Ian’s layouts have consistently provided inspiration, particularly his Northumbrian layouts, and perhaps the one that really caught my attention the 4mm P4 layout ‘Lochside’. It was one that stood out, it was a finescale layout, using converted and detailed ready to run diesels it looked good and had a plausible back story to it.
From then his Scottish urban layouts have always caught my imagination, and using his ‘three point’ terminus concept I’ve added a fourth point to add a little more operational interest, and brought this south of the river.
A week or so ago I was at the Ally Pally show helping, or rather hindering Alan Whitehouse and Mick Simpson running Alan’s 2FS Halam Town. This is Alan’s take on Cyril Freezers classic ‘Minories’ design, based in urban Yorkshire in the 1970’s. The layout captures the essence of the era and with the use of appropriate stock, make the most of Freezers design. Catch the layout at railex in May.
On the journey into town I retraced my old commuting days on the Great Northern, snatching a few shots of embankments, bridges and tunnels for reference to get a feel for the civil engineering I’m likely to have to get my head round with this layout.
The board for this layout is seen below, a 6ft x 18 rectangular asteroid. The chassis is high quality ply, and a track bed of 9mm MDF topped with Woodland Scenics HO foam underlay. The ground is built up with Balsa wood so I don’t have significant ballast shoulders to contend with. The track is a mix of three types, new Peco OO bullhead, C&L OO bullhead track and Peco Code75 streamline points. Despite such a variety of track it works really well, and to further annoy the foaming purists I’ve glued it down with superglue!
Being Southern Region I’ve added third rail, using the Peco components and suggestions and assistance from Oly And Chris otcm, and Mike Cubberley. Any errors however or implausibility is all my own work!
Despite the layout being at such an advanced stage, the chassis and track bed are not yet permanently joined. The layout is designed for DC so there are a good number of section switches to give variety of train positions in the platforms. Keeping chassis and track bed apart made wiring the loom much easier. The design also allows DCC operation, with the limited locomotives and units I’ll be using, I’m seriously considering ‘Touchcab’ as an operating system. I’ve used it with both Simon Thompsons Aberbeeg (S7), and Pete Kirmonds ‘ Laramie ‘, and it’s a user friendly operating system. The other reason for the bare structure is I’m still working the topography of the layout in my head, current idea is based in a cutting, but putting it on an embankment would be more unusual, and a real challenge containing it scenically. Presentation is eye level or thereabouts with view blocking and tightly controlled viewing angles. Once the topography is determined, then the layouts superstructure and lighting rig will be easy to formulate, and then there’s the fiddle yard to build too! I can’t design the fiddle yard until I’ve decided cutting or embankment.
Common sense tells me cutting, heart tells me embankment! Ho hum…