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GWR Branch Terminus in 'N'

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:30 pm
by Kasrkin
First post! Hello y'all!

So, it's been a good 8 years at least since I've had a go at anything like this, ant at the time I really didn't know much about what I was doing. It was with my Dad, he who built the layout whilst I watched and gave pointers. Ah, memories... good times!

But I'm older now, and have a great chunk of modelling experience behind me thanks to a bout of wargaming. But it's building things that I love, and a model railway offers a challenge that a toy soldier can't- so I'm very keen on the idea of taking the plunge. The thing is, the layouts I made with my Dad were never completed. This time, hopefully thanks to some input from a community, I can get it done! If you have any advice and comments then please, please let me know.

Okay, so the track plan;


This is my fictional GWR branch terminus to an unknown town (probably near or in Wales), in 'N' gauge. I kind of split here from my Dad in opinion, because he grew up with the LMS so favours them, but God's Wonderful Railway has always been the one for me! Probably because of my fondness for the 14xx 0-4-2T- always has been my favourite engine, and now I come back to this hobby and find that a model of it actually exists in N (I love you, Dapol)!

So, this line is built with the 14xx in mind as the primary locomotive. It's small because I don't have much space (the dimentions of the baseboard are 847mm x 274mm). Running through the numbers on the plan;

1 - Kestrel branch line station kit with passing loop. By my maths, the loop should be big enough for four small trucks, wheras an autocoach fits in next to the platform easily. The shaded areas represent dirt roads, so the end of the track goes into a small tram-like siding (as does the siding near (3)). The power connection would be located here, where the track is just long enough to park an old Graham Farish Prairie tank.

2 - Kestrel signal box kit, because I had it on my last layout and always liked it. I don't know if it's very 'GWR' though... Any comments on using Kestrel kits on this layout?

3 - Ratio goods shed kit, again another model I once owned and still like. The three sidings here are built with a shunting puzzle in mind (sadly the name escapes me), and by my maths the longest should be able to hold five trucks, with four or three in the others. The top siding runs in a cutting next to the hill.

4 - Fiddle yard disguised inside a tunnel. The whole top of the board is a cutting in a fairly high hill, and this is probably why I imagine this terminus being in Wales... :D

5 - This area troubles me, because there isn't really anything in it. I'm thinking of having a coaling area and water tower for the engines on the back of the passing loop, but aside from that I can't think of anything. Any help is appreciated!

So that's the plan so far. Please tell me what you think is good and what needs improvement... I haven't bought a whole lot of stuff for it yet, but I do have the board and a piece of track, an old Prairie tank and an autocoach- my baby 14xx should be in the mail as I type, lol.


In the pic above the autocoach stands next to the area the platform will be, whilst the Prairie waits at the end of the passing loop.

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:04 pm
by matthew-peter
The shunting puzzle is an inglenook sidings by the look of it.

very good start there. looking forward to seeing this one progress.

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:29 am
by Spavo
At this stage you just might want to draw your track plan onto the wood and mock it up a little to make sure everything fits but it looks like a very nice plan so keep the photo updates coming.


Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:46 am
by Pete

That's a nice plan, just shows what an interesting layout you can develop in N-Gauge. It's also good to see one of the more traditional subject matters appearing on the site (GWR branchline terminus, a cliche, but nice!)

I would think twice about the fiddle yard, on such a small layout you might want to maximise the area of visible track, and just not worry about a fiddle area, you could always develop that as a bolt on extra for when space allows.

As for area 5, I wouldn't worry too much, try not to over clutter the layout, you don't have to have every single feature of a termnus present. A nice sparse scene is often more aesthetic.

Good luck.


Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:22 pm
by Kasrkin
Thanks for the advice guys! Yes, Inglenook was the name of the puzzle matthew-peter, you've got a better memory than me! lol

I've done a bit of work on the board this morning, managing to construct the frame. The track plan has been drawn onto the wood- it should just fit, but the real decider will be when the time comes to fix it down. I'm going to buy the track I need later today, so I'll soon see if it will or not... If not, some hasty re-planning will be in order, I think!

When drawing the plan though I realised that I had no-where to put the controller and any point switches I might add, so the frame has adjusted to accomodate this. Here is is;

Topside, a whole world of possibility!

(My dog Billy, faithfully guarding it... or threatening it with damage if I don't take him for a walk soon, can't quite decide which)

The underside, so you can see how the frame fits together.

And this is why it has to be so small! This shelf is the only space I have for anything like a model railway, so the board has to fit in snugly. There is just enough room to get the backboard in around the rear and edges... So far, so good (and on the shelf above, you can see my great love in life- Final Fantasy VII!) :D

Once I have the track plotted out, I'll post up more pics of how things are going. I assume that any point motors should be installed before the track is fixed down for good... I had a think about the fiddle yard Pete, and I think I'm going to try and keep it- I want somewhere for my trains to go once the shunting is done. Of course nothing is concrete until the track is down though, so I'll keep what you said in mind.

Hmm, come to think of it, do you think that it would be worth while to put in point motors at all?

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 4:48 pm
by matthew-peter
Hey good to hear works coming on nicelyatleast your getting track together today.

just wondering if your going to be using dcc or analogue control? (hopefully i havent missed this answer)

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:20 pm
by peak
Nice plane.
If I were constructing such a small layout I wouldn't use point motors. I'd go for the wire in tube method!
Looking forward to seeing this progress.

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:34 am
by Kasrkin
Peak, you are an absolute legend! Using a mechanical method like a wire in a tube had just never occured to me! I'll be looking into doing that tomorrow, any advice on materials to use and/or a guide anywhere?

mattiew-peter, what's DDC? I think I'm a bit out of the loop, lol. I was planning to go for just a traditional controller, which became a problem today when I was getting the track. The only one my shop would recommend was a huge double-track Hornby one, way too big for this layout. So, I was tempted to either go for a Graham Farish train set to get ahold of one (plus some extra stock, like the Junior Starter Set here;, or buy one seperately on eBay;

What do you think, is there anything out there that would be better? I want the trains to run fairly slowly here, so I don't quite know what to do...

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 8:48 am
by D2850
DCC is a method of control whereby the controller sends an electrical message to a decoder (computer chip type thing), which operates the motor. THe advantage is that it doesn't need isolating sections and you can control an individual locomotive, but it can be expensive and especially in smaller scales it is difficult to find room for a decoder. for small tank engines like the 14xx i would imagine it is almost impossible, so traditional operation will probably be better, epecially on a layout this small.

The Graham Farish controller (and the almost identical bachmann OO one) is a good slow speed controller, but just be aware some locos may not be. There are higher quality controllers avaliable, but these will cost more, so it's a case of getting what you pay for. The Farish/Bachmann controller does lack outputs for accessories such as point motors, however if you don't need the outputs, then is there much point in buying them. It all depends on your buget really

This looks like it will be a good layout btw

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:33 pm
by Karhedron
I agree that for a small layout with only a couple of engines, DCC would be massive overkill (rather like using a lascannon to kill a Grot ;)). Also small N gauge tank engines are the hardest locos to convert to DCC since there is very little space inside the model to hide the decoder.

For a controller, eBay is probably as good a place as any provided you follow the usual rules of buying from people without much negative feedback. I like Gaugemaster controllers myself. Simple, effective, reliable and you can use them as a doorstop when not using them to run layouts. :D

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:47 pm
by Chuffer Chuff
I agree with Peak on the issue of whether to use point motors or not!

For the space that you have, you don't really need them, the wire in tube method is a good method to use!

I'm going to experiment with this at some point! :wink:

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 2:53 am
by Kasrkin
Karhedron wrote:I agree that for a small layout with only a couple of engines, DCC would be massive overkill (rather like using a lascannon to kill a Grot ;)). Also small N gauge tank engines are the hardest locos to convert to DCC since there is very little space inside the model to hide the decoder.

ha ha! A good way of putting it, I understand perfectly. ;)

Thanks once more for the info guys, it's been helpful as always. :) For the wire in tube method, does anyone have any advice as to what materials to use? I've played about with the concept a little (see below), but I'm not sure if it will still work as I progress...

Anyway, here's how things are looking now.


The 14xx arrived today! I gotta say that I'm just amazed at the level of detail on this little thing. It's heads and shoulders above the Graham Farish Prairie, and so is the autocoach come to think of it. Here it is, with an old Farish truck from years back, on the track tacked temporarily in place. The sidings aren't on yet because I need another right-hand point first, but I've placed a set of lefts roughly where they will be once I get ahold of the next right set. I haven't encountered any big problems so far, but I'm trying to stay careful and not properly fix anything down yet just in case...

Okay, now moving onto point mechanisms!



This here is the set at the end of the passing loop, on the far left of the layout. I've drilled out holes here to allow two rods to come up through the board to the points so they can be operated from below, which for the time being are held in place with a bit of plastic sprue;


Now using the sprue as a switch works fine, which is encouraging. But the challenge is to connect this somehow to the control panel on the bottom right of the layout... I'm thinking of getting a brass tube to run the entire length, filled with some more wire (as thick as will fit) which will be bent upwards to form a switch at the control panel. This wire will connect directly to the sprue (or something more appropriate) to create the full mechanism...

How does that sound? Any thoughts on material types to use? :? I get the feeling this won't be easy, so please help me out!

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:18 am
by G4YVM
I'm new to trains but in model shops you'll find things called "gold'n rods" or more commonly "snakes" for model plane controls. They are essentially Bowden cables in model form. They'll cost you a couple of quid and are about a metre lomg - one pack of two will do you I should think. fasten both ends of the snake outer and use the inner for control and your points job is solved.


Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:52 am
by mumbles
another method for mechanical point control is using rods- model rail, bicycle spokes, with either a bend to come up through baseboard or a small nail or peice of wire solderd on
see here
can be a cheap option as opposed to spending on wire and tube and would still work with your points at an angle.. i have a point on my 009 layout that is at an angle, works fine

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 pm
by Kasrkin
I've had a go at using your method Mumbles (or a simular style at least), and it's working nicely! The choice now is to either stick with it and make some little buttons or leavers or something to help with switching the points, or to look up some of those Gold'n Rods, G4YVM...

A bigger problem has appeared, though; my Bachmann controller arrived this morning, so I've spent an hour or so wiring it up to the track to test things out. Now, it works with the Prairie, though it's movement is sometimes a little jerky (this doesn't suprise me though, because it always has been a bit like that). The 14xx however doesn't move at all, and I can't work out why. It doesn't even respond if I touch the wires directly to it's wheels... Does anyone know what might be wrong? Is it just a case of cleaning, or might it be more serious? :(