After several months of reading about others layouts, I thought it was time to share some of my own work! Your comments and suggestions are most welcome!
Just before my father died in December 2010, I promised him that I would build an N gauge layout for his grand kids to enjoy. I told him I would find a home for some of his trains, including a few that dated back to when I was a child in the 1970s. A great idea in principle, but after getting a back home to Pennsylvania I realized that putting it into practice was going to be quite a daunting task. Despite having grown up with a model railway going round all four walls of my bedroom, my input had been restricted to the detail items - building buildings and rolling stock from kits, painting, landscaping etc. Dad had taken care of the carpentry, the design, track laying and all the wiring; there was a lot of work ahead of me before I got to the part I felt most comfortable with. An uphill task confounded by the fact that my last modeling experience was well over 30 years ago!
The first thing was to decide on a them; this was easy. My father's hometown is in a beautiful rural corner of the county of Dorset in southwestern England. It comprises picture postcard countryside with sleepy little market towns and villages. The small town of his birth, Beaminster, never benefitted from the investment that a railway would have brought. Although who knows, a railway might have spoilt the incredible character and beauty that the town retains to this day. So my theme: Imagine if the railway had reached Beaminster... This conjured up thoughts of West Country main lines with junction stations also serving rural single track branch lines, the interchange of Western and Southern Region trains and tracks, rural industries such as agriculture and brewing and of course train tracks amidst that fantastic countryside.
Having grown up with Minitrix Warship's and Britannia's deciding on an era was easy! Late 1960's through early 1970's to focus on the diesel-hydraulic era in the West of England. The Warships and Hymeks of my childhood could hopefully live again, along with others that we hadn't had the luxury of modeling before such as Westerns and the ubiquitous Brush Type 4's (Class 47). With a bit of modeller's license that includes green, maroon and BR blue liveried diesels, with the beginning of HST operations in 1976 representing the extreme end of the era.
So after a good 6 months of planning, I got started in September 2011. 11 months later I now have a double track mainline loop as well as a single track branch loop in operation. There have been a lot of lessons learnt along the way as I embarked on new experiences such as building a baseboard, track laying, wiring for DCC, installing point motors and lighting. Many mistakes have been made along the way, although I have to say many more were avoided by reading some of the wise words found on N Gauge Forum!
I am now working on the scenery when time allows - about a quarter of the layout is close to being finished. The video below shows the branch line station at 'Chetcombe' with the double track mainline in the foreground. Dreams of recreating sleepy Dorset towns with their golden sandstone cottages with the currently available N gauge buildings is, of course, an impossible challenge. A lack of time (and skill) means scratchbuilding is not an option! But with a degree of modeller's license, I am happy with an approximation! http://youtu.be/mrsJASiozX4l