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Exeter St Davids


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Hello, 

I have documented my progress from day one on another forum, but after using this one more I thought I'd make a jump and start a thread on here.

 

I started planning my layout to recreate Exeter St Davids (ESD) back in 2008. This after seeing some footage of DCC sound locos on Youtube. I'd not really seen much of the hobby since I was a teenager back in the 80s and I was astounded how the hobby had progressed. In my youth I never got further than laying the track and starting to ballast before the next thing came along and I lost interest. So I guess doing ESD now is either part of a mid life crisis or trying to finish something I started in my childhood. Of course, the model railway is never complete is it as there will always be something to do on it whether it's changing something we're not happy with or just maintaining it.

 

My greatest memories of ESD as a child was taking the train to Manchester a few times with my mum to visit family which would have been 75-81 ish and very definitely BR blue era. I decided that I would model post 85 for the variety of stock with the mix of colour schemes, and also the track plan (pointwork) being easier to replicate after the re signalling and renewed track work that was done in 1985.

 

To recap the 12 years or so the layout was first designed using Anyrail software to fit in my loft. The intent was to get the station and TMD in and after some research I settled on post 85 with the re signalling and simplified track set up. Again, as with my childhood, not long after getting the track layout complete we decided to move house. The next version I decided to avoid the loft space if I could so I had the builder make a bespoke shed during the house renovation. The layout was reconfigured to fit into a 10m x 1.1m shed. This was basically the side of the house and a 6x4 shed. It was like the TARDIS as only appeared to be a 6x4 shed with the rest of it hidden. Anyway, got as far as laying the track and just starting to get some points working before, yes you guessed it, another house sale was on the cards. The second layout was better in that it was easier to get to and I could work in there in the summer in comfort with the door open and my wife just outside on the patio, but it was constrained by the size, (aren't they always?) I used two helix to take the track down to the fiddle yard below the main scenic section which worked but wasn't without problems. The final house move (please let this be the last) had my wish list only concerned with enough space in the garden to build a 11m x 3m shed. Planning permissions actually reduced that in the end slightly. But I'll start this story off in the layouts final track plan. The layout is actually 10m x 2.3m.

 

I'm now further into a layout than I ever have been in my life and today as I type this the layout is well up and running with all the points on the scenic section working and post Xmas 2020 I've just about got some landscaping on the whole layout. There was a huge delay between me building the shed and getting going fully with the layout as we had another major house renovation and the shed was used as storage for everything while we lived in a tent alongside it. I ended up building the shed this time; well, you know what they say, if you want something doing properly....do it yourself. 3 years since I built it and never seen a leak.


The layout broadly covers the approach to ESD from the south from the tunnel from Exeter Central and the iron lattice bridge over the River Exe (top right-hand side of the track plan) right through the station including the TMD/Stabling point (Olds view). It then extends beyond the station and covers the approach from Cowley bridge which is the center on the bottom of the track plan. I was able to include New North Yard sidings but Riverside Yard  was/is just far too large to include. Instead I included the entrance to Riverside from Exeter and Cowley bridge. These lines are big enough to hold a large freight train and then have it reconfigured in a self contained shunting layout effectively. The fiddle yard can hold everything I have stock wise with a touch of spare capacity should the need arise! The track floating below the layout is the upper level fiddleyard. This is accessed via the incline up to Exeter Central (top right) and also by a hidden incline beyond Cowley bridge. The trains then need to be reversed in if going that way. Normal running to prototypical movements doesn't require that to happen at all. Those that know the location well will have noticed the river appears to be running a new course taking it under the viaduct which actually goes over Bonhay road. You're right, modelling licence I'm afraid and my biggest concession to the layout. That whole section with the incline to Exeter Central and the diverging lines to Plymouth/Penzance just couldn't be done in a prototypical way without loosing the TMD and seeing the whole station from a different viewpoint. There's a guy called Tim (I think) who's modelling ESD too. His is on FB and Youtube and may well be on here. His layout is is seen from that alternate viewpoint; and well worth a look if you haven't seen it; search for Exeter and Laira.

 

So my approach from the south is sadly freelance but it's a model railway at the end of the day. ESD and the operation of the trains there is my inspiration and it's working at that level. I've also tweaked the landscape slightly from Cowley bridge too as it's a tad flat on one side. 

 

Right that will do for now.  Photos will follow!

 

 

20210128 ESD Track plan.jpg

 

Edited by bootneckbob
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That is quite a challenge you have set yourself.

I was born in Exeter and in the early 1960s we had no family car, but cheap rail travel as my dad worked for BR, so day trips and family holidays were by train. My first trainspotting was at St Davids in 1970/71, and I have returned many times over the years, taking photos there in the 1980s.

 

cheers

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Didn't take any photos of the boards and framework going in so it's a bit of a jump to track laid and starting the first bit of scenery. I started in the top right of the layout. I thought I'd start there as it's the furthest point away from the door which is where the wife views it from when she's delivering cups of tea. I figured any mistakes wouldn't be seen immediately by my worst critic! To be honest, I'd not done any form of scenery before so everything I did was going to be new to me. 

I started off by forming the landscape for the incline to the tunnel to Exeter Central. This includes the viaduct over Bonhay road. The first go at this had me trying to incorporate the road under the bridge. There was too much in that area and it just wasn't right. I decided to alter the course of the river and send the line south through a lower tunnel portal which of course is my worst sin (I hope) on the recreation of the layout. So here's a couple of photos of that area as it was forming.

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A few more now before anyone loses interest as this looks nothing like ESD! These show my homage to the viaduct and the iron bridge.  Both, like the tunnel portal are epic scratchbuilds which I'll gloss over for now as they were well covered at the time elsewhere.

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As you can see I've had to super compress the carpark to the north of the crossing but I'm happy enough to have all or most of the elements of the place as full scale just wouldn't be possible. Carrying on around now I have the sweeping curves out and around to the long scenic straight to Cowley bridge. The single siding used to exist at the north end of Riverside. I kept it as interest and to be of use for the shunting possibilities later. Finally there's a picture from Cowley bridge looking back up the line.

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This is how the incline section looks at the moment. Again, no where near finished. The trees are just placed to see how it might look.

 

That's pretty much up to date now. A few years compressed to a few pictures! At the moment I'm swapping out my Peco solenoid motors for Cobalt DCC IP ones. 

 

The wife's just reminded me how much my shed cost me to build. Add that to the cost of the layout, ECoS, points, motors, decoders etc and stock (DCC sound fitted) and.........Jesus this is an expensive hobby!!!!!!!!!

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Very nice layout and great progress being made.

 

expensive hobby it sure is. When I started building mine I had the money saved for a new Ducati for my 50th birthday but this hobby and model wargames means I’ve spent enough for three new Ducati’s 

 

i shall follow the progress if I can keep up.

dan

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Couple more of the southern end. One day the resin will be added to the river. Unlike the rest of the build which can be easily redone and changed, I will have a practice at the resin pouring and effects on a separate model. 

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Edited by bootneckbob
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I was in the shed yesterday doing a few things one of which meant the fiddle yard was a little more exposed than usual so I thought I'd take a few photos.

One of the most important things for me in the planning of the layout is the fiddle yard. Copying the trackplan at Exeter is easy, making the fiddle yard work so it can hold all my rolling stock, locos and have access to any route in any direction; that's the hard (but fun) part. Be lost without Anyrail! 

The fiddle yard has 10 through lines. It was meant to be kind of half for the up and half for the down. There's also a very long siding which has freight in it in the photos. This runs down the right hand side of the layout and is under the hidden incline to the upper fiddle yard and also the return decent which comes out for the down line at Cowley bridge. This was really designed for the DMU traffic. The DMU heading up to Exeter Central magically appears as the returning one from Barnstaple or reverses back out as the incoming from Exmouth (Exeter Central).

There's also a turntable (manual at the moment). This is because my locos will be detailed at one end with a coupling at the other. For that reason I need to be able to turn them around.

The upper fiddle yard holds a couple of DMUs in bespoke sidings. There's also a siding for 3 locos to pick up stock for a return trip back down to Exeter. This is basically replicating the Network Southeast service from Exeter to London Waterloo. There are 2 roads for NSE stock, the next is for coal hoppers. One of the main freight trains I'm modelling is the coal up to the yard at Exmouth Junction. After that there's a Steam train (just because) then Engineers and some space for what will be the coal hoppers left empty that will be shuttled back down to 'Riverside Yard'.

Within the fiddle yard down below there's also a set of sidings for at least 4 locos waiting a turn and one short one for a single loco at the far end. Finally there's a dead end which is for the Parcels train.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi

Great to see an Exeter St. David's layout - you seem to be making a great job of the build too! I particularly like the bridge over the Exeter and think routing the river under the southern line is a great idea.

I got as far as laying all the track for my ESD layout before a house move stymied me - change in domestic circumstances! You can see where I got to and my track plan at http://dawlishinoo.co.uk/?p=23.

 

I agree Anyrail is invaluable. I am now modelling Newton Abbot for which there is more info on my thread on rmweb. It was always my ambition to model Exeter - I just couldn't face starting again having got so close. I am adding an Exeter twist though by adding an additional platform, re-using Station buildings and justifying southern stock as is explained there.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Just seen this. I've been doing my other hobby for a while but got back in the shed today to do some more on the layout. Tweaked the sidings in New North yard last week and today re did the point work into Riverside from the station. Added a SL E 87 curve point instead of the straight point  which just aids the transition into the curve section. All in 4 points redone today. Glad I'm now on DCC Cobalt point motors; my god they are good!

I'm trying to add some photos but they're currently lost somewhere between my phone and my inbox!

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Finally, photos arrived! Looks like they're too big so I'll add one at a time. This is the view out of the north end of the station. The line on the left being the one that had the work done. All three points needed moving plus some work under the baseboard as the new placement put the Cobalts in competition with some of the baseboard framework. Easily sorted with the right tools!

Probably not that obvious but that line is a much nicer curve now in to the point. To the right I've been doing the scenic base for Cowley Bridge road. The raised area at the end is where the bus stop is for those that know the area.

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On the opposite side now. Once around the curve and heading on the long scenic straight towards Cowley Bridge (The faint looking tunnel at the far end). The bridge is still carved foam at the moment and waiting the plasticard treatment but this serves as my scenic break. 

On the left I've depicted a single siding which actually runs close to the river and is after Riverside yard and runs as it does here alongside the lines running parallel to the main line. Mainline in concrete here. In effect I've modeled the entrance to Riverside and the exit but left the actual mass of sidings out. For the model it does provide more than enough space for freight to sit and wait for passenger services to pass or to be split up and moved into the sidings (on this side and by the transfer shed).

Obviously the scenery isn't finished. I just wanted to get something down and fairly soon I should be able to hit the ballast.

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There's nothing immediately obvious that's changed in this scene but I've started to play with a couple of methods for trees, sea foam and rubberized horse hair. Sea foam is very good and in the picture there are three trees with differing levels of foliage applied. In the foreground I have my wire and horse hair homemade tree. I think it's turned out ok, but I'll probably stick to sea foam in the long run. For now it just gets moved around the layout to see where it might be best 'planted'.

I've added more coarse bushes to the embankment but like the whole of my layout I can keep adding scenery for years I suspect as I build it up slowly. I did a bulk buy of nearly a hundred pounds worth of scenic grass, flocks and scatters. I wanted as much variety of shades and textures from different manufactures as possible to make it hopefully realistic. It's too big to have only three shades from Woodland scenics!  

 

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I’ve only just come across this layout thread and it’s looking really nice so far. I have been watching Tim’s ESD develop on YouTube and that has sparked an interest in the station which has me seriously regretting not paying a visit back in the day. If I had a time machine I’d go back to my old home in Oxford and catch a train down to Reading, Basingstoke and on to Exeter, spend a day watching the action before getting some chips and returning home via the Western. I haven’t though but I can watch your layout develop with a new interest. 
Good luck with it and please explain how you’re doing the scenery as you go along. I’m just about to start adding the greenery and vegetation to my own layout and trying to learn as much as I can beforehand.

 

Happy modelling 

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Thanks for the comments. As you will have read this has been in the making for many years although this final build just a few. 

For years I couldn't find anyone else doing Exeter then as I get going properly Tim pops up! We were briefly almost in sync at one point with the iron lattice bridge construction. I chatted with Tim after and interestingly we were both using the same materials but different methods of building. Looking back the bridge was fun although at the time it was a long process but went well.

Tims scenery is excellent and he deserves a chuck up from Luke Towan but if I'm going to be super critical it's not green enough for Devon! :lol:

I'll have to get some water in my river soon.

 

As for Exeter, it's my childhood big station where me and my mum would get the intercity up to Stockport back in the late 70s. I decided not to do the 70s as the livery was bland and also the track pointwork and signals would have been an absolute mare. The re signalling and new track done in 85 is much easier to model, plus the liveries were much more varied. 

 

One thing I love about my layout and something I strove for was realistic operation and I achieved that I think. The New Yard sidings facilitate the NSE turnaround ready to head back to Waterloo. The Loco can detach and run though to the stabling point and refuel before rejoining or staying for an exam and letting another loco take it back.

 

The Exmouth to Barnstaple-Painton DMU service also works well. I think I need to do a video to show the running. But I guess I need to get the station done first!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

As for how I'm doing the scenery; I watch the usual suspects on Youtube for the technical aspects, things like using isopropyl alcohol to help the glue spread etc. 

 

My top tip if I were to say anything at the moment is variety. What I've done so far in the most developed area by the river, is a little bit of this and a bit of that. Mix the scatters and grasses and do little areas. 

Also doing a bit one day and then doing another bit another day (or month) means I'm forcing myself to change and to it differently. The grass will likely be different or I'll have some additional material I can add etc.

I'm not really copying anything at the moment (real life photos) because I want the layers to build in a random way. Adding the final look on top of lots of previous work doesn't bother me as it gives depth. I'm not afraid to try something and then go over it or remove it. Nature is random, I don't think you can do it wrong. I'm hoping this stays true and OCD doesn't get the better of me!  

 

Edited by bootneckbob
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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Royal, from another Royal,

 

your layout is like a walk down memory lane and I am find it to be a fascinating watch.  Please keep posting photos as I am learning quite a bit from your techniques.

 

All the best,

Mike

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