Alan built this mini-layout as an exercise, to see if it was possible to fit a working exhibition layout into the back seat of a car
Scenic layout complete to all intents and purposes - fiddle-yard to add
Incomplete maybe, but an interesting project all the same ...
Whilst 'Ainthorpe Junction' (ROPFAMR 31) is being brought up to full running order 'Thorpe Carr' is in abeyance. It's still worth a look through in case there are ideas you might not have considered. Take a trip through the East Riding of Yorkshire and alight at this country town station, the branch terminus with its oversize goods shed.
What's in a name? If you create a freelance location, fit a station name to an area to make it 'authentic'
First things first, find a name for the beast: how 'Thorpe Carr' came about.
Remember what I said about finding a name for a layout that would be apt for the area or region represented by your layout?
In the case of this little layout, I thought I'd set the scene in a fictitious location near the Yorkshire Wolds. Many village names in the region involve the word 'thorpe', the adapted Danish word ['torp') for a settlement smaller than a 'by' or town, and bigger than a 'toft' or 'garth', meaning farm. There's also 'kirk', or church, that features in countless place names. That's got one part of the name fixed. Again many villages have double names. A physical landscape feature might come in handy. The small layout I did for my son involved the word 'rigg', dialect for ridge. There is a fair amount of reclaimed marsh land around Ryedale (between the North Yorkshire Moors and Yorkshire Wolds) in North Yorkshire, named 'carrs', also from the 9th Century Danish settlement of the region and originating in the word 'karre', carried on in the dialect word 'carr'.
So I settled on the name 'Thorpe Carr' for the station, coal and goods depot that would serve a farming community and its local area. The theme harks back to an era when the railway still fulfilled a social function in providing a means to get to market towns (Helmsley, Malton and Pickering were the market centres in Ryedale - Kirkbymoorside to a lesser degree). Farm produce had to be forwarded to urban centres such as Scarborough, York and further afield. There was a whole cluster of woollen mill and business centres around Leeds and Bradford etc.
Most small stations had some function to handle coal for small industry, heating homes, businesses and schools. This is just before the decade of closures, (railways, local schools, cottage hospitals), where village life went on as before when the railways first arrived and 'wagon load' was still the railway's ethos, before block trains and bulk loads saw a marked change in transport.
In the map below, navigate around north-eastward and eastward from Malton along the edge of the hills, the Wolds. Take a look at the names and see if you could come up with an apt name that would fit,
Malton, North Yorkshire, as good a place as any to start from
Material was recycled from an earlier layout.
An ample supply of timber was at hand, mainly 2 X 1 inch, 2 X 1/2 inch and 3 X 1 inch for battens.
These will be added at either end to secure against undue pressure in manhandling the completed frame. The aim of the game was to put together a small layout I could transport on the back seats of the car I currently drive. Measuring lengthwise gave me a comfortable 48 inches with a depth of 15 inches (as on Thoraldby), which gives ample space for track area and scenery. Layout height should be no more than, say 12 inches from footing to backdrop top edge. It will be a single table-top unit anyway, so there's no problem with support.
The frame was assembled with four intermediate cross-braces, to which the risers were screwed to support the 'ground level'. The coal depot area was sunk below the main level, attached to lower risers and linked to the main level by a narrow ply 'road'. This in turn will be linked to a road ramp up to the bridge that divides the two halves. Another ramp will descend to the goods shed yard on the far side for delivery vans or four-wheeled flatbed lorries.
After building Thoraldby I still had a sizeable cache of Peco Steamline and Setrack points, and plain track - straight and curved - in different lengths. (Even after this exercise there'll be enough for a longer layout). I still had to buy a few shorter radius right-hand Setrack points and shorter track sections to fit into the space allotted.
With restrictions things can get tricky, and options reduced. All the same in Double O Gauge (4mm scale body size with 3.5 mm track gauge, a weird post-WWII compromise that halved O Gauge track dimensions but used 4mm scale on other elements) you can still arrive at a workable solution. With some jiggery-pokery I reached a satisfactory solution. Eureka! I think the running should be interesting as far as shunting is concerned. I was still unhappy with one element, to keep a reasonable length of track that will take a small goods or passenger working.
Back to basics - this page will be added to for you to check on progress until the project is complete
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A step forward - getting the track sorted on the way into the station, and at the coal depot
Next steps, underlay and pre-ballast groundwork
Having decided on the track area, the underlay needed to be measured out, positioned and laid down ready for ballasting. The advantage of buying the foam underlay in rolls is that you decide how and where to cut. Use PVA or wood glue to fix it down. After I'd had it laid down for a few days I trimmed some off. Believe me, it did stick well! Spread the glue liberally over the area to be covered OR spread over the underside of your sheet. Do it the way you feel comfortable, in sections or in one. The PVA does not dry too quickly so you've got time, and remember to press down hard across the surface of the foam. Use a large steel rule if you've got one and push it steadily across the foam to ensure even spread. Leave at least over a few nights under weights. I used sawn 3 X 1 inch wood battens weighted down by hammers and other heavy items.
The track formation right of centre to the right of the single slip needed adjustment before ballasting, a large radius Streamline 'Y' point inserted where the No.2 radius right-hand point was, next job being turning the single slip around to facilitate movement between the platform road around the loop to the bridge for the return movement (to 'pick up' empty coal hoppers from the depot and shunt full ones into the coal depot, (see also removable loads in ROPFAMR - 13: Open Merchandise Wagons & Lift-out loads, and ROPFAMR - 14: Miniaturised Minerals as well as ROPFAMR - 8: Minerals, Processable Solids). Now I can make a start on ballasting.
If you remember the Poppy's Woodtech ballasting box on the THORALDBY page, (ROPFAMR - 18) with its web link, (and the 4D shop in Leman Street, London E1 for materials, see that link also), this will come in handy now for what should be the most important stage. It worked well on Ayton Lane, so let's see how it goes (get this wrong and there's an expensive clearing job to do and replacements to buy - they don't come cheap!). As mentioned on the THORALDBY page, be careful around pointwork, don't rush the job. Be sparing with the ballast, 'dribble' it in between the sleepers here but not near movable parts and drip in the diluted PVA or wood glue (the latter might be more expensive but it's stronger). I've got three syringes, bought at the 4D shop for the purpose. Well worth the outlay, and remember don't dilute it too much or you'll find yourself doing the job again. Add washing-up liquid to the mixture, this will help it to spread evenly through the ballast. Watch it doesn't spread towards working parts on the pointwork, take a scrap of cloth or a square-ended brush (size 3 or 4) and wipe off the flow before it looks as if it'll get there. Brush away loose ballast near point levers, allow an eighth to a quarter of an inch for movement either side. You can always carefully paint the area to disguise the gap.
I shall add more information and advice as I go along with this page, so keep a weather eye out for it. Bookmark it and be sure to check back periodically after weekends after I've had a chance to push the project onward.
Getting underway, what do you need for ballasting work?
A range of lightweight balsa wood products for your model railway, from timber wagon inserts to loco coaling stages and timber platform struts. Also a source for the ballasting hopper
Nothing's worse, having got your platform face and surface in place, than to find locos or stock getting stuck negotiating curves (convex or concave)
And if you want to exhibit it's embarrassing. I've seen it for myself at an exhibition, where.the scenery, stock, locomotives were first rate. Everything was finely detailed, but passenger trains wouldn't move because the builder hadn't taken care his platform outer edges allowed trains to pass smoothly. As it was based on pre-WWI North Eastern Railway (Northumberland) practice I'd looked forward to seeing the layout. That flaw left me disappointed. I don't think the operator was too happy with it, either.
Going on, a good way to judge clearances on curves - if you haven't got a diagram from one of the railway modelling magazines or sites - is to run a locomotive and carriages along the proposed site of the station and mark with a joiner's pencil where carriage or brake van step-boards, or locomotive cylinders stick out over the sleeper ends. In some places platforms were lower than the passenger step-boards, which make the modeller's job easier. Then there were the bogie step-boards. The NER/GNR and GER had them, the LNER continued the tradition and British Railways Eastern or North Eastern Region only did away with them by the 1960s. If your LNER/BR layout is based before the 1960s you have to take this into consideration.
Then there are also the side and overhead clearances. Again the diagram shows you how to achieve the 'mean'. On many branchline routes in Britain clearances were fairly close in tunnels or under bridges (something the railway engineers in the New World, Australia, Southern Africa or New Zealand didn't have to consider in most places, except for getting through the Appalachians, the Rockies, Blue Mountains or New Zealand Alps). Model railway clubs and railway historical societies have the diagram somewhere in their literature.
The only affected places on this small railway layout are the station, beside the goods shed, under the approach bridge and the single track tunnel mouth at the station throat, so engineering work isn't unduly stretched. You decide on your parameters.
Work continued lately on the station area as a prelude to ballasting. A wall at the back of the coal depot was built to incorporate a dividing wall in front of the station platform. The North Eastern Railway often raised walls to prevent passengers being deluged with coal dust when the wagons dropped their loads into the cells (see picture above). At the same time the bridge abutments were added either side of the running lines. Signal posts will be added wide of the ballasting profile, so ballasting can be begun as and when. I shall keep you posted...
Track and basic scenery, ballasting progress, platform clearance and low level work
Aids to good ballasting
You have to be careful on ballasting, as you do with your clearances. The first consideration should be for tools to make the task easy. I've added the web site above for the Poppy's Woodtech ballasting hopper (you make it up yourself using pva or similar adhesive).
At the 4D shop in Leman Street, London E1 you'll find the large syringes to apply diluted pva (make sure you add household washing-up liquid so that the solution spreads over the ballasted area. As I've mentioned on the Thoraldby page, be careful around pointwork/turnouts. The 'minimalist' approach will see you right. Where necessary apply with a small brush (size 0 or 1) by dripping the diluted mixture. You can always wash out the pva with warm, soapy water and squeeze away the residue to use the brush for painting.I shall use ash ballast on this short branchline, as the NER and its successors did until the 1960s in some areas where the expenditure on high grade granite ballast was not considered warranted. I've ordered Woodland Scenics' Medium Cinders (pack 883) for the job, as I used it on Ayton Lane Shed (Thoraldby layout).
Get a good plastic or unbreakable glass jar to pour in your ballast and scoop it out when needed. Packets are easily dropped, contents scattered. Great for suppliers but not for you. Likewise get a jar for your pva solution, to draw up into the syringe. Experiment with your solution, but don't make it too thick or it clots up the syringe. Too runny and you'll find yourself doing the job again. Where I've used it on Thoraldby it sets like concrete and the only way of undoing errors could be costly, resulting in the purchase of new points/turnouts. The ready made ones are pretty pricey these days.
From the same source (John Dutfield at Chelmsford) I've ordered the Wills coarse stone (plastic moulding) for the coal depot and overbridge walls. To attach plastic to wood I use wood glue, similar to pva but stronger, (for furniture joints) and drip superglue onto the surface before 'mating' the plastic with the wood. Once it's set, try prising it apart!
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Ballasting's almost completed, buffer stops to be added before being 'half-buried' in ash ballast
A few hints to avoid disappointment
It can't be said too often: take your time, take care and don't overload the ballasting hopper before you move it along (firm and steady, but not heavy-handed). You can always add a bit more, but too much at the outset can lead to problems getting rid of excess.
Do the ballasting in short sections between pointwork (turnouts), be sparing with the ballast but not miserly or you'll find you have to repeat the process, and before you get carried away with the 'white stuff' consider where the power input will go. There are a few ways of doing this, the obvious being a power clip.
As I have used Peco track, this manufacturer offers handy power clips that fit under the rails and can be hidden (and screwed down) under or immediately behind a bridge abutment, a building or trackside feature off scenery. Keep the clip clean, and install it in a way you can extract it for whatever reason. Other manufacturers have similar products. Or before you start any ballasting drill down either side of your track and insert cable to link up with an ac/dc power unit. I've seen several layouts this method has been used on, and it works. Consult a railway modelling electrics manual, or section in a book/magazine to see how this kind of power input is installed.
Back to ballasting: on ballasting around pointwork dribble small amounts of ballast below blades and drip in the adhesive mixture with a small brush (size 0-1), making sure none comes into contact with moving parts. Once a blade is bent out of true it is near impossible to correct and you'll find you have to extract the whole point unit, or put up with a faulty connection. Around points add ballast until it is level with the tops of adjacent sleepers, no more. When detailing surrounding scenery at a later stage, imperfections can be disguised with a bit of judicious paintwork or scatter (to look like weed or grass between rails).
Steps toward 'proper' scenery
With ballasting almost complete and buffer stops to add, it's time to concentrate on basic, ground-level scenery. The goods shed has been secured on a 'platform' of plastic sheet, allowing space to support the Wills granite sets (SSMP 204) on a 'ramp' (for drainage). More was added around the building. The access road to the overbridge will be 'bled off' the scenery, and a tunnel for coal lorries created. A pedestrian underpass may also be added, using the Wills Cattle Creep kit.
The coal depot's coming on, supports added to the back wall for the nearside and offside timber walkway decking. See the image above that shows how the decking fits in. A ramp will be added adjacent to the high wall to ease access by foot from track level. Station masters usually had the coal merchant's concession, often trebling their pay packet.
Work on the station platform and 2D access to be continued once the back and end scenic walls have been added to the unit.
With June in progress work has come in leaps and bounds. No bank holidays until the end of August, no more birthdays this year and holidays away not before mid-September.
The goods and coal depots
Both goods and coal depots are well on the way to completion. The weigh office has been sited and fixed down opposite the goods shed wagon weigh office that faces where the wagon weighbridge goes when I've got one - I bought a couple of Scale Liink Pooley weighbridges (a West Midlands company, whose weighbridges graced the yards of all pre- and post-Grouping railway companies, and lasted well into British Railways' ownership) and if I can't get hold of the Coopercraft version I might have to trust to inventiveness and judicial use of a craft knife. The balsa wood office was supplied courtesy of Osborn's Models and modified to look less like a GW one. Many NE weigh offices had similar front windows, so no hardship there. The modification was in the ends and chimney. When I buy paint brushes from 4D the small plastic tubes go into a 'spares box', just in case. The 'case' arose and one was cut shorter to provide a chimney pot, glued onto the stack and the inside painted (a mix of Humbrol Anthracite 67 and Matt Black 33). The outside was painted a mix of Tan (113) and Red (60) to look like fired clay and topped with Anthracite and Black to look like rain-washed smuts from the fire. The weighbridge has yet to be fixed down and edged with filler to hide the gap where the yard surface dips. A clerk has been fixed inside beside the front window. His job is to record outgoing weights of goods and coal depot vehicles.
The goods shed is a much modified card kit from Metcalfe (I think), with plastic built-up platform with internal cut-outs for delivery vans or lorries to back in, Wills' stone sets in the bays. A white metal crane was painted and fitted internally between the bays. Wills' window detail (frame and surround applied inside and out and glazed) was added to the weigh office on the yard side. From the same pack came a door that I installed open with a customer 'half in'. A shelf was added to the inside of the large window on the rail side for weigh office ledgers etc when clerks log in arriving or departing rail vehicles. There are two figures inside the goods shed, of railway staff busy loading or unloading wagons or vans. The platform can accommodate two 9 ft wheelbase two-axle vans or open wagons or one CCT, pigeon/parcels or bogie van (space is restricted through the short-sightedness of a bygone railway planner at head office - in real life, what can you expect from a 4 ft X 15 inch scenic unit?).
The coal depot only lacks the safety rails at deck level, aside from that the four cells have their contents (different amounts in each one), the Wills' coarse stone walls have been painted to look like limestone darkened by around a century of use. The Slaters' cast brass and plastic buffer stop is in place, the Wills' granite sets are in place, gaps filled and awaiting paint And the depression in the ground awaits scatter to look like a 'waste carr', (a low-lying, damp, boggy, foetid and richly overgrown area).
The road from the hamlet - maybe a mile or so away - that crosses the railway over a vari-girder bridge and passes over an embankment has its foundation and course. Beneath it, from left to right, is the underpass that links the coal depot to the road. Details will be worked out and posted here. Watch this space...
En-casing the joint
A 4' X 2' sheet of .quarter inch ply (to keep the weight down) was cut at the shop into three 8" depth lengths and cut further to approximate size for the back, sides and front of the layout.
A separate fiddleyard will be added to feed trains onto this scenic unit, but first I need to get to the point where I've made satisfactory progress on this unit. Markings were made on the board, for further cuts. When I've got to the point of working on the backscene, I can do some more cutting for roof-lines etc.(if needed). The board still needs to be screwed on all the way around the unit, although you can see from these images roughly where it'll go from here. Cuts were made where bridges/road embankments enter and leave, for the low level coal depot and access road frontage (maybe part of a carr/marsh) as well as around the front of the goods shed.
Lots still to do. .
Roads, bridges, embankment, trackside detail... and carr
Just to see how the road links would work, I cut some plastic roughly to shape and pinned them down onto the formers behind the bridge abutments (where the road will cross over the railway on a vari-girder bridge), and on a descending gradient to where a ramp drops to the goods depot. Further to the right another, shorter, bridge will cross over the railway to take another road that will 'bleed off' the scenic unit behind the good depot. This will be a brick-sided bridge, and scenery will rise at the end to cover its rear.
Once the access roads and bridges were worked out, it was time to add more detail, The Vari-girder bridge received its outer walls, the road was taken from the bridge to the front of the scenic unit and fascia amended to support one side of the ramp, a piece of 1mm thick plastic cut in shape and wedged under the half-finished ramp to 'bleed' the road off in front of the goods shed. Buttresses will be added at either end of the Vari-girder bridge, and gate-posts to show it's not a public road.
Closer to the way off the scenic unit the base was added for the brick bridge, Wills' flexible brick sheet added to the wooden block that supports the scenic side of the bridge and a roadway formed - to be completed when the bridge is finished - with a brick-faced supporting wall (that Wills' flexible brick sheet again).
Styrofoam infill has been 'bullied' into place and fixed with pva glue around the underpass and embankment sides. Coarse stone plastic sheet has been added to the down wall by the goods depot, away from the embankment, as well as to the inside edge of the coal depot ramp. Next will be the outside edge walling down to the coal depot lorry park that's been added (more plastic filler to add to smooth out the gaps).
When the pva and styrofoam have set it'll be time for covering material: 'Terra Forma' (from Tasma Products, Unit 1, College Farm, North End, Meldreth, Royston, Hertfordshire SG8 6NT) will be added. I used some of this on the Ayton Lane motive power depot (Thoraldby layout, see ROPFAMR No.18) and it's done its job. What's more when the basic job's done you can scoop up the residue and use it to fill spaces. You can also press sheet together and create smooth slopes where it might have been uneven, or vice-versa. Imagination is the key.
I've had a notion to fill in the gap at the front of the scenery with a corner of a 'carr', standing water and marsh grasses, the odd (white metal) swans and ducks. The options are open. To achieve this aim I filled the area with crossed strips of card from a store cornflake packet. The next stage is to spread the 'Terra Forma', plaster impregnated sheets cut down to size over the area and allow to dry before painting adding scatter. Both areas can be dealt with together at the scenic finishing stage.
Before the plaster sheet has been added below the sloped coal depot road, I've fixed some coarse stone against the side. As it is now it looks bland and featureless. Bear with me, spray painting with Railmatch (1406) Sleeper Grime will change that for the interim. It can pass for mud as well as earth and with masking will be applied in the 'carr' as well as on the road embankment, and looks right for the area beneath scatter. It's the colour of that rich earth on land reclaimed from waterlogged marsh or fen, what's called 'clag' in the North (you know, the stuff that attaches itself to your boots when you've walked along fields after heavy rain, and in no time gives you the feeling of walking on stilts).
Vegetation will be added above and below after a low imitation steel vehicle barrier has been fixed in place on the edge of the slope covered with grey wet & dry sandpaper to look like asphalted road.