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Solsbury Hill

32607 Views 102 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  steam-driven boy
Hi all.

Just to start this topic off I'm posting an overall layout plan I've put together using a combination of good old fashioned pen and paper, then 'colorized' through the basic 'paint' software on my PC.
At first glance it hasn't reduced that well but if I've got this image posting sorted I'll follow up with some better images.

If you can see what I'm driving at with this any positive criticism would be welcome, although I've progressed as far as some significant board construction so I don't see how I'll be able to substantially retrieve any major foul-ups

The layout consists of three boards, each measuring 60"x31". Trackwork will be Peco code55 with old fashioned DC control and the minimum radius curve will be 12"

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Hi all,

Having amazed myself at getting the original post with image on, I'm recovering from that surprise and have some additional images to confound or amuse.

I'll refer to the above as Board1


and Board3

These are admittedly quite crude images, but have been arrived at through quite careful measurement on a full size plan with actual trackwork to make sure all the pieces fit where they should, without points being too close to baseboard edges or point motor installation compromised by supporting baseboard framework.

Again, any comments or helpful suggestions will be gratefully received

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Hi all,

Getting the hang of this now I think, quite a few images with notes to bring things pretty much up to the present.

The station plan is mostly based on that of Birmingham (Snow Hill) as published in Derek Harrison's 'Salute To Snow Hill', I scanned this into my PC and enlarged it until the track centres were correct for the trackwork. I then printed out onto surplus office A4 printouts - invariably single-sided and simply binned when no longer of use, so not too wasteful - which gave me the following:

While checking the actual Peco points on this full size plan I felt that the distance between the scissors crossover and the next left hand point down the up line looked a bit crowded so inserted an extra 6" to space them apart to a more pleasing distance to my eye:

I didn't bother with the sheet for the third board as it only really had the return loop and I hadn't decided at that time what to put in the space available. I then carefully drew a 4mm to 1" plan onto some pizza box card, this was again scanned into the PC so I could play with various design ideas in 'paint' and, to help me with the 3d visualisation, then used the card as a basis for my model-of-a-layout (at last, something vaugely resembling modelling!):

My local timber merchant cut the basic shapes I needed for me from 9mm and 6mm ply, leaving me to work on the more complex shapes. The next two images are pretty much as they are at present:

You'll note the evidence of some re-alignment of the main lines on board 3 and some very dodgy woodworking skills on both, and no, they're nothing like ready for track laying yet:

And finally, for now, some more play in 'paint' to get an idea of where this is going:

I haven't started assembly of board 1 yet, and as mentioned there's plenty to be getting on with on what you see here.

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That's an impressive set of photos.

I am also amazed by the pair of scissors crossovers at the end of the platforms. It seems money was no object when this station was built?

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Thanks dwb,

I was worried about overkill with starting this topic, but at the speed I work at postings will inevitably slow down to a much reduced output.
Isn't it just typical of the GWR that they were so inconsiderate of future railway modellers and their finances, and I'm sure there's a trace of that attitude in Peco producing suitable products to replicate that layout!
Since I'm not really doing Snow Hill the temptation is to just put some plain track in there, but there's a level of devilment in me that finds it hard to pass on the complication, I'm sure if I get them working there'll be a greater satisfaction to be had operationally

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Hi all,

Although it's nearly two months since my last post here I've not been entirely idle, although I'm still 'enjoying' the limitations visited upon me by disability I have been working on the design of the 'Railway Hotel', and some actual work on progressing Board 1 to a point where I can cobble that together. I then intend to get all three boards to a level of finish where I can at last contemplate track laying.

The original building at Snow Hill was completed in 1897 but only lasted as an Hotel until 1905, from 1906 it continued on primarily as offices with public restaurant and booking hall, finally being demolished in 1969/70.
However, in early 1939 plans were afoot to replace this with a new hotel, but even the mighty GWR had to accept that the strenuous efforts needed against Mr Hitler and his chums would put a bit of a dent in their scheme so it never came to fruition.
Given the nature of the original, I didn't fancy having to contrive something with all those Victorian 'crinkly bits' to contend with. Although the station buildings at platform level are from the same period as the hotel they seem eminently 'do-able', so will be attempted.
Armed with the artists impression in the book BIRMINGHAN SNOW HILL - A First Class Return by Derek Harrison, and a front elevation in BRITAIN'S RAIL SUPER CENTRES - BIRMINGHAM by Paul Collins I recognised a realistic option given my limited abilities.
The three images above (another of my 3D visualisations - to 1/296th-ish scale) have resulted from some cut-and-shut work using Microsoft Publisher tools. The frontage is taken directly from the front elevation and the rest is improvised to fit the site and my own perculiar notions of architecture!.
Now I can see what it will look like I'll produce proper drawings to work from for the real thing when the time comes.

The cutting to shape of the ply for Board1, producing eventually the 'flat-pack' pieces for assembly as I did for Boards 2 and 3.
The green lines representing the 'Up', anti-clockwise track, the red lines are the 'Down' clockwise track.
The white line encloses the area that the hotel should occupy, whilst the black encloses the location of the platform buildings.
The odd shaped board showing the curved lines will be below the shopping centre site it rests on in this image.

Another of my impressions of how things should go together, with the full size hotel frontage giving the feeling that a miniature Paddington Bear should stroll accross the scene at any moment

Solsbury Hill falls away steeply in the right background, and a removable (to allow access to the tracks below) city shopping complex will sit in the foreground.

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Excellent planning - just shows how big some buildings are!

Actually I missed this one back in October and just love the use use of cans to represent the brewery.

Fantastic thread, really enjoyed looking at all your planning. Good luck and keep up the good work!

Some excellent planning there, not to mention the first class graphics.

If the same level of dedication to detail is displayed in the real thing that will be one heck of a layout. I look forward to seeing your further progress. Well done so far.
Hi all,

Thanks for the comments, the encouragement from which really does mean a great deal

The tanks ('stimulation drink' cans from a friend who considers such things a boon) are a temporary imagineering tool, they look far too large to allow me to use them as a recycling effort. If that proves to be the case I'll probably find some E.M.A. sections of more suitable size to replace them with. I shall go and eyeball the nearby Aston Brewery ones to get a better view on that when the project gets to that stage.

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Looks like a great plan, I look forward to seeing it built if you post it. A question and a suggestion.....can you actually see the loco shunting the mail bay? I could imagine driving a loco in there and the point change derailing the last bogie of mail coaches if the point is not quite cleared, it looks tight in there. The other thing is I wonder if you have considered making the freight sidings not quite parallel with the front of the baseboard. You have obviously given a lot of thought as to what can be squeezed in there so it might be a question of sacrificing a siding for what might be a less contrived more natural look.I am sure it will lok great whichever way you go. Happy modelling.
Hi Andrew, and thanks for your comments.

Yes, I'm aware of the limitations you mention.

I'm thinking of putting in a detection system of some kind (infra red perhaps) to ensure I get an indication the points are cleared for the mail bay, I've given myself access from above and below to retrieve anything that goes astray. I did think long and hard about having the more prototypical wagon turntables there but thought I'd probably get fed up with the fiddle of it all and end up with a static area on the layout - moving bright red bogie stock about on a simplified trackplan is more attractive to me (if only I had the space/money/time to do it in 4mm!).
I may well try and get a more interesting shape into the brewery sidings, within the limits of the space available I certainly can see a potential for that kind of visual improvement.

My 'fallback' position (if all else fails) would have to be that the site is very cramped (which was a problem for the GWR when they had to expand the station later, and part of the attration for me) and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line!

I've been making progress on the physio side of things so I'm expecting to be able to show some real progress on the boards, hopefully with some track down, on the next main post

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Hi all,

As posted on the 'Christmas 2008' topic in 'The Station Concourse', I must have been nice enough over the year as
brought me:

an upgrade to the s-d b 'technical facility', a Peco setrack pack with additional 2nd radius curved track to make a double loop with crossover. This now gives me the opportunity to run-in loco's properly rather than just checking they run at all on the existing lower-tech yard of code 55 powered by a 9 volt battery (seen in background). Once I get the track laid on Solsbury Hill the layout will allow a full measure of testing but this will continue to be of use when I don't want to put the whole layout up just to run in a new loco.

the Bachmann/Farish 04 and Hampton Hill Signal Box , more or less where the box should end up on the - for now - bare plywood. I couldn't resist taking the razor saw to the low walling (the handrails will surely have to be replaced as well) first thing Chrimbo morning as I want to reverse it's position on the right, there will be a gap on the left before the retaining wall that prevents my miniature rail workers falling down into whatever becomes the re-named equivalent of Great Charles St. (Lesser Barmy Prince St. is not an option

In case anyone may be confused, rather than just myself, although Solsbury Hill uses the GWR's 2nd layout at Birmingham Snow Hill, in my twisted imagination this layout is located much more southerly in that perculiar Multiverse where the Southern took it over (Please! - Don't cry

I'll get started this afternoon on the remaining woodwork, hopefully giving my immediate neighbours, who partied until just before I posted this, a chance to sleep off any ill-affects of their celebrations
, therefore my next post should cover the promised erection of the station hotel baseboard and the completion of the other two boards with tracklaying - at last! - being the following phase
early next year/week (I've got a "best laid plans..." feeling about that last statement

Happy Boxing Day.
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Hi all,

Progress is on-going but painfully (using that word in a literal way, sadly) slowly. I've managed the profile cutting of the 'flat pack' for Board 1 - the Railway Hotel board - previously referred to and assembly has produced the results you can see below:

The above shows the location for the return loop track bed, and that for the adjoining portion of the station. Platforms will be on raised sections, edged with Peco concrete platform edging.

The above three pictures show the board placed - it will be fixed down once the return loop is laid to my satisfaction - that will cover the return loop, and the modern shopping centre will lift out from the two openings visible at the top of the photo's.

Given my previously optimistic forecasts of when things will be done I'll err on the side of caution this time and just say I expect the next posting to show all three boards physically connected and completed to the state where track laying can commence, which will be with this board.

As ever, any constructive comments or suggestions (or if I've confused
) are most welcome

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Hi all,

Further to my last post, another of my rough 'imagineered' views:

The view looking towards the back of the Railway Hotel with the lines disappearing under the booking hall, and a 'wire-frame' (sort of
) walkway leading from it to a structure on the down platform which will house lifts, stairs and escalators.
This is very much a first attempt at what will end up here, I certainly want something looking quite recent connecting to what would have been a 1940's Hotel, with the Victorian station buildings on the platforms giving a deliberate range of periods on view.

I haven't attempted to show the platform station buildings, partly (I must admit
) because they wouldn't be easy with my rough-and-ready use of the software, and partly because the down platform building would mostly obscure the structure providing access to the booking hall. When installed the station buildings will account for quite a bit of the vast expanses seemingly available in the foreground either side of the tracks.

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Hi all,

Ta-rah!!! Three baseboards connected-up physically for the first time, still with some work to do on them but I can actually get on with tracklaying as the next major job. It'll never win any awards as far as the quality of the woodworking goes but this is my first multi-board project and I'm just hugely relieved I've managed to get them aligned as they should be.
Here are some photo's:

Above: This shot is from the station hotel end. The storage loops - five lines - run along the right.
Below: Two shots from the brewery end.

This is, of course, why the boards are 31" wide - the layout is designed to fit through the doorway between my living room and hallway.
Rail height will be at about 46.5"
As ever, any comments or suggestions will be welcome.

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cool!! hope you get more done with out to much pain !!!

Looking good !!! youre doing great !!

I cant comment because Im not very experienced myself but that looks like a fair job to me
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Hi again,

Thanks for your comments, it's really reassuring, and adds to my confidence levels while considering the next stages in this project

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