THE MIDDLE GROUND
This second, more advanced ‘OO’ gauge design fits into a 10ft by 5ft space and makes use of both flexible and rigid geometry track. I’ve used the eastern end bridge at Healey Mills as a view blocker, but situated in a similar way to the modern road bridge at Tees Up Yard, near Middlesbrough, where it overlooks the hump and primary retarder. By turning the whole track plan around, I’ve managed to incorporate a working hump. All the front-side trackwork is slightly higher, rising from ‘H’ to ‘J’, level to ‘K’ and then dropping down to ‘L’. As a result, this enables track ‘M’, which leads to the primary retarder, to be on a shallow falling grade. If tension lock couplings are used, wagons can be uncoupled at ‘N’. With the uncoupler on a gradient, a lead wagon will need to be held so the coupling with the wagon behind is not in tension. A simple physical solution would be to have a wire that can be raised and lowered between the track. Alternatively, it might be possible to use a point motor with an extended bar if you want a power-operated solution. Whatever method you decide to implement, you’ll need to do some accurate driving and very careful shunting. Levels, gradients and the speed of free-moving wagons will need to be tested by way of a full-size, working mock-up. Only then will you be able to define the gradient through the uncoupler and retarders. Whichever you choose, despatched wagons will undergo the same process. Having passed over a secondary retarder, wagons will disappear off-stage into a ‘crash cage’, a Peco SL-43 Loco Lift with some additional soft foam padding at the farthest end. When all four are full - totalling about 12 short-wheelbased wagons - they
should be placed at ‘P’ and gently ‘poured’ into one of four departure sidings. I think a few soft bristles or grass tufts between the rails should slow them down sufficiently. The rest of the layout is pretty straightforward and is a wholly fictitious interpretation. All the components mentioned in the smaller layout are incorporated in this design, with the added benefit of the occasional DMU service, benefitting from loops at ‘Q’ and ‘R’.
It was a brave new world inside at Tinsley’s new marshalling yard. This is the interior of Shopcote Lane signalbox on August 1 1965.