Kilsby Drift – The Concept

As I start to get into the design work for Kilsby Drift I though it was worth while looking back at the thinking and decisions that have led to this point.

The driver is fairly easy and with no previous interest and no local knowledge or experience with the WCML the decision to support Revolution Trains with their crowdfunding for the Pendelino’s was perhaps a strange one. I had really enjoyed running Crawley new yard with a range of locomotives and wagons acquired for the purpose. Unlike the Steam engines used on the S&DJR layouts the locomotives tended to stay on the rails better and run for longer before an incident occurred. I’d recognised that one of the key challenges of exhibiting was board joints and this was where most incidents started. Diesel’s handle track joins better generally than the pony trucks on the steamers. Anyway I now had a reasonable stock of aggregates wagons and locomotives and virtually no passenger stock. Looking at the WCML and the Bachmann class 35X, Revolution 32X and the Pendelino I could have a better range of stock and a stand alone exhibition layout.  Modern layouts are still a bit of a rarity on the circuit but I had been inspired be several, Hinksey Fields, Banbury among them

Having succumbed to the temptation of a new Pendelino  from Revolution and with their imminent arrival I started to think about a layout to run them on.  I already had some class 350’s in LMS green and grey livery so the layout would need to be  both WCML or other Pendelino route and somewhere the 350’s  frequented. 

With (Crawley Yard)   I already had a fleet of 66’s and a range of mineral wagons so could I reuse these?    The Crawley Yard layout is modular and fits into the WSNG system but the new layout would need to be different.  It would need to be longer but for exhibitions it needs to have something to watch beyond the trains running round. Could I include some kind of industry or a station or both. 

Whilst I wasn’t actually sure how long a 11 Car Pendelino was  going to be I estimated each coach at around 7 Inches and the power cars around 5 for a total around 84 Inches 7 Feet or 2.1M.  An  8 foot layout wasn’t going to cut it and a station would need to be massive if trains were going to stop.  At this point I decided that I wouldnt be including a station.   The layout needed to fit in the car so I think if I kept the height down I could get 4 boards In the car – around 16 Feet of layout and with loops at each end that’s 12 foot scenic, reducing the pendelino down to 8 or 9 cars would be 6 feet so at least a space at each end 

I’m planning  to use the same Gaugemaster Prodigy set up and JMRI as the current layouts but maybe with two operator positions similar to layouts such as Banbury. The initial criteria is:-

– WCML with Catenary – Running full length Pendelinos

– Exhibition focused –  Main Line Running

– Need a feature beyond the mainline – Potentially containers or aggregates

– Independent fiddle yards to allow fast flow of trains onto scenic section

– DCC Control,  JMRI Route setting on Laptop PC’s  (one each end) 

One of the great things about building modern based layouts is Google Earth,  Having looked at the Pendelino routes and starting in London I started to work northwards looking for potential locations.

Location Selection

Travelling north from Euston I started looking for potential locations,  It couldn’t be to big or complicated. There were a couple of potential locations around Watford with what appeared to aggregate yards which would support reuse of the Crawley Yard stock but nothing inspiring.  I followed the track north using Google earth and managed to lose the line a couple of times as It made some interesting direction changes across the map. Eventually just north of Northampton I came across DIRFT and realised I had found almost exactly what I was looking for.

– Double track main line under catenary

– Limited but very long set of exchange sidings running parallel with the main line

– Connected to the main line but with the run on to Dirft and back up the head shunt long enough to run as a third line on a layout

– Relatively contained rail port using vehicles for unloading with lots of containers to model

The only challenge is that its a secondary line between Northampton and Rugby and so some of the stock and definitely the Pendelinos are less than frequent visitors but as the main line is shut when this is operating we are in the bounds of normal operation.

Layout Design Version 1

Drawn using the AnyRail software this drawing represents version 1. It retains the key track elements of the location and has a nice sweeping curve to show off the Pendelinos as they swing around,  Three exchange sidings and four roads in the Railport.   The green ends would be non scenic with the intention that the operators PC screen could sit on them for controlling their trains and fiddleyards. The Fiddle yards are split in two giving a longest length of around 1.5M. The intent here is that each main line operator would have control of their own yard and that these could operate on separate circuits and independently.

It has a number of challenges though

– The length and width are compressed down,

– The length of the Exchange sidings at around 1.5M may be to short

– The container port roads are around 1.2 M

– The depth of the container port would make it very narrow

– The Headshunt is just over 1m Long

On to version 2

– Extend by adding an additional board at the Southern End (Right) to extend the headshunt

– bring the Headshunt round the front as a 4th line

– Smooth out the curve a little to create more room for the container port

At this point I was up to 5 boards and the project stalled as I was working on other club projects and hadn’t worked out how I was going to build, store and exhibit this. I was still very keen on the concept but I knew that at 5 boards this was going to need to be a team or club effort.


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