Langstead – Episode 20: Up (& Other Updates)

It’s been a while, but here’s what I have been doing on The Main Line this year…

You’ll remember in Episode 18, that it had always bothered me that I had kept the entire layout open and visible- making it that bit less realistic. In fact I said just this:

“If I was going to start again from scratch I’d hide half the layout behind some scenery, a wall or hill perhaps. Trains would disappear behind such a wall and reappear elsewhere which would look visually more realistic than being able to see the full oval. This after all is how many modellers design their layouts.

So why didn’t I do that? Firstly, I didn’t really think about it. Which is a shame, because being able to see the full oval all the time sort of bugs me because it’s less realistic. Secondly (and this makes up for my previous lack of vision), I really need access to the full layout. This is because space is at a premium and the rear of the layout is quite hard to get to as it is. If it were hidden behind, or even under, scenery it would be hard for me to carry out maintenance and various operational manoeuvres (junctions and points exist at the back of the layout).”

I eventually built a road bridge, and redeveloped the arrangement of the town scene to ‘block’ the line of sight to the rear of the layout. This helped, and for a while I was very pleased. But still at the back of the mind I wasn’t quite happy.

Then came along (a rather blindingly obvious) solution…

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Can you guess what it is yet?…

A removable panel will sit on top of the layout raised up on plinths strategically placed to provide structural support yet not get in the way of the existing trackbed. And it looks a little something like…

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…this. (The triangle marked out to the right has since been cut off to line up better with the track. I’ve had to remove the row of victorian style terraced houses (something quite authentic about doing that to make room for development!). These will be replaced with a retaining wall fitted to the removable panel to fully hide the track.

The added bonus is now I have a large blank canvas space to add more buildings and build up a more detailed town scene. This area will eventually be connected to the road bridge (top left of picture above).

I have contemplated building another shunting yard instead of a town scene. In fact I briefly toyed with the notion of sitting Salford Chapel on top instead. Unfortunately it wouldn’t have quite fit, and to make it would have resulted in quite a lot of rewiring and reworking of the underside of Salford Chapel. Not to mention the fact Salford Chapel is made of considerably heavier wood, and would make removable for quick maintenance difficult.  Therefore I think I will stick with a simple town scene. It’s quite a large area, and considering it’s taken me nearly two years to get this far, this will likely keep me busy for a long time to come.

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You may also remember me talking about adding point motors to my layout in Episode 18. This was partially completed, but as I’ve gone about effectively covering up the rear portion of the layout I’ve added some more there too. These are controlled by a Gaugemaster PCU1 that sits on my desk. It has made operational manoeuvres far more enjoyable to make!

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As these points are now going to be less accessible I followed some advice on NewRailwayModellers.co.uk and fitted a thin piece of plastic to the inside of the check rails. This has greatly improved the reliability of stock running over them and has virtually eradicated any derailing issues that my Hornby points were having. I’ve now fitted these to all my points!

So what else have I been doing?

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Well now the focus on my layout is definitively the front I can work on some of the detailing…

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I’ve added a derelict siding next to the station using a mix of scenic scatters, miniNatur grass clumps and old bits of track and buffer stops.

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A paved area next to the station has been added as an alternative means of access. (People have also been added too!) In the background you’ll also see a bus stop I’ve painted from the Model Scene range.

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I’ve also completed the greenery in the corner of the layout and found a place for this Water Tower which was given to me as a christmas present in 2012! (Since this was taken I’ve added some more grass clumps and gravel on the roadway).

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Finally I’ve rearranged my office, done away with the glass cabinets and bought this simple wooden shelves. This has actually given me a lot more room to display stock than the two glass cabinets did.

More updates coming soon!

– Andy Carter

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