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Un-named, painfully slow and overly complex...

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Fisrt, apologies if I've put this in the wrong place.

I used to post on the original RMweb under the same name, back when it was all fields yellow. I've not had a model railway for a very long time, about 5 years since I packed up the electrical monster taking over my parents loft. Now I have a house of my own, a 16 foot long gap in my room and my parents loft full of neglected models...

As I say, recent rearranging of my room has opened a gap, which would allow a 16 foot layout, 4ft wide at each end to give a circuit, down to 2ft in the middle. I've always had the idea in the back of my mind, but a frustrating week mending a mates bike and the crap weather made it seem a very good idea. After downloading the excellent anyrail demo, I worked out what I could do...here is my current plan:


Full track plan


The layout is split level, the front line being a plain mainline in a cutting, to watch the trains go by. Hidden loops climb to the station on the high level. On the left, a small loco yard sits over the loops, while under the platforms will be storage sidings and maybe a fiddle yard.

The line is an imagined preserved one, being as I have a lot of varied rolling stock and a lot of it is ancient. It is set in a decent size city, because I like the crammed in look you often get. I want to have a real go at scenery too, I never really bothered as a kid. I was just starting on buildings when life and motorcycles got in the way. Looking through some pictures here has been a real inspiration. I've planned in a town scene over the left loop so I can try and make a whole setting that looks real.


I'm then going to ruin it (!) by sticking a third rail down the middle :O My Grandad had a lot of Hornby dublo models, I think him and my uncle picked them up cheap when they weren't worth anything. He gave/left a few to me, and I did try glueing down a third rail on my old layout to run them. I reckon I could put third and fourth rails down where they can be seen, then look for a few London Underground models to make it less obvious :sungum: Plus, in the midst of all these 3 figure, super detailed wonders now available, I like the idea of pulling out some noisey chunks of metal. I can't be bothered with DCC, mostly due to price but also because I actually like wiring. My old layout looked like a telephone exchange underneath, and it all worked perfectly. Thinking on the 3 rail side, I could even try using it to power lights and smoke units on the 2 rail stock...


It will be an occasional project, I think I'll cannibalise the old layout back home to keep costs down. My main reason for posting all this drivel is to ask this: I'd love to do it as an exhibition layout. Does my idea sound like something suitable? Or would it not be worth the effort of making it fully portable?

Edited by Greenbat
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As to the exhibit or not question it really comes down to if you want it to be portable or not, any well modelled layout with a variety of stock will be interesting to watch and exhibition managers are always looking for new layouts so I would consider how you move it and if you have means of transporting it and energy or mates to help break it down and put it up at shows as important as the plan, stock etc. how about having only one loop in third rail to minimise the challenge of getting it working?

Did you inherit any track? If not I have some I would sell for sensible money, much of it is boxed too. I would consider a separate idea for the three rail as it does not operate electrically the same as 2 rail. If you like the three rail why not do a fully 3 rail layout? The wheels of all those locos will probably want turning down to even run on modern track.

Edited by devondynosoar118
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Thanks for the track offer, I don't have any dublo. I had the dublo engines running nicely on plain code 100, even over points. Only flange problems I've had was on a manky old triang princess I bought for spares. I've only got a few of them, so devoting a whole layout or running line will be a waste of space. I'll not have much of the dublo rolling stock, got a set of coaches on plastic wheels. Switching between 2 and 3 rail just means a changeover switch, and putting the 3 rail locos out the way when not in use. I could make a short circuit tester to protect the 2 rail too. You're right about doing just one loop with a third rail, it's not too hard to add in later.

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Well the Dublo is there if you want it, PM me if you fancy some. My triang Midland tank bangs along the chairs on code 100! Did the stick on 3rd rail work? The coach wheels seem to be better, as all the bits I tried have worked ok on 80's Hornby track, I have had mixed results on more modern Peco points. Post some pics of your stock?

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Yes, triang had a period of hideously massive track, with flanges to suit. The stick on 3rd rail work perfectly, I think for this line I'd either make it Underground style or use N gauge rail so it's less intrusive. I'll solder pins on too so it's held on solidly.

I've had a rethink on the station. After reading about the beautiful Bacup layout, I realised I should have wider platforms for buildings, and run round loops/avoiding lines/carriage sidings/whatever they are. I can't fit one on the outer circuit, so if I take it exhibitioning I'll add a 2" strip of scene showing the lifted track bed, with a modern industruial unit blocking half of it or something. The idea being that the station was closed (maybe a fictional GCR one, since Loughborough is close), said builing was put up then the heritage line was opened. In fact, I could use that to hint at it originally having more than one big platform-like a cut down version on Nottingham midland. :scratchhead:

I think the abandoned branch will really set it off, depending on space I'll hopefully fit a second, smaller bay platform. Again, couple of sidings for knackered stock too. Town etc will be roughly as per the first idea.

I'd appreciated any comments/advice on this, is there anything glaring I've missed out?


idea 2


Here are some of my dublo engines. I really like the 8fs, they somehow seem to capture the spirit of the real thing. A big, black, oily lump of power. The castle is pretty too, this one has insulated wheels for 2 rail pickup. The pannier is believed to be made by Gaity, I had to make new motor brushes and it needs coupling rods. I've got a couple of badly painted N2s, I might repaint and detail them a bit-see who spots what they are! I have another 8f and a 3 rail only castle, and a duchess too. Can't remember what else is back at parents.





I only started this as a paper exercise, I think I'd best start researching baseboards now!

Edited by Greenbat
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Good ideas, Bacup is great for ideas and inspiration. Like the derelict branch idea too, should give some good modelling opportunities too, like a volunteer track gang re-laying, vandalised cars, fly tipping etc.

Nice engine line up too. You can post photos directly without loading them to a gallery first, use the full editor on replies (click "more reply options) then click attach files, select the one you want, click upload then put the cursor where you want the picture and click "add to post."

Eastwood Town has some good techniques for baseboard building.

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Not much physical progress, but had some ideas whilst doing other things. I bought my first copy of BRM in years, how things have changed! I'm very impressed at the stuff coming out now, especially the EMUs and oddball engines. Also read Tony Wrights article on making decent layouts, looks like exhibition standard is harder than I thought! So, slight revision there-I aim to make it good enough, and we'll see how it goes.

I've thought about a backstory to explain the extra rails a bit more. It'll be a fictional town station, possibly Great Central as I did some volunteering at Loughborough and it's got the right sort station not too far away from me. Being GCR it got closed, then preserved. Early on, quite a few EMU groups moved there, so it was decided to put the third rail down to run them, followed by a 4th rail for underground stock. This could involve some extra modelling challenge, as obviously HSE and insurers would get funny about live rails lying about. Two ideas: first is used by Siemens at their test track, where the rail is insulated on the sides with yellow plastic. Second breaks the rail into train length sections, which are switched on as the unit goes over. One means painting things bright yellow, the other means some track gubbins to be invented.

The front section, although joining on to the station as shown, will be hinted at being another section of the same line-as though I've bent one of the approaches round to form a U. I think it'll make a nice scene.


For baseboards, I'm thinking of making sections around 2'x4', 20x44mm pine frame with cross pieces to opposite corners topped with 9mm ply. I can make it in 6 sections, paired up so they can be joined face to face for transport/storage.

I've been thinking about track too, the station/shed will be peco code 100 to cope with older stock. It'll be hidden anyway, either by scenery or yard filth. The front section is intended as plain main line though, so the track will be visible. Is anything available that looks closer to british track, but still in code 100? Or can peco flexitrack be fettled to look better?

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  • 2 months later...

Finally, some progress!

Last time I posted, I'd moved some furniture to accomodate the layout and found a lot of grotty mould and damp.Bit frustrating since I've only been here 2 years, not even finished renovating the house and it was fine last year! However, drying it out and dealing with it put any layout ideas on the back burner. I've also had endless trouble with a mates bike I'm rebuilding, if any mechanically minded folk want to see some carnage look here: http://oldnailsandswarf.blogspot.com/


Anyway, room is almost back to normal, so I got impatient last night and built this lot:




That's half the layout, 3 2x4ft boards. I built up the centre one first to get the levels, and am now slowly working back to join the two levels up. Frame is 1x2" pine, joined with 4mm ply triangles on the corners. Seems nice, strong and light, and apparently not over-sensitive to my woodworking. I can make metal things to a thou, but show me some timber and my fists turn to ham!




This gives an idea of the plan. On the low level, roughly where the deltic is will be a tunnel mouth. I'm thinking of putting a perspex side on for a short distance and modelling tunnel inards...

High level is the station, with gaps where the platforms will be. Plan is that one will be wider (furthest from camera), with some buildings. The other will be narrower, just being bare for a branch line terminus. The closest track won't actually be there, that'll be the ex-branch. I'll model; it as a cinder path/car park, and as it leads to the shed I could pop a loco on a low loader being delivered...

At the back will be warehouse backs right up against the railway, suggesting the station was once much bigger. Line closed, half of it was built on, this bit rebuild by volunteers.


Now, could use some help. In order to run Grandads old 3 rail stuff without the third rail looking odd, I plan making it electrified for London Underground stock/EMUs. Can anyone point me towards techniques and materials for this? I'll be adapting regular peco/Hornby track, only the middle rail needs to be electrified.

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Bit more progress:




Having spent 3 hours knocking the ramp up, it doesn't work! Locos struggle to get themselves up, and the 3 coach rake of airfix coaches is impossible. So, next step is to try starting the slope earlier from the bottom, in the hope of lessening the gradient. If that doesn't work, I'll have to drop the high level down. Just as well it's not glued!

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Yeah, I do feel a bit daft! Especially since the inspiration for spiral ramps was the helix layout someone did recently, with all the measurements...

I've had a play around today, and will modify it so the high level is 70mm higher, which will just allow a hidden loop to go in under the platform closest to the front (ply is 9mm thick so will be 61mm underneath).

I've managed to make a shallower slope and test it, the jubilee now pulls the 3 airfix coaches up OK. The Bachmann 37 just manages those plus two very stiff and heavy dublo coaches.

I'm happy with it now-there's still more that can come off, the coaches are old and stiff, the loco can be ballasted and the track I'm testing will be downhill in normal operation. I'll use 3rd and 4th radius for the two tracks (testing third). At the other end I'll have room to put 4th radius on the inside, so it'll be an easier climb.

Just got to rebuild it all to suit now! More after work tonight.

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  • 1 year later...

Blimey, over a year and a half since posting.

I've not been completely idle though. The boards were rebuilt with the raised bit lowered, making the climb just about achievable for a modern steam loco. Modern diesels and dublo absolutely storm up it, having a bit of weight to them, so hopefully ballasting the kettles will sort them.

As ever progress is slow since this is only a side project. As well as the boards I've built the first of the stands, and got some track down. This past month I've really gone at it, I now have the top left corner boards track all nailed down, partly ballasted and third rail fitted. I settled on peco parts for doing southern/Underground style third rail. The peco chairs are a little high, even though I left out the packing pieces for code 100 track. The dublo N2s will need the pickups tweaking so they don't short, and I've found the bachman 2mt tank has a screw that fouls on it. Other than that, it works perfectly. Here's a few photos, with a dublo castle just used for testing. I'll probably replace the rail ends at the points with LT style ramps, though they have to have much closer gaps than scale for the dublo pickups.



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  • 4 months later...

3 years in, and some more progress. The left half of the layout is fully laid, switched and wired for 2 rail, and mostly for 3 rail. There's some plain 3 rail to do, but the tricky bit round the points is laid...sort of. Further testing reveals some locos foul the rail, which is slightly proud of the running rails. Also, some dublo pickups don't like round the points, so going to need some LU style ramps there.

Anyway, been playing with the scenics. Only mocked up here, but gives some idea.




I made a master and mould for my own resin retaining walls. I wanted this arched style in brick, everything I found was horribly pricey and not really what I wanted-other than the Bachmann walls, which would have cost a sodding fortune.

The original was made in plastikard with Ratio arches cut in half. It's based on some I saw on the underground. Casting is so easy, I reckon if I buy in bulk on the resin it'll be a few quid per section. Wonder if there'd be much of a market for them?




Here's another wall design, which I've not got any silicon to mould yet.




It's only 3 bays long as I spilt mek pack on one arch...


The smaller walls are for the front section, which will be a cutting. It's only mocked up here, but the sections are all glued together. I'll stick them to a bit of wood for strength, then get them painted.

I've proven that I can get trains up the incline OK, but the lighter steam engines will need to be shifting some to get a decent load up. This should give a great backdrop.




The wall on the left is the master, I need to cast a few more but ran out of resin. Two or three sections will meet the angle of the baseboard, setting the scene as a cutting but with it mostly open to view. I'll put a bit of abandoned line in there to account for the wider gap.


Moving up to the station throat, this again will have some big, bulky retaining walls all along. I want to try and give the illusion that the line goes straight out stage left, instead of curving round, hence the depth. The girder bridge should hide where the track curves from most views, and I'll probably put some dummy track going into a tunnel mouth at the back corner.




Finally, this area of junk will be the town scene. As well as being aggressively three dimensional, I want this layout to have loads of non-railway scenics. Station building will be on the corner above the tunnel mouth, other than that I'm planning big buildings a grot.




Of course, when this actually happens is anyones guess! I've only been doing it as a fill in between old bikes, currently got a BMW R100RS that'll take most of my time and spare money this year. Hopefully I've got most of the bits to get some progress on this at very little extra cost though.

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