might be the best approach.  However, with IT skills limited to Microsoft Office, I turned to my son for guidance.  We did a deal.  If I bought him a 3D printer for his Birthday, he would make me all the components for the station canopy for my Birthday.     Done!    It was a step of faith in his as yet unproven abilities, but it proved to be £230 very well spent.

 

I sent him pictures of the station and measurements of my model platform.  Regular questions reassured me that he was on the right track and the pieces duly arrived in a large box shortly after my birthday.   

 

IMG_4299.jpg.454325affda43474bb56227e0f9b6bc0.jpg

 

Painting and assembly commenced.  This was going to be a labour of love, with 104 frames needing to be cleaned up and painted, 104 pieces of perspex sheet cut to size and used to glaze them (in the end I used the plastic sleeves that come with Peco points).  Columns, cross-beams, canopy support arches and valences were all trimmed from their printing ‘sprues’, assembled and then painted.  

 

Determining the correct colour scheme for the early days of nationalisation required some research, as colour photographs of the station all seem to date from after its transfer to the London Midland region in 1957.   I discovered that Leicester was one of the first stations to be painted in the new LNER colour scheme in 1936, that specified Brunswick green columns, Buckingham green support frames and Cream canopies.  It had retained that livery into nationalisation, and the Eastern Region was notoriously tardy in repainting stations into the new regional colours, so although I can't be 100% certain, the 1936 scheme was settled upon.  

 

IMG_4367.jpg.7c451355f9beb278045069374cc9d974.jpg

 

I’ll spare you the details of assembly, save to say that the sections went together well, how all the pieces fitted together had been very well worked out by my son, so that it was a joy to build, if rather a long process.  But I’ll let the final results speak for themselves:

 

IMG_4386.jpg.a78d47e453ce8b6e273ee9558fbcfd77.jpg

 

IMG_4399.jpg.d9ec3335d4280aaa5a6e7b4601fda5b0.jpg

 

IMG_4398.jpg.ddf4bbe7706e367686976fa6526b9534.jpg

 

IMG_4383.jpg.d96971b4d3fcda4e5881c19c42465671.jpg

 

And just to prove that I do just play trains sometimes: something more out-of-period...

 

IMG_4391.jpg.6cbd126b97dd414d24cb0382caefa17d.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Chamby
Dysfunctional link, replaced with photograph.
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Posted (edited)
On 11/03/2021 at 16:37, fezza said:

ILooks like a great retirement project. A really busy and interesting station!

 

My version of the GCR mainline takes in just two small suburban stations and that's a big enough challenge. 

 

I found that even though I'm operating it now with 2020 era stock, I don't have nearly enough in the way of a fiddle yard space for a GCR main line layout. Just a suggestion but you might want to check that you have enough before you complete all the trackwork. 

 

A large fiddle yard would be ideal, but...   in the absence of a substantial loft or basement, a large fiddle yard is simply not viable.  In the end I decided to continue modelling this favoured location, accepting current space limitations and also accepting the operational constraints this implies.  I won't be able to run a full days sequence with each train simply being pulled off from a large fiddle yard.  Instead, I can still model most of the trains, but will only be able to run a very selective sequence at any given time.  I decided that this was better than not proceeding with the model at all, or modelling somewhere that is of much less personal interest.

 

The layout has been built in sections, so is both transportable and extendable.  The grand plan is to move it to a larger space when circumstances permit... lengthening the station platforms and adding a large fiddle yard will therefore be easy to do, as and when more space might become available. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Chamby
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The GC trains really were long, especially the coal "runners or windcutters", especially towards the end of the line with 9f's hauling them and some of the cross country holiday trains too , I have a copy of the working timetable for the GC dated 1953 if you need any info.

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  • 2 months later...

Embankments and cuttings...

 

Things on my home layout are developing more slowly now that the summer months are here, and the two clubs that I attend have re-opened (albeit under the 'rule of six').  But an update is long overdue...

 

The layout is constructed from self-assembly plywood kits, supplied by White Rose Model Works.  These I can highly recommend, but as they are essentially upside-down boxes, they come with a very flat top.  Great for station areas and the like, but some modification is needed if contours are required, so herewith is my approach.  Nothing revolutionary in terms of technique, but using a methodology that I find works well every time, and is problem free.

 

Creating an embankment:  This photo shows how the flat top of the original baseboard has been cut away using a multi-tool.  It is still remarkably sturdy at this point, and I could still run trains during these modifications as the wiring buses fortunately ran beneath the track work.  

 

IMG_3723.jpg.cf792ea4fc0bdf074506e547dc6003c5.jpg

 

 

The sides of the embankment, and the lower ground level was added using lightweight foam-filled model board.  Once fixed in place with a hot-glue gun, it was painted green to enable me to get an impression of how it might look.  Further 'smoothing' using polyfilla ensued, until the desired surface was achieved:

 

IMG_3730.jpg.15e3bd1079bc011c4218d62ac3074601.jpg

 

 

The adjacent board was to feature a low cutting, to create the effect of an up-and-down flowing landscape.  The surplus side pieces from the embankment board were re-purposed to create a raised edge to the board that was to feature the cutting, and polystyrene was added to bulk up the landscape, then cut down to match the edge profile:

 

IMG_3785.jpg.b958a2d504d789e0a49b0943cc4ef315.jpg  

 

 

Once the approximate shape of the landscape had been achieved, a layer of polyfilla was spread on the surface to create a decent surface.  After this, it was further sanded down to remove any irregularities:

 

IMG_3735.jpg.057ccf00ba571be071af190b3d20ecbe.jpg

 

 

And then an extra stage that I haven't seen others use... because I just hate it when a well-finished landscape gets bashed or works loose, revealing white polyfilla or, even worse, the polystyrene substrate itself.  So I now add a final layer using pieces of material from old shirts, saturated in slightly diluted PVA glue.  Just remember to remove the seams and any breast pockets (I speak from experience!)  When dry, this creates a firm 'skin' that is surprisingly resilient and is a pleasure to work on.

 

IMG_3743.jpg.bfe9150b94b108d17c709de0f42a6e7c.jpg

 

And the final result, once painted, flocked and static-grassed.  Enhanced with simple scenic additions including stone walling (Hornby, purchased in a clearance sale), a footpath and a couple of hikers...  dropping the surrounding landscape just a couple of inches below track level makes a huge difference to the visual impact of the layout, and much enhances the photographic possibilities:  (I just need to get rid of those wall lights!)

 

IMG_3855.jpg.54becf18caa7c97d07cc95113605e939.jpg

 

 

Phil

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On 07/04/2021 at 23:06, tigerburnie said:

The GC trains really were long, especially the coal "runners or windcutters", especially towards the end of the line with 9f's hauling them and some of the cross country holiday trains too , I have a copy of the working timetable for the GC dated 1953 if you need any info.

 

Hi Tigerburnie, is your timetable for the passenger workings, or do you also have details of the freight working?  If so, that would be most useful.

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17 hours ago, Chamby said:

Embankments and cuttings...

 

Things on my home layout are developing more slowly now that the summer months are here, and the two clubs that I attend have re-opened (albeit under the 'rule of six').  But an update is long overdue...

 

The layout is constructed from self-assembly plywood kits, supplied by White Rose Model Works.  These I can highly recommend, but as they are essentially upside-down boxes, they come with a very flat top.  Great for station areas and the like, but some modification is needed if contours are required, so herewith is my approach.  Nothing revolutionary in terms of technique, but using a methodology that I find works well every time, and is problem free.

 

Creating an embankment:  This photo shows how the flat top of the original baseboard has been cut away using a multi-tool.  It is still remarkably sturdy at this point, and I could still run trains during these modifications as the wiring buses fortunately ran beneath the track work.  

 

IMG_3723.jpg.cf792ea4fc0bdf074506e547dc6003c5.jpg

 

 

The sides of the embankment, and the lower ground level was added using lightweight foam-filled model board.  Once fixed in place with a hot-glue gun, it was painted green to enable me to get an impression of how it might look.  Further 'smoothing' using polyfilla ensued, until the desired surface was achieved:

 

IMG_3730.jpg.15e3bd1079bc011c4218d62ac3074601.jpg

 

 

The adjacent board was to feature a low cutting, to create the effect of an up-and-down flowing landscape.  The surplus side pieces from the embankment board were re-purposed to create a raised edge to the board that was to feature the cutting, and polystyrene was added to bulk up the landscape, then cut down to match the edge profile:

 

IMG_3785.jpg.b958a2d504d789e0a49b0943cc4ef315.jpg  

 

 

Once the approximate shape of the landscape had been achieved, a layer of polyfilla was spread on the surface to create a decent surface.  After this, it was further sanded down to remove any irregularities:

 

IMG_3735.jpg.057ccf00ba571be071af190b3d20ecbe.jpg

 

 

And then an extra stage that I haven't seen others use... because I just hate it when a well-finished landscape gets bashed or works loose, revealing white polyfilla or, even worse, the polystyrene substrate itself.  So I now add a final layer using pieces of material from old shirts, saturated in slightly diluted PVA glue.  Just remember to remove the seams and any breast pockets (I speak from experience!)  When dry, this creates a firm 'skin' that is surprisingly resilient and is a pleasure to work on.

 

IMG_3743.jpg.bfe9150b94b108d17c709de0f42a6e7c.jpg

 

And the final result, once painted, flocked and static-grassed.  Enhanced with simple scenic additions including stone walling (Hornby, purchased in a clearance sale), a footpath and a couple of hikers...  dropping the surrounding landscape just a couple of inches below track level makes a huge difference to the visual impact of the layout, and much enhances the photographic possibilities:  (I just need to get rid of those wall lights!)

 

IMG_3855.jpg.54becf18caa7c97d07cc95113605e939.jpg

 

 

Phil

Looking good, Phil. The static grass looks very natural - what brand did you use? 

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I don't think the London extension used dry stone walling as boundaries.  Dry stone walling is used in Leicestershire, but more so in the upland Charnwood Forest area, rather than the Soar Valley which the GCR ran along.  But see rule 1.

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10 minutes ago, TonyMay said:

I don't think the London extension used dry stone walling

That's my recollection too, I used to travel to school most days from Rothley to Loughborough Central and return, late 50s to early 60s.

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2 hours ago, TonyMay said:

I don't think the London extension used dry stone walling as boundaries.  Dry stone walling is used in Leicestershire, but more so in the upland Charnwood Forest area, rather than the Soar Valley which the GCR ran along.  But see rule 1.

 

2 hours ago, MR Chuffer said:

That's my recollection too, I used to travel to school most days from Rothley to Loughborough Central and return, late 50s to early 60s.

 

Agreed, at least in Leicestershire, line side fencing would have been the norm.  

 

I haven't modelled this section of the line on any particular location, I just wanted a generic section of countryside up and running to watch my trains run through.  I had in mind perhaps something farther north between Nottingham and Sheffield, but again the stone walling was in my head... and available.   As I also use the layout to exercise my modern image and Cornish trains, I am not too precious about accuracy on this section at the moment.  My philosophy is to get things up and running, pleasing to the eye and looking presentable to family and friends, but then develop the accuracy over time, piece-by-piece, because this is an ongoing modelling project through my retirement rather than being built to a deadline.  There are far more pressing modelling priorities on the layout at the moment, but knowing me, it will become more of a niggle as the layout develops, then lineside fencing will probably be substituted. 

 

It's just the way my mind works!

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7 hours ago, Mark90 said:

Looking good, Phil. The static grass looks very natural - what brand did you use? 

 

It's a bit of a motley mix.  I have used mostly World war Scenics, with some Woodland Scenics and Peco:  

 

The base coat is 4mm length, a mix of Summer, Muddy and Spring shades from the War World Scenics range.  It creates a nice finish but looks more like a park than more natural countryside!

 

IMG_3762.jpg.7c4c0fd2871cbfa2f9eb586d5ca0d3c5.jpg 

 

I then use the Peco static grass adhesive spray, after masking the walls and path:  The spray is used in 'blobs' on open grass, and along the embankments where I want the grass to be coarser and longer:

 

IMG_3772.jpg.5ff880f1198d2f049bf7d127030cdf0a.jpg

 

Finally I use a bit more spray in small patches on top of the straw to build up thicker growth.  I used 2mm dark green, resulting in this effect:

 

IMG_3827.jpg.12b57591a863f424a60e698b4c9962bf.jpg

 

There isn't an exact science for this.  Observation of the real thing, and using a mix of lengths and shades soon creates a melange of colours and lengths that produces the effect.

 

I'll be adding a representation of buddlea's and foxgloves to the embankments and wilder areas in due course.

 

This was my first attempt at static grassing, it's easier than you think, just rather messy!  A hand-held vacuum cleaner also helps to recycle the surplus that doesn't stick to the layout.  It makes a nice mix of random colours and lengths that can simply be used again.

 

Phil

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Thanks for such a detailed reply, Phil! 

 

I’ve done some static grass work before with mixed results - I find some of the products can be quite artificial in colour. I like the shades you’ve used and I’ll check out WWS as a source for future layouts. 


For a first attempt I think this looks excellent. I like the darker patches. And I agree that the Peco spray is very useful! 

 

Thanks again.

 

Mark

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 08/06/2021 at 16:06, Chamby said:

 

Hi Tigerburnie, is your timetable for the passenger workings, or do you also have details of the freight working?  If so, that would be most useful.

Sorry late getting back to you, it seems to have everything, I will try and remember where I bought it from, not a lot of money, mine was re-printed in 2012, somewhere I have a list of the codes for each train to make the timetable make more sense, bear with me.

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