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In my mind’s eye …


Timeton (tim-i-ton, not time-ton) is a fictitious village roughly in Northern England, probably the Peak District. It is the basis for a modelling exercise I have recently started, using 00-scale railway, architecture, people and vehicles.

I aim to record it’s development on these pages from conceptualisation to, I hope, completion. I want to show that it is possible to build a really good looking, fully operational model railway in a small space, using readily available components.

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Planning: 3. Landscape designing

Planning the landscape, the hills, roads, village, station and so forth is what this layout really exists for. The completed project will be a railway line passing through a series of dioramas full of interest, the day to day life of English village from the 1950s or 60s. Perhaps some humour thrown in too.
Ideas include a small village, with its branch line station, perhaps depicting the village fête with bunting and a marching band. A church of course, a pub, and the local garage. Away from the village there should be a canal, maybe a cricket match on the common, and a busy farm. The country lane into the village comes down the hill from some hidden great metropolis we can only imagine.

So the next step is to try and see how many of those can be fitted into the very limited available space. This is a complicated design to draw, but doesn’t need to be exact at this stage. It can be adjusted as the building work gets under way. Here is the draft of what I hope it will look like….landscape

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Planning: 2. Refining the track plan

Starting from the Freetrackplans.com layout the first step was to recreate it in WinRail, ready for my modifications. The modifications were straightforward and can be seen by comparison between the two plans shown here.track_comparisonThe changes are minor.

  1. As the small station will be in the centre that area of the return loop is flattened slightly, and a small siding added.
  2. The entire loop and oval are moved down closer to the edge of the baseboard, giving more storage space at the top.
  3. What was a terminus station is now a hidden storage area, with one additional line of track.

I will build the track using all Peco track, simply using their basic small points (right-hand, ST240 x 2 –  and left-hand, ST241 x 8) and 914 mm lengths of wooden sleeper flexible track (SL-900 – about 16 pieces). Nothing against Hornby, but Peco is slightly cheaper, more readily available here in New Zealand, and to my eyes just slightly better looking. All code-100 rail, because it’s all that’s available in the sort of geometry I need.

Curves are all number 1 and 2 radius (371 and 438 mm). Most ‘experts” would regard this is very sub-optimal, and I would normally agree. But there really is no alternative when trying to fit a decent continuous-running track within such a small space. It will certainly limit the sizes of locomotives, coaches and trains though. But that’s OK. It can still look good.

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Planning: 1. Concepts

My initial thoughts for this model were to build something large enough to be interesting but small enough to fit the limited space (and budget) in our home without major disruption; and have a fully functioning railway using the latest technology, but primarily as a background to my real passions of architectural and scenic modelling.

I always knew this model would be 00-scale, as that was where my entire modelling experience lay. Anything else would be either too large and therefore expensive, or too small for my ageing eyesight.

I have started many model railways before, so I was determined this one would be completed! That meant carefully considering all the limitations and compromises it would need.

Space is limited. The only ‘room’ available is the garage, which already houses my wife’s car and sundry household storage requirements. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that if I limit the size to 1.8m x 1.2m (old fashioned 6ft x 4ft) I could accommodate it without disturbing anything else. I also needed to accept that although such a small layout would require many compromises from the rail operation aspects, it could at least be affordable. If in addition I can devise a way of making the layout moveable, such as with wheels on the legs, I can move it to the centre of the garage floor for use with the car removed, and push it back to one side with the car returned.

So having decided on the overall size I can start thinking about the track plan and general scenic layout. Here the key criteria are set by the baseboard size, my need for maximum scenic space (rather than lots of complex track), but still having a loop-style track plan  for continuous running with at least some storage sidings. The next step is to scour the internet for track plan ideas that I can adapt to those needs.

There is certainly no shortage of those on the ‘web! I eventually found FreeTrackPlans.com. They had the plan shown here, called “Oval track with return loop”. With only minor adjustments, this could be be ideal. Change the terminus into storage sidings hidden behind a backscene across the full width, push the track as close as practical to the edges, and put a very small branch-line station in the middle on the return loop. The entire track is flat as well, making for easier and more reliable installation.