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Background and Planning

At it's AGM in 2009, the Epsom and Ewell's Model Railway Club decided to build a new N gauge layout to complement our existing OO, P4, and O gauge layouts. A vague decision was made that it should depict a more modern railway than the existing layouts which cover the LSWR, SR, GWR and BR blue periods.

After much thought, a plan was drawn up to make a model based on Hinksey Yard, just south of Oxford, and set it in the present day.

The track plan:
post-203-0-27070500-1300178991_thumb.png

The prototype:
post-203-0-00364200-1300179035_thumb.jpg

At the end of November last year the committee gave financial approval and the Chairman suggested that it would be nice if it could be shown as a layout under construction at our exhibition in April at NESCOT. The aim is to see if we can get enough built to show trains running and give the public a flavour of what the layout will eventually be like. This would be quite a challenge as normally our club likes to take its time building layouts (20+ years not being unusual!)

Next step the baseboards.

Dave

Edited by Dave Searle
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Sounds an interesting and entertaining idea. I've always been a fan of departmental stock and Tonbridge West Yard has been a major crowd pleaser on the exhibition scene for a number of years. It will be interesting to see how an N gauge version works.

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Wow, that's a serious spread of trackage !!

Look forward to seeing the n gauge version...no steam specials on this one then...??!!

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Best of luck with this project. I am busy shunting there this week!

 

Did you know that you have not quite got the layout right at the north end?

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Nice idea and N gauge too! You might just be the closest club to me now that I have moved to Colliers Wood.

 

Cheers, Mike

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Looks excellent and I hope you can capture in N the reel feeling of space as seen on the prototype picture - I'm assuming the likes of Drem and Law Jn are amongst your inspirations.

 

Would it be better to rearrange the fiddle yard a bit so there are central bi-directional tracks for MUs and HSTs which can arrive/depart on either line without fouling the other track? Outer uni-directional tracks would be for loco-hauled.

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Looks excellent and I hope you can capture in N the reel feeling of space as seen on the prototype picture

Exactly. N has the scope to offer a more realistic portrayal of the original - vast and capacious are tough to do in bigger scales.

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Have you thought what couplings you are going to be using to allow for the shunting?

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Many thanks for the comments. I didn't make it very clear, but we are a bit further down the line than implied by what I wrote - we are currently laying track. My "plan" was to do several posts on different aspects of building the layout, introduction, aspects of the design, baseboards, track, stock.

 

To answers some specific points:

 


  •  
  • Grafarman - our Chairman wants to run a steam special so this will probably happen occasionally (of course anything can run on a club night).
     
  • brian daniels - the layout at the north end is a bit of a compromise. Even with a 20ft layout there is some severe compression - to do it real justice would have needed at least twice the length! Any background info on what stock you've seen there and how you operate the yard would be most welcome.
     
  • red death - we may not be your nearest (Wimbledon may be nearer), but you are most welcome to come and see us. PM me for details if you are interested.
     
  • Edwin_m - the fiddle yard arrangement has split opinion within the club - with some suggesting bi-directional tracks and other preferring the simplicity of the loops, both options having pros and cons. In the end it was a toss-the-coin type of choice. We are hoping to have enough stock to run multiple sets of DMUs and there are some spurs at the ends of the fiddle yard to allow stock to be changed around.
     
  • Edwin_m & Oldddudders - the board width is another compromise, being 33" total with about 19" for the scenic side, but we hope to get the feeling right.
     
  • Kris - Couplings will be standard Rapidos for mainline stock which won't need to be re-marshalled. Current thinking is to use DGs for the engineering stock.
     

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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Further to the fiddle yard comments ..

 

I would leave the two outer tracks as the through lines, then you always have a way round the fiddle yard and back if you need it (I'm assuming there are scissors at each end to make the whole lot bi-di), I would also add more dead ends at the ends where you have single sidings, use them for DMU/units and keep the main area clear for the bigger trains.

 

My 0.02p

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Hi Dave

 

Great project. I took dozens of photos at Hinksey from that footbridge that goes right across the yard when designing the NGS autoballaster kits.

 

I always thought it would make a great location for a layout and am chewing my lip with envy at the space you have!

 

Good luck with this - any chance of posting some pics before too long?

 

cheers

 

Ben A.

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Thanks for the further comments:

 


  •  
  • beast66606 - that was part of my original thinking and may well still happen as we clarify what else is competing for this space. One thought was to use cassettes on the dead-end roads to provide the ability to swap out shorter trains & rakes of stock.
     
  • Ben A - funny you should mention the NGS autoballaster kits - one of the team is making up 25 of them at the moment. There will be photos in due course to show what we're doing.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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Background

 

Being a club layout there are always a number of conflicting requirements and we are trying to find a good compromise to them all.

 

The design criteria were:

 

  • Modern or contemporary era.
     
  • Space to run a variety of trains including long freight trains and HSTs.
     
  • Double track main line with lay-by sidings.
     
  • Engineer's or Permanent Way yard.
     
  • Ability to use conventional DC control as well as DCC.
     
  • Involve members in the construction allowing them to try new skills.
     
  • Suitable for exhibitions.
     
  • Easy to store, set up and disassemble.
     

 

This last point was very important and determined the size and number of baseboards. Some of the club's existing layouts are over 40 feet long. As we meet in a rented church hall we need to pack away everything at the end of a club night into a storage unit some 20 yards away from the hall. The size of some of the layouts means that they can only be got out for a longer Saturday session or an exhibition. We are also not getting any younger and humping large baseboards around is not as easy as it use to be.

 

Like Ben A, I had felt Hinksey made a great location for a model and tried to get the essence of it into the plan. The real place is very long and would need a lot of space to do it real justice - we hope to get the flavour of it in the model. However none of us had much knowledge or experience of the current railway scene, so we are learning fast.

 

In the end the space criteria crystallised down to 20' long by 2'9" wide on 5 baseboards.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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Baseboards

 

Each baseboard is built from 6.5mm birch ply with 12mm thick end plates. The surface is also 6.5mm ply and the butt joints are strengthened with 19mm square timber in the corners.

 

All the ply came from our local timber merchant starting as 8'x4' sheets which they cut down to our specification. We then spent December cutting the more fiddly bits to size.

 

To ensure consistency the boards were assembled in a jig while they were screwed together.

 

post-203-0-51513800-1300264401_thumb.jpg

 

As can be seen, the backscene forms a full height spine down the middle of each board. The end plates are a "T" shape to give the backscene a positive location. The end plates are aligned by metal dowels and joined by 6mm wing-bolts. At this stage there is no internal bracing - this will be added later to stiffen the boards up.

 

The first board was one of the end boards, so has one solid end and a small fascia to hide the return curves:

 

post-203-0-25795200-1300265053_thumb.jpg

 

Finally we got all the boards together:

 

post-203-0-70076300-1300265676_thumb.jpg

 

The boards on their own will be carrying delicate models, so some form of transportation protection is needed. We decided to build a storage trolley (or "flight case") to move them around. This ended up as a mobile wardrobe!

 

post-203-0-12493000-1300265303_thumb.jpg

 

All 5 boards slot into their spaces with enough clearance to protect board ends and scenery. The trolley also has a storage compartment to hold the miscellaneous bits that will need to travel with the layout. All supported on 8 large casters.

 

This was all done by mid of January.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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That flight case is rather interesting. How heavy is the whole unit and what are you going to transport it in?

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Thanks for the further comments:

 

 

[*]beast66606 - that was part of my original thinking and may well still happen as we clarify what else is competing for this space. One thought was to use cassettes on the dead-end roads to provide the ability to swap out shorter trains & rakes of stock.

 

 

Hi Dave,

 

It's my view that a well designed fiddle yard can make or break a layout, so don't rush ... the old measure twice, cut once idea.

 

cheers,

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It's funny, only last week I was saying what a good location to model Hinksey would be to model, as we were stood on the footbridge in the wind :lol:

I'll be looking forward to seeing this develop. 20ft sounds like a fair old length, and a decent space to represent Hinksey. A quick Google Earth measurement when I got home from Oxford last week suggested needing over 40 feet to do it without compression :blink:

cheers

 

jo

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That flight case is rather interesting. How heavy is the whole unit and what are you going to transport it in?

 

It's quite a heavy unit as there is quite a lot of wood there - the carcase is made from 18mm ply sheets. Transport will require a van with a tail-lift, but this should be easier than heaving the current club layouts around.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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Tracklaying

 

We decided to use Peco code 55 track work - it would have been nice to try 2mmFS Easitrack and build finescale pointwork, but the team felt they would like to get the layout running in a reasonable length of time (and the Chairman's request for it to appear in the next exhibition rather sealed the decision). Point motors would also be Peco in the fiddle yard and SEEP on the scenic side. There was a lot of discussion over this and we changed our mind several times. There are around 60 point motors on the layout, so the cost was a consideration, as much as ease of fitting. Even now, I'm not sure that we made things particularly easy for ourselves.

 

First we put down 1/16" cork:

 

post-203-0-40384200-1300350505_thumb.jpg

 

And started planning where the fiddle yard track should actually go (as opposed to where the track plan suggested):

 

post-203-0-22620400-1300350545_thumb.jpg

 

And cut out the slots for the sub-track Peco point motors starting with one of the scissors crossovers:

 

post-203-0-86546200-1300350616_thumb.jpg

 

The fiddle yard begins to takes shape:

 

post-203-0-89615200-1300350808_thumb.jpg

 

And is nearly completed. This picture also shows the trestles that the layout will normally be supported on, they are shared with a number of other club layouts and bring the height up to a more convenient working/operating level

 

post-203-0-05479300-1300350818_thumb.jpg

 

Once most of the fiddle yard was complete we started on the scenic side:

 

post-203-0-70651700-1300350908_thumb.jpg

 

As you can see it is quite an intensive effort getting this layout built:

 

post-203-0-93372600-1300350919_thumb.jpg

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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Hi all,

 

What agood looking layout this is turning into, will def be worth watching this thread for more updates!!

 

just in planning stage for my layout, Darlington in 2mm finescale!!

 

thanks for sharing

 

andy.

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Many hands seem to be making light work of this. I see you are using copper clad to strengthen the track at the baseboard joints at the rear, are you doing the same on the scenic side?

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WOW! This looks like a monster of a layout. Great to see a large layout built from scratch. You only tend to see them complete.

I look forward to your updates. Now I must go back and fully read your thread so far.

 

Dave

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As everyone so far has already said WOW........Really looking forward to seeing the progress of this layout. This is going to be fantastic..

 

Kepp up the good work guys

 

Anthony

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Hi,

 

I see you are using copper clad to strengthen the track at the baseboard joints at the rear, are you doing the same on the scenic side?

We are using small brass screws under each rail for the scenic side rail joints. The idea is that they will be easier to disguise with cosmetic sleepers. I'll try and take some photos later today.

 

How about using these from C & L Finescale, http://www.finescale.org.uk/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=59

 

C1011 - Baseboard Track End Protectors 2mm,3mm at £4 a pair!

These are very nice products (I have some for 4mm scale) and on a smaller layout I would seriously consider them. However, there are around 35 tracks crossing the 4 baseboard joints on the scenic side, so the cost (about £140) of these would be rather high, and I thought the screws seemed expensive at £11 for a box of 200!

 

One of the advantages of this layout is that the club can afford a larger budget than many (most?) individuals can afford, but we still have to keep an eye on the costs. The club will fund the infrastructure, but the members will be responsible for acquiring the stock to run on it.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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