Now that’s settled: Victoria Park revisited

I think I’ve settled on a plan and it’s time to start talking about it. As I mentioned in the title, I’m going to build a second version of Ian Futer’s Victoria Park plan. This was the same plan I used for the first of the micro layouts I built last winter. Here’s a quick view of the plan:
Victoria Park actual
I’ve shared it before, but here’s a superb Youtube video of the layout in operation:

And, finally, a photo of what I built the first time:
DSC00209
While it doesn’t show in my photo, the top of that baseboard wasn’t exactly level. This was more from my inadvertantly leaning on it than any structural issue with the foam core-based structure. Worse, the length of track designed to exit the board and connect to the staging sidings was some of the worst I think I’ve ever built and it was really almost too tricky to repair. After a lot of reflection and a few valiant efforts to save the layout, I saved some parts I could and quietly put the rest in the garbage bin. I still really love the plan and the way it balanced an elegantly simple design that offered some interesting operating potential as well as a prototypically based scene.

I’ve done a lot of looking at different track plans and sketching out concepts and had a lot of fun exploring options for the next layout but it seems like every time I’ve grabbed a magazine to flip through casually it’s the issue featuring this layout.

So, now that I’ve pretty much settled on a plan and given that I have already built a version I have some thoughts on execution based on things I thought I’d do better “next time”:

Prototype
I’m going British. Era-wise likely early 1970’s so I can collect and run a lot of “BR blue” era equipment. I’m not 100% committed here and to be honest most of the British stock I have already works better for a steam-era layout set somewhere on the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. I can worry about this later though.

Scale
I’ll probably stick with N. I like N and I enjoy working in it. That said, there is just so much more stuff available in OO and the cost is about equal. Part of me thinks that this is where I should give in and take an easier route and I can’t quite shake the temptation.

I already have enough ties and rail to start this layout in N. I almost have enough for OO but not quite. Still thinking of track; I’m more than happy with the look of rail soldered to ties in N and don’t really feel as bothered about the lack of tieplate and spike or chair detail as I could or should be. Moving to the larger OO scale track, I think I’d want to have a little more detail. I enjoy building track so the extra work isn’t intimidating but it involves bits I don’t have.

Layout size
I built the earlier version’s scenic area in about a 4×30″ space. My version was literally scaled down directly from Ian’s 7mm scale (O scale) version. I did kind of regret that the sidings weren’t a little longer. In N, I’m thinking about extending the sidings to hold a 21″ long train. I’ll need this room again in the staging area. These two areas combined with track to connect it all together brings the finished layout around 5×1′ total. In OO I would try and compress things just a little more and keep it around 8×1′.

Staging
I feel like I just finished typing – “no hidden staging”. Here I am talking about it. I won’t be hiding this as the staging yard will be visible and in line with the station but I do have plans to use a three track traverser table. I may widen this out for a fourth track to allow three full trains (equals the number of platform roads) plus one spare line to use as a headshunt. Not sure about this yet. I’m planning on starting construction at the staging yard end of the layout as I imagine this will be the most challenging part of the construction to get right. On the previous version, this area never worked even close to nicely and it was frustrating. I want to get it right this time.

I’m trying to sketch out ideas to make the table slide sideways smoothly and am looking at some cabinet hardware for this part. The next design challenges for the traverser will be aligning the track on the table with the departure road and I don’t have an option I like for this. On my HO micro layout I used two pieces of brass tubing with one sliding into the other. This worked to conduct power onto the table and also align the tracks. It did those items very well but was a little finicky to use. Finally, I need to decide if I want to simple push the table back-and-forth to align it or use shift it using some mechanical means.

Benchwork
As mentioned earlier, I’m going to build this as a cart. Most of the time it will live in the dining room but I like the idea of being able to easily bring it out to use elsewhere in the house or to make it easier to work on.

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5 comments

  1. Hi Chris,

    If you rearrange the platforms, so that the “island” is between roads 2 and 3, rather than 1 and 2 (counting from the top), you can have longer platforms on all roads. This may seem odd, as it means that an arrival in platform 1 or 2 may block the other of those two roads, but this would only be the case if a train long enough for platform 3 arrived, only to find platform 3 was full! It could always be shunted over to remove the blockage.

    Simon

    1. That’s a really great idea and variation. I was having a little trouble visualising it so I started sketching out some variations and now that I see it I really see the brilliance. I’ll post those sketches online shortly. Thanks Simon!

  2. I love that RS-1 sitting on the loco-ready road. In the 1940s, after WWII and before nationalisation, the LNER wanted to buy some Alcos. I have always assumed that they would have been based on the RS-1, but with some shoe-horning to fit them into the UK loading gauge: lower cab (or possibly a cab at one or both ends), narrower walkways, etc. Because it was oil-powered and because such expenditure on foreign goods was not allowed (the UK was all but bankrupted by the two world wars) it never got anywhere, but there is an interesting “might-have-been” in there!

    1. Cool story. I’ve seen photos of the GM and Alco switchers working in the Welsh steel properties but this is the first I’ve seen of a mainline application. Might have been neat to see. I wonder if something based on the S-series switchers might have happened ad s prelude to the cl20’s?

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