Friday, November 27

A West Highland 8'x4' Layout Design in OO

Over the years I've done quite a few West Highland based layout designs, so I thought I'd showcase a few of my ideas on the Forum.

This is the first - a rough sketch done using the demo version of Rail Modeller v3.1.6 for Mac. I'm evaluating this at the mo with a view to buying it - the other options are mostly PC based, but I'd rather use the Mac than my laptop most of the time. Anyway here's the plan:

This is a solid 8x4. It could easily have an operating well if stretched to 8 x 5, but I'd like to operate from the front, where the view is best. The layout gives the option of just watching trains go round in a grand setting, or of doing some shunting, but the stock for shunting would need to be fitted with automatic couplings.

There is a simple loop of Peco Setrack or Hornby Track, with a length of flexible track in the reverse curve at the front, which passes over a viaduct. The loop is served by three storage loops in the fiddle yard, which accommodate 6', 4'6" and 4' long trains. In the modern idiom this would cover a 66 or 37/4 hauled freight, the sleeper with a 66 or 67, and perhaps a set of 2 class 156 units in the shortest loop (these could run in both directions).

Below the viaduct (perhaps about 8" to 12" lower than the roundy-round track level) I have included a classic Inglenook shunting problem, based on the former Crianlarich Lower station, as used in the 1970s and 80s for loading pulpwood - there are some excellent photos of this in Tom Noble's "Profile of the Class 26s and 27s" [Bradford Barton]. An alternative, more up-to-date use could be for civil engineers vehicles. The siding lengths could be adjusted to suit - I've drawn these for the classic 5/3/3 wagon capacity Inglenook with 5" long wagons. This section is design for Peco OO finescale track. The Inglenook is not provided with a fiddle yard, but one or both of the straight roads could be extended under the main fiddle yard loops and curved round to enable the wagons to be changed off-scene. I'd bring the track right up to the edge of the board at the front (possibly with an unobtrusive stop block or means of preventing the loco shooting off into space). This would give the maximum space for photography, something else which I'd like to be able to do with my eventual layout...

This design provides many of my potential requirements in a relatively small space, but would be best sited with access all around, or at least to the bottom and right side as drawn. It's a long reach in to sort any problems on the fiddle yard out, especially with a decent height backscene, which would be necessary to give the appropriate scenic setting.

Anyway, I hope someone finds this of interest - please feel free to post any comments or suggestions. There will hopefully be more to follow when I dig out my designs folder and get the scanner fired up...

Saturday, November 21

Railbuses from Heljan!

Wickham departmental railcar 999507 "Elliott" on the Middleton Railway 20/09/2008

A shot in the arm for the 1960 era modeller of the southern section of the West Highland... Heljan have announced that they will be producing the Wickham and Park Royal railbuses used on the Craigendoran to Arrochar services between November 1959 and November 1961.

Something to look forward to over winter...

Wednesday, July 29

What - a layout???

I had great fun recently at the RM Web member's day operating Nick Palatte's excellent little layout, "Lochnagar".

This got me thinking about the boards which have lain dormant in my workroom for almost two years now, while I worked out if I could do something along the lines of Neil Rushby's equally excellent and even littler "Abergwynant".

I think I've come to the conclusion that Neil's plan would have two drawbacks for me: firstly I'd like the run-round operation to be visible on the layout, and second, that whilst I love the sense of space Neil's layouts (even the tiny "Shell Island") convey, I'd rather have a little more operational interest - I want to get the little 'un finished quite quickly so I can concentrate on building more stock and move onto "big layout", which could well have no pointwork on the visible section at all.

Having a little shunting / terminus layout that could co-exist and give some operational interest will work well, and Nick's basic plan for Lochnagar was fun. I've tweaked a little to suit my space, and mocked it up on the boards to get used to the idea.

This is an end on view of Nick's layout:

My main change is to change the run round points around so the up (non-terminus) end leads onto the headshunt, not under the bridge, keeping locos in view while they're running round. This will enable the bay platform point to be closer towards the bridge, meaning the overall platform length can be increased so that coaching stock will be stood adjacent to the platform when the loco is running round. I've also realigned things so the boards will be a bit wider (to get that illusion of space) and the general alignment will be on a convex curve.

In terms of stock, a little layout like this isn't too bad. To start with I'll probably do a set of 1968-70 stock with mostly HJ 27s and two carriage trains, together with some traditional 4 wheel short wheelbase freight wagons (I have a good selection of these nearly done, with justr a few details, lettering and weathering to do). The '29 ( a story for another day) will also go well. I reckon four trains for each era (2 passenger and 2 freight or 1 freight and 1 parcels) should be enough, with maybe a few spare wagons.

The other initial set of stock will represent the end of loco haulage out west, with a couple of 37/4s (I may even treat myself to a Railfreight liveried 20), some nice interesting civil engineers' stock, and a 156 unit.

I don't generally like cassettes, but given the space constraints and the need to operate from the front at home, with the cassettes slipping out from the back along the wall (across the entry door), I think they will be the way to go for this layout. An era change should be as quick as two trains to clear the layout of stock and a switch of station signs and road vehicles. We could run 1970 on the even hours and 1989 on the odds...

By the way, the big layout will showcase some of the classic WHL scenes, particularly the civil engineering structures (but almost certainly not Glenfinnan viaduct - I wouldn't have room for anything else), and I'll be able to just run (scale length) trains around in the shed to suit myself and any visitors.

Monday, July 27

Update and Jobs List

Hello all, and sorry for the long lag since I last posted here. Work has been very busy, but in between I have got a tiny bit of progress made with the West Highland Line modelling and research.

37424 nears County March Summit on what appears to be an SRPS special, December 1989
(c) Jim Tinnion Collection

I finished the first Mark 1 coach (a Second Open) whilst demonstrating on the DEMU stand at Kidderminster, back in early Spring, and I've made more progress towards finishing a batch of open wagons (including a tube wagon) that I started a couple of years ago. These are now all weighted and have reasonable representations of the brake gear (clasp gear is a b****r to do but looks good, and there are some shortcut).

I've been buying a bit more stock to populate the layout with, most recently a Hornby 25 (to go on a Bachmann chassis) and a returned limited edition 37025 in large logo from Bachmann's stand at the RM Web members' day (saved about 20 quid because one of the buffers wasn't weathered).

Finally, I've been scouring various sources for archive photos of the West Highland: the picture at the top of the post is one I got off eBay.

More to come, hopefully more regularly now things are calmer at work...