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Planning for A new GWR Branchline Project - Members Personal Layouts. - Model Railway Layouts. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Sun Apr 18th, 2021 09:16 pm
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Colin W
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Hi everyone,

Westown-Heathfield will keep me occupied for some time yet but as the grandchildren advance all too rapidly to teenaged-ness I'm also turning my mind to what I might do next.

Knowing a lot more than seven years ago when I started out raises more issues than it resolves and I'd like to use this space to raise the various questions in my mind and benefit from hearing others views.

The list is likely to grow but I do know that space constraints will limit me to no more than 4 metres by a max of 1.2 metres along one wall. So I envisage some sort of linear end to end affair but with the remote possibility of it becoming an "L" with a removable section at one end.

As with W-H I'd like a rural focus so a branch line station with just the hint of through operations and lots of scope for local comings, goings and Ops. For this part I think I'll be fine, tips of the hat to the likes of "Little Muddle", "Much Murkle" etc. and likewise I have more than enough stock of correct era by the time all my kits are built.

DCC is a given but only for Locos, no peripherals. Where I'd appreciate input is on:

Baseboard design - It'll be against a brick wall and on tiled floor.

Track and Points and point contol.

Anything else I've not thought of here.

It's the second heading which kicked off this line of thought and more input on following post.......

Colin



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 Posted: Sun Apr 18th, 2021 09:53 pm
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Colin W
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Track and Points

Firstly, I'll be moving on from the old Insulfrogs of W-H. Lesson learnt as my interest has gravitated to smaller wheelbase locos.

Based on limited experience, my options appeared clear-cut.
  1. Move to Code 100 PECO Electrofrogs / Track, retaining some old Points purely in a fiddle yard for simplicity / cost
  2. DYI track building for something more prototypical in appearance.
#2 was easy to dismiss, having seen the degree of difficulty etc. etc. and the rate of progress of those skilled in the art. Now after some research I find there are several commercial options to confuse my decisions!

PECO offer Finescale Code 75 track and Electrofrog Points in a limited range of radii (but perhaps enough for my needs?)

Plus now Code 75 Bullhead track and new-fangled Unifrog points to match with a wider range of radii and the more prototypical track/ sleeper appearance (aside from the frog). These have the benefit of a single rather than hinged point blades.

Finally there is a new entrant offering a wide range of Electrofrog Code 75 Bullhead single blade point kits which are reported to be easy to assemble. They do look very good from the prototype photos and also have single blades.

Information on PECO's move to Unifrog technology is limited but I've read that they will progressively migrate their entire range. If so and I stick with Option #1 above, I'd better secure suitable some Code 100 Electrofrog stock sooner rather than later or decide to wait for the Code 100 Unifrog range to be completed - timeline unknown.

Accepting that this opens the proverbial can of worms if I deviate from Option #1, I'm interested in all thoughts regarding benefits, problems, etc. with the possible choices or others?




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 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2021 12:43 am
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Well, as far as track is concerned, I'd probably stick to Peco code 75 with electrofrog points/crossings with as large a radius as you can fit. The bullhead points with one piece blades sound interesting, but how long before there's a full complement I wonder.

Operation of points is (and this is only my preference) good with a DC supply to, in my case, Tortoise motors, but you prefer servos, so no problem there. The advantage of Tortoise is that you don't need to buy anything else: two change over switches on each one with adjustable operating wires make them dead easy. I hope I'm not trying to teach you how to suck eggs. Advantage of a mimic panel is that with lights you can see at a glance how all points are set. Disadvantage is that if you change anything, you have to either change the panel as best you can or worst case build a new one.

Ps: Peco FS Code 75 points/crossings are full range afaik.



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 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2021 02:28 am
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Colin, quite a variety of Peco Code 75 bullhead
https://www.modelrailwaysdirect.co.uk/track-and-track-accessories/peco-oo-code-75-insulfrog/

a review
http://www.hall-royd-junction.co.uk/Hall_Royd_Model/layout_49.html


buying from Aust dealers ??? cost !!!!
https://woodpeckermodelrailways.com.au/product-category/track/peco-ooho-track/



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 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2021 07:29 am
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Colin W
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Sol wrote: Colin, quite a variety of Peco Code 75 bullhead
https://www.modelrailwaysdirect.co.uk/track-and-track-accessories/peco-oo-code-75-insulfrog/

a review
http://www.hall-royd-junction.co.uk/Hall_Royd_Model/layout_49.html


buying from Aust dealers ??? cost !!!!
https://woodpeckermodelrailways.com.au/product-category/track/peco-ooho-track/Hi Sol,

a lot to digest here, a quick look at the review suggests I'll a get lot of answers to my questions,

thanks,

Colin



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 Posted: Tue Apr 20th, 2021 04:44 am
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Colin W
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A day's concentrated research here has been generally productive but I'm not sure I'm any clearer on a path forward. However, I now have better ideas about the potential options for selecting track.

Yesterday I was at ground zero regarding knowledge of any track other than Streamline Code 100 and the Hall Royd Junction website review was a real eyeopener in that regard.

Hall Royd Jctn Review of Unifrog Bullhead Points

What has become clear (IMO) is that PECO Streamline Code 75 now sits in a rather uncomfortable position between robust Code 100 and more prototypical fine-scale track options which have a wider spacing between sleepers. Addressing this deficiency, PECO have released Bullhead Code 75 track with wider spacing and now some points to match that incorporate the new Unifrog and unhinged blades.

I've looked at some small (2-4m long) end to end layouts constructed with both types of track. Conclusion: better spacing does add to the visual effect but then three of my favourite layouts in this category look great even in their Code 100. When I see the bigger picture that specific aspect of track detail is lost.

Next step is a visit to my local model shop to see the various track types in the flesh which should give me a better feel but meanwhile I couldn't resist a little experiment, cutting the webbing out of some spare Code 100 flex for a direct comparison:




The difference is quite striking when seen like this! 

I feel a little like I did after acquiring a bargain (50% discounted) Hornby Train kit which included the excellent "Ketley Hall" with TTS Sound. My first impression was "wow, isn't sound great!" until I explored further finding the limitations of this budget sound solution compared to the real thing. Now having seen the difference between track spacings, I'm not sure there is any turning back, however adequate the alternative would be.





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 Posted: Tue Apr 20th, 2021 05:43 am
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Hi Colin and yes, respacing Code 100 sleepers makes a huge difference, as I found to my delight on my Burbage Wharf practice plank. However, I’m now using Code 75 bullhead on my current layout and am delighted with the look, although it will not receive paint, ballast and weathering until thoroughly tested and I'm happy with the operational characteristics of the track plan.
 
The wiring of the unifrog points is much simpler than electrofrog and I’m route setting with a touch toggle mimic panel system with electronics from Berrett Hill Shop in the USA, courtesy of a tip from Nigel.
 
If you want to use some of your older stock on the new layout, perhaps consider spaced sleeper Code 100, as unlike Code75, it’s more tolerant with often coarser wheelsets of older stock, particularly through turnouts. Nick’s Much Murkle uses painted and weathered Code 100 and it looked simply superb on the occasions I’ve seen it at exhibitions, although Nick is now looking to 75 bullhead for his next project.
 
I’m sure you’ll be happy with your final choice, so enjoy the prosect and the research of your new project and I’ll be watching with interest. Which railway company will be represented?
 
Best,
 
Bill



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 Posted: Tue Apr 20th, 2021 06:32 am
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Colin W
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Bill,

That's very helpful input, thanks.

I don't have that much old stock. Problems might come from two old Hornby Clerestory coaches (new wheel sets perhaps?) and just one older (2008) Hornby loco - Class 48xx. All the rest should be ok. Nearly all wagons are newer purchases or modern kits. Just two older Airfix conflats which might need new wheels.

What I will have is considerable stock that will be out of place in the setting I'm imagining. I might need a very long plank so I can give the King and Colletts an odd airing and workout. Then again if I allow for through traffic there might be a rule 1 exception if I assume some Sunday Diversionary routing, not at any speed though.



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 Posted: Wed Apr 21st, 2021 04:10 am
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Hello Colin.  In my view using Code 100 rail is akin to running your trains on girders.  It never looks right and the HO sleeper spacing only accentuates the toy train look. Look in any model railway magazine for photographic proof.  You mention the robustness of Code 100 as opposed to code 75.  What are you doing, jumping on your track?
I have made my own track in the past and it is quite enjoyable but very time consuming, although the final result is not necessarily always better than commercially available products.  Hand made track is fine when you are in your twenties, thirties or forties with decades of life expectancy ahead of you.  Personally, at my age I now view it as a waste of time when excellent commercial products are available.  I'm not so sure that handmade track is now any cheaper than buying off the shelf.  Getting to the end of the project is now my overriding object, not getting bogged down along the way with unnecessary tasks.  On the other hand, if you enjoy making track and are in no hurry, then do what gives you the most satisfaction.

Just my fourpenny worth.

Terry

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 Posted: Wed Apr 21st, 2021 07:11 am
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Colin W
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col.stephens wrote: Hello Colin.  In my view using Code 100 rail is akin to running your trains on girders.  It never looks right and the HO sleeper spacing only accentuates the toy train look. Look in any model railway magazine for photographic proof.  You mention the robustness of Code 100 as opposed to code 75.  What are you doing, jumping on your track?
........
Terry

Thanks Terry,

That wasn't my personal view about Code 100. I was echoing a comment in the Hall Royd review which Sol alerted us to viz,

"Despite the finer looks and ease of creating curves in the Code 75 range, a surprising number of modellers still prefer the Code 100 track, primarily for its robustness......."

After some research I'm very much on the same page as you, and commercial availability is improving.

A quick "Straw Poll" in the shape of current product listings by the big "H" gives me 87 items of Code 100 vs 51 of Code 75


Colin



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 Posted: Thu Apr 22nd, 2021 08:20 pm
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Colin W
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When a greater understanding of point sizes was gained.

I might be trained as a scientist and I'm quite competent at Maths but at heart I'm an experimentalist more than a theorist. I also abhor vacuums (of the knowledge type) so when point and track gurus start talking in code, viz Streamline "large" or "OO Gauge" type B7 Points, Substitution radius etc. that's a strong incentive for me to understand before going further.

I read some more of the technical discussion on these point geometries # and my head was spinning but fortunately I didn't need to descend into the deep and complex workings of Templot to get answers at a level which works for me.

One key point I'd never understood before was the fundamental difference between Set-track and Streamline. In the latter the toe of the point is not usually at the tangency point whereas it is with set track (designed to fit with other pieces of the same fixed track). That makes thinking about streamline points rather more tricky however all I really needed was to grasp the effective radius (my term) of a certain point to give me a context for what I'm planning to use.

Thanks to Anyrail I quickly knocked up an arc comprising multiple SL-E189, H0 Peco Streamline Code 75, Large Left turnout 25.9cm placed head to toe. This has an effective radius of 1220mm.

the Medium turnout SL-E196 - effective radius 1030mm
the Small turnout SL-E192 - effective radius 857mm

Any variations of these track arcs from precise circles are beyond my resolution!




# More background on this topic for anyone interested, but have a suitable strong sedative near to hand!

More on PECO Point geometry



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 Posted: Thu Apr 22nd, 2021 09:44 pm
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Colin W
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Taking Stock of Progress

Following on the theme of this Topic I was keen to assess if the current range of PECO Streamline track and points would meet my needs. From my further reading and your feedback I'm leaning strongly towards using the Bullhead Code 75 so that's one decision made.

Regarding points and the sort of new layout I might consider, I decided to use Anyrail to evaluate some of my favourite end-to-end layouts to discover how I'd go putting them together and what hardware would be required. In a word, "easy"; the workhorse is the Long HO Peco Streamline Point which I find in constant use. Its effective radius of 1.2m is the largest you need on smaller layouts. (I guess everyone knew this already but at least now I'm up to speed)

The end results which I can see from the layouts themselves from the many photos posted here and fully meet my needs. Clearly even larger radii points are the domain of very large layouts and not of interest to me.




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 Posted: Sat Apr 24th, 2021 06:27 pm
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I'm coming in late again here Colin but at least I'm here. :cool wink

Most of my track is Peco Code 100 although there are a few sections of Code 75.  To my mind, there's no doubt the Code 75 looks better - but not that much better unless it's viewed side by side with Code 100.  What does spoil the effect with both is, as you pointed out earlier in this thread,  the sleeper spacing.  If I had my time again, I'd cut the webs on as much track as geometry would allow and open up the spacing.

I know nothing at all about the new Unifrog points nor the bullhead rail but without question, I'd use electrofrog points.  Insulfrogs are great for ease of wiring and fine if you can negotiate them with some speed but creeping over them is at best,  difficult with short wheelbase locos. One can fit Stay Alive which certainly helps but is not a total solution.

Am I led to believe you've decided to control your points with servos ?  If so, how will you control the servos ?



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 Posted: Sat Apr 24th, 2021 07:12 pm
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Colin W
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Petermac wrote: I'm coming in late again here Colin but at least I'm here. :cool wink

Most of my track is Peco Code 100 although there are a few sections of Code 75.  To my mind, there's no doubt the Code 75 looks better - but not that much better unless it's viewed side by side with Code 100.  What does spoil the effect with both is, as you pointed out earlier in this thread,  the sleeper spacing.  If I had my time again, I'd cut the webs on as much track as geometry would allow and open up the spacing.

I know nothing at all about the new Unifrog points nor the bullhead rail but without question, I'd use electrofrog points.  Insulfrogs are great for ease of wiring and fine if you can negotiate them with some speed but creeping over them is at best,  difficult with short wheelbase locos. One can fit Stay Alive which certainly helps but is not a total solution.

Am I led to believe you've decided to control your points with servos ?  If so, how will you control the servos ?

Hi Peter,

1) no track style is an option right now given the restricted supply (especially overseas), something I can imagine will take some time to resolve given the length of the delay + the demand. That's good in a way because it forces me to not rush headlong into any change

My research pointed me to using Code 75 Bullhead and so far there are only 7 advised items in this range, but in many ways the most useful bits.

PECO have committed to migrating to the unifrog design over time (but not defined) and I can imagine they'd prefer to move forward in Code 75 rather than retrofit in the current non-prototypical existing Code 75. It will simplify their range in terms of the frog. Wonderful thing, competition, much change depends on it!

2) I'm old fashioned in that my Peco Solenoid point motors have given me excellent service and have a strong / long history of reliability. They will be coupled with the Gaugemaster polarity switching device which I've seen discussed here.

When I found out from the designer of the "Grantham - The Streamliner Years" and "Shap" layouts that he uses PECO Solenoids and they've been in regular use on the show circuit without trouble in some cases for 30+ years, that was good enough for me!

Colin




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 Posted: Sat Apr 24th, 2021 08:16 pm
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Colin W
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The Layout Space.

The room I use is 5.5m * 3.75m but the space available to me is 4.38m * 1.45m shown here in English measurements:
(Edit: initially posted with wrong metrics, oh these imperial units!)






It is restricted both by the bottom leg of the stairwell in the top right corner as shown and the laundry door midway in the opposite side wall. An "L" extracts the longest run / good access combination but still imposes several restrictions.

On the positive side, the available space is more than enough to accommodate any of the three superb model layouts which I've used as inspiration and input, viz, Much Murkle, Hintock (main left arm only) and Sherton Abbas (scaled down from its current "O" gauge). BTW this explains my use of non-metric measurements for the time being.

Additionally I have a further space in the "L" at my disposal when compared to my reference layouts  :thumbs.

I also show my "Staging Yard" (a term I prefer since it discourages SWMBO from thinking I could possibly be fiddling around in these serious activities!). Unfortunately the bottom of the"L" is too short to locate the yard.

Your thoughts and wise council are welcomed.



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 Posted: Sun Apr 25th, 2021 06:34 pm
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Colin W
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Onward to baseboard design and construction

This is a general request for all your thoughts and input about Baseboard construction which is the next logical step for me to consider. Please provide all the help you can here as my W-H baseboard was cobbled together and is a classic Heath Robinson affair; it is a miracle that it's performed as well as it has over nearly 7 years.

On learning about OSB over on Teasel Bay, my interest was captured but it highlights my non-existent knowledge about various baseboard designs and suitable materials.

My initial thoughts for the board plan I've posted are that the following units seems logical: (sizes approximate).
A modular approach appeals because that would allow me to do construction of manageable sections in my workshop space rather than in the train room.

5' * 2' for along the Plasterboard wall side.
leaving 12' 4' length *2' on the brick wall side.

Approx 4.5' by the stairwell will be the Sector Plate module which I feel might best be built as stand alone
leaving a section of around 8' *2 ft in the middle.

Built in 3 sections the plan would be to bolt them all together when in situ.



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 Posted: Mon Apr 26th, 2021 05:37 am
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Hi Colin, My threepence worth.
Yes Modular if you can. I think a fair number of us WISH we had done this first time round, nothing worse than having to destroy years of work when a move comes around. 

 Before you start building try and plan your board sizes so joins are in a naturally quiet area of the layout NOT in the busiest section with the most track and points ( been there, done that, shed the tears) Board joints don't HAVE to be square on, you can have them on a diagonal or even curved or wavy so you can make use of a curving road, hedge line, river, embankment, hillside- Anything that you can use as a natural boundry between two boards which makes it easier to split if a move comes round.

I would definitely look at making your board tops free standing if fully covered ( more on this later), with each board framed and just resting on the benchwork. At the very least this allows you to up end each board top to aid track and point fixing and wiring, rather than having to crawl underneath. Once the majority of track is in place and tested you can start adding scenery.

Fully covered board ? Or L  Girder open construction as per Marty's Newcastle Emlyn  or even both. Solid boards for busy sections and L Girder on more scenic areas which allow a much more natural, rolling (uppydowny) landscape and mean much easier access for contruction, track fixing in the initial stages.


Scenic areas, again can be modular. You dont have to have one big solid board, you can have sections that are fixed where lines run and then drop in sections of board for scenic features. These can then be worked on away from the layout ( a blanking board left in place if you wish) and once complete 'dropped in' to the layout. Dont forget you can have more than one scenic board for an area, and any size and shape you want, so you can change boards to change the theme/ feel of the layout, even having a quick and simple 'place holder' scenic board in situe while you work on something more complex to drop in later.


Bearing in mind Grandmother's Eggs, just some thoughts I WISH someone had passed on to me over the years  :roll:




Cheers


Matt



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 Posted: Mon Apr 26th, 2021 06:43 am
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Colin W
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Matt,

Lots of good ideas and tips there, I've started a log so I can capture them all by topic for future reference. Bearing you can "Never say Never" it's a great point to build in maximum flexibility even if the prospect of a move for us is on a par with the odds in the "infinite improbability drive".

Regards Baseboard type I've been very impressed by the baseboard modules made by Tim Horn, they get a lot of prominence by being used on Layouts where "robust portability" is a requirement, right up to 140 ft long Heaton Lodge in "O" Gauge with its approx. 100 frames. I've been communicating with a few folk on here about a rather fine Sector Plate, custom built by Mr Horn, the likes of which would nicely suit my needs. See Wenlock's Sector Plate

Considering this is used as an "O" gauge fiddle yard, it does not come over as being unduly heavy. Like Heaton Lodge the layout is intended for transport to shows.

Thanks again for your input,


Colin 




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 Posted: Mon Apr 26th, 2021 07:09 am
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I'll partially second what Matt has said Colin but with the odd word of caution.

Modular is by far your best option but it's easy to forget that's the idea - don't ask how I know !   I'm not strong on planning but with modular construction, careful planning is an absolute must otherwise your tracks won't meet at the joins........  Disguising those joins can create problems but Matt has made some good suggestions. I'm often impressed by how these exhibition circuit guys manage to assemble their sections so accurately and seamlessly.  :thumbs

For scenic areas, or indeed, less "cluttered" urban areas, open top is the way to go.  Except in very busy station or yard  areas, you really do need to be able to take the landscape below track level to create much more interest.  Even in yards, sidings were often slightly lower than running lines for safety reasons.

The idea of having lift out scenic "blocks" is excellent.  Doing scenery can create loads of mess and you don't want that mess ending up on the track if possible.  You can also use spray paints outdoors if you can take bits out.  Also, much easier to get low level detailed views of your efforts than having to lean over to see what's going on  - you wouln't want your tie whipping off some trees or telegraph poles ...... :roll: :lol:  Lifting points can easily be build into the main frame and disguised by a shed or other scenic cover.



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 Posted: Mon Apr 26th, 2021 07:43 pm
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Colin W
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Hi Peter, Matt

Your points relating to scenic height are well taken, whenever SWMBO sees W-H she tells me it's too flat despite my modest chunk of the Quantocks at one end and a side embankment that really gives the small layout some depth.

I'm putting up a Straw Man here because I don't want either to stifle debate or jump to a poor early decision even if some ideas are firming up already.

1) Flat or Open

Where I'm up to is I've chosen a setting mostly 2 ft wide, essentially the same as in my three reference layouts (Much Murkle, Hintock and Sherton Abbas (4ft in "O" gauge). This decision is set in stone because of space constrains in the room and because SWMBO has been telling me its what I should have had for 6 and a half years!. Hence I'm not joining the local branch of the Meglomaniacs society for model railways any time soon.

Looking at my three reference designs its clear that their underlying baseboards are all totally flat and that modest scenic sections are built up from this base level, with care, the effect they've achieved is all I could hope for myself.

As an aside Sol has pointed out to me that using cork on the running lines but not sidings achieves the "safety" aspect of no runaways from sidings.

2) Modular or built in
Here I may have muddied the waters. Mark II will eventually be fixed in, going nowhere in a hurry and so any Modular aspect is more about during the construction phase than after completion. There may well be a long overlap where W-H remains in place and the attractions of modules built for me is they can be flat packed and worked on progressively. 

Having freestanding board tops is definitely an option, given I know all about sliding around under W-H to fix up wiring and points


3) Sector Plate or Traverser?
I've had one comment that a 4ft sector plate appeared unduly large. The location can only be accessed from the front and I wanted as few degrees of freedom in it as possible. I can see myself come up with a bearing for the pivot but two accurate aligned roller arrays feels a lot harder to get right / operate. Thoughts please.

(the "O" gauge sector plate in my earlier link is 4ft)

Colin




____________________
Colin

Upper Hembury GWR BLT Westown-Heathfield
WC≺ Workbench
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