Build a layout for £200
Peter Marriott challenges himself to build a layout for the cost of a model.
Two hundred pounds: I couldn’t believe it when I saw that the full retail price of Heljan’s GWR ‘47XX’ was just five pence shy of £200. I knew that prices of new models were on the increase but I didn’t realise quite how much. There are some modellers who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at buying a ‘47XX’. For others, however, it’s a huge sum to commit to a hobby. I decided to see if it was possible to build a layout for £199.95, the full retail price of a ‘47XX’. Some may still baulk at spending this much but I wanted to know if I could build a layout for the cost of buying one locomotive. After all, when you consider that a pair of Hornby short radius points will set you back £23.98, £200 doesn’t seem so much after all! This budget does limit the size of a project. I wanted to build a real working railway rather than a diorama and decided that this would give me the opportunity to finally model Staverton, the beautiful little wayside station on the South Devon Railway. I’ve always loved this little station, particularly the single-storey station building, signal box and level crossings set amid gorgeous Devon countryside, with the old mill nearby. The best bit is that the station now plays host to both steam and diesel trains. The entire project was spread over three weeks, working, on average, 1½ hours a day. The total cost comes in under my budget. But bear in mind that I’ve included tools and accessory costs in this total. I had quite a lot of this material already in stock, so I reckon that if you take all that off, I wasn’t far off half the price of the 2-8-0!
PROJECT 1: BASEBOARD
I cheated a bit with the baseboard. I already had a 4ft by 13in board in stock but I realised that not everyone has this luxury, so I popped into my local hardware store. My investigations revealed that a 4ft by 13in sheet of 9mm plywood would cost just under £10. Rounding this up means that we start the project with an even £10 running total.
Baseboard cost ........................ £10.00 RUNNING TOTAL ....................... £10.00
PROJECT 2: TRACK
I did consider buying second-hand track but, again, it wouldn’t have been very scientific, given that second-hand prices fluctuate. Shopping around, I decided that rather than buying Peco or Hornby track, I’d go with Bachmann Code 100 instead. It fits the same radii and lengths (the product codes are strangely familiar) as other sectional track manufacturers but it’s quite a bit cheaper, especially if you buy from Hatton’s. Here’s what I needed: 36-600 Straight x 1 @ £1.20 36-601 Double straight x 4 @ £1.90 36-610 Short straight x 1 @ £1 36-872 Left-hand point x 2 @ £8.46
Track cost .................................. £26.72 RUNNING TOTAL ....................... £36.72