Nine, is the magic number! That’s what the layout has taught me this week.
This is because I’m still working out what I want from a bigger multi location scheme, version 1, seen below. Since this early draft (not to scale), and starting to get my head round Anyrail ( anyrail.com ) I’ve looked long and hard at the section from Eastern United/Ruspidge to Whimsey on the plan here.
In reality the next interesting section was Bilson Junction, (bilson jnc ), and it’s this which is now really intriguing me in trying to integrate it into the system. On the plan it needs to fit between Eastern United and Whimsey. I already know the Whimsey/Acorn Patch section won’t work as shown so that will change too. Bilson is a long linear section where there were a good variety of interesting moves, and rakes of coal wagons for Northern United Colliery were held. Also the route to Whimsey and Cinderford also split here, and if I assume Lightmoor Colliery remained open I have five routes of traffic available to me. Clearly I have to selectively compress the section which is more difficult with a linear route than a shorter wider section. This where the layout came into it’s own (again). Being able to set the layout up and play trains and look at them on a scenic section, sometimes helps me imagine what the potential of an idea may hold. Bilson needs some significant linear compression, but needs to retain the linearity to capture the location. One option is to give it a gentle curve and I think that’s pretty much a given in my space available for 4mm scale.
What I did was try out different train lengths of sixteen and thirteen ton mineral wagons including a brake van. One move to Northern United Colliery involves pushing the whole train rather than pulling it. As it moves it will snake out of the yard and I wanted to see if I could work out the minimum number of vehicles required to get that visual impact. One of the elements of Albion Yard that really works is looking along the layout, the wrap round backscene really helping in this respect of concentrating the viewpoints. Well, I got the answer, its nine. Ten is better, and eight definitely too short, the nine wagon train length being just over one metre long. Now at Bilson I could have four or five trains on location at any one time, the same number also works for Eastern United screen sidings, and potentially the fiddle yard too. Nine isn’t a massive number when having to sort the trains in the fiddle yard, and it looks long enough for a reasonable rake of wagons. On a two metre scenic section the layout demonstrated its just right for being a ‘long’ train without overpowering the scene. It does mean that I’ll need a good few mineral wagons, and apart from buying Bachmann RTR and kits such as Airfix, Parkside and Cambrian for my steel minerals, I need a few more wooden bodies too. One of the options I’m trying out is the Oxford Rail seven plank private owner wagon.
Firstly its not perfect, but I think that for my requirements it’ll work with a number of items changed in a makeover. The heading picture shows the first wagon which has had nothing more than a repaint and initial weathering. Its the wagon behind the engine. Visually it fits in well with the other stock I have, but with a few items that stand out on a closer look. I’ve already found it takes paint well, the old printing comes off easily, and you can bow the side out to replicate load damage far easier than with other manufacturers I’ve tried so far.
I’m doing a more detailed makeover that will involve changing the buffers, (the existing ones are too spindly) and some work around both ends. Essential on these is changing the wheels, the originals are pretty heavy duty! Alan Gibson wheels drop straight in, a friend looked at it and suggested there’s a little too much end float on the axles (26mm supplied), and I tend to agree with him. It’ll be interesting to see if that is borne out over time, currently the running qualities are on a par with the other wagons I have, both RTR and kit built. With a relatively small amount of work and at low cost I think it’ll be easy to add a few of these to the fleet to ring the changes and not look out of place. For this one I’ve used Modelmaster transfers, I don’t bother with matching the numbers either side for this type of wagon, so long as it looks ok to me, it’ll do. Watching Roy Jacksons ‘Retford’ has taught me with large groups of wagons the numbering doesn’t stand out, unless they are in a different location to the norm or are different typefaces.
As part of the Severn and Dean project I also need to have sufficient locomotives to operate the railway, rather than the layout. To do this over the years I’ve picked up locomotives along the way when one came up at the right price. They are, apart from a few, all pre-owned keeping the costs down. The engine portrait above of 8787 is one of them, seen in the late 50’s on the Severn and Wye section in the forest, and like the wagons it too is modified. They aren’t big changes, just subtle ones like cab vents opened, glazing and lamp irons replaced, all engines being based on specific Forest locomotives. Trevor Marshall (no relation) covers this idea relating to similar freight cars on his blog here themodelrailwayshow.com Like all the blogs linked on the right hand side, Trevor’s is well worth dipping into with a few minutes to spare!