It’s time to move on from my (occasional) Covid-19 diary, to something new. As you, gentle reader, may well realise, I have spent the last couple of months trying to work out a layout that I actually like. This is the story to date…..
Starting out, I almost settled for this! A Brio Minories. Now that’s what I call a design…
Givens for the design
I decided that I wanted to build an urban layout. And although I am attracted by the idea of a ’roundy-roundy’ layout, an end-to-end is more practical in our house. As I have posted previously, the inspiration is there in ‘Minories’ and in Ian Futer’s ‘Victoria Park’. But I haven’t been too happy with an urban 2 or 3 platform station. The answer to this is the lovely ‘Surrey Arms’ layout, where the layout models some side platforms with a backdrop of the main train shed (think Victoria or London Bridge for two companies sharing the site, or even Kings Cross suburban.)
Surrey Arms is in a cutting, but I really wanted to put the station on arches, like most of the southern termini. I’d hoped to do something a little different from a Minories, like the ‘O’ gauge version below with it’s central carriage siding. But that turned out to be a little tricky, as Minories is such a perfect plan.
Although I intended to use Finetrax code-40 track for the layout, I started designing on the computer using Peco geometry, for simplicity. I then realised that using USA ‘Fast Tracks’ handbuilt templates gave me something very close to Finetrax – after all, a B8 turnout is the same except for the sleeper spacing. And things like Y-points were already included in my computer library.
So I started with this version, based on one from an RMWeb thread. Reasonable radius points, but platform 1 is arrival only. This is on 2 x 800mm boards.
I also tried this one, based on West Kirby on the Wirral. Only two platforms, and the scenic layout is 1 x 1200mm board, with an add on non-scenic section for the end of the platforms. This is not entirely silly, as the platform ends are often hidden by an overall roof, making uncoupling difficult, and the least realistic part of any station model is the concourse, as there is no movement there. I’d have had to make the track for this one.
I didn’t really connect with these, and tried a purer Minories. All the points are B8’s, that look good. There’s an extra loco/parcels siding, and the classic Minories platform curves are mitigated by using two Y-points on at the entrance to the station.
Using B6 points in places gives a shorter layout, but I didn’t think that it looked as good.
This was then cut down to make a shorter, Victoria Park version. Losing a crossover at the throat makes the station shorter. Either the two entry tracks are bi-directional, or one becomes a headshunt/loco road.
And if I returned to almost a classic Minories, except for the Y-points, I thought that the end result was a very pleasing design. This turned out to be the final design!
Dropping the track plan into Paint.net allowed me to sketch out the scenery. The 1200mm long Minories started as a 300mm wide board. I though that the platforms at the back just looked too wide, and I didn’t want to widen the front of the layout.
I really liked the next iteration – the 1200m long Victoria Park lookalike. Just 250mm wide, this seemed to have a better balance.
A bit of a nudge
Come Black Friday, I saw that there was 20% off Finetrax. It pushed me over the edge so I bought the code-40 bullhead track that I need for a ‘Minories’ look-alike.
The final iteration
And thus to the final iteration. Back to 2 x 800 x 250mm boards (although the framing to support the backscene will take it up to 1200mm. This seemed to tick all my boxes, at any rate, and it might even get built!
So, I’ve ended up with almost a standard ‘Minories’, but with a tweak here or there. On two 800mm long boards, and the station is raised on the classic South London arches. Operation is limited, but fun for an hour or so, and it would work well at an exhibition. There are a number of buildings and structures to construct, especially the over-track signal cabin at the layout entrance, and the train sheds. You might well have selected one of the other plans, but I think that I’ll stick with this one.
There are a number of things to do next:
- First step will be to use Finetrax templates to lay the layout out full size. This will check all the clearances and determine the size of the high level baseboard. I want this board to be open underneath to give access for point motors and wiring.
- A big decision is what to do for the fiddle yard. A ladder of points is easy but takes a lot of room. A balloon loop shorter but wider, and the radius is could be a little small. Traverser, tricky for my brain. Cassettes, easy to do but also very easy to drop!
- I also need to decide how to build the railway arches. There are a number of possibilities, but the one will fix the distance between the two levels on the layout.
- Only then can I start making the boards.
Well, that’s been an epic post, but it does mean that I have to build something now. I just hope that it doesn’t keep changing, like my American layout did. More will follow…..