One benefit of blogging is being able to write about one’s thinking and planning of the next project. It helps me at least to have to set down some ideas in a logical manner. Of course, these ideas may change, and projects not get built….. But it all helps the journey!
I am beginning to thing about my next layout project. My American N-club boards are coming along, albeit slowly. I should have been doing a lot of modelling last week, when it was too cold to do much else – but I basically went into hibernation. But I aim to get these boards substantially complete, good enough to exhibit, for Stuttgart this year. Then what?
I do have Kuritu, my bought-in Japanese interurban, to get up and running, and to add a few more details. This may well happen in the next few months, now the loft floor is clear of the N-club boards. Then I do want to build a UK-based layout to run some of my more recently collected UK models.
The question is, as ever, whether to build more modular boards, or to build a standalone layout. I would like to contribute to more N-mod or N-club boards, that will support ESNG. But I also have the problem of making a layout that fits in my loft room. I did, however, note Peter Johnson’s comments about his wonderful ‘Canada Street’ layout. In this month’s Railway Modeller, he says…
“In fact, almost the only time the layout is set up is when it attends a show; at home it is mostly to be found crated-up in a dark cupboard.”
He says that Canada Street appears at around four exhibitions a year. This is not so very different from the number of exhibitions ESNG go to. It would also be good to take modules along to ESNG club nights – something that we are not very good at as a club. So perhaps the size of my loft is not critical. But for this to happen regularly, the modules need to be easy to get down from the loft and to carry to the car – on my own and in my advancing years. Some thoughts on this below.
A second line of thought came from chatting to Sean, exhibiting Forrestone at the Reigate show. Forrestone is one board about 5′ long, and makes exhibitions easy – you are packed up and into the car 15 minutes after the end of the show. I found the same thing the few times that I exhibited ‘Earl’s Wood’. I do like small layouts…..
So my first project for the future will be East Anglian diesel in form. This could be Wisbech & Upwell based, or somewhere round the back of Great Yarmouth. It will use a couple of O4 shunters. I have the Farish models and the Etched Pixels tramway skirts for locomotive power. And a couple of boxes of UK wagons to complete the rolling stock. The layout will be small and portable, and allow a little shunting. and make an ideal small exhibition layout. It would be tempting to venture into 2mm finescale for this, but ‘N’ with FineTrax trackwork is probably more realistic.
I then want to build an urban layout, somewhere in South London with 3rd rail electrification. One option for this is a ‘Minories’ layout of some kind. This would be an attractive approach, but it doesn’t contribute anything to the ESNG modules. Although I have seen how many 4-track lines there are in South London, N-mod modules have some intrinsic problems. These are:
- The boards are too big to regularly transport to club nights. 4′ x 2′ is a big chunk of railway to move.
- The rails in our N-mod standard are too close to the front of the board.
- Code 80 (or even Code 55) Peco track looks very heavy compared with Code 40. The sleeper spacing is half way between OO and HO, and the point blades look poor as sheet metal stampings rather than rail.
- It is difficult to fit a continuous run into my loft room. We are back to the Canada Street and its occasional outings.
- Minories is a terminus, but will fit in my loft.
There are, however, possible solutions to the above:
- N-mod boards don’t have to be 2′ wide. The N-club 400mm, or even a 1′, width is much more manageable. Although N-mod boards need to be 4′ long, looking at my N-club modules suggests that you could build an 8′ N-mod layout using 3 x 2′ 8″ (like 3 x 800mm rather than 2 x 1200mm in N-club.) This will be far more transportable.
- Solvable with transition boards, or just by swinging the track in from the edge.
- An off the wall idea…. Peco Code 55 rail shows 55 thou above the sleepers and will run stock of almost any vintage. Using 2mm Association copper-clad sleepers and soldering Micro-Engineering Code 55 FB rail will solve many of these issues. The track will still be a little heavy, but better than Peco. Short lengths of Code 80 at the end of modules will allow joining to other modules.
- One potential idea is to run though lines across two or three modules, for continuous club running, then have an end to end layout above, below, or next to these lines. Much as I am doing with my American modules, but with a fiddle yard. Interestingly, for N-mod it’s probably best to have the through lines at low level, as the baseboards are relatively shallow sections, but N-club would have the through lines at high level, making use of the 150mm deep standard baseboards.
- See 4!
So there are some potential ways forward. But that’s enough rambling for today, and I hope that makes a little sense!! I’ll try and follow this up in some later posts.