Is it really nearly 2 months since I last posted a layout update!?
Having a recap of how things were looking when I last made a post on BWS made me realise both how much things have changed since then and how much happier I am with those changes.
Firstly, we now have a backscene, and a base coat of paint on it which has changed the look of things considerably.
I had been starting to struggle with enthusiasm towards the layout. A lot of time had been spent looking at maps both old and new trying to identify an exact location for the layout with no success. As I said in an earlier post, operational realism will be key to the layouts success in my mind and as such I need to be able to work out the likely traffic flows and how the prototype would have handled this. I’d originally been inspired by the Stocksbridge Railway and gone with scenery to suit, hence the hills at the left front and at the rear, but this severely limited prototype locations . I was also starting to get uneasy with the flow of the scenery, which I really couldn’t get to flow, even after I got rid of the originally proposed stream.
A look further afield but still in ex-GCR territory eventually gave me a location I was happy with, and as the concept developed in my mind things fell more and more into place. Rather than cover this here I intend to do a separate blog post about this specifically for anyone interested in such things!
There was just one issue with my new location, it was well out of the foothills of the Pennines, instead being relatively flat and unexciting contour wise. I am sure Oly would happily tell you that I am the worlds slowest person to commit to an idea, instead liking to mull things over in my mind until I’ve missed the opportunity to do what it was I was planning. It was therefore surprising when I bit the bullet and attacked the newly finished hillsides shown in my last post with a saw, completely changing the profile of the layout – instead of a large hill at the rear, a gradual slope away from the layout was sculpted. As the old adage goes, less is more and I feel that is certainly the case here, the new contours being much more natural and typical for a small layout.
Space was then created for a small crew room, accessed off a minor roadway leading from the rear of the layout. This will give a reason for a loco to run over to the crew room and sit while the crew have a brew and a catch up with the yard shunter, an additional move for the operating sequence that wouldn’t have been there before. The road was built from ‘MRJ envelope card’ (we always like a bit of free modelling material here at OTCM towers) as per the techniques outlined by Gordon Gravett’s wonderful scenery book.
The hill at the front of the layout was also removed and replaced by what I envisaged as a small coal storage yard, served by a rerouted kick back siding, not dissimilar to the one Oly has modelled on SQ – this has led to some interesting techniques being envisaged to block the view of the hole in the backscene, which I will show as they are employed, providing they work! I am planning on super detailing a Dapol JCB to work in this yard, which will provide an interesting side project ideal for working on when I am not at home.
The newly shaped scenery was given a coat of filler as a hard shell (I didn’t get on particularly well with the papier-mache used first time round) and then painted in brown as a base shade. This was all done during the hot weather, so things dried nice and quickly and I could work on my little and often philosophy!
The hot weather did, however, put me off the idea of doing any soldering, it being warm enough in the loft without adding more hot things! However, having painted the base level, I got to the stage where I couldn’t really go any further until I’d finished wiring and been able to give the layout a full shakedown and simulated exhibition operating session, the aim being to try and identify any issues that need ironing out before I set the track permanently in place.
Fortunately the hot weather is now gone, and as such I’ve been busy with the soldering iron and glue gun under the baseboard wiring things up – so far I have put the main bus wire in, which uses sections of copperclad strip glued to the underside of the board in appropriate places linked together and to the controller, and am running wires to the switches that have now been mounted in the left hand facia panel.
Point control will be by way of servos, I was going to go with Tortoise motors but as I has a selection of bases and servos already in stock that had been intended for a previous project it seemed a logical way to go, especially as I’d need the control board for signals anyway. A Megapoints controller has therefore been purchased and I am in the process of mounting and wiring this.
I’m hopeful I will get all the wiring in place and the layout up and running in the next couple of weeks, it will be good to get some trains running at last!
I will try and get another update out there in less than 2 months!