- a busy village GWR branch terminus
The layout is approx
8 feet long by 15 inches at its widest point. The construction is
the traditional 2" x 1" softwood timber frame with 6mm
MDF deck. The frame is screwed to the wall so that it forms a permanent
shelf. The track plan took a lot of planning as my son had stipulated
he wanted twin tracks so two trains can be run at the same time,
and I wanted a goods area to provide a function of the layout rather
than simply run trains in to the station and then back out again.
came up with the layout shown above. This allows for 3 trains in
the station and one shunting in the goods yard, so we are both happy.
The track work
is all Peco fine scale. This was chosen to give a more realistic
appearance, and was influenced by the fact the local model shop
had a lot of unboxed points going cheap, which helped with the budget.
All points are electro frog type, which proved interesting when
it came to wiring the feeds to the controller. I had always used
the self isolating insulfrog points before, so this was a first
for me. In the end it wasn't too difficult and with the use of eight
DPDT switches we can now take control of any loco from any of the
The control panel
was made from a thick sheet of plasticard. This has a copy of the
track plan on it with 3mm bi-colour LEDs situated where the track
sections are. These LEDs are connected to the same DPDT section
switches so that the give an indication (red or green) which controller
is feeding that section. The controllers are wired in the common
The image on
above shows the track laid onto the baseboard ready for the station
platforms to be built and installed
Now it was time
to start building the scenery. The station platforms were made from
mount board, painted and then coping stones were added to the edges.
These stones were made by printing off 2mm scaled down images obtained
from the internet. The end result is very pleasing.
I then turned my
attention to the tunnel entrance to the fiddle yard. Here I used
a Peco twin track tunnel mouth with a black card insert for the
tunnel walls. The rear mouth was glued to the foam board background
and then the hill constructed by filling with broken up bits of
polystyrene tiles, held in place with diluted PVA at a 4:1 ratio.
Once dry plaster of paris was mixed and poured over the styrene
and mould ny hand. The same method was used to construct the other
hills and terrain. Once dry the layout was painted with an earthy
brown base colour. This was then painted with PVA and a selection
of scatter materials sprinkled over the glue.
The foliage was
then added (again using PVA) and a few simple trees were made using
thing tinned copper wire, twisted together and then covered in foliage.
Although these look OK, it is hoped to add more life-like trees
at a later stage.
shows the completed tunnel entrance painted in stone colour. All
that is needed is to add weathering details.
The next stage
was to start adding some detail and to ballast the track. I purchased
some N gauge fine granet ballast from the local model shop and applied
this in the time honored tradition of brushing it in to the sleepers
and adding diluted PVA on a 1:1 ratio with water, plus a few drops
of washing up liquid to allow it to soak in. Once dried the track
was checked for running and any odd lump of ballast removed if found
to be stuck inside check rails etc. The layout is still only 70%
complete as of mid October 2005 as there is all the detailing to
do, and there is only one building (the engine shed) on the layout.
I've opted to use
the Ratio Plastic Models on the layout as they are excellent quality,
nicely detailed and represent good value for money. The only problem
with N gauge is painting some of the items such as the isolators
on the telegraph poles can be hard on failing eyesight !
Cloverdale is a mid morning passenger service headed by an 0-6-0
tank loco. The engine shed is a kit by Ratio Models
On this layout
we chose to use electrofrog points, and I must admit that never
having used points with live frogs was a bit daunting, and it took
a few days solidly de-bugging all the shorts that these threw up.
We still have a few running issues, but I think that this is due
to the ballasting of the track rather than electrical issues. I
think that although the ballast looks good, it can create more problems
that are not obvious at first. The trains certainly run better in
the sidings on bear boards, but tend to need a but more power on
the layout and still occasionally stick. I'm sure that a few more
feeds will take away any of the resistance caused by the ballasting.
The control of
the trains is via a gaugemaster twin controller wired as a common
return cab system. This sounds complicated, but essentially means
that all returns from the rails are connected to the return on both
controllers, and the feeds are sent to each track section via double
pole double throw switches. This means that each section can be
controlled from either controller. The other pole of these switches
has wires that go off to a dual aspect LED that changes colour (red
or green) to indicate which controller is feeding power to that
The last refinement
was to use a PIC Micro to display which of the 4 sidings is free
or occupied. Each loco has a magnet fitted which triggers a reed
switch as it passes over it
The goods yard
with a selection of box vans waiting to be unloaded
Two of the buildings
are commercial kits from the fantastic Ratio range. However the
station building was my first attempt at scratch building. Whilst
we are loosely modeling the GWR region, the station building is
based on an LNER building that existed on an old local branch line
which was axed as part of the Beeching act in the 1960's.
Its made from three
"boxes" cut out of plasticard, with some bracing internally.
The windows are printed onto OHP transparency film, with the doors
set back in small frames. The part that too the longest amount of
time was the roof, which to get a good effect has printed roof tiles
laid up in strips, with around 50 strips per roof section, that
meant cutting and gluing nearly 300 strips ! - But the effect was
worth all that effort.
Like other aspects
of the layout the station is not complete. I still need to add the
guttering and drainpipes, and fit interior lighting. The Ratio station
lamps (only one made so far) have been modified to work via the
use of fibre optic cable, which gives great results
The main station
building. Still requires detailing such as guttering and drainpipes.
And yes that ration lamp is lit !
The work on the
layout has taken a back seat for a while. I've been purchasing items
off e-bay to increase the stock. The one major purchase I couldn't
refuse was a 14xx loco to go with the auto coach my father-in-law
gave my son last Christmas. A few extra wagons were also purchased,
as was a buffet car.
The Jinty and Pannier
tank loco started to show signs of needing a service so in June
2006 we sent them off to BRlines who offer a service for just £8
per loco plus parts and that includes return post. Hopefully they'll
be returned back to the free running order and performance they
had when new.
I must admit that
the performance of the 14xx is fantastic. This was the first Dapol
model I have ever had and they are quiet and smooth running. I'm
really impressed with this little loco, and puts some of the Farish
locos to shame. I've uploaded a video (8mb DivX format) showing
the 14xx with auto coach departing from the bay platform. To view
The 14xx arrives
at Cloverdale with its auto coach, whilst box wagons are unloaded
in the goods yard in the background
August 2006 - and
the work on the layout has been slow of late, mainly due to other
commitments, but also because I wanted to purchase a small airbrush
to paint the fine windows used in the construction of the signal
box. Well I finally got one and have now finished the Ratio kit
and the box has been installed in a suitable location on the layout.
We've also used
12v grain of wheat bulbs to illuminate all the buildings on the
layout. These are fed from a 5v DC supply and give a nice warm glow
rather than high intensity bright light that is often seen on some
layouts. The next stage planed step is to make the station lights
and change the LED I currently use for one of the 12v bulbs as this
will give better performance through the fibre optic
In November 2006
we needed to remove the layout so that we could replace the radiator
underneath it. At this point the layout had hardly been used so
after a discussion with my son we chose to donate the layout to
the local N-Gauge society group. The members of this society spent
several months convering the layout so that it was portible, re-wired
it, added point motors and a lot more detailing.... so much so that
they managed to exhibit the layout at the 2008 N-Gauge AGM meeting.
I'm pleased to
see that our hard work has provided a grounding for their first