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entry 30 Nov 2008, 11:20
Well, we moved to a bigger house in March 2007.

After a good 12 months of knocking it into shape (involving lots of mess, disruption and money!), I finally arrived at the point where I could get my hands on the 12' 8" 10' "spare" room - renamed "The Railway Room" - and start building my layout.

Although I did try to do some planning on paper (I gave up on Hornby Virtual Railway 2 after nearly tearing out my hair - but that'll be the subject of whole other post!), in the end most of the trackplan was devised by laying it out on MDF boards on the floor. A rather expensive method...

By this time I had visited a local model railway show (Soar Valley MRC's annual event in Loughborough), and read every issue of Hornby magazine. This had the twin effect of inspiring me to build a fabulous layout, but also totally demoralising me because I could see that I could never hope to achieve those standards of build quality and prototypical accuracy. Still, railway modelling is supposed to be enjoyable, and as I had no intention to exhibit my work I thought that I would build what the hell I wanted, so long as it pleased me.

I did decide on a few principles early on:

1. 00 gauge
2. DCC
3. Code 100 setrack

These first three were dictated to a large extent by the investment I had already made. With hindsight, I might have gone for N gauge. And I do like the look of finescale flexitrack - but I thought I would learn how to lay and ballast Setrack properly first.

4. No first radius - because I didn't want to hamper what motive power and rolling stock I could run (wish I'd though t of that before I bought a load of R1!).

5. Dead frog points - because I'd already bought a load, and because the point of DCC was to minimise the wiring needed (in an ideal world, of course, I would go for live frog for stall-free operation of smaller locos). Point motors only on hard-to-reach points for the time being, mainly for cost reasons, and also because I want to get on with some building and scenic work. The points on the front of the layout will have to be operated by the "Hand of God" for the time being.

6. Continuous double track run. I didn't want a "tailchaser" - that was why I was dissatisfied with the Trakmat (the train didn't seem to be going anywhere). But it is nice to set trains off running and sit back with a cuppa and watch them, especially as they pass in opposite directions. I also decided that I would employ the old trick of having the track disappear into tunnels or under bridges at each end, and hide as much of the un-prototypically tight setrack curves as possible in tunnels. I wanted to employ the longest straight run possible, to allow trains to "stretch out" - so a layout size of 12' 8" 4' with a central operating well was devised.

7. A few sidings for goods shunting, adding some operational interest.

8. Approximately mid 1960s to early 1970s period, British image, but no particular region. Mainly because this "allows" one to run a mixture of late steam along with diesel, and because it's what I remember from my childhood. I'm also a sucker for all those 2.99 Oxford diecast cars of the period. I should say that I'm not too hung up on historical accuracy though - it's my layout, and if, for example, I decide to run a Eurostar or Virgin Pendolino on it one day, well then I jolly well will!

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