76 How to design a lay­out

He’s a new­comer to rail­way mod­el­ling, but MIKE HAR­RIS has some very spe­cific and de­mand­ing ob­jec­tives for his first lay­out. Can lay­out plan­ning guru PAUL A. LUNN help turn his vi­sion into a re­al­ity?

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

Mike Har­ris at­tends one of Paul A. Lunn’s design clin­ics, in a bid to trans­fer the vi­sion in his head into a work­able track plan.

The Model Rail team con­sists of some of the most re­spected mem­bers of the hobby. And then there’s me. When it comes to rail­way mod­el­ling, I’m a com­plete novice. Now that’s not to say I’m en­tirely clue­less - I cut my mod­el­ling teeth build­ing plas­tic kits and paint­ing wargam­ing minia­tures. But build­ing a model rail­way is very dif­fer­ent to mil­i­tary mod­el­ling or wargam­ing, and I stum­ble at the first hur­dle. Why? Be­cause I’m strug­gling with the most im­por­tant stage of all: the track plan. I’m not short of in­spi­ra­tion - my head is full of lay­out ideas. But how I trans­form those ideas into a co­he­sive, work­able plan is a huge chal­lenge. I’m faced with a mul­ti­tude of ques­tions that, to a be­gin­ner, can seem en­tirely over­whelm­ing: What gauge should I model? What stock should I use? How can I fit ev­ery­thing I want onto my base­board? So, be­fore my ex­cite­ment at earn­ing my rail­way mod­el­ling stripes turns to dis­as­ter and dis­ap­point­ment, I’m call­ing for backup, in the form of Model Rail’s very own Paul A. Lunn.

EX­PERT GUID­ANCE

Sit­ting down with Paul at his home, he asked me to iden­tify any­thing that I deemed non-ne­go­tiable, be­fore pro­ceed­ing with an open mind. I had two stip­u­la­tions: the lay­out had to be mil­i­tary-based and set dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, and both the fid­dle­yard and the scenic sec­tion had to fit on my 4ft by 2ft base­board. With that es­tab­lished, Paul did some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary - he let me talk and talk (and talk). We spoke about why the Sec­ond World War fas­ci­nates me, what themes I would en­joy mod­el­ling, and what sort of lay­out I would build if I had un­lim­ited space or re­sources. This wasn’t idle chit-chat - not that I was aware of it at the time. Paul was al­low­ing me to think freely; he was gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion with­out putting me on the spot. While I’d been ram­bling, Paul had been sketch­ing sev­eral plans. Fo­cus­ing on each plan in­di­vid­u­ally, we then cob­bled to­gether three rough but en­tirely work­able track plans. The first was an ‘N’ gauge lay­out, in­spired by the Long­moor Mil­i­tary Rail­way. The small scale would al­low the base­board to ac­com­mo­date a com­plete cir­cuit; some­thing that would cer­tainly ap­peal to those fo­cus­ing on op­er­a­tion. The sec­ond was a ‘OO’ gauge lay­out, rep­re­sent­ing a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal theme. The base­board still pro­vides am­ple room for track, al­low­ing for plenty of shunt­ing po­ten­tial - thanks to the ad­di­tion of sev­eral clev­erly placed cas­sette fid­dle­yards. The third and fi­nal idea was an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the lay­out I had in mind: a forced per­spec­tive lay­out, in­cor­po­rat­ing a 1:43 scale (‘O’ gauge) fore­ground and a 1:76 scale (‘OO’ gauge) rail­way in the back­ground am­bi­tious, but not im­pos­si­ble! In lit­tle over an hour, Paul had made rough draw­ings of all three lay­outs. Happy that we’d dis­cussed all of the nec­es­sary de­tails, I left Paul to turn his sketches into fully fledged track plans.

RE­STRICTED SPACE

One of the first things Paul will ask you dur­ing a design clinic is to de­scribe the room that will house your lay­out. This might seem a lit­tle cu­ri­ous, but it’s ac­tu­ally very im­por­tant. Take my sin­gle-bed­room flat, for ex­am­ple. Space is pre­cious and my lay­out will sit flush in a cor­ner. As such, I can only ac­cess the lay­out from the front or right-hand side. The right-hand side is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and does not en­croach on a walk­way. From this in­for­ma­tion, Paul is able to con­sider the ad­di­tion of cas­settes and pos­si­ble fu­ture base­board ex­pan­sions (should you want that).

EYE IN THE SKY

Choos­ing from Paul’s bril­liant bird’s eye view track plans wasn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, I’d al­ready cho­sen it dur­ing the design clinic it­self; as we fleshed out the first two de­signs, Paul said: “I think your en­thu­si­asm is else­where.” And he was right. Track plan num­ber three rep­re­sents my lay­out of choice, and it oc­cu­pied more of our time, which is why Paul’s sum­mary is slightly more fleshed out. How­ever, the other two track plans have still been in­cluded be­cause they were im­por­tant steps to­wards set­tling on the right design. And be­sides, a ‘OO’ gauge First World War hos­pi­tal com­plex, or ‘N’ gauge LMR in­spired loop might just tickle your fancy - in which case, I’d love to hear about it! So, with­out fur­ther ado, let’s hear Paul’s take on the lay­out op­tions.

I’M NOT SHORT OF IN­SPI­RA­TION - MY HEAD IS FULL OF LAY­OUT IDEAS. BUT HOW I TRANS­FORM THOSE IDEAS INTO A CO­HE­SIVE, WORK­ABLE PLAN IS A HUGE CHAL­LENGE

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