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entry 31 Dec 2011, 13:17
For layout I am looking at a couple of loops on the current L shape setup to get things up and running and useable, combined with the mainline that goes from one corner and winds around pretty much to the opposite diagonal corner, in preparation for stages 2 & 3 long into the future. As you can see I have pencilled in some areas which will depend upon available space as to what the physical representation of these becomes. Ideally we will get stations at Shirebrook and Chesterfield, collieries at Oxcroft and Whaley Thorns, as well as Whaley village and some townships at Chesterfield, Whaley Thorns and Shirebrook.

I have a couple of hiddden track sections, one along the front of the layout, behind the front support and under the hills, and one at the back running under the hills. These are to approximate a line between Shirebrook - Pleasley - Chesterfield and another from Shirebrook - Clowne - Sheffield.

In the middle is the infamous Bolsover Tunnel, long since filled in, which took up over 2 miles under the Scarcliffe hills. Mine won't be quite that long, but it will at least give a sense of a tunnel being there. Not sure why it was called Bolsover Tunnel seeing as it ran from Scarcliffe to Carr Vale.

And the railway centre at Langwith Junction will provide the marshalling yards.

A couple of the loops looked a little tight on paper, but having rolled a few tracks out they aren't too bad at all - 9-10"

It was a long process thinking through a layout that could provide short term playability as well as build in the key topographical features and leave space for the mainline. Must have taken two months just thinking about it before doing anything that resembled construction. Be interested to see how close the final layout matches the paper plan. I have already made some tweaks based on what I was seeing as I tried the track onsite, but nothing too severe to date.

I found AnyRail to be a fairly good tool for the planning stage. I managed with just the trial version which is limited to 50 pieces of track, but as I am using flex this wasn't such a problem, even for a moderate sized layout. I gave the 3d modelling tools a crack, but they just weren't intuitive enough in one way or another. In the end I settled for a 2d plan and have kept the other dimension in my head - for better or worse.
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entry 31 Dec 2011, 08:52
I have gone down the road of stability over portability. Whilst I am taking all efforts to maintain separate sections the aim will be on a permanent layout in the garage (hereby rechristened the Central Platform, much to the chagrin of the wife). This means I have distinct sections to the layout which each have discreet legwork, and they are easily disconnected from each other, but it is not my intention to do so. I suppose it is done purely from the view that in the event of moving home it will not be a destroy everything and start again moment.

The legs setup is done on a metal trestle. Bunnings (Australian DIY chain) have some snap together heavy duty, sectional shelving units. By using different bits of this system it is possible to create a very strong metal substrate for the baseboard measuring approximately 1900 x 900. Each leg set comes out at around $80 I seem to recollect.

On top of this I have laid a 1200 x 2400 sheet of 9mm ply, supported on the frame by standard structural pine 70mm x 35mm struts. With about six screw this holds the ply tightly down and gives firm support across all areas of the board. This is intended as my standard baseboard. To begin with I have an L shape of two connected baseboard modules, but the top one is a little shorter (approx. 1900) so as to allow a third 2400 x 1200 to fit in the space and turn the "L" into "U" in the future. Likewise I envisage a fourth running along the existing long side, bringing it to over 5m on that side.

You can see that I have run the support beams above the baseboard as my initial thoughts were to use this to create depth by setting "sea level" above baseboard level and building up and down from that point as required. Not sure that this was correct or not at the moment, but it has certainly provided the ability to build in depth and also some hidden track under the scenery.

The backboards are 3mm ply and stand about 600 above the baseboard, which I can either paint directly at a later date or secure preprepared backdrops to them.

Now to get to the business of 3D landscape on the blank canvas...
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entry 31 Dec 2011, 08:26
After 30+ years of discarding my first model railway I have had the urge to return and see what can be done with modern equipment, wider experience and better finances. I started in the arena back in the 1970s with mainly Hornby gear on a flat piece of chipboard and a few pieces of Lima scenery. As is the want with teenagers this was discarded for other pursuits and became but a memory.

Recently I had the idea of scenic modelling the area in which my parents, their parents and forebears grew up - North Derbyshire. I was not even considering model rail until it occurred to me that the rail was the lifeblood of much of the area, helping to drive the coalfields and other pursuits to prosperity. Indeed, my mother's and father's hometowns and still the area where many of their brother's and sisters live is within one or two kilometres of Langwith Junction, a key part of the Derbyshire rail story.

And so, the North Derbyshire Rail Co. formed in my mind, an approximation of the key aspects of the ill-fated Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway that was intended to run from Sutton-On-Sea on the East coast to Warrington in the West. Traversing the majesty of the Peak District as well as the key settlements to which I so closely relate.

I have decided to commence with the Chesterfield to Shirebrook section, encompassing Bolsover, Whaley, Langwith Junction, Whaley Thorns as well as Shirebrook and Chesterfield. My aim, should finance and enthusiasm persist, is to add on a Shirebrook-Lincoln leg and a Chesterfield-Peak District leg. This will provide a mainline from Lincoln to Warrington (or at least Macclesfield) as well as a couple of branches to coalfields. The era is aimed loosely between the 1940s and 1950s (my parents childhood), but I suspect by simply changing locos and vehicles this layout would work across a broader range of time, maybe 1920s - 1960s...

I am working in N Scale primarily to allow greater depth and scale on the scenic side of things and will be using DCC for power and control.

Given I return with little knowledge it should be a steep curve where no doubt mistakes will be made. However, hopefully there will be something worthwhile to show as the months pass by.

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