Laid out

Track on first board completed.

Seen above is probably the most progress I’ve made on a model railway in more years than I care to remember. Being able to have a dedicated space at home for the layout has been a real benefit – I know many people aren’t in that situation, and I wasn’t for a long time, but the ease of leaving things one evening and picking them as they were the next has undoubtably contributed to my rate of progress.

On the left hand end I’ve added an extra point versus the track plan to create an additional siding, these are intended to represent the slightly overgrown places you’ll see at any preserved railway where rolling stock waits to be restored. In fact much like this photo I took at the Amberley gala over the weekend.

Penrhyn Quarry coaches at Amberley station

I’ve added a (minimal) height difference between the sidings and mainline as well to hopefully accentuate the difference when I get to ballasting.

Point lever near Brockham station

I also took a few photos of varying forms of point control, from simple levers to more involved remote operation via ground frames and point rodding. The next task before ballasting can start is working out what ought to go where.

Point rodding at Amberley station

Posted in 009, amberley, fairlight, industrial, inspiration, model railways, narrow gauge, preservation | Comments Off on Laid out

A few steps forward

Uncharacteristically, I’ve been pushing on with track laying rather than procrastinating. It seemed to make sense to use a sub base on top of the foil surface of the insulation board, both to allow flexibility in the layout and to compensate for the slight irregularities in it. I built this up from layers of 3mm foamboard, in sections, with extensions to support the point operating wires.

First point committed.

These parts were carefully cut to allow the switches to be fitted – they have a suitable throw to operate these 009 points as well as switch the frog polarity – and with channels for the wiring to feed through.

Switch fixture

With the advantage of using simple tools – craft knife, wire cutters, glue gun and solder iron – this came together pretty quickly, taking an hour or two each evening over a week.

Fairlight station board

As things progressed, though, I found that the track alignment wasn’t quite as accurate as it could have been and the tracks of the loop tended to widen throughout it’s length. The result was that a fairly elongated crossover was required to bring them back together, and the lead in track from the fiddle yard ended up shorter than I wanted.

At this stage it wasn’t too late to make changes, and after considering things for a couple of days decided to adjust it.

Loop realigned

By bringing the track spacing down to 40mm (it was previously up to 60mm at it’s widest) I regained a few centimetres of lead in and found that the whole station site was on a subtle curve – not quite as planned but nevertheless a pleasing result.

L45H on a passenger service

The final positioning of the sidings, plus their isolation sections and uncoupling magnets, still needs to be done but this feels like a good step forward. Having a working layout is great!

Posted in 009, fairlight, lxd2, model railways, narrow gauge | Comments Off on A few steps forward

Carpaccio of Celotex

Progress on the new layout has been slow over the past few months, but not non-existent.

Having bought a large sheet of 100m thick insulation board (the yellow stuff) I’ve cut it down to form the three main baseboard sections. This is a messy job – use a dust mask! – as cutting it with a regular saw leaves a rough and fragile edge and lots of ‘crumbs’. I developed a technique based on cutting slightly oversize with the saw and then marking up the final cut with a long Stanley knife blade and carefully trimming with a decommissioned bread knife. This resulted in some quite thin shavings which I christened ‘carpaccio of Celotex’.

Carpaccio of celotex

Even though this makes for a much smoother and cleaner edge it still produces dust if you rub against it so – to preserve my sanity in the confines of the garage while the boards still need a lot of moving around – I’ve sealed the edges with duct tape. Looks ugly but once the fascia is on at the end no one will be any the wiser.

Sealed baseboard unit

So now that the boards are in place I can get on with trying out the track layout at full size. Here the PW dept’s newly acquired diesel from East Germany, still in remarkably pristine condition, waits on the site of the future platform road at Fairlight Heath* with a short works train.

Future site of Fairlight* station

* working title

Posted in 009, fairlight, model railways, narrow gauge | Comments Off on Carpaccio of Celotex

Catching up with an old friend

Last weekend we took the Narrow Planet trade stand to Narr-O in Merstham – a small show held by the Surrey group of the 7mm NGA which had a friendly “open day” type feel familiar from 009 events. As well as seeing some great modelling, often works in progress too, the relaxed atmosphere of these small exhibitions is also good for the social side of the hobby – or in other words you’ll spend most of the day talking.

One particular highlight for me was the chance to see Cranbrook again – I sold this O16.5 layout a few years ago and it’s been taken on by Paul Davies who has been carrying out some scenic repairs. Paul is also an excellent scratchbuilder so was showing some of his own stock with the layout.


The Hudswell-Clarke diesel in particular was a treat. Not just a lovely model but also exactly the type of machine that might have been used on the HWLR in the later stages of the railway’s life.


I didn’t actually get a chance to take any of my own photos, so my thanks go to Michael Campbell for his permission to re-use some of his. You can see a few more – and other layouts from the show – at his Flickr gallery.

Posted in cranbrook, exhibition, model railways, narrow gauge, O16.5, scratchbuilt | Comments Off on Catching up with an old friend

Giving a presentation

While rearranging the garage shelving to create a clear space for the new layout, I’ve been giving some thought to how to present it. Although it’s not intended for exhibiting I do like the idea of everything ending up fairly neat and well contained, so thoughts have been turning to the enclosed style espoused by Iain Rice in his recent book Creating Cameo Layouts.

Fortunately with a robust set of shelves as a base I have a fair amount of the groundwork done for me.

Basic shelving

This is the basic setup (although simplified to omit the other shelves, not to mention the clutter) and represents the state things are in now – ready to start.

Backscene and insulation board base

Next, I’ll add a fixed backscene board attached the uprights and cut the insulation board that will form the scenic base to size to fit into each module. I’m intending that the actual layout parts will be removable to be able to work on them in more accessible surroundings.

Upper shelf and fascia

Finally with the addition of the upper shelf and a fascia board the ‘cameo’ effect will be complete.

Of course there are going to be two scenic modules plus a central fiddle yard, so the full configuration might look something like this.

Full banana

The left-hand end is left open as viewing will be possible from this angle – at the other end the layout is close to the front garage door so will likely be closed off with another bit of backscene.

Posted in fairlight, model railways, narrow gauge, planning | Comments Off on Giving a presentation