I am planning on a sector plate at the end of my layout. Primarily, I would like to use this to complete the runaround loop but I have a bit of a vision of using it as a place from which trains could enter and exit from the scene.
In the three photos above (from the left):
- I’ve outlined the space for the sector plate in red marker on the plan. I did this as much to define it with respect to the rest of the plan as to help me visualise the room around it for scenic development.
- I built a very short staging “cassette” back when I built my N scale Bush Terminals micro layout. I used it in this photo to help visually reinforce the sector plate and its location.
- For reference, the plan.
There are so many great ideas that others have used on their layouts. From my list of Youtube bookmarks, here are a pair of my favourites.
I consider John Birkitt-Smith’s Ashburton to be a perfect example of everything an N scale layout could be. It’s beautifully scenicked, supports realistic operations…I could go on. The above video was produced by British Railway Modelling magazine and it’s superb. I watched the whole thing again while preparing this blog post but in terms of sector plates, fast forward to around 5:50 to see John’s great idea. Where traditionally we’d hide the sector plate behind a backdrop he’s actually left it out in the open. Sure the line disappears through the ubiquitous bridge but it doesn’t go through a backdrop, it simply heads into a cutting. The brilliance here is that the cutting is the sector plate. Once inside, the whole lot swings back to line up with the storage roads. As with Ashburton, my layout leaves the sector plate in a very exposed location and I can’t help but think that a similar approach might work for me too. I don’t plan a cutting but might try mocking something up.
Where Ashburton proved how attractive we could manage the humble sector plate, the approach used above for Brewery Pit, I think, is equally elegant. He’s using simple aluminum angle to act as the running rails. Of course, the beauty of using the angle is that it provides a higher side to make handling the whole assembly just that much easier and without accidentally knocking the trains over.
In both examples, the challenge is in powering the sector plate. In a scenicked Ashburton-style sector place I’d be awfully tempted to use a headphone jack as the fulcrum and also to conduct power. I’ve used this for turntables and liked it. In the Brewery Pit approach I’ve seen examples where modellers simply included a short length of the same angle fixed to the layout itself. When the sector plate was aligned with the appropriate departure road, simple bulldog clips from the office are clipped across the angle, at the joint and this simple mechanical connection keeps the plate aligned and bridges power across the joint.
Moving forward I’m leaning more heavily toward a scenicked plate. Ashburton uses a lever to move the plate itself and I’m leaning in that direction to. I plan a ridge of trees between the sector plate and the scene in front. If I can avoid reaching into this scene, that sounds like something worth designing around.
Lots to think about and that’s great. More tiny steps in a forward direction. Seems like I’m still heading forward. So far. So good.