Another layout sketch and some introspection

Layout 20130925
I’m at a bit of an impass. Before I start to get into that, I’d like to introduce a layout I have been sketching variations of for quite a while now. From the above, I’m convinced that I like the idea of an eliptical or at least, semi-eliptical, shape the the benchwork. Given that the area will the layout would reside, I feel this is a terrific way to inhabit the space while not literally stuffing it full of benchwork.

I visualise the above scene sloping upward toward the back of the scene. I feel that a gentle, vertical element to the layout is critical not only to provide an extra dimension to an otherwise small area but also to play to the layout’s siting in our living room. I want the layout to be a three dimensional picture when viewed from the front. I’m not planning on a back scene and would like this vertical approach to take on some of that role.

I’ve marked out an area for staging trains in and out of the scene. Trains cross the street before entering the staging area and pass between two buildings which I’d place pretty close to the sides of the track. The structure to the front of the staging could be built without a back to allow a sector plate to clear if swung to the front of the layout. The structures on the opposite (back) side of the railway crossing would all be built as a series of building flats. I’d build the first one, closest the railway line in full relief but then make them thinner as they move toward the back of the layout. Again, thinner buildings here will be space re-invested in staging and the sector plate therein.

The station area occupies most of the scene and begins immediately to the right of the crossing. I like the idea of using a turntable as the escape for the run-around loop in the same way that Bembridge on the Isle of Wight used one. This table isn’t for turning engines, simply moving them from one line to the other and is intentionally quite short – about twenty-four feet.

The run-around loop line to the front plays host to a pair of facing wye turnouts, each of which feeds a siding. Immediately in front of the station is a generic public siding where any type of freight car could be spotted. The longer siding, to the left of the scene, should have a proper industry located on it. This industry, ideally, should be tall enough to help obscure the staging area in behind and would also represent the true reason why the railway pushed all the way to terminate at this town.

I’ve drawn the plan to S scale. I’ve been a member of the S Scale Society now for about a month and am really getting immersed into the potential this scale offers. As for gauge, this line could be built as a narrow gauge line and populated with tramway-style rolling stock inspired by Irish three foot gauge prototypes (modelled as Sn3.5) but I had standard gauge, S scale, in mind when drawing this. I’m not sure how many of the notes will appear in the scan but I was trying to work out relative train lengths and some general depths for various layout elements, in S scale, and am worried this scene will get very busy very quickly.

I’m cringing as I type this, but the thought has occured to me that the whole scene might balance much better in 4mm (OO) or 3.5mm (HO) scales or, for that matter, even in N. I really want to try and give S a go. I’m very eager to build some scenery and structures for this layout and am as keen to settle on a scale so work can commence.

I’m also not entirely settled on the plan, though I do feel it is reasonably prototypical in appearance and would offer some pleasant and relaxing shunting opportunities. I really like the concept and am almost certain about the shape of the baseboard. I don’t know how to settle on a scale and wish I could just wake up settled on this point. I find O and larger scales really too large for the style of modelmaking I enjoy. I grew up on N scale and have harboured a very long passion for 3mm (TT) scale modelling too. I have found though that with my limited time to immerse myself in small scale modelbuilding that working in these small scales is more of an excercise in frustration than the relaxation I hope to derive from model railways. It’s not working in such small scales that I dislike, it’s that I find I need to be in the right “headspace” to do such fine work and in the small intervals I have it’s too hard to get “there”. I have tried a few limited models in S and find it really does offer what it’s strongest proponents argue. It’s small enough to make good use of a limited space yet just that much larger than HO or OO to be really enjoyable to work in. Also to S’s credit is the cohort of modellers currently working in the scale. In the short period since I started to get serious about wading into these 1/64 scale waters I’ve found a very welcoming group of modellers keen to share what thrills them about working in this size and the Society really does offer a terrific catalogue of parts to support working in the scale. Re-reading this paragraph I can see that I need to figure out how to cram a scenic layout, in S, in this space. Somehow.

So: Yes to S with some nervousness confessed. Now back to the layout, I’m really fascinated with the idea of trying traction in S. A gentleman named William Flatt, in Ontario, is actually selling some really nice traction parts and even a steeplecab in S and I think this idea has some real potential as an alternative to embrace this new scale and my passion for traction. A layout that I could easily see myself trying to replicate, in concept, would be like Andy Gautrey’s Wiley City layout as featured in this Youtube video:

Given the general arrangement of the above, any ideas?