Create ultra-realistic track
Peco’s new bullhead track gave fresh impetus to CHRIS NEVARD’S stalled Forest of Dean project.
Peco’s new bullhead track gave fresh impetus to Chris Nevard’s stalled ‘Forest of Dean’ project.
One of the biggest pitfalls in model railway construction is poor planning. All too often, potentially great layouts fail because things were not thought through properly at the outset. I’d like to think that, with experience, this becomes less of an issue. Sadly, though, not in my case! Even after four decades of messing about with model trains, my embryonic ‘Forest of Dean’ project has fallen foul of the same trap. As the previous instalments (MR221/226) have shown, I’d reached the stage of installing track and hand-built pointwork onto a set of baseboards from Tim Horn’s excellent range of laser-cut plywood kits. However, I then struggled to visualise how the completed layout would look. Lack of modelling time has also been a factor. Basically, the layout was becoming a chore rather than fun.
A brief diversion into building a tiny layout (‘Brew Street’, MR229/230) restored my modelling mojo. Slapping down a few lengths of Peco track and turnouts proved a fun, liberating and time-saving experience, compared to my usual preference for hand-built track. I was thrilled by the recent release of Peco’s new bullhead track. Offering an interesting alternative to the excellent C&L and SMP ranges, its main advantage is its 100% compatibility with the existing Peco Code 75 system of track and points. One thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of using techniques suited to the amount of available hobby time. Comfortably juggling modelling between the day job and other interests is vital: if the fun element goes, what’s the point? This is why I think so many layout projects flounder. Having confined my hand-built trackwork to safe storage, a box of Peco’s bullhead rail was purchased and work gathered momentum once again. I prefer to lay my track onto a foamboard base, rather than direct onto the baseboard. This allows me to build up the track remotely, before gluing it to the baseboards. Fortunately, I had yet to secure the track module, so a change of heart was easy.
FULL STEAM AHEAD
After downloading full-size track and point templates from Peco’s website, they were printed off and a modified track plan devised. I’d already built most of the buildings for the layout, so they were also placed on the baseboards to gauge clearances and create a workable composition. This 3D planning is far more effective than working on paper alone. The premise of ‘Fountain Colliery’ is a re-creation of a small, fictional colliery, deep within the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Set in the post-war years, the production of coal continues, but the long-term future is bleak. Accordingly, the track and infrastructure has a somewhat melancholic air. By the time you read this, the layout will have attended its first exhibition - the Warminster Finescale Show. Booking the appearance for mid-june was another way of motivating myself to get the layout finished. An important lesson has been learned with this layout: keep it simple and keep it fun!
Photographer & modelling master 12 hours Main: Although work on this layout stalled for nearly a year, Chris has finally finished another masterpiece.
Left: Peco’s bullhead track is ideal for sidings and out-of-the-way places like ‘Fountain Colliery’, set within the Forest of Dean.