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W Chiltington.
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Plumpton Green.
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Plumpton Green
oversize holes in the baseboard, so can be adjusted to give the right spacing for the gates, and also, by packing under one or other of the corners of the triangle, can be finely adjusted, so that the gate pivot is truly plumb as shown in the photo, above right.

I’ve been wondering how to give the stream bed north of the culvert a bit more realistic shape, and while rooting round in my box of scenic bits and pieces, came across an unopened packet of ‘Das’ modelling clay, which must be at least 30 years old. Amazingly, it is still usable, so has been applied to the stream bed and banks to give the necessary shape. The entry into the culvert has been completed with water and other autumnal scenic detail added.

I’ve at last made a start on the signal box.

March 2014.  Progress has been a bit slow this month, at least partly as a result of getting Brighton Road ready for Scalefour North in April. However, progress has been made on scenic work and on the signal box.

For the signal box, I’ve used my usual technique of producing a scale drawing on CAD (I use Corel Draw). CAD is far more accurate than a hand-drawn diagram, and can be reprinted as many times as I need for different purposes. For complex shapes such as the upper half of the box (all windows) I make each wall separately, taped onto the drawing, and using the drawing itself as the guideline for cutting out window recesses etc.

I’ve experimented in the past with window frames cut from paper, as an alternate to etched brass. This has the advantage that windows of any design can be replicated quickly, although cutting them out can be problematic. I draw them as part of my overall drawing of the building, and then print about twice as many copies as I need for the final building, using heavy grade photo paper. I then cut out the frames, choosing the best, until I am satisfied that I have enough good quality ones for the task in hand, plus a few spares.

The next stage is to paint the frames, before gluing to the acrylic sheet, and cutting to size ready to fit.

April 2014. A large part of April has been taken up with getting Brighton Road ready for Scalefour North in Wakefield. We have decided that this will regrettably be the layout’s final show before being taken apart. The layout is basically too big to be practicable - it’s too big for me to store, to big for me to keep erected and maintained, and too big for most shows to accommodate. It’s sad to see the end of a layout, but all things must pass, and quite a few bits and pieces will be retrieved and re-used on other layouts - principally Plumpton.

As Plumpton’s first outing gets closer, I’m turning my thoughts to transportation and presentational things. The lighting from Brighton Road is immediately reusable with only minor modifications - Plumpton is only 600mm wide compared with 900 for Brighton Road. All I have to do is cut 300mm off the front of each of the lighting frames - job done.

Brighton Road’s trestles can also be used - most of them can be left at 900mm wide to support the layout and the display boards which will fit onto the front of the layout. Two need to be cut down to 650mm to support the fiddle yards, and two more to support the lever frame/control panel. Another easy job done.

Brighton Road (and Pulborough and West Chiltington) travelled in boxes to exhibitions, and this has made transport easier in terms of loading the van, and also for protecting the layout in transit. The Brighton Road boxes are too big for Plumpton Green, but a few days work sees them reduced in size (and weight!).

I like to see well-presented layouts at exhibitions, with some explanatory text about the model and its background. For Plumpton I have decided to make some display panels which will fit along the front of the layout, either side of the control panel. These will display text plus a few photographs.

May 2014. The end of my two year programme to get the layout to an exhibitable state is fast approaching, so I’ve had to make a list of things still to be done, essential or desirable, before the layout’s first outing - a rather daunting list. However, I think it’s all do-able.

As May begins, I have no fiddle yards - a rather essential component! I’ve been contemplating the design for some time, trying to decide between various compromises. For the layout to be set up permanently in the garage, the fiddle yard can only be 1200mm long, but the cassettes that I have made for Brighton Road are 1500mm long. These have proved to be a bit too long to handle comfortably and safely, and will probably be shortened at some point in the future, but a 1200mm fiddle yard implies cassettes of about 1000mm long - too short I think for exhibition.

The solution I have decided to adopt is to make two fiddle yards at 1200mm long, which are a convenient size to make from a sheet of ply 2400 by 1200mm, and also a convenient size to handle. One of these can be used in the garage with the layout permanently erected at home. I can make a few short cassettes for this.

For exhibition purposes I have also made two 600mm long extensions which simply bolt on to the main fiddle yards, giving me two sections 1800mm long - plenty of room for the long cassettes. Eventually I may shorten the cassettes to 1350mm, which will make them easier to store, transport and handle, but still be long enough for some of my longer trains.

Diary of a Railway Layout
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