Saturday, 4 June 2011

Further Deformation or Diluted Essence?

Last weekend I outlined how several months ago I had considered rebuilding Shifting Sands to fit into the railway room I then had planned, essentially elongating the layout into something that ran along two of the walls.  The drastic cutting of the baseboard was also given some thought in a second version which really would have put a new perspective on things.  Back to those 'lines of indecision':

White lines - existing edges and centre; blue line - existing backscene base; red and orange lines - proposed new baseboard edges.
Yet again the back of the layout and the ice cream parlour would be lost, but the twist would have been that the baseboard would be turned through 180 degrees to make the shaped edge the front of the layout.  A new backscene along the present front would have depicted a holiday park, and the sea would have been visible beyond the dunes, which would be to the left of the revised layout.  Again the running line would have been straightened out into the longer run.  Sadly there isn't a composite sketch to show you this time as I didn't have the right view to make one from and couldn't take one as the layout is on display at 'Rails to the Sands' in Cleethorpes.  I thought I had made a trackplan sketch but can't seem to locate one...

My main concern with this scene was that the layout was built to be viewed from one direction, turning it around would destroy this. Although I was open to the possibilities created there would need to be some work to change things, I was especially concerned about the platform fence blocking the view of trains in the station, however realistic this might be!

Eventually this image did make another idea form in my mind.  My new workbench looks set to be located in an alcove just over 3' wide by 1' deep.  The area over the workbench will be ripe for shelving that could possibly hold a micro layout.  Now 3' isn't that long a run for a miniature railway, even in O9, but what if I added a fiddle yard around the corner when in use?  Could the head shunt be on a similar bolt-on board?

Essence of 'Shifting Sands'?
The kick-back from the fiddle yard (on the right) would be to allow handling free operation and exchange of locos, something I wish I had incorporated on the original 'Shifting Sands'.  Well it worked on paper, admittedly a scale-less sketch, but would it really work.... as with the development of 'Shifting Sands', I turned to my test track to mock-up what might be possible:

White lines - fixed baseboard edges; yellow lines - bolt-on boards
It is certainly feasible, but there would be issues with uncoupling on a 10" radius curve using MicroTrains couplers and the same issues I have on 'Shifting Sands' coupling back up after running around.  It was also rather too close to the original layout in many ways, and risked moving from diluted essence to poor pastiche. As any over-the-workbench scheme would essentially be a home-use test track, I asked myself could I get away with even less?  Is a loop a real necessity if a loco-swap was an alternative?  I doodled again:

Simplified over-workbench test track.
I have cunningly disguised the lack of a full loop by making it look like there is one, but as it crosses a road or pathway there is a gate across the far end.  It is a busy day and rather than run around, locos are simply swapped over.  Something similar used to exist at Lakeside station on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and sometimes was operated in that way:

The Cleethorpes Gate in 1995, with 'Little Giant' and 'King George V'.
The eagle eyed will notice that the ice cream van makes yet another appearance in the triangle of land between the station and fiddle yard kick-back on the plan.  I have no objection on this test track scheme to the kick-back being at least partially visible in the scenic area

This set-up, if built, could easily represent the other end of the Somerthorpe Miniature Railway, the much fabled 'Somerthorpe Promenade'.  Alternatively, I could really shake things up and set it in a town park, farm park, stately home or abandoned standard gauge trackbed.  OK, perhaps not that last one in that space....


  1. I'd agree that with so many changes you might as well start a new layout that is designed to fit the space. And I'm in favour of using an alcove!

    How about using a turntable release, as used by several lines including the Littlehampton Miniature Railway? It takes up no more space than the loco anyway, and would give a different "feel" to the station than Shifting Sands.

    The spur from the Fiddle Yard could provide loco facilities, perhaps ending in a flat front of a loco shed? That would justify parking locos there.

  2. Definitely start over from scratch. all new design!