N Gauge Modular layout
The layout takes inspiration from the Cement works at Shoreham in Sussex and Snodland in Kent with features from both. Significant compromise has been used to fit the features into the 8 foot length that I wanted along with the 4 lines at the front that connect to the adjacent modules.
The Track plan below shows the 2 Modules surrounded by an end board and
After a year of exhibiting Crawley Yard and Sturminster, mulling over the next layout as well as lots of false starts the plans started coming together for this layout which has been given the name Wealden Cement.
I’d been juggling a number of requirements and it took a while to get these into a plan that provided the following
• Continuous run for running in and watching trains go by
• Integration into the WSNG standards for exhibiting
• Standalone option for exhibiting solo
• Something a little different
I had a WSNG 4 foot module, baseboard built and with track placed on it for most of the summer, the challenge was I couldn’t get excited about the plan. I wanted to use buildings and track from my back stock if possible and this constrained the look. The other challenge was that I wanted to be able to use the WSNG track 3 if possible and do something a little different.
After building Crawley Yard I’d been toying around with doing something with Cement next and also something I could potentially link with the yard- Maybe the aggregate supply side like a quarry but whilst the ideas were floating around they weren’t exciting me.
Model Rail (issue Nov 2015) provided the inspiration with Tring Sidings. Tring is on the WCML but essentially trains come up the slow line, stop, reverse over a slip and into the exchange sidings. There they decouple the engine and break van and the main line engine either picks up a new load or departs light. The cement works shunter then arrives from the works and pulls the wagons into the change over area. It stops the wagons and runs around them to then push them into the Cement Yard for filling. This is then reversed once complete. This little operation could keep one operator busy at a show and provides some real operational action and that’s what I set out to build.
Unfortunately, this was never going to fit on a 4′ board and to have a continuous run as well. The minimum width was going to need to be at least 2 and 1/2 Feet and with two boards. I wasn’t sure this would be long enough but would give it a try
One of the nice things about N gauge is being able to run longer trains than the larger scales so a Presflo train I think needs to be around 10 -12 wagons. I didn’t have any presflos but assumed they were similar to other wagons I estimated them at 2 1/2 inches each so for 10 to 12 that’s a train of around 30 Inches including a loco and brake wagon. Getting exchange, transfer and load sidings was going to be a stretch so I had to compromise on length.
Plan v0.1 below reflects this first round of thinking and will need some tweaking the exchange sidings are slightly to short, if I had 18 inches that should enable 6 wagons and a break van and my need to be the target length and I need to validate the 18′ in the change over area. There is quite a lot of space at the cement works end but as I don’t want any points crossing the board joins I’m going to play around with real track and see if I can squeeze as much length in as possible
The layout was designed to be operated by the new Hunslett Shunters from the N Gauge Society and whilst I originally had a water tower installed it didn’t look right and so I went with a diesel tank kit from the Peco kit finished off with some signs and general clutter
The Buildings are mainly scratchbuilt except for the Exchange shed modified as the engine shed for the site and the Walthers Building providing an aggregate loading bay. The remaining buildings are built mainly from card and plastic parts
The layout is DCC operated when used by me in standalone mode and has total separation to operate in a DC/DCC configuration when joined to the rest of the WSNG modular system.
There are switches and isolating sections to allow DC and DCC to coexist but not touch on the layout.
Tracks 1 and 2 are isolated from the rest of the layout so nothing is required on the main board, I’ll feed these tracks from each end in Standalone mode.
Track 3 is the most complicated, in modular operations trains will arrive on DC and then be isolated, switched to DCC and then reversed into the Exchange sidings with the reverse operation to leave. I’ve not yet used this at any exhibition and don’t expect to as crossing Track 4 which is typically very busy takes to long.
Track 4 will be switched to have track 3 running through it if there is a transfer in place on track 3.
I’d gathered initial thoughts on how the buildings would look and wanted to get some large building domination over the layout. Getting the sizes right involved a lot of trial and error. As you can see in this view the track is down but not ballasted and an early draft of the buildings and fit is underway. The buildings have been built from corrugated card and scribed to give some light relief to the surfaces.
The view on the dioramalooking down the board is one of the views I wanted to create of the tracks disappearing down between the buildings and into the loading area. This is also a run round loop allowing the engine to pull the wagons into the loading siding and run around if required. I’ve since found since operating I don’t do that that often as it is easier at shows just to pull the wagons from the exchange sidings under the loader and then later push them back into the exchange sidings.
Moving on the track is ballasted and the base (foamboard) for the concrete apron is being formed. The end exit to the fiddle yard is now through a tunnel in the cliffs and the intent here is to have the layout cut away from the cliffs . The main lines are ballasted with Gaugemaster grey and the works sidings are with sand
The layout took me a long time to build, I was distrcted and built a layout in my spare room, Two stones and was having more challenge with the points. With the buildings nearly done and the club modelling competion dut I decided to create a temporary diorama to test out the buildings and colouring.
The diorama was a useful exercise for gauging the view and the colour of the buildings. Current photo’s show these works as very light grey but I’m old enough to remember how dirty everything was before we cleaned up. I worried and still do that these are a little dark but at the shows I have done people who worked and remembered have said its how they remember it. In the scence most of the components for the layout are in place but not the depth and so some of the buildings get moved on the layout to create the depth
Test running, to ensure the layout worked it was assembled in the garden for test running. None of the buildings had been fitted but all of the base scenic work was completed. Chalk cliffs to frame the scene and exit tunnels to the fiddle yard. All of the conctrete apron had been sprayed and the gaps, sidings as well as the grass areas have had the intial fix of static grass. the cliff tops are mainly painted to give a sense of distance and the jury is still out on the blue sky, is it too dark for the scenre and or does it need some clouds ?
The end of the build is in sight. The buildins are placed and in the process of being fixed and fitted. The large warehouse across the board join is removable along with the chimney but everything else is glued down