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ianb3174

Drakelow

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Drakelow represents my first serious attempt to build a layout in P4. The SGW has given me that bit of impetus to complete it but I'm not going to give any estimation of when that may be. Drakelow was designed to fit in an alcove and be self contained. Hence the dimensions of 1150mm x 380mm. Luckily SGW rules are vague enough for this to qualify.

Every layout should have a history and Drakelow is no different. For those unfamiliar with North Worcestershire there is a fascinating place hidden in the woods and hills north of Kidderminster, a system of underground tunnels and rooms which were built to house Rover vehicle production during WWII. The tunnels never saw any vehicle production but later became a Cold War base. The government sold the tunnels off into private ownership when it was decommissioned, being used now for paintball and ghosthunting parties. My layout represents a fictitious period in the tunnel's history when it was served by a meandering MOD branch line, although in reality no railway came within 3 miles. 
The layout will be of the tunnel end of the line and be, in effect, a small shunting puzzle for a WD Austerity and some box vans serving an ammunitions store with rail access into the tunnels.
Usual stuff track wise, Templot to design plans, parts from C&L and Exactoscale, some Society timber sleepers, glued to a 3mm cork base. No surprises. What may surprise some readers is that I designed this layout to be electric free, as far as track power goes anyhow. I want my loco(s) to run off batteries and be controlled by RC/IR. The tech is there so why not? I have also submitted it as a way of getting some feedback from other, more knowledgable, modellers. I don't claim to know very much but I'm willing to add things to the learning curve.
I enjoy making track, though I need to sharpen up my game. I've included a 3 way, crossover and a Barry Slip into the track plan. Some might bemoan the unprototypical elements but it's how I want it, no straights either (save for the hidden storage line on the left) all tracks curve gracefully into the viewing area.
I welcome feedback, however much it may hurt. 
I have some more photos to post shortly showing recent progress.
Edited by ianb3174
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1. The basic plan. Some minor changes have been made since I drew this.

2. This is the sector plate. Constructed of thin ply and controlled by hand for now. I may work out how to motorise it at some point.

3. An overview of the layout at the beginning of construction

4. The 3 way turnout. This will be key to the whole operation. Get this right and the rest os a breeze.

5. Another view from the sector plate during trackbuilding

 

 

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A little time spent on the 3 way and dairy siding. 

The 3 way seems to be a bit more successful. I laid the dairy siding with my last remaining piece of C&L P4 track. Although it looks decent I've found that it's gone undergauge on the tight curve. I shall take it up and relay it with ply sleepers. That way I can use the 3 point gauges to widen the gauge. 

All part of the fun, do a bit, ruin a bit, replace a bit.

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Because of my crisis of confidence in P4 track work (all in the head I reckon) I found some leftover C&L thick timbers which were incompatible with Drakelow. One quiet afternoon and a 1150x200mm plank later and Enville is born. 

A couple of practice turnouts which turned out ok (still to do the tiebars). Just enough sleepers to complete the job, I think I had 6 remaining at the end. 

This will be a light railway terminus, as the fictitious history goes, serving Enville Hall in South Staffs. The site does exist in real life but never had a railway. 

Someone is now going to suggest another scale/gauge combination to further distract me I'm sure.

 

 

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One more before I close the workshop for the night. This shows the sidings currently completed. Far left is the siding that feeds the electricity substation. The check railed siding will lead to the tunnel mouth and the wagon turntable which links to the hidden storage/loop line. The other siding, which heads for the filing box, will be alongside the short loading platform. The timbering for the crossover and Barry slip is ready on the right. Yes, that is O gauge up on the shelf on the left.......another project, and I haven't tried anything in Z yet

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Just a couple of photos of the real Drakelow and a plan of what is under the hill. My fictitious layout is based on the green area with the line leaving the area to the left. The buildings marked on the plan have nearly all gone. The substation on my model was further up the hill in reality. The dairy (or whatever it turns out to be) is also a figment of my imagination. 

As you can see it covers a vast area underground. I think there's over 4 miles of tunnels. That would have taken some digging, especially on what would have been a top secret project. There is a story, maybe urban myth or borrowed from somewhere else, that during WWII a 'Ministry' official alighted a train at Kidderminster station and mentioned the 'secret' codeword to a taxi driver. He replied "You'll want the secret bunker then?" 

I shall have a model of a taxi with a Ministry official in the yard, checking up on proceedings, but nobody mention it, ok?

 

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In unrelated news I photographed this earlier. Luckily I live 5 mins walk from Kidderminster SVR station and this was the last departure of the day. The lights from Kidderminster Harriers ground gave it a nice backlight and a good enough reason to wander down to the end of the carpark. It could be 50 years ago.

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I've had a big think about Drakelow in the last few weeks and come up with some realisations.

1. However nice it looks and however true scale it is, P4 is far too unforgiving for me.

2. Having built some 00-SF track with a friend recently using the same C&L, ply sleeper method as P4, I'm convinced it's as good (to me at least)

3. I rather enjoy having things run without having to buy new wheels and chassis and numerous other bits.

4. I can use the same track plan for Drakelow by incorporating it into my existing Wolverley layout. I can also develop the Enville plank (above) as part of the same layout. They are all fictitiously linked on the same line so it gives me further scope for running trains between all three. 

5. I have to change very little. Apart from relaying track by replacing Wolverley Peco with 00-SF and realigning some track. 

6. I'm still going to experiment with RC control but will also wire the new layout for DCC using JMRI and interface. I quite fancy some sound in my locos. 

 

This is a wagon on a couple of B5.5 turnouts in 00-SF. 

 

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I've made a bit of progress on the redesigned Drakelow/Wolverley/Enville layout. Most of the progress has been in my head but there have been some incremental gains with actual track and actual installations.

The main part of which was the construction of the incline along one wall of the cellar. I settled on 1:30 as the best way to climb 75mm in the 2.4m I had available. This maybe steep for long trains but my 08 could manage test trains up to 1:25 without slipping. They'll only be short trains anyway. The incline has been constructed from some double skin plastic sheet, the kind they make For Sale boards from. It's 9mm thick and very strong in all directions, yet surprisingly easy to cut with a modelling knife. 

The line on the level is the connection between Wolverley and the storage sidings. This will have the upper storage yards above so will be partially hidden from view, save for a few access holes in case of derailments.

The siding curving of to the left will link up with the tunnel in the Drakelow area. A very similar track plan to the original. The upper level will have Enville station and the colliery sidings, all prototypically uphill. 

I suppose I better sort out a track plan of the whole idea

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So the winter is on us again and I've had some inspiration.

I am having a go at Drakelow again, for the third time.

The track plan is roughly similar to the original but fits on three A3 sheets of paper, most definitely a micro layout.

I still manage to cram in a 3 way and a Barry slip plus several features from the original despite being about 200mm narrower. It's a few mm longer though.

I'm going 00-sf as there's not enough time in the day to fuss around P4.

I'll post the updated plan shortly. Don't get too excited

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Unexpected progress on my Drakelow layout. Firstly it's not (at present) actually Drakelow I'm modelling. I've decided that there is a wealth of untapped locations on my fictitious railway that I could expand to fit the available space.

My new location is called Wolverley, a real place in the same area, with a similar fictitious history in terms of rail links. 

My office/workshop/hideaway is in my cellar and it has a shelf around its perimeter, carefully installed in stages over the years as raw material has become available. Initially there wasn't a plan for a railway on this shelf until recently (2015), when a 00 gauge test track was installed. As things have been cleared and moved I have found some free space in which to expand. 

Out came the Templot and I squeezed every millimetre of radius out of the shelf in order for the plan to work. Yesterday I bought some Peco bullhead track as it felt like a good way to make a bit of quick(er) progress. 

I printed the Templot plans and glued them to 1mm mountboard. My plan is centered around some junction pointwork and a run round loop so this was pinnned into place while I lined up the plain track between the templates and the existing 00 gauge tracks. 

Obviously Peco bullhead in somewhat finer in profile than the code 100 FB i'm joining it to, requiring a bit of packing to match the rail height and a soldered joint as no fishplates will work.

The turnouts will be constructed on the card and stuck down in line with the plain track. Let's see how I get on. I'm not looking forward to the electrical work, always a sticking point with me, so I'm keeping it simple, just DC for now and wire in tube for points and signals. Hopefully by planning it well I can make the jump to DCC at a later date

 

 

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Thursday happened, and with it some more progress. I've laid a bit more track, namely the MOD branch to Drakelow. These are the two sharp curves to the right of the photo. This will have a short platform around its outside edge, where the hut is. You can see the line marking the platform edge. It is indirectly linked to the Wolverley station platform which will be alongside the track second from left. (Don't worry, it doesn't make that much sense to me either!)

The left most track is intended to be a siding to a sand/gravel pit, but in reality will lead up the incline (shown in a previous photo above) to cunningly concealed upper level sidings. 

These currently hold a non working APT, well, 4 cars of the 5 car set at least. Very typical of a rural light railway in the 1950's. I doubt if its flanges would allow a run down through the quarry even if it did work. 

Tracks 2 and 3 rejoin in the far corner of the cellar to form a long run round loop. 

The Peco bullhead looks good, as do the tiny fishplates. Very fiddly to fit with my comedy fingers but I've discovered by opening them up slightly with a push pin allows much easier fitting. It has even resulted in a prototypical kink on track 4 (from L to R). Sometimes modelled track looks 'too' perfect, especially on minor railways.

As ever the venerable 08 shunter has crawled round the curves dragging and pushing an old Hornby coach with recalcitrant bogies. Perhaps DCC may offer some ear wincing flange squeal on these tight bends. I can't see the 4w stock that will feature on this part offering too much resistance, and at 680mm radius, isn't 'much' below the 4SF recommended minimum. OK, the last bit of the curve may, just may, go down to 571mm (4th radius) just for a few inches, but don't tell anyone.

The next task is to create the trenches in the foamboard base to accommodate the wire in tube point control. I have a lovely 5mm chisel that is perfect for it. Then I can perfect my (slightly copied) idea for actuation using the brass fittings from choc blocks. I'll explain later, if it works. 

For now I'm raising a coffee in celebration of the most progress I've ever made, on a model railway, on a Thursday, ever

 

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The quest for an operating layout continues.

I'm making good progress with slow progress and today I've just about finished sticking down all the plain track. It only leaves the pointwork to build and wire and the control pipes to be added (the bits that generally cause me to come to a grinding halt).

The Peco bullhead looks the business in the photos.

The top photo shows the two reception sidings from the MOD branch which is about as exciting as it gets. These will be well used but overgrown with weeds when finished. The hut is there as a marker for a small goods shed intended for that location. 

The bottom photo shows the alignment of the tracks as it comes off the lift-out section onto the shelf. 

I'm quite pleased with the lift-out bridge and will probably show it off later. Its made to fit across a gap that it not parallel and has to accommodate the start of a curve half way along its length in order to clear the chimney breast. Oh yes, it was also built wide enough to fit O gauge track for an earlier idea that featured 4w locos and very tight curves of about 500mm. It worked, just.  Over the years it has seen most gauges laid across it, other than O it has had P4 (not successful), N (double track), 16.5/9mm mixed gauge and 21mm (for Irish 3ft in 7mm). 4mm track has been the most successful and has seen a Hornby Castle make it over and around the curve without issue, pushing and pulling stock. 

So when the glue has dried and the pins come out I can pull out my stash of ply sleeper and BH rail and get going. The xmas deadline is to get the two points nearest the wall built, installed and working. So, in reality, possibly around June 2018!

 

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Some more work has been done. Again I've had difficulties fitting a workable trackplan into the convoluted space available to me, namely a random selection of shelves and cabinets around the edge of my cellar/office/workshop/bolthole. 

One of the greatest struggles has been finding a way of laying track keeping all relatively level.

My solution has been not to use the shelves as bases for the layout. Instead I've taken onboard some decent construction methods and designed the layout to fit 4 self contained boards which can be separated and worked on individually.

I've found that even modestly sized boards can be quite heavy when built of plywood so I settled on using Celotex, which I've edged with 6mm ply and joined together with simple metal brackets. 

This has given me a space 3.6m by 2.3m in an L shape with the boards being 450mm deep. 

I experimented with various roadbeds on a bit of scrap, deciding to use 1mm mountboard glued to the surface with No Nails. 

The Celotex boards, even with the ply edging, weigh very little. One hand pick up kind of weight. 

Being able to work on each section at a time has enabled some progress, including an 8 road fiddle yard, which i don't need. My entire current roster could fit on a micro layout. Most of it was Peco Code 100 from the scrap bin which frankly looked awful. One of the things I notice on a lot of 'great' layouts is that the fiddle yards are to the same standard as the scenic area and I have taken that onboard. 

Armed with some Code 75 Peco I rebuilt the fiddle yard, using a highly technical combo of pva glue and and pins to hold it down. It's surprisingly robust when glued to card and allows for adjusted before it dries. 

As always my design just didn't work with Peco alone so I've had to construct a 3 way to suit. 

The layout is being built to 00-SF standards and I took my time designing the turnout in Templot. Rather than fork out for some new copperclad strip I decided to cut my own from some cheap flat sections. Probably not my finest idea as the stuff is a nightmare to cut into strips. After struggling with various cutting methods, score and snap, saw, rotary cutter etc, I called a friend who lent me some tin snips. It still took a ridiculously long time to harvest enough strips for the project, having to file each to size and fit to the plan. After all the strips were filed and cleaned I good begin. Nothing outrageous, starting from the centre common crossing then the outer two, laying the check rails and stock rails and switch rails last. Some work to finish with the tiebars and the wiring before a good clean up and testing. My test clunkers seem to run through all roads without and issue.  

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Pity you decided, quite sensibly, to change from P4 to 00SF. Your hand built pointwork looks neat and I like it.

My own layout is to EM gauge, again with hand built track and points.

I will keep a weather eye on your thread. It is not often we see hand built pointwork on RMW, and when it happens, I am immediately interested.

Derek

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Thanks. I thought about EM as I have always liked the realistic widths between the rails (or as close as damnit). But in reality I've always been stumped but the loco mechanics and springing. Back in my youth my friend converted some of his locos to 18.83 by pulling the wheels out on the axles. The track we built to gauge on copperclad looked great but we didn't know you had to work to 'standards'.  I'd read about Heckmondwyke but didn't really get it.

I used to compensate all my wagons but found I had just as many derailments due to errors in my track building.

When I got my head around 00-SF and compared the overall look with EM and P4, and factored in how much less I'd need to mess with locos, it made a lot of sense. Instead of buying Ultrascale wheelsets for my 08 I bought a DCC chip and was quite pleased to watch it run, very smoothly, over the 2 turnouts above (cattle wagon photo) and controlled from my iphone.

I think a layout should look good without a piece of stock in sight and track is a major part of the look and feel. 

Pity you decided, quite sensibly, to change from P4 to 00SF. Your hand built pointwork looks neat and I like it.
My own layout is to EM gauge, again with hand built track and points.
I will keep a weather eye on your thread. It is not often we see hand built pointwork on RMW, and when it happens, I am immediately interested.
Derek

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It would be easy for me to put a trackplan up, but as I haven't really finalised very much yet it wouldn't help. This is a view today whilst connecting up a few of the Peco points in the fiddle yard. This is my troublesome corner, I still have never owned my dream house 10ft wide but 300ft long so I have to suffer some radius issues if I want a half decent run. 

By way of explanation, if any were needed, the two lines at the bottom of the photo continue down and have a crossover, making a simple runround loop. The kickback sidings will likely be full of all manner of junk and detritus but the main thing is that it all works, DCC style, which is a minor miracle for me. The turnouts have been wired to DPDT switches (or very soon will be) and switched via wire in tube, again worked from the throw of the DPDT switch. The wiring is laid into a channel in the mountboard trackbed so it's all neat, or as neat as I'm likely to get it. Where there are more than a few wires I've run them through some larger bore plastic tube (from a fish tank pump) to keep it neater. 

I can't abide the spaghetti/noodle/M6 arrangements that you sometimes see. How does anyone fault find with wiring like that? 

The 3 way will fit toe end on the exit track top right. It splays outwards onto the layout to provide one hidden track and a double track section onto the first board (do keep up at the back). 

I have to get this bit completed and working well as access to it (from the inside of the curve) will be difficult once the backscene is fitted for the scenic front section. 

Anyway, must press on...

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Just found this of a turnout I made some years ago. Looks like it was P4 but I have absolutely no idea what happened to it. Apart from the clumsy tiebar it looks half decent. 

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Slow progress on Drakelow, mainly research about what will run on it and where I'm going to be able to set it up. Slight change of plan in that I've opted for a straight run over three 1200x450mm boards. Sector plates are out. Robust peco turnouts with motors will do 'offstage'. 

Experiments with DCC have proved far more successful when connected to the right WiFi network with my Z21. Having seen a number of small cameo type layouts I'm sure it's a manageable task to bring this closer to an operating layout. In the meantime the foam boards with plywood edging haven't warped or gone  out of true, which is a first for my baseboards. 

I blame the other scales and gauges and prototype stations for distracting me.

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Having had a bit of a rejig of furniture and shelving in Castle Drakelow and it has reignited my plans. My 3.6m run was on a shelf that was too high to work on effectively, and the 1200mm modules were too big for my workbench. Well version 842 is different. Just a mere 300mm off worktop height so can be built and operated and seen from a sitting position. Length has shortened to 3300mm and there are some changes to the trackplan (a lot of changes actually). I've looked at the 00-sf track I've built and it still looks nice, but way too narrow. It's the biggest issue I have with some spectacular modelling on these pages...and clunky code 100 track! As I'm no more successful in P4 I can't do much about it other than to have a go at EM. 00-SF is a shrunken Em anyway so I might have more success. As they say if you stick to one wheel/track standard you can't go wrong. This morning I've utilised some robust wood frames and built the fiddle yard module and a quick templot plan to test for size. 

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Drakelow is back, not that it ever went that far.

Basically having not tried EM gauge before I thought it worthy of a go. A lot more pleasing on my gauge critical eye that 00-SF but with similar standards.

I did plan it out in O gauge but it barely gave me room to have a run round. 

Keeping it simple for now, C&L ply sleepers and chairs, glued to Templot plan glued to 5mm foamboard for assembly. This will then be glued to 9mm ply and mounted on the baseboard frame. I've got some pieces of track that were built for a friends aborted layout about 4 years ago and they haven't distorted in any way. 

Is anybody else a scale/gauge swapper? or is it just me?

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15 minutes ago, ianb3174 said:

Is anybody else a scale/gauge swapper? or is it just me?

 

Hi Ian,

 

if you are trying ideas, you might like to look at EM-SF, see:

 

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3380&forum_id=6

 

Interchangeable with standard EM unless you intend to use widened RTR wheels. But with better appearance than standard EM and some running improvement.

 

cheers,

 

Martin.

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Well, I do have a bag of 0.8 check rail chairs sitting around and read that thread a few days ago.

Because I don't have much stock and what I do have has replacement wheels , locos will be converted using Ultrascale kits, so it make sense to go EM-SF. Plus it's a very niche area.

It reminds me of a layout my friend built to 00 35 years ago. We discovered SMP point kits and rebuilt it all to 18.83mm with a vernier. He regauged a lot of his blue diesels using the original wheels on new axles. Crude but it worked, sort of. Looked very good. 

I also saw in Templot an Irish EM setting.....20.2mm. That looks good too

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If the flange way of an existing known 100% viable track standard is reduced, the minimum radius restriction is increased. I'm not sure where the concept (and measurement of ) running improvement beyond 100% OK comes from.

 

Andy

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