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A while back I had an idea, make a new layout! I wanted it to be a bit different from what I’ve built before, not really having made anything for passenger services. I’ve always been captured by some of Iain Futers three turnout layouts. I find them fascinating to watch and I really like Iains modelling style, so part of the idea was to capture that engagement. I’d got a board that was kicking around and had track fixed to it with a footprint of 6ft x 18inches which was a good starter for me. You can see the board below track painted, wired and working ready for fixing to a baseboard chassis.
You can read and see the back story behind the development of that urban idea here southern-nouveau-2/, it got to quite an advanced stage, including the fitting of the third rail. It ran well, it has to that’s something I’m really picky about. I spend a few weeks or consecutive days just operating the track and electrics before adding any scenery or paint, including types of locomotives and rolling stock that will never work on the layout, to ensure that its reliable. The Southern project finally fell on its sword around the time I was mocking up the buildings and infrastructure, for one good reason:
This just doesn’t look like an Southern Region station. There were hardly any island platform Southern Electric termini, and however much effort I put into it, I’d always know it was ‘wrong’. It wasn’t just adding the Great Central buildings to get a sense of building volume, but they certainly accentuated it, and got me thinking about a Great Central line that might fit the bill. There’s nothing wrong with freelancing and making something that never existed, but that’s not for me. The North American description of ‘Prototype Freelancing’ is my sort of modelling, building something heavily influenced by the prototype, or having enough recognisable features that the viewer relates it to a region/company or location easily. So we got to the second iteration, when-youre-digging-a-hole/ Now this immediately worked better as a reasonable back history and a prototype likeness that worked, the Quorn Station building models here helping. Removing and backfilling the third rail pots was a pain in the bum, but at least I know how to fit it for the future. The layout still wasn’t ‘working’ for me though and I realised that I didn’t actually enjoy operating the layout in its configuration. I can watch a Futers layout at a show for ages, but ‘driving’ one wasn’t working for me. So something drastic had to change.
I like ‘Off the Beaten Track’, as do a good few friends of mine so I went native, and back to those core interest areas. Whilst I’m more of a builder than operator I do like a layout to actually draw you in as an operator. Shelfie scored on this counter because it had a run round, so the simple addition of a loop would give that play value instantly. Family time had been spent in Northumberland and I’d followed the old branch to Whittle Colliery a small drift mine to the south of Amble. My late father in law had once arranged me to spend a Saturday morning shift (different times!) going down to the coal face. The line was steeply graded and in latter days worked by J94’s and 08’s. So that combination and hoppers, what’s not to like? With the chassis already existing it was a relatively simple task to convert the platform line from the urban idea to a loop. This was done with the addition of a Y point and slewing the track to remove the linear alignment, see the picture above. I also wanted to add some additional stock storage so the platform kick back turnout was reversed to give myself another short siding suitable for a couple of 08’s or brake vans.
With that done it was time for the testing phase prior to getting stuck into the scenery and ballasting, more of that later.
Finally on this day of days, for those of you who read this whom have served, thank you.