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Monday, 5 June 2017

Project 17 - 6 Month Review

This is one of three micro layouts I had in mind to build, thinking they would be quite quick to create. After all I had read of such layouts being created in a weekend or even 24 hours.

6 months later of 2 or 3 hours per week and whilst Swanage Loco Yard looks finished there is still more to do!

The reason a micro layout can take so long to build is down to the method one decides to follow. I daresay a fictitious railway using all proprietary materials could be knocked up in a weekend. To base a layout on a real location needs time for research and considerably more effort where much of the scene has to be scratch built, as in my case.

What's left to add to the scene is some track side furniture, a bit of landscape in the foreground and completion of track ballasting.

The more significant items to build are the fiddle yards at each end. I was unsure what method to use for these. On a recent visit to the EM South exhibition I paid particular interest in fiddle yard designs used on the layouts there and came away with ideas that should help me construct them.

To operate the layout with some authenticity I'll need to acquire an M7 tank locomotive and perhaps a class 3MT as well since these were used for local services on the line in my period.

I wish I could say that the build has all gone swimmingly but I'm afraid there are significant issues that almost caused me to abandon the project, which I'll allude to now.

Turntable Drive

The turntable is motor driven. I mentioned in an earlier posting that it is a noisy mechanism and with that big void beneath the baseboard the sound is amplified (as are the locomotive motors). More of a worry is the weakness of the turntable drive. Even though the motor is purported to be high torque it does not cope well with a bit of friction in turntable movement. If this becomes unbearable I'll convert it to manual control via a turning handle at the front of the layout module.

Foam Board Module

5mm foam board is an inexpensive and a very light weight material from which to make the layout module. I knew it might have strength issues but the finished unit seemed sufficiently rigid. However, the baseboard soon sagged in places indicating that I should have put in more bracing. It was too late to do this retrospectively as some scenic items were already fixed in place so, the deviation had to be packed out beneath the railway track to ensure a flat plane. A sheet of thin plywood on top of the foam board base or making the baseboard from a thick piece of insulation foam board may have helped matters.

During the photo session today I noticed that the sides of the module are showing bowing tendencies. This does not bode well for the long term future of the layout, which is a worry as the scene itself is very well done and a delight to view, if I say so myself. If only I could lift it off and fit it to a more solid structure for longevity. I'm afraid it does not lend itself to that.


I wanted  limited lighting to be representative of a dull autumn day It was the first thing built into the module and seemed adequate although I knew the reflection from white walls and baseboard might be giving a false impression. Having built the landscape much of the light is absorbed by it making for very dull light at the engine shed end of the layout. On the face of it with the shed lights switched on it would be beneficial but it's too dark for my liking. I don't want to add more theatrical lights at that end as the intention was to have light from one source as though the sun was shining through thin cloud. Fortunately, I had not stuck the opaque roof panel in place so I'm now toying with the idea of making the module roof out of translucent material to allow more ambient light across the scene.

To Part 19.

To Part 1.

Oh, and what of the other two micro layouts I had in mind - probably non starters after the time it is taking for this one.

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