Kyle in a boxfile

I’ve mentioned this layout before but I should properly introduce Kyle in a Boxfile. I first saw this layout on the excellent RMWeb forums and have been following it’s progress since. I was re-reading a thread covering the layout’s conception and design phases and thought it would be great to share it so others might take a look too:
http://www.rmweb.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=43437&sid=8538c2fa47d86311de631fb9d4810409

The layout is based on the British Railways station at Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland. What I find so fascinating about the design of the layout is how it concentrates this large station’s track plan into one very simple plan yet it is instantly recogniseable for what it is a model of. The design is evidence of a real understanding of how trains entered the station and moved within it. It also reflects and understanding of what types of trains and equipment would be seen at the station during the intended time period and what trackage would need to exist to support both the appearance of these trains but also to permit them to operate realistically within the scene.

Designing a small model railway places one in a position of having to really concentrate on just why you are building it in the first place. What I find a small model railway does is remind you of your own railway experiences and provide you with an excellent place to recreate those exact moments. Watching real trains you probably did so from a particular station platform or railroad crossing. We very seldom wander from these special places and may have never seen the area with the train operating in the whole space. We should be trying to focus our design on the essence of that scene, those that scream the location to the audience and remind us of our experiences in that space. Why worry about the whole railroad yard if you only remember operations from one corner’s location? Furthermore it connects us to our model railway in a very personal way. Of course by really streamlining what we’ll build models of we’re also creating a superb backdrop to support realistic operation of our model trains within the scene. I’ve been trying to compare my progress on Prince Street to Montreal’s Windsor Station. My model doesn’t have as many platforms nor are those platforms that I do have long enough to support trains of the lengths that CP and later STCUM and AMT would operate. Since I’m only interested in commuter operations at Windsor I really only need enough platforms to support a typical weekday’s trains in and out of the station. I’m not modelling the other trains so don’t need to create space for them. I can only accomodate two car trains in each platform road where the prototype trains were much longer. Since I’m interested primarily in how the station pilot engine made up and placed commuter trains in the station I’m interested in the moves for each block of cars so the length of each train is arbitrary. I can deviate a little and look forward to having the occasional train arrive with a mail or express car on the head and needing to move this out of way will bring some variety to the scene. Speaking of pilots, check out this great picture of an S3 doing just what I plan to recreate:
http://www.trainweb.org/oldtimetrains/photos/cpr_diesel/7041b.jpg

I strongly encourage you to check out the blog link above. Kyle’s builder’s sketches are really beautiful to look at on their own and I am quite impressed with his design process. He not only sketched out a plan but built a number of mock-ups along the way to test design theories for practicality. The finished layout is designed in a series of foot-long modules (four of them) and the whole thing is designed to be stored in a very small box out of the way. His use of foam core for benchwork, such that it is, is really wonderful and it was seeing his success that ultimately convinced me that I would be okay if I adopted that route too. It’s funny how I’m building to a plan originally designed for a Scottish parcels depot (Victoria Park) and inspired by another Scottish-inspired model railway but am still convinced that my trains of 70’s-era Canadian commuter equipment will look fine. Sure is fun though!

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2 comments

    1. Thanks for the tip about the museum. I used to correspond with the former stationmaster at the Kyle. At the time, he also operated a small bookstore out of the station that also sold model railways. I found a price list from the store and it was a fun walk down memory lane. He had Lima class 37’s in the blue and yellow for about thirty-seven pounds and lots of books and magazines – many of which found their way from his shop to my home. Even the price list was a fun history lesson: dot matrix printed on thin, tractor-feed printer paper. Has it really been that long?!

      …I’m rambling, again. Sorry.

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