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Canon Street ~ N Gauge

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:55 pm
by Zunnan
Firstly let me introduce myself being as I'm new here. My name is Simon, I'm 29 and have been playing with model railways since I was 4. By toy trains I mean nothing more than a Hornby/Lima tabletop layout with a few sidings until I was 16 when college and then work took over. A few years ago I was a passenger in a serious car accident, so with all the spare time I had while recovering I decided to rekindle the model railway bug. Like most I started with a basic train set, I decided to give N gauge a go because I couldn't design what I wanted in the space I had, so a Farish set it was! Still little more than a smaller version of the toy trainset I had years ago, it soon outgrew it's desk top home. So 18 months ago I started planning something a little more ambitious! I decided to set the layout around 1960-65 ish as that way I could get away with switching the stock around and run trains from earlier or right up into the 1970's fairly safely and be able to justify most of the scenery and things like the goods yard and engine shed (if I install a turntable, it can be covered over).
I wanted to take advantage of the size of N gauge and be able to run near to scale length trains in a busy mainline setting while also allowing for the appearance of a branchline. I struck on the idea of a double track figure of eight with junctions set to allow it to run as a regular circuit as well. This would allow me to design in the branch junction which in reality would just be the return loop on the figure eight.

The basic trackplan I settled on.

The layout was designed to sit on two baseboards, the main board being 7'6" and consisting of the high level station and low level goods yard linked by a severe 1:35 gradient on a 11.5 inch radius 180 degree curve. The second board would be the middle level loop, mostly hidden by a town scene with only the front running lines visible to give me the beginning my branch line illusion with enough room for an engine shed/turntable if I want it. The gradients between high and low levels on this board are less severe; 1:40 on 24" radius reverse curves down to the low level on the visible section and 1:50 on 11.5" curves up to the high level in the hidden section (greyed out on the plan).

High and Low-level overview

The site of the engine shed in Mid-level.

The station is actually a mirror image of a plan of Llandudno Junction, condensed a bit to fit the space, and altered a lot to allow me to use Peco Finescale without having to cut anything about too not really Llandudno anymore, but thats the basis hehe :D The pointwork, slips and crossings at the station throat is an absolute nightmare to wire. Even me being a Telecomms engineer doesn't help matters! It's still not complete, only the through lines work!

A wiring nightmare! It will be nice to see it work day :roll:

The biggest concern I had when the boards were constructed and main running lines laid was how would lengthy freight trains cope with the horrendous gradient and tight curve. I couldn't even test it until the second board was built and track laid, so all through the construction I had a big weight on my mind as to whether it would all prove to be a waste of time. Either the trains would derail on the tight bend under the weight of gravity pulling them back, or the engines wouldn't be capable of hauling what I wanted up the long 1:35 stretch. After a week of long nights I had the boards built and enough track laid to test the "big one" using a Black 5 and all of the coaches I owned at the time. I must say I was impressed when she crested the gradient with 8 mark 1's in tow with little trouble, so I started adding wagons until the engine started to slip a bit. I've since found that the comfortable limit for a Farish Black 5 is 10 coaches. Freight trains are a different matter all together! I didn't have enough wagons to test it properly for some time...

Stanier 8F number 48045 negotiates the 1:40 gradient and junctions between Mid-level and Low-level with a lengthy coal train.

The 8F reaches High-level at a crawl, slipping slightly towards the end, it's train of 28 plus brake van fully on the 1:35 gradient. This is about the limit of a single Farish engines capability on the line.

And lastly why Canon Street for a name? Well, I do also have a soft spot for amateur photography and when I was struggling for a name, I noticed a lens box I'd left on the station area...

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:16 pm
by Blaqkaudio009
Welcome Fella! just read through everything! i was impressed with the photo of the 8F pulling the wagons! cant wait to see this finished! (well, is it ever?!)

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:18 pm
by redline41190
wow thats a mighty impressive consist :P I look forward to seeing more :)

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:28 pm
by Blaqkaudio009
beat ya! :P

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:56 pm
by Zunnan
Thanks for the comments guys :)

I've dug out a few more pics, more focused on the trains than the layout. Just as it's supposed to be! :D

Stanier 8F number 48045 with a long coal train attacks the gradient to High-level. A very graphic picture showing just how severe a 1:35 gradient is.

A Sulzer Type 2 (class 25) scuttles along Mid-level with a short parcels train viewed from Canon Road overbridge alongside the engine sheds. This is the home made track cleaning train, Gaugemaster pads attached to the axles on Farish BGs. Cleaning fluid can be poured into the front BG which dribbles onto the leading pad through tiny holes drilled into the coach chassis. Ideal for cleaning the track in the 9 foot long tunnel under the town!

A 'Peak' attacks the gradient to High-level with a heavy coal train through Canon Street.

The stunning new Farish Jubilee, 45699 'Galatea' storms through Low-level with a train bound for Leeds on a shakedown following light repairs (twisted tender chassis causing loss of traction) while Fowler Crab 42932 waits for a clear road with a short inter-regional train.

'Galatea' storms by about to attack the gradient to High-level.

I'll keep the station throat electrics issue up to date. It's definately a love hate relationship!

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:20 pm
by SouthernBoy
Firstly welcome aboard, and secondly: I really like your plans and the work you've done to-date. It looks promising...

I understand your initial nervousness about inclines with curves, I had a similar experience when starting off my layout about a year ago. Plenty of patience and testing / adjusting / testing ironed out any difficulties for me.

Are you planning a mainly urban setting for your layout ?

Also, what are you using for the retaining wall between the station and the yard ? Is it Ratio brick sheets ?

Anyway - good luck - and I look forward to further pictures and reports of progress.

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:48 pm
by Zunnan
Thanks for the welcome, much appreciated. :)

SouthernBoy wrote:I understand your initial nervousness about inclines with curves, I had a similar experience when starting off my layout about a year ago. Plenty of patience and testing / adjusting / testing ironed out any difficulties for me.

Yes, I was a little more than nervous to say the least. I was expecting the coaches to manage with little problem as they have a little weight in them to stay where they're supposed to, but N gauge wagons weigh next to nothing! I wasn't expecting to see almost 30 running happily up and round. And that was before I even started to think if the engines could actually get the trains up there in the first place. I tested for the absolute limit using a Minitrix 9F, which hauled 28 coaches and 46 wagons happily round with no derailments for half an hour in each direction. I haven't found how much it takes to derail due to train weight, I ran out of rolling stock! It's safe to say I'm not worried anymore. :D

Are you planning a mainly urban setting for your layout ?

Again yes.
On the High/Low-level board, the station buildings I am planning on basing on the station at Sutton Coldfield. The goods yard I want to base loosely on the shed at Brighton as it was circa 1955 which then backs onto a concrete wall topped by a road with a canal wharf on the other side of the road based on the one at Hockley. I'll use the road topped wall as a scenic break with the wharf merely suggested by the holes you see cut into the black board in the pictures above...Incidentally the GWR yard at Hockley is now the BT depot I work from, so site measurements and photos will be easy for me to get!
The Mid-level board town will simply be a row of low relief terraced houses based on a road near Gravelly Hill station in Birmingham which faces the railway line there. This road will run along the backscene towards the center of the town which should sit above the 210 degree bend at the end of Mid-level.

Also, what are you using for the retaining wall between the station and the yard ? Is it Ratio brick sheets ?

Spot on! :wink: Ratio brick sheets topped with plastruct which will eventually be faced with strips of Ratio stone sheet. Between the brick parapets I'll run phone wire wrapped around track pins to look like metal railings...I hope.

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:32 am
by SouthernBoy
Ah, a number of different locations have inspired you. That's interesting because it seems usually people either go for a much more freelance approach or model one specific location (even if quite loosely) ...

I asked about the retaining walls because I'm about to embark on constructing a stretch (probably using Ratio). Haven't decided on the exact look/style yet though.

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:08 am
by Zunnan
It is essentially a freelance layout, it's just elements of different locations all mixed together to fit the space I have. Loads of liberal application of modellers licence here inspired by places I know. :lol:

I'm experimenting with 1mm thick card and the Scalescenes brick for retaining walls behind the station and into the first tunnel at the moment. I used that method combined with loft insulating board to make a skewed road overbridge. It's not quite complete yet, but in N gauge it's pretty convincing I think. It would be pretty quick compared to using Ratio sheets, and also a lot less work; just glue it onto the board, let it set and cut to shape, then spray with matt varnish to seal it all.

View from the girdered end. The lines into the engine shed will run through the nearest end, the middle arch sits over the running lines and the far arch will eventually be built into the embankment.

The view from the other end showing the card lined arch and brick paper just glued on top and trimmed back to shape after the glue has set. The outer arch still requires lining, as does the entire back of the bridge.

I think the same method would work for retaining walls as well. Cut the card to shape then just lay the paper on it and trim it back, maybe layer it to add a little depth to the structure or even add those huge arches you see in so many retaining arches.

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:55 am
by rkc
Very impressive, and very interesting findings on the gradients. I'm in the middle of trying to design my own N gauge layout and have been struggling with the same dilemma of whether a 180 degree curve/12inch radius/1:40 gradient combination would be workable.

My initial testing using a simple test track (12inch radius circle) that I can prop at an angle if I want indicates that while most of my locos can get up comfortably with 6 coaches (have not tried more, and won't need more for my layout), the Peco Collett can barely get up light engine. There is something seriously amiss with the traction on that engine.

I noticed you mentioned some traction problems with your Jubilee - can you elaborate on what they were and how you resolved them?

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:37 pm
by redline41190
I just re read the fisrt post and realized its N scale :lol: it looks very good for N scale :)

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:59 pm
by Zunnan
The Farish Jubilees I have both had slightly twisted chassis on the tender, which is where the motor is sadly. I found out it was caused by the tender chassis not being pushed entirely home leaving one corner pushed slightly out of shape. Oddly the only time traction suffered was when they were running up my 1:35 gradient and came to the right hand curve there, or when running in the opposite direction up the 1:40 they both slipped when they reached the 24" radius right hand curve on that gradient too.

I posted as much HERE along with how I fixed both models, quite by accident, after trying to dismantle one of them to see if adding some weight would help.

I posted a video on YouTube a few weeks ago of the Minitrix 9F and the monster test train for the gradients. It takes a full 54 seconds for the whole train to pass! The camera was set up on the site of what is to be the engine sheds, and you can visibly see the change in speed as the crimson and cream Collett coach passes which shows that the train is starting to attack the 1:35 gradient. This train ran for half an hour in each direction withought a single derailment!

The Minitrix 9F is a monster, certainly unique nowdays amongst the current sea of Farish and Dapol engines, but even so, most engines cope well with the stiff gradient. The ones which I have found to struggle are the Farish Fowler 4F which struggles with 5 coaches or 12 wagons, and the Dapol Ivatt is laughable. The Ivatt can't move 3 suburbans, no matter what I try. :?

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:26 pm
by peak
Very impressive!
I also based my layout on sites around Birmingham IE Saltley depot, Winson Green by the hospital, Washwood Heath sidings and a stretch of track at Smethwick.

PS welcome to the forum I look forward to your progress.
Q. will you be having a train disaster at Sutton Coldfield?

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:04 pm
by iankemp
Let me be anothe to welcome you aboard. have a nosey at my thread!! it is the GCR one!!! :lol:

Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:26 pm
by Zunnan
A little update while funds are low in the run up to Christmas and I'm all out of materials to do any useful work to the layout. I was rooting through my boxes of bits and found a Langley 4MT kit that I'd completely forgotten about! :shock:
I had some primer and black car spray from doing the cars underseal in the autumn so decided to set to the Standard 4. At this time I've lost patience with lining out the black mixed traffic livery, but I've managed to get the tender mostly completed.

75004 looking every bit like a black hole in it's glossy unlined finish!

75004 sporting a lined out tender with late crest (slightly off center, which needs to be redone)

75004 stretching its legs (on a borrowed Black 5 chassis) through Low-level with the Gresley rake.

I'm not too happy with the valvegear on the suggested donor chassis, the Farish A1 is more similar to the prototype in appearance, so when I source a permanent chassis I might look at swapping parts of the valvegear around to get her looking a bit more "right". Still on the to do list is to line out the loco body and fit wire handrails, then a liberal coat of matt varnish to dull down the finish to a less blindingly shiny one! :lol: