Last year on First one in I wrote about Geoff Taylor’s Barmouth layout and his very clever use of ‘space’ to achieve a multi location layout. In December (21), I had the privilege of helping out with Simon George’s Heaton Lodge Junction at it’s first public showing at Wakefield. With it being the Christmas/New Year season I often get time to spend reflecting on what I’ve done and experienced, and thinking about how I can use those ‘lessons’. This year’s no different.
Heaton Lodge (HLJ) is big, by any standards, and is in 7mm O gauge. It is a very different and thought provoking use of space. Obviously at roughly 200ft long and 50ft wide, you need a healthy budget and a suitable location to build, test and store it, but above all else, you need the imagination to build it.
Both Simon and Geoff’s approach for me are interesting in that both modellers have achieved something very different to the norm for the UK, Geoff with a 4mm scale multi location layout and Simon with an exhibition layout of significant size, even allowing it for being in 7mm scale. Both layouts use DCC too, something I’m still deciding on for future projects. I’ve been fortunate to use several systems on friends layouts at home and at exhibitions, so if I go that way I have a basic understanding of some of the potential available.
The use of space is something I’m regularly drawn back to, HLJ above, has taken O gauge and shown full length trains working in a realistic landscape. The fact that it’s transportable makes that all the more remarkable, and has got me thinking again about what I want to do, and how to achieve it. Previously I’ve written about train length for my nascent Forest of Dean project and what I felt would be appropriate train lengths. Having spent time with Heaton Lodge, I wonder if I’m on the right path regarding that. Not necessarily needing full length trains, but perhaps longer than the nine wagons I’d been considering as my ‘standard’.
If I take this path of longer trains then it means the design will need to change to reflect that, just as well no wood had been cut! It’s also going to mean defining more accurately what I want to capture. The prototype trains were roughly 30 wagons maximum due to the gradients, I’m thinking of a fifteen wagon maximum, including brake vans. In simple terms that’s at least another fifteen inches or so per road for any storage track or colliery sidings. Then there’s the additional stock acquisition that’ll be required, which will be primarily mineral wagons.
Shelfie 2 is one of the parts of the original planned FoD system, however if I go large, it’ll need extending or scrapping, scrapping being the more practical solution. It won’t have been a waste of time or effort though, it’s given me plenty of lessons as far as scenery, automatic couplings and lighting are concerned, and much of it can be recycled.
For anyone interested in reading more on it, there’s a Shelfie3, Guyzance, feature in January 21’s Model Rail magazine in its D&E guise. The magazine images are taken by Chris Nevard with his superb ability to capture the layout as I envisage it.
So where does this lead me to? Well last year a friend and I spent time replacing the roof of the mancave, it’s now steel roofed and will outlast me. Part of the delay in starting anything ‘big’ was the knowledge that without a new roof, there was potential for damage from leaks or subsequent roof work. With that tasking I took the opportunity to reconfigure the storage in there, and will likely reduce the car and bike content too this spring/summer.
That’ll leave me standing in a decent space with a tape measure. What could possibly go wrong?