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Ffestiniog-inspired 009 micro layout


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I've been meaning to start a thread on my as-yet un-named 009 layout. As things are taking shape, now seems as good a time as any.

 

I got quite close to completing my n scale Swiss RhB layout (Veja Megstra) during the lockdowns and the following year but a couple of years ago Bachmann announced their DCC Sound-fitted 009 FR Fairlie and I couldn't resist. I've built a number of Dundas kits (with varying degrees of success) and so my thoughts turned to creating somewhere for the stock to run.

 

Criteria for the new layout were as follows:
 

  1. Small enough to be easily stored away when not in use
  2. Continuous run, if possible
  3. Based in North Wales and on FR practice, if possible 

 

With that in mind I went back to thinking about the Scale Model Scenery laser cut baseboards I'd used for my previous layout (BB001 and BB002). These have the advantage of being easily available and simple to construct. Using Google Maps I spent a few weeks looking at real locations to see if I could make a condensed version fit on 2 or 3 of the boards. Having tried a number of combinations that were based on Tan-y-Bwlch and Boston Lodge I came to the conclusion that I just didn't have the space to do anything convincing and therefore the new layout would have to be FR-ish.

 

Space-wise I figured 2 BB001 boards bolted together would be about right (and easy enough to store) and by setting 2 sets of boards back to back that would allow for a continuous run.

 

Here's the original sketch plan:

 

IMG_3379.jpeg.bb9a467223e8f27be862c482905ece88.jpeg

 

As previously I'd been using Railmodeller Pro to design the layout to scale, which is advantageous when you're using fixed size baseboards.

 

This is the scale version of the plan, with the Peco product codes marked (useful for the shopping list):

009FRMicrov5.png.e1eca608fd35f7fd346d28531a693da9.png

(the main scenic area is 81 x 59cm, split in half by the backscene)

 

One of the disadvantages of Veja Megstra was that it didn't have anywhere to store trains off-scene so I planned the new layout with exits and a plan to use the BB019 Single Track Photo Plank board as a storage cassette. To make joining the boards and setting up the layout easily I decided to use the more solid Peco 009 setrack at the baseboard edges.

 

An area of the track plan that was challenging was the loco yard on the right hand side of the plan. I planned to use the loco shed as a view block to mask the exit to the fiddle yard but it was difficult to find a combination of points that would allow for 2 sidings within the depth available without looking too train set-y. I did look at the setrack turnouts but I decided that I'd prefer to keep to the 12" radius points if at all possible.

 

Having bought the boards I was able to use the plan printed at full size as a tool for laying the track:
IMG_3148.jpeg.a4b275cfa3b02d14e720a6351beb2e3e.jpeg

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The first instalment, above, covers the planning process and progress on the layout up until the end of May. By early June I had all the track down and the first test trains were able to run.

 

Here's an overall view of the loco yard side of the layout:

IMG_3230.jpeg.ab3967d0f329689f57ba082e8cd566bb.jpeg

 

The track is laid on 5mm foam core board on top of 2" Woodlands Scenics foam risers. The idea being to give a smooth flat surface for the trackbed above the baseboard level to allow for scenery. I considered motorising the points but in the end I decided not to on the grounds that a) I've got no experience of point motors + I'm not great at soldering and b) it's a small layout so it's not far to reach anyway.

 

During the planning of the layout Scale Scenes released a set of 009 buildings covering a station shelter, water tower and loco shed. As I'd planned to use a loco shed to hide the entrance to the fiddle yard this was ideal as I could build the shed in card and decide the length to fit the available space. Although Bachmann do a couple of 009 resin buildings I didn't fancy hacking one of those about to use just the front portion.

 

I built the water tower first as a test and it came out reasonably well so I started on the loco shed:

IMG_3367.jpeg.aafab37af3c60c4aa8763e00b4096ec3.jpeg

 

Earl of Merioneth on a test train:

IMG_3202.jpeg.17061c692b28292ee2ad10fd5e75ac3d.jpeg

 

Originally I wired the layout with a single power feed on each board, which was fine initially, but I'd forgotten about the live frogs on the points. Even with insulating joiners between the boards I was still getting shorts when running on DCC so I pulled up the curved tracks and added insulating joiners and additional power feeds.

 

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Having completed the loco shed by the end of the school summer holidays I found myself faced with a dilemma in terms of its placement. Originally I'd planned for it to sit at the front of the layout (and I'd even re-worked the track plan to enable the front siding to be long enough for the full length building to fit) but when I tried it in place it just seemed to look odd.

 

Compare this:

IMG_3731.jpeg.f4eb67fd2e2eeba77ed8974b39710858.jpeg

 

With this:
IMG_3730.jpeg.3ba1ccf748024700b7e0f7c460ef6c32.jpeg

 

It worked really well as a view blocker but somehow took over the scene a bit too much. The more I thought about it, the less I liked the shed on the front road.

 

Having decided that the loco shed needed to go on the back siding I now needed something to cover the exit through the backscene on the front road. Looking through Peter Johnson's book on the FR I came across a photo of the loco shed at Boston Lodge. The main 2-road shed is built of stone but it has an additional shed to the side which is clad in corrugated sheet. Inspired by this photo I decided to construct a low-relief portion of shed to sit on the front road.

 

Fortunately the Scale Scenes kit comes with a choice of cladding options for the loco shed including wood and corrugated sheet. However there was a slight issue in that I had glued down the track and cut holes in the backscene board and there wouldn't be room for the two sheds side by side.

 

View of the yard from above:

IMG_3733.jpeg.8b258edc3f6b8068a7c5500eeed081aa.jpeg

 

A bit of lateral thinking was called for...

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  • MrTea changed the title to Ffestiniog-inspired 009 micro layout
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With regards to the loco shed extension I decided I could use an adapted version of the Scale Scenes kit. It made sense to keep the same aperture with as the doors would match. But as width was limited I'd need to take 6-7mm off each side. With the corrugated cladding I figured the building wouldn't need such substantial sides so it should look in-keeping proportionally. However this would also mean taking the roof line in as well and lowering the apex.

 

IMG_3177.jpeg.50404d2d41b27171b78964ffb5f4878f.jpeg

(Pink line showing portion to be removed)

 

Everything went fairly smoothly and I decided to leave the side windows out on the extension. This meant cutting together two segments of the side cladding. Overall the extension has a footprint of 58mm x 35mm vs 67mm x 150mm for the original building.

 

IMG_3741.jpeg.cc02aee2bb8b6193ac247d8c60016492.jpeg

 

The photo above shows the main shed in place for a test fitting with the extension in front.

 

One element I had to improvise with was the capping but some light card and a felt tip sorted that out.

 

With the buildings for this side of the layout taking shape I could turn my attention to other elements.

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There are two main things I’ve done since the pictures above were taken: built the first of the two storage cassettes and added a backscene to the loco yard side of the layout. 
 

The cassette uses the Scale Model Scenery BB019 single track board as a base. I added some sections of 2” foam riser and a slice of foam core board for the track bed. Then I added sides from 2mm thick greyboard to add strength and tidy up the look. 
 

IMG_3767.jpeg.09bee59dc6198286aa825e93d9a3ed0a.jpeg

 

The result is shown above. It’s the first time I’ve attempted something like this and I think it’s turned out ok. At 400mm long it can hold 9 Peco slate wagons and a brake van so it’s quite a useful length. 
 

For the moment I’m using standard Peco rail joiners for the connection. There’s also a small wedge of 2mm card between the sleepers to aid with alignment. 
 

I need to make up another barrier to hold stock in place if and when trains are being turned around. 

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The next thing I did was install the backdrop. As on Veja Megstra I used light blue mount board, which I plan to paint with watercolours when I've decided on the landscape which will feature in this part of the layout.

 

IMG_3761.jpeg.00f81247e8f78bdd5e48d13f47a8497c.jpeg

 

Unfortunately the A1 sheets weren't quite long enough to run along the boards in one piece. But hopefully with some careful painting the join in the sky won't be too obvious. In the corner I was able to curve the mount board round so there isn't a sharp corner. I used 3 cardboard formers to help with the curvature and they were based on the radius of a large dinner plate.

 

At the far end the exits will be masked by the sheds but it does leave two rather obvious holes where the track leaves the scene on the mainline. And these are exacerbated by being at 90 degrees to the normal viewing angle e.g.

 

IMG_3775.jpeg.3cd44a12675907232cf55ef2dadfae47.jpeg 

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Here are a couple of pictures of the right hand corner of the layout I took during a running session at the weekend. Hopefully you can see the effect I'm aiming for in this area once more of the scenic work is completed.

 

IMG_3781.jpeg.10690761ba52acbca3679a05dbdbe872.jpeg

Prince and Earl of Merioneth on shed.

 

IMG_3782.jpeg.ebfbab6271aa89a89da420dcd1796b45.jpeg

The Fairlie peeking out of the 'old' shed whilst the England awaits it's next turn of duty outside the lean-to.

 

IMG_3784.jpeg.45fd83eb018ae950d0381c52236a564c.jpeg

FR No. 2 passes the yard on a train of slate empties.

 

If you compare the photos above with the first images of the stone shed you'll see that I've done some radical surgery on it and lopped off the back 1/3. I decided that the overall composition was better with the old shed not protruding out into the yard so much.

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I don't know if we have any Ffestiniog Railway experts on here? But if so their input would be very welcome. I'm looking for sources of information about how the trackbed and lineside features are built along the line. I have the two Peter Johnson volumes on the history of the FR and from somewhere I've read that the track is laid on a formation which I think is either 8 or 9 feet wide, often edged in dry stone walls. From looking at photos I can see that this is distinctive feature of the formation which gives the line it's character.

 

You can see some of this in the photo I took a few years ago below Tan-y-bwlch:
IMG_5616.jpeg.97f5b5c3f9b2f7f3323c7a46c631f34b.jpeg

 

The main reason for asking is that I'm thinking about the scenery at the loco yard side of the scene and specifically looking for a way to mask the exit on the mainline where it curves out to meet the back scene.

 

I'd always imagined this end of the layout as a having a 'mini Boston Lodge' feel but from looking around I'm wondering if this is going to work and whether I might be better taking inspiration from the Blaenau end of the line, specifically the section between Glan y Pwll (https://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/Glan_y_Pwll) and Tanygrisiau? That seems to have a number of useful over bridges and sections of rock face and stone walls adjacent to the track.

 

IMG_3773.jpeg.1a89f1f5b204815ed5b4541340a10982.jpeg

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2 hours ago, MrTea said:

from somewhere I've read that the track is laid on a formation which I think is either 8 or 9 feet wide, often edged in dry stone walls. From looking at photos I can see that this is distinctive feature of the formation which gives the line it's character.

This is generally true of the original 1832 formation, but it was extensively buttressed towards the end of the nineteenth century. This is particularly notable at Cei Mawr, the biggest embankment on the line, which ended up with walkways and parapets on both sides of the line for most of its length, with a width at the top of something like 14 feet.

 

The unaltered Creuau embankment at the eastern end of Tan y Bwlch station shows what the original formation looks like:

201710-mecreuaubank-h800.jpg.196ce97e45d70d30c5b922c8de04f9c2.jpg

 

This is Cei Mawr. Notice the embankment face is far less vertical.

201710-dlgceimawrclose-h800.jpg.229c412188984b64cdc36570cd15191f.jpg

 

Here's a lovely shot of Bryn Mawr, where the line runs on a dry stone wall shelf. Notice that the carriages seem to overhang the edge.

201710-merddinemrysbrynmawr-h800.jpg.233d21717f2569b7d131a672d64ba134.jpg

 

An equally notable feature is that much of the line that isn't on an embankment (on one or both sides) is enclosed by dry stone walls. These are a mere 7' apart (the trains are 6' 10" wide). Here's a good example:

43994

 

Here's a link to another one: https://shop.photo4me.com/871724/acrylic?o=18&e=3&s=450&u=mm&share=false

The post and wire fence on top is typical, but not found everywhere.

 

The first three photographs are uncredited, but are all from this Ffestiniog Railway Society page: https://www.ffestiniograilway.org.uk/news_post/2017-10-15-victorian-weekend-2017

 

2 hours ago, MrTea said:

The main reason for asking is that I'm thinking about the scenery at the loco yard side of the scene and specifically looking for a way to mask the exit on the mainline where it curves out to meet the back scene.

 

I'd always imagined this end of the layout as a having a 'mini Boston Lodge' feel but from looking around I'm wondering if this is going to work and whether I might be better taking inspiration from the Blaenau end of the line, specifically the section between Glan y Pwll (https://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/Glan_y_Pwll) and Tanygrisiau? That seems to have a number of useful over bridges and sections of rock face and stone walls adjacent to the track.

 

I'd certainly recommend walls. Walls are everywhere, in varing heights, and they can do a lot of the work needed for a scenic break. Unfortunately, finding good photographs of walls can difficult, because there tends not be enough room for the photographer and a train.

 

There is a bridge not far from Boston Lodge, at Rhiw Plas, where the former A487 passes over the line. This is a modern 1960 construction, but the old bridge might be just what you are looking for. Again, photographs seem difficult to come by, but here's one with the bridge in the background: https://m.facebook.com/frheritage/photos/a.376089322805021/1352444485169495/

 

Apart from that, you are right that the section between Tan y Grisiau and Glan y Pwll offers more scope, with four footbridges over the line. The previous embedded photograph is taken from one of them.

 

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14 hours ago, Jeremy Cumberland said:

 

 

There is a bridge not far from Boston Lodge, at Rhiw Plas, where the former A487 passes over the line. This is a modern 1960 construction, but the old bridge might be just what you are looking for. Again, photographs seem difficult to come by, but here's one with the bridge in the background: https://m.facebook.com/frheritage/photos/a.376089322805021/1352444485169495/

 

 

Lovely pic that one Jeremy. Not for the railway but for the rope operated face shovel with the hinged backplate. Even the dipper could be moved to make loading a lorry even easier. I'm guessing that it was a Ruston Bucyrus one with the two colour paint scheme. 

 

Cheers - Jim

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Defintely an R-B - you can see the plate on the boom. Presumably an 22RB, although this isn't a subject I know much about, but I do have probably the best collection of Ruston-Bucyrus excavators in the world more or less on my doorstep. The Vintage Excavator Trust runs two operating weekends a year at Threlkeld Quarry, in May and September. More information here: https://www.threlkeldquarryandminingmuseum.co.uk/vintage-excavator-trust/

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On 11/11/2023 at 20:07, Jeremy Cumberland said:

Here's a lovely shot of Bryn Mawr, where the line runs on a dry stone wall shelf. Notice that the carriages seem to overhang the edge.

201710-merddinemrysbrynmawr-h800.jpg.233d21717f2569b7d131a672d64ba134.jpg

 

An equally notable feature is that much of the line that isn't on an embankment (on one or both sides) is enclosed by dry stone walls. These are a mere 7' apart (the trains are 6' 10" wide). Here's a good example:

43994

 

 

These are cracking reference photos, thanks @Jeremy Cumberland!

 

Definite food for thought there. I think the top photo could prove a really useful reference for developing the scenery on the other side of the layout:
IMG_3797.jpeg.00e750c1fad7824c54f5a5cfe2129d96.jpeg

 

I'm now wondering whether to keep the turnout on this side of the layout or to replace it with plain track and just have this as a scene to watch the trains go by? It does make me wish the boards were just a few inches wider and that the track wasn't quite so close to the front edge - oh for the benefit of hindsight!

 

On 11/11/2023 at 20:07, Jeremy Cumberland said:

I'd certainly recommend walls. Walls are everywhere, in varing heights, and they can do a lot of the work needed for a scenic break. Unfortunately, finding good photographs of walls can difficult, because there tends not be enough room for the photographer and a train.


I'm certainly finding this. One thing I will need to be careful of is making sure there is enough clearance if I do add walls either side of the track when running longer bogie stock.

 

On 11/11/2023 at 20:07, Jeremy Cumberland said:

Apart from that, you are right that the section between Tan y Grisiau and Glan y Pwll offers more scope, with four footbridges over the line. The previous embedded photograph is taken from one of them.

 

I did find this rather interesting shot earlier:
http://217.34.233.120:8086/index.php?a=ViewItem&key=SXsiTiI6NTksIlAiOnsidmFsdWUiOiJGb290YnJpZGdlIiwib3BlcmF0b3IiOiIxIiwiZnV6enlQcmVmaXhMZW5ndGgiOiIzIiwiZnV6enlNaW5TaW1pbGFyaXR5IjowLjUsIm1heFN1Z2dlc3Rpb25zIjoiNSIsImFsd2F5c1N1Z2dlc3QiOm51bGx9fQ&pg=23&WINID=1699822455621#Ab9w2qffDc4AAAGLxVBGvA/1075

Its caption reads: 'Derelict track below Footbridge 3 (White Dog Bridge) below Barlwyd Terrace, 7 May 1974'.

 

It looks like this site might have some good reference photos...

 

The other useful thing I've found is a couple of driver's eye view YouTube videos. If you pause them at the right point you can get a really good idea of how the land lies and how the line side structures work. I think this is around the same area:

 

If only I had a bit more space!

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All the footbridges between Tan y Grisiau and Glan y Pwll were rebuilt before the railway reopoened in 1983, keeping as close as possible to the original design, but using concrete for the bridge itself, and adding handrails that complied with modern rules. One original footbridge survives on the old formation between Dduallt and the old Moelwyn Tunnel.

 

You've got exactly the right place in the video.

 

 

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On 12/11/2023 at 13:50, mcowgill said:

There's a photograph on the FR's photo archive with details of the old Rhiw Plas bridge, unfortunately it cuts off the top of the bridge  Rhiw Plas bridge from FR iBase photo archive 

 

Martin

 

Thanks for suggesting that site @mcowgill. I've found quite a few reference photos on there.

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I'm definitely leaning towards trying to disguise the exit from the scene by the yard with an FR-style footbridge. The other night I had a play with some temporary card structures just to try and get a feel for how it might work visually.

 

Essentially the challenge is that I'd originally envisaged this area of the layout having elements similar to the set-up at Boston Lodge, with the mainline curving past the loco sheds. Therefore the cross section of the land would look a little like this:
IMG_3801.jpeg.0659cd43426e28a4be48cfb1115afe0a.jpeg

 

Mocking up a footbridge and some retaining walls gave me this:
IMG_3786.jpeg.59720889c601ebdf04c3d0c86cd2b11a.jpeg

 

That assumes that the land between the mainline and the shed area rises up to some extent but it limits any further buildings (either full or part relief) being added to the shed complex.

 

Here's a square-on view:

IMG_3785.jpeg.f7e0f1b37ecd6ee28886d834b843d57c.jpeg

 

I also had a play with some thin corrugated card which is quite useful for simulating the landforms:

IMG_3798.jpeg.96b91a434870fd1a2084838bc859f76f.jpeg

 

This kind of arrangement would allow for a road and/or some cottages in the well behind the tracks curving across the front of the layout.

 

Then I started thinking about whether it might be better if the land on the inside of the curve was the hillside instead. So essentially it comes down to whether we have either of the scenarios below:

IMG_3800.jpeg.c87b990cc9b89b8f8c0c1a6ceac202a2.jpeg

 

The other thing that I've realised is that I'll have to be careful with putting walls too (prototypically) close to the tracks but more on that another time...

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There’s been some progress on the footbridge over the course of the week. I did a bit more research online and looked quite closely at the bridges between Tan y Grisiau and Glan y Pwll. The ones that seemed to best fit being footbridge 3 and footbridge 4. One of these is a dog leg shape with the stairs facing up the line on one side and down the line on the other. 
 

I started by counting the stairs to get an approximate idea of the height. There look to be about 15 steps from ground level. Assuming 9” per step that works out nicely at 3mm each and a total height of 45mm. 
 

I had some 2mm and some 1mm card in stock left over from the Scalescenes loco shed project. Laminating these gave a good strong base to start from. Then it was a case of cutting shorter and shorter pieces to get a total of 15 steps. I laid these on a slight curve to fit the location on the layout. The steps are 15mm wide as about 4’ seemed a reasonable guess at the width based on reference photos. 
 

For the opposite side I cut out a basic square pillar 27mm wide. 
 

IMG_3808.jpeg.445219f8b456ac9bd968bb026811caf2.jpeg

Trial fit of the bridge. 
 

Looking around online for some suitable railings I found some laser cut pedestrian barriers at Scale Model Scenery. I’ve ordered them and hopefully they’ll look a good approximation of the real thing. 
 

IMG_3807.jpeg.a3c90e8f4958e69f4f06254ea7244dea.jpeg

Top down view showing the curve of the line. 

I took the opportunity to test the clearances with a train. This is no. 2 on a short works train:

IMG_3810.jpeg.2251194191f9d2f34d993c758295f506.jpeg

 

Edited by MrTea
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You've caught the steps perfectly. Will you have a wall on the railway side of the steps, or railings? I think all the footbridges had walls.

 

Incidentally, I found this picture of Footbridge 4, which you've probably found yourself. I'd guess it's from 1981 or early 1982. It's clearly before reopening in May 1982, because the old bridge deck and railings/fence are in place, but the new track has been laid, and the old Glan y Don trip has been removed and landscaped.

http://217.34.233.120:8086/view-item?i=2138&WINID=1700432259733

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Quick footbridge update:

 

I’ve given the bridge a coat of Halfords grey primer and test fitted it in position again. 
 

IMG_3823.jpeg.4172fc05f62dd48894d7181774cb3c18.jpeg

 

I can’t quite decide whether it should sit flush to the backscene or a bit further forward (that’s more pleasing from a composition point of view but means the bottom of the stairs start to intrude on where I’ve planned to put the loco yard). 
 

Next step is to paint the stonework. I’m following one of George Williamson’s YouTube videos where he modelled a scene inspired by the Corris Railway. 
 

IMG_3829.jpeg.e8577bb7fa3e50c6144e1200803c6abb.jpeg

First stage with stones picked out and a dry brushed layer added. 

 

I’ll have to see how this goes. It’s not something I’ve tried before. 

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Very impressed with the stonework - looks excellent to me.

 

As for the question about precise siting, would it be an idea to mock up the loco yard scene so you can see how the whole picture might look when complete, in case it helps you decide?  Just a thought.  Hope that's OK, Keith.

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IMG_3849.jpeg.e3db04922fce14fe25c63819a2b99ac0.jpeg

 

Here’s the footbridge after completing the painting. I’m really pleased with how the stonework looks. The capping stones on the wall in front of the stairs are real slate chips laid to fit. The smoke effect and the weathering on the bridge deck are Mig weathering powders. 

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Hello Ian,

I like the way you've painted the whole footbridge and especially the coping stones. They do tend to come from allsorts of odd coloured bits of stone found in all sorts of places.

Cheers - Jim

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The challenge with the location is that the base of the stairs will be quite close to the edge of the loco yard unless I change plans. 
 

IMG_3855.jpeg.eb4b3adc6994cbca3d59953f6ded2906.jpeg

This shows the dilemma a bit. You can imagine that the footpath might run along the edge of the yard but it means a 110 degree turn or something. I’m just worried it’s going to look odd with the corner of the shed. 
 

Here’s an overhead view:

IMG_3860.jpeg.2fde21c4cc5af2683c1069a1d8bfe980.jpeg

You can see the potential pinch point in the middle. I’ve also mocked up a Bowsider coach template to use when planning where walls are close to the track. One thing I’ve figured out is that any walls on the curves will need to be set back more than on the prototype FR due to the overhang on longer rolling stock. 

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On the real FR, the walls are set back quite generously on most curves, it's usually the straight sections that have the tightest clearances.

Though having said that, the footbridges at the top end of the line are pretty tight all round.

 

I know this because I recently did a lot of measurements to check this would fit:

http://c2project.org/album/C2-800-2182v2.jpg

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