Cre­ate ul­tra-re­al­is­tic track

Peco’s new bull­head track gave fresh im­pe­tus to CHRIS NE­VARD’S stalled For­est of Dean project.

Model Rail (UK) - - Content -

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.

BREAK­ING TRA­DI­TION

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.

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