Thursday, 31 December 2009

Walls and Hedges

I'm having to spend some time this Christmas on a wargaming project. Painting some walls and making some hedges. Realising that this is all good practice for the forthcoming layout I thought I could justify posting my efforts.

My wargaming partner painstakingly carved a number of masters out of wax for these walls and from these we created moulds. The walls are then cast using plaster and painted with a number of acrylic colours before the bases are flocked. I'm practicing taking photographs with my girlfriend's camera as my camera has finally given up. The photo above is a little bleached in colour, the walls are a little warmer, but gives a reasonable impression of the finish.

The hedges are simply made from kitchen scouring pads and flocked and stuck on card bases. Wargaming structures do have to be more robust than those seen on a railway layout as they are constantly handled. Which does make me think that this is not the total method I will be using for hedges on the layout but I may use something like this as a base for hedging.

More can be seen at

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

GW Pannier Tank 4666 (1)

Well there it is, my first P4 loco and it works!!!!

The Ultrascale Bachmann Class 8750 'Pannier Tank' P4 wheel conversion pack has been sitting around for far too long. But today was the day I got to grips with it and 45 minutes after starting I had my first P4 loco. Placed on a short piece of P4 track and it ran just as well as it did as a OO loco.

Following Ultrascale's own conversion instructions for the Bachmann Pannier, I found the most difficult bit was removing the pickup plug. I was then extremely ham-fisted when plugging it back in and broke the plug socket off the circuit board (I didn't swear, honest). A quick repair with the soldering iron and all was well.

I decided to trim off the brake pull rods rather than file them down. I will refit them shortly. I also have some Bill Bedford coupling rods to solder up and fit. This will be done when some Carr's 188 solder arrives. All I then need to do is apply some balance weights to the wheels followed by general detailing and weathering of the Bachmann model.

4666 along with 4694 were allocated to Wadebridge shed (72F) in early 1960 to take over the duties performed by the SR Class O2's.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas t0 all.
Many thanks for following this meander and leaving any comments,
it's all much appreciated.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Just been thinking through how I'm going to construct the baseboards. Last time I built a baseboard for a layout it was in the days of 2" x 1" timber frame topped with chipboard. I keep reading about how important well laid track is for smooth running (which does make sense). So I figure that a flat, rigid baseboard that (hopefully) will not twist or warp has to be a basic requirement.

The above diagram is my first thought, nothing new as it's all been done before.

Cross beams constructed from plywood and softwood creating a sandwich. The track bed will be supported by risers and also fixed to the 'Back facia contour board' to create an 'L girder'. The 'Front scenic support board' will be fixed straight onto the cross beams and also to the 'Front facia contour board' again forming an 'L girder'. I am hoping that the combination of the cross beams and 'L girders' front and back with give stiffness. I may cut some circular holes in the 'Scenic support board' and cross beams to reduce a little of the weight. Polystyrene packing will be used on top of the 'Scenic support board' and 'Track support board' to form the base for scenic material.

I would like to have the Backscreen curved around the corners from the back onto the ends. At the moment I have a bit of a blank in how to do this. Using hardboard for the backscreen is a thought and curving this between the plywood 'Backscreen support board' and the 'End board'. Problem is it will be a very tight curve and until I get some hardboard I won't know if that will work. May just use some stiff card pasted onto the 'Backscreen support board' and 'End board' with a plywood former at the top to help create the curve.

If anyone has any suggestions or can see pitfalls please comment.

Unbalanced picture

I've been looking at the plan of Tredethy Wharf again and I agree with Trainspotter-USA that the layout is a little unbalanced. With buildings on the right and open country on the left the weight is on the right, never the less I think it should be OK.

The line at this point in the valley does pass though open country before entering a wooded area again. I've discounted a line side hut with some platelayers in attendance as I'm not sure there were any huts on this line. There were no signal boxes or signals on this line either. There was an interesting watering point at Pancarrow Woods further down the valley, stage right, between Helland and Boscarne. Not sure I could justify moving this further up the valley. I know it's my universe but I'm also trying to keep it reasonably close to reality. I'm struggling to find anything else to put at the left other than suggesting the line is entering a wood.

There are some interesting trees that feature in photographs on this line. I've not yet identified type of trees but my hope is that I can create a couple of them and plant them mid left to help balance the picture a little.

Tornado saves the day

I thought I must give this a mention, this is such a brilliant story. Steam comes to the rescue and proves that it is a more reliable means of traction in the current cold conditions.

The text below was posted on the SEmG forum:

"Tornado rescues Southern commuters last night at Victoria
Posted by: "rog"
Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:12 am (PST)

Hello there and hope you are all well.

We were out with Tornado yesterday as you may know on the SR Kent coast lines, we were the ONLY train around in the area almost all day !

Saw a few Javelins, parked up, and a poorly Southeastern train being doubled headed by 2 x class 73's !
We had a slow run in the morning but in the evening as there were no electric trains around we had a good sprint!

When we got back to a snowy Victoria for the dinner run at 1745 we had about 100 commuters who were stranded at Victoria and couldn't get home to Kent on SE and SR trains. They came over to platform 2 to see that we were stopping at Bromley,Swanley and Maidstone, and as we were not full and took them on free of charge. They were very grateful and many said they never even normally get a seat !

Such fun, and some very happy converts to steam, albeit not a SR one but we all had a hoot.

Merry Xmas

The BBC have the story at,

Now that is what I call a Christmas special.......... What more an you say but fantastic.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Tredethy Wharf

Oh no not another plan.......... Well let's hope this is it..............

After finally making it to the December Scalefour Area Group meeting and riding the initial comments of 'Who are you?' and 'Hello stranger', I was treated to some advice........ 'You need to get something running'. Well, I must admit, I have been beating about the bush a bit, and probably spending too much time composing blog entries although it has all been about setting the scene and developing my world around Grogley Junction. I do feel it is coming together but the guys are right I do need to get something running. I was impressed with Gordon's Fish Dock shunting puzzle layout as a quick essay in layout building and came away with renewed thoughts about trying to build an Inglenook Siding style layout.

Over the past couple of weeks I mulled over the question: What to build? What ever it is, it still has to fit the following parameters:
1) Be part of the overall project so any stock can be used on subsequent layouts
2) Be smaller than my original proposed Boscarne Junction starter layout
3) To be achievable as a first project.

The story so far with the different layouts:
Grogley Junction? Far too big and advanced for me at the moment.
Boscarne Junction? Considered too big, but have not totally discarded the idea.
Polbrook Engine Shed? Discarded on size and I'm not sure it fits in with the project.
Wenfordbridge? Would be nice but even when compressed, with the scenic section at 12ft long, it's too big.
Ruthernbidge? Again too big.
Nanstallon Halt? Nice but only one siding, so minimal operation and could well end up with more hidden sidings than scenic section.
Dunmere Junction? It is what it is, a junction and even if extended to Dunmere Wharf would only be one siding and become too big.
Dumere Halt? Again nice but no sidings.

While all these thoughts and plans were being mulled over there were two photographs in my collection of books that kept popping into mind. That of a Beattie Well tank crossing the road at Hellandbridge crossing and a Beattie Well tank shunting at Tresarret Wharf, both on the Wenfordbridge line. I've been intentionally avoiding any serious considerations on this line due to it being a 'goods only' line. I then suddenly saw this as an advantage. With the pace I've been working and time available it does considerably reduce stock requirements. So how about combining the two images into a fictitious wharf on this branch? Recollecting that Tresarret Wharf had a siding removed in 1932 .... eureka ..... there was my Inglenook siding layout. OK not exactly the 5:3:3 ratio of the original Inglenook but never the less it is in a similar style.

Ultimately this will need hidden sidings at each end to allow through workings of china clay trains but on its own, without the hidden sidings, I think it could be a small shunting puzzle. Not a very complex puzzle but something to operate in 7ft. The loop holds three wagons, the siding holds seven wagons. I may take up a two to three wagon spaces at the end of the siding with a small unloading vignette. From the left hand baseboard edge to first point there is enough space for a 57xx and three wagons. At the right hand side just enough space for a 57xx and one wagon. I know the 57xxs didn't work this branch but until I purchase a suitable loco I'll have to make do.

Why Tredethy Wharf? .... Tredethy is the other side of the river to Helland. My alternative history is that Tredethy financed the bridge across the river Camel and so this area became known as Tredethybridge not Hellandbridge. Hence the layout being named Tredethy Wharf .... tenuous I know and I do apologise to the inhabitants of Hellandbridge for taking this liberty.

So in reality this layout is set at Hellandbridge but with the wharf siding the other side of the road, not behind the farm buildings as the original siding. My Tredethy Wharf siding would have stayed open until 1970 which was when Tresarret Wharf closed. This will allow me to build a loco roster consisting of a Beattie Well tank, 13xx tank engine, and Class 03, Class 08 diesel shunters. I will probably only need a selection of fifteen wagons before embarking on building a couple of rakes of china clay wagons. The layout is much smaller than I was hoping but more than enough to keep me going for the next twelve months.

Better get an order off to P4 Track Company for their new line in turnout chairs then start building the baseboards..............

Monday, 7 December 2009

Diagram of lines connected to Grogley Junction

I've been carrying the diagram below around in my head for far too long and thought I'd better put it down on paper in case I loose a few more grey cells. The diagram might also help those that don't know the area very well and are trying to follow this blog and understand this alternative universe.

So below is an outline diagram of the lines in the area including my modifications to history. This should help plan goods and passenger traffic, which in turn will affect the design of Grogley Junction's track plan. I will probably need to add distances and finally decided station locations on the extension to Mawgan Porth to create a new timetable.

The lines in red indicate my alterations/additions to history

The building of the line from Ruthernbridge to join the Newquay line reduces the number of reversals required to transport clay from Wenfordbridge to Fowey. It would also take this traffic away from the GWR man line.

The inclusion of two stations on the Mawgan Porth extension are only speculation at the moment. Thought St Columb Major was mentioned in a proposed Wadebridge to Truro line.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Polbrock Engine Shed - first plan

Below is a screen shot from Google Maps of the proposed location for Grogley Junction’s Engine Shed at Polbrock. Last time I was there I remember this area (to the north of the road bridge at Polbrock) to be reasonably flat between the old track bed and the river. Scaled down to 4mm scale it would cover an area of approximately 12 foot long, from bridge to trees at the top just short of the river, by 3 ft 6 inches at its widest point.

Below is my first interpretation of how this engine shed might have looked. I've reduced the area that the engine shed to under 8ft long and the width down to just under 3ft.

Anyway…….I've tried to let the actual location dictate the layout of the engine shed but must admit that there is a little of GW’s Leamington shed in the design. Hope that carries no offence to the staunch LSWR followers. If I do build the layout it would work mainly as large moving diorama for displaying locos. The main line, running though the layout at the back behind the coach sidings, would initially be non functional.

I’m thinking of basing all structures on those at Wadebridge. The engine shed being constructed from wood cladding with a brick base to the water tower. The coaling stage was a platform with a corrugated roof where coal was shovelled from wagons on one side and loaded onto locos the other. With that said I'm still trying to research other LSWR engine sheds for ideas. Wadebridge's original engine shed was sympathetically extended in a rebuild. I'm proposing that the LSWR, instead of this rebuild, built a brand new engine shed at Polbrook so they might have considered a new stone structure rather than move the original wooden one.

I have increased the size of the turntable to 55 ft as 50 ft seems very tight to turn an N Class loco. A 50 ft turntable must have been big enough as Wadebridge had a 50 ft turntable which was used to turn N Classes. But a 55 ft should give a little bit more lee way when trying to operate the layout and position an N class on the turntable's deck.

The map above shows the relationship between Polbrock and Grogley Junction. The yellow line indicates the course of the track bed, The red area indicates the approximate area covered by my proposed Grogley Junction.

One thing that I'm not sure about with this layout is the way I am connecting the engine shed with Grogley Junction. I am proposing that the engine shed line exits the layout stage right and runs parallel with the main line to join Grogley's goods marshalling sidings loop, entrance to the engine shed being controlled by Grogley's signal box at this point. I'm also proposing two ground signals within the engine shed area, one for the carriage sidings and one at the exit of the engine shed itself, both being controlled by Grogley's signal box. I need to run this past my local P4 Area Group to see if this might be correct.

Overall I like this plan and think it has great potential. Viewing the engine shed across the river between a couple of trees with the coach sidings and a gentle tree lined embankment behind seems just right for this area. Perhaps there are couple of Maunsell two coach ‘P Sets’ in the coach sidings with an O2 backing on to one of them? A couple of Beattie Well tanks and a 57xx Pannier on shed while an N class is being turned and prepared for its next duty. Nice.......

Overall, with scenic areas, the layout is big at 28 sq ft. This makes me wonder how practical this track plan might be especially as it has been drawn with only two baseboards each being 4ft x 3ft 6in. I need to discuss this with the new boss. :-))

BUT….. possibly more importantly for this project, designing this layout has started me thinking about Grogley Junction again. I now have to decide if there is enough room or not for an engine shed and carriage sidings at the proposed site for Grogley Junction. The above plan looks good for a stand alone layout but for the whole project it has to be right and fit in. If there is enough room within the environs of Grogley Junction for an engine shed I doubt that the LSWR would have built a remote one 500 yds up the line.

Oh well, one thing is certain I’m enjoying using Templot and I’m also enjoying the thought process in creating this alternative universe. Not sure that I’m any closer to a layout but more will definately follow......