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Author Topic: Oxcott  (Read 433 times)

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Offline jamespetts

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Oxcott
« on: August 11, 2018, 01:39:17 am »
I have recently had a shed built in my garden for model railway purposes. I plan to build two layouts in it, separated by height: an N gauge layout intended to be viewed from a seated height and an OO gauge layout intended to be viewed from a standing height. The shed is 7.5 x 2.7 meters in internal dimensions. I have not started work on the layouts yet as the shed has not been fully decorated/fitted out.

I have posted about both planned layouts on another forum, but I thought that it might be useful to acquire fresh insight from the N gauge specialists on this forum. Apologies to those who are members of both and will have seen this before. The plan that I show here is an evolution of an original plan refined with feedback and consideration over several months.

Having decided to use Peco Bullhead track for the OO gauge layout, and also that I really need to wait until the slips and crossings are available in that range before working on the OO gauge layout (they are due in late 2018/early 2019), I thought it prudent to work on the N gauge layout first.

The latest version of the basic plan is as follows:



For reference, all the track in shades of blue and green is fiddle yard track; white is main line scenic track and red represents scenic sidings/yards.

The setting is the Western Region in 1989. As with the name, the layout's setting is intended to be a portmanteau of Didcot and Oxford, with a four track mainline on the up side (left) and a two track mainline on the down side (right). Most local trains from the London direction will terminate. There is also a small branch on the down side, intended to represent the Bicester branch at Oxford.

As this is a fictional portmanteau location, we imagine that the GWML branches off a little way beyond the station (and perhaps that the line was four track all the way to this point in the pre-Beeching era, the line reserved for the branch perhaps once being part of the main line), and the Cotswold line a little way beyond that.

Services will include regular HSTs and locomotive hauled Intercity services to Bristol/South Wales on the GWML, hourly Network Express trains from London terminating at Oxcott (except for a few trains in the peaks continuing on to Banbury), half hourly local services from Reading, bi-hourly local services to Bicester (possibly with peak time through services to/from Reading, although I cannot see these mentioned in my summer 1989 BR timetable), ~hourly (irregular) local services to Banbury, ~hourly (irregular) cross-country services, a few services a day direct from London to Hereford, ~hourly (irregular) local services along the Cotswold line, some mail traffic and regular coal trains (and possibly container trains, too).

I intend the layout to be DCC and computer controlled, running to a timetable (I have built a small test layout to evaluate how best to set up the hardware and software for this; that evaluation remains ongoing). I have already acquired some stock (including three Intercity and Inter-City Dapol HST sets and quite a few Farish 47s and NSE Mk. 1s, as well as some 101/121s - I do wish that somebody would produce an N gauge class 117).

I initially intended simply to use Peco code 55 track (as shown in the above track plan). However, having built the test layout using this, I have found it to be very unsatisfactory. Its appearance is poor (admittedly, the test layout is unballasted), looking like an N gauge model rather than an actual railway, and I find it very difficult to work with the track on account of the weird practice of burying the rail in the sleeper webbing.

I have spent a long time considering what, if any, alternative is preferable, especially as I have no experience in building points. One possibility that I considered was 2mm finescale. There is somebody (a Keith Armes, whom I believe has a very good reputation) who will, for a price, build points in 2mm finescale to various specifications. The plain track from the 2mm Society is, from what I understand, easy to build, and it looks good. However, using 2mm finescale track would involve re-wheeling every item of rolling stock and having hand-built points in the extensive fiddleyards, which might be a bit excessive.

The other option is fiNetraX. Initially, this did not seem very promising, as only bullhead track is currently available. One possibility might be to mix this with 2mm finescale plain track with concrete sleepers (which N gauge stock can navigate without difficulty), although having different widths for the plain track and the points might look a bit odd. I did check with Mr. Armes whether he might build points to N gauge standards - his reply was that he might possibly do so, but only if he had enough time, as 2mm finescale work is his priority, so that leaves this way of doing things rather uncertain.

I now note that British Finescale is planning to release concrete sleeper/flat bottom track and turnouts in the (fairly?) near future. Unfortunately, there are no immediate plans to release turnouts with flat bottom track and wooden sleepers as were prevalent in the 1980s on the main line (I note the bullhead track in the yards):

Didcot station by James Petts, on Flickr

I have posted on the fiNetraX thread inquiring whether painting the sleepers in the forthcoming concrete sleeper turnouts might produce an acceptable appearance.

One advantage of using either 2mm finescale or fiNetraX over the Peco track is that it permits more realistic large radii of points. A version of the above track plan taking advantage of fiNetraX geometry in the scenic sections is here:



One thing that I have been planning to do for a while is buy a single sample fiNetraX turnout kit and jigs and try building that to see whether it is within my capability, although I am a little reluctant to do that before I am able to work in my shed, as I do not really want to do any serious filing in my study.

Somewhat ironically, having initially decided on building the N gauge layout first in view of the current unavailability of the track that I am after for the OO gauge layout, I am now possibly in the position of also having to wait for a track product to be released for this layout, too. Whether this will be rendered moot by the time that  it takes for my shed to be fully fitted out remains to be seen.

In any event, any comments on the track plan and/or choice of track would be most welcome.

Offline Webbo

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2018, 06:21:18 am »
James, fulfilling this plan and an OO gauge layout as well is going to keep you busy for some time as I'm sure you well appreciate.

Before giving up on Peco 55, I would try painting a test section of track (rail and sleepers) and ballasting it as well. I've seen some examples of Peco track (and Kato as well) treated this way that look mighty good.

Webbo

Offline Bealman

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2018, 06:57:11 am »
Was thinking the same thing. Going down the 2FS route on a layout that size is going to be a lot of work, and that's not even vectoring the 00 layout into the equation!
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline Train Waiting

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2018, 09:18:04 am »
James, fulfilling this plan and an OO gauge layout as well is going to keep you busy for some time as I'm sure you well appreciate.

Before giving up on Peco 55, I would try painting a test section of track (rail and sleepers) and ballasting it as well. I've seen some examples of Peco track (and Kato as well) treated this way that look mighty good.

Webbo
Was thinking the same thing. Going down the 2FS route on a layout that size is going to be a lot of work, and that's not even vectoring the 00 layout into the equation!
Hello James

I think the above quotes are important.  I think your 2mm project is impressive (just look at these hidden sidings!) and will be a splendid main line in miniature.  And, of course, there would be a lot of concrete sleeper p way to be seen in 1989.  I have a bit of experience in building points (in P4, not in our scale) and it is satisfying but time consuming.  If you stick to British 'N' gauge, at least your extensive hidden track could be Peco Code 55.

With careful work, Peco Code 55 can look amazing - please have a look at the magnificent Wrenton thread.  As Webbo suggests, you might find that Code 55 track is just the thing.  And, as both concrete and wooden sleepered types are available, you could have concrete on the main lines and wooden sleepers in your sidings and byways of the scenic section.

Bealman's point is worth repeating; as you are going to be building two substantial two layouts, you are going to have a lot of work anyway.  Therefore, it might be helpful to see if you can find a way to use the excellent Peco Code 55 track, at least in the off-stage area.

I think this is a great project and wish you all the success in the world with it.

With best wishes.

John
'Why does the Disney Castle work so well?  Because it borrows from reality without ever slipping into it.'

(Acknowledgement: John Goodall Esq, Architectural Editor, 'Country Life'.)


The Table-Top Railway is a train set trying and failing to be a model railway.

I believe that train sets and model railways are fun.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2018, 12:01:25 pm »
Thank you for your thoughts. I had had largely similar thoughts about 2mm finescale - having it in the large fiddle yards and re-wheeling all of the stock may be somewhat excessive. (The only slight complication with that is the ability to have points made by a third party in 2mm finescale that may well not be possible in N). That really leaves either Peco or fiNetraX, the latter of which has the various conundrums outlined above.

In relation to Peco, can anyone recommend any online photographs of this track ballasted and painted to look very good? I still think that it is probably worth me at least trying to build a fiNetraX point - I am told that the process is really quite easy in view of the cast frog/crossing, but I should try it myself before committing to it.

Offline Train Waiting

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2018, 12:59:05 pm »
'Why does the Disney Castle work so well?  Because it borrows from reality without ever slipping into it.'

(Acknowledgement: John Goodall Esq, Architectural Editor, 'Country Life'.)


The Table-Top Railway is a train set trying and failing to be a model railway.

I believe that train sets and model railways are fun.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2018, 01:18:16 pm »
That is a lovely layout - but, even when dressed that well, I am still not convinced by the appearance of code 55 rail - the paint and ballast, even well applied as in the Wrenton example, does not entirely hide the dubious rail height.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2018, 06:18:42 pm »
I have been spending some time lately investigating automation software, and reached the provisional conclusion that Triancontroller Gold is likely to be the most suitable system, JMRI lacking the timetabling features necessary for robust operation (and scripting an entire timetabling function being impractical).

Looking into Traincontroller in more detail and what people have been able to achieve with it, it seems that it is quite possible to change locomotives in the fiddle yards. Being able to do this would allow me to alter the design to eliminate the reversing loops. This, in turn, allows for a larger fiddle yard with fewer conflicting movements and more storage space.

For comparison, here is a slightly revised version of the layout as originally posted, with the road now correctly scaled:



whereas here is the version with the reversing loops removed and the enlarged fiddle yard:



The design with reversing loops had a total of 18 long fiddle yard storage roads plus 9 short dedicated DMU storage roads. The new design has 27 long fiddle yard storage roads, 13 short dedicated DMU storage roads, 16 dedicated extra short locomotive roads, and one road that can be used either for DMUs or locomotives.

The main and relief lines on the quad track side now have a separate set of storage roads to each other (although 5 long storage roads, those shown in bright green on the left hand side, are shared), reducing conflicting movements, and through running in both directions and from both main and relief lines remains possible for fully circular operation (as in running-in, testing, etc.). Freight trains with open wagons (i.e., coal and aggregates trains) have paths to allow them to circle in only one direction to permit having an identical set of empty and full wagons of each type.

As a result of the removal of the reversing loops, the scenic area has been able to be extended slightly at the ends, allowing for slightly longer carriage sidings at both sides of the layout and a few centimetres more of scenic running.

The large space at the back that would have had town scenery has been reduced, but this is not a problem, as I was unsure how to fill this, and I can now simply use much low relief scenery: there is still room for the multi-storey car park that I am keen on having.

I should be interested in anyone's views on this revised version, especially as to whether there are any operating issues that are apparent to anyone that I may not have spotted.

In relation to the track situation, I note with interest that British Finescale is planning to release by the end of the year flatbottom turnouts in code 40 whose sleepers do not have a distinctive concrete profile, so can be painted to give the appearance of wood, as well as releasing in the quite near future concrete sleepered plain flexible track. Subject to testing the turnouts for ease of construction, this is looking the most promising at present for the track to use in the scenic area.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2018, 09:28:37 pm »
Some more slight revision:



I have removed a redundant crossover from the fiddle yard, tidied the front of the baseboards somewhat, added more road to the right hand side of the layout together with a bridge, adjusted the size to take account of the measured dimensions of the shed (it is a few cm longer inside than on the plans), and modified the sidings to the left to make them longer and a little more flowing, taking advantage of the slight change in position of the road.

I have also altered the branch fiddle yard to allow long freight trains such as that depicted here to use the branch: the short passenger trains will use the dedicated branch fiddle yard as before, but the long freight trains will be re-routed into the main fiddle yard by a new crossover.

Offline jamespetts

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Re: Oxcott
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2018, 05:50:37 pm »
Having spoken to the people from whom I have sought a quote for making the baseboards, I now have at least a rough idea of where the board joints are likely to need to go and how wide that they will be. I have thus revised the layout to try to accommodate this by trying to avoid having point motors positioned over the board joint width. I have marked the board joints including their width on the plan in grey as shown here:



I have also taken the opportunity to redesign the carriage siding and locomotive stabling area somewhat, and have shown the carriage sidings now in orange instead of yellow to make it clearer where they are.

Further, I have made some slight amendments to the fiddle yards to create three new short train sidings on the right hand side in place of some areas formerly dedicated to locomotives and multiple units, which are intended to be used to house short sleeper trains (1 class 47, two mk. 3 sleepers, one mk. 2 mini-buffet and one mk. 1 BG) as in reality ran between Poole and Glasgow/Edinburgh in this period so as to take advantage of the recently announced Dapol mk. 3 sleeping carriages.

I should be grateful for any comments on whether the redesigned carriage sidings are an improvement, and, in particular, whether I have left enough clearance for the point motors in the vicinity of the board joints.

 

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