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Llanuwchllyn in N: Based on Llangollen-line station in BR days before closure

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The Ruabon to Barmouth line in North Wales is becoming well covered by model railways based on the many stations on this route. I have completed models of Llangollen (http://irishrailwaymodeller.com/showthread.php/3054-Llangollen-in-N/page3) and Cynwyd (http://irishrailwaymodeller.com/showthread.php/5580-Cynwyd-in-N-based-on-closed-station-goods-yard-on-the-Llangollen-line-BR-GWR-etc/page5) stations both in N-gauge. Other modellers have covered Carrog (N and OO gauge), Berwyn, Bala Junction and many other locations.

 

Having visited Llanuwchllyn station a number of times (most recently during the Bala Model Railway Exhibition in May 2017) and admired the photographs in Martin William's fine book on this railway line, I am minded to have a go at modelling the station/goods yards in N-gauge. I propose to do this as another end-to-end layout 4.5 feet by 1 foot similar to Cynwyd. In British Railway days Llanuwchllyn was a passing station with two platforms and an interesting diamond crossing leading to a small goods yard. An electronic shuttle control unit with train crossing function is planned to automate the layout for exhibition purposes. While the station has now been restored with a narrow gauge line running beside the lake towards Bala town, I propose to model the prototype as it was in BR days before closure.

 

Thanks to Martin Williams and Peter Fisher have kindly made these historic photographs available to me which I attach below to illustrate the prototype:

 

A BR Standard Class 4MT 4-6-0 arrives at Llanuwchllyn station in the early 1960s:

 

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Lydham Manor and Hinton Manor bring a Ffestiniog Railway Special past the diamond crossing/goods yard in 1963:

 

Llanuwchllyn Station, 20_4_63.jpg

 

A sadly overgrown station in August 1966 some years after closure:

 

Llanuwchllyn Station, 23_8_66.jpg

 

Llanuwchllyn station in fine shape in 1963 prior to closure:

 

Llanuwchllyn Station, 31_8_63.jpg

 

A postcard view of the station c 1920:

 

Llanuwchllyn Station, c.1920.jpg

 

Station staff and families proudly pose for the camera c 1895. Note the wooden toy locomotive at the boy's feet right of centre:

 

Llanuwchlyn Station, c.1895.jpg

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. . . I am minded to have a go at modelling the station/goods yards in N-gauge. I propose to do this as another end-to-end layout 4.5 feet by 1 foot similar to Cynwyd. In British Railway days Llanuwchllyn was a passing station with two platforms and an interesting diamond crossing leading to a small goods yard. An electronic shuttle control unit with train crossing function is planned to automate the layout for exhibition purposes. While the station has now been restored with a narrow gauge line running beside the lake towards Bala town, I propose to model the prototype as it was in BR days before closure. . .

 

Sounds like another very interesting project Gerry. Look forward to watching it develop. Noel

Edited by Noel

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Getting cracking on the baseboards with component wood frame formed from usual 2X1 planed wood and plyboard cut to size by local wood merchant. The plan is to utilise the same end fiddle yards as Cynwyd if that can be done. Llanuwchllyn layout totem signs were commissioned from Tracksidesigns.co.uk with similar in 2 mm for the layout from Sankey Scenics.

 

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The baseboard has been assembled and painted with a photographic backscene fitted (from Gaugemaster) which approximates the scenery around Llanuwchllyn (I may add cut-outs of photos of significant local buildings in time as I did for my Llangollen model). Reproducing the 1960's track layout at this station will involve 7 trackwork elements: 3 right-hand points, 3 left-hand points and a long cross-over. I have selected the appropriate Peco Code 55 Finescale sections and have laid them out roughly to show the general look of the layout with the two platform tops. Llanuwchllyn was a passing station for this single line with a passing loop through the station and goods yard area.

 

 

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That's shaping up really nicely Gerry. You don't waste time hanging around.

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That's shaping up really nicely Gerry. You don't waste time hanging around.

 

Thanks Noel! By the by, for Irish outline modellers in N, this track-plan (or a close variant) would suit to model e.g. Enniscorthy

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An interesting idea. On the eiretrains website photo 12 of Enniscorthy shows a track plan diagram and some of the other photos show a tunnel and a river crossing. Incorporating these features could make a very good small layout. A fiddle yard behind the backscene would allow a variety of trains to be run fairly easily.

 

MikeO

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An interesting idea. On the eiretrains website photo 12 of Enniscorthy shows a track plan diagram and some of the other photos show a tunnel and a river crossing. Incorporating these features could make a very good small layout. A fiddle yard behind the backscene would allow a variety of trains to be run fairly easily.

 

MikeO

 

Note that my Cynwyd layout of the same dimensions, incorporates a bridge/tunnel over and a river bridge under the single rail line. As with my Cynwyd layout, I am planning to electronically automate the shuttle/passing of trains from linear fiddle-yards at each end. The Heathcote Electronics unit I have sourced for the Llanuwchllyn layout changes the points allowing trains to cross each other without manual intervention. It alternates the power between each fiddle-yard end in turn automatically. This allows the operator to watch the trains go by and, at exhibitions, engage with the punters. The option of manual operation will be possible at the flick of a switch while the goods yard will be manual operation only.

 

Overall, the idea is that the 4.5 foot scenic section can be stored in full view on a shelf without the fiddle-yards. These can be fitted quickly for home use or at an exhibition. The layout is light in weight and can be carried in most cars to exhibitions etc

Edited by Irishrailwayman

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For an Enniscorthy layout I was thinking of something larger perhaps 3 boards for the scenic sections each about 60cm long (making 1.8m in total) and about 30cm deep with something similar for the fiddleyard.

 

I looked at your Cynwyd layout which is very impressive. The electrics look very daunting way beyond my abilities at the moment. The Heathcote Electronics unit you have sourced for Llanuwchllyn does it work the same way as the one used in Cynwyd?

 

MikeO

Edited by MikeO

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For an Enniscorthy layout I was thinking of something larger perhaps 3 boards for the scenic sections each about 60cm long (making 1.8m in total) and about 30cm deep with something similar for the fiddleyard.

 

I looked at your Cynwyd layout which is very impressive. The electrics look very daunting way beyond my abilities at the moment. The Heathcote Electronics unit you have sourced for Llanuwchllyn does it work the same way as the one used in Cynwyd?

 

MikeO

 

The idea behind restricting this to one board is to enable shelf storage/easy transport and rapid set-up for home/exhibition use but clearly additional boards could be added.

 

The electrics on Cynwyd look more daunting than they are in reality e.g. I included front and back access to controls when only back access is strictly necessary, and I included a Peco uncoupling system (which I have yet to commission). The Heathcote Electronics unit on Cynwyd is an SA1.1 which has a slow-down/acceleration feature which is quite realistic. It is not too hard to set up once the instructions are studied. It works by placing miniature reed switches between the track sleepers at specific points and linking these back with wires to specific nodes on the board. Miniature magnets are fitted to the front/back of rolling stock to be used which activate the appropriate reed switch as they pass over them. It works a treat once set up and I can revert to manual operation at the flick of a switch.

 

A similar but different system is being used for Llanuwchllyn (SA3) which enables the trains to enter their individual passing loop and cross over in prototypical manner. This also includes the slow-down/acceleration feature, switching power between the fiddle-yards and activating two points at each end of the passing loop.

 

No rocket science - I happy to demonstrate any time (I am with the Wexford Model Railway Club) if that would be any help.

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Belfast to Wexford is a long trek but maybe a few days in Wexford might be a better option. If you are at either the UMRC show end of August or Dublin end of October I may get some time to talk to you.

 

MikeO

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Belfast to Wexford is a long trek but maybe a few days in Wexford might be a better option. If you are at either the UMRC show end of August or Dublin end of October I may get some time to talk to you.

 

MikeO

 

All going well, I hope to show Llangollen at Enniskillen (30th September) and Cynwyd at SDMRC (I'll be there on the Saturday only).

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Thanks for the info. I will try to get to Enniskillen and will definitely be at Dublin.

 

MikeO

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Rail lengths cut to size ready for pinning down and then to the wiring which should be interesting: 4-pole Double throw switch to alternate between manual and automatic shuttle/passing loop operation including synchronised turnout change; reed switches for passing loop operation including wiring in to fiddle-yards being shared with Cynwyd; two frogs to change with two turnout operations along with alternating direct and linked power source to diamond centre rails; not to mention manual control to separate the power to the two fiddle-yards...

 

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A recent visit to Llanuwchllyn Station to meet some of the folks there from the Bala Model Railway Exhibition allowed me take a few photos to inform my modelling. Great to meet David, John, Bernard and Barbara again! The station has been preserved as a narrow gauge line with some additions made to the station building itself.

 

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Good progress on Llanuwchllyn with all wiring completed, tested and working fine in both manual and automatic modes. The track is also finalised and ready for completion of sleeper gaps and ballasting. Initial work has commenced on buildings some of which will need to be scratch-built. Then its a case of painting/weathering the buildings and developing surrounding scenery to the standard achieved with Cynwyd.

A couple of shots of the track first:DSCF1767.thumb.JPG.eb39b05f5fddcf182aed3570159fc2ab.JPGDSCF1768.thumb.JPG.05781c3c79992e950083ea5f88cf0f18.JPGDSCF1769.thumb.JPG.15d311342e711784e2feb7344ea253f4.JPGDSCF1770.thumb.JPG.e23dc0f2fe947f1734ca06a24cd14fd4.JPGDSCF1771.thumb.JPG.3cca58d79d63f21999ba1e3a413342e6.JPGDSCF1772.thumb.JPG.5bc1baca1bc30af2834a8dbe80d383b6.JPG

Next some of the buildings placed before painting:

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Finally, a couple of views of the electrical control panels - note the use of side-action motors at the back which allow manual operation if desired (the push button control panel controls the points as pairs to make the appropriate road for the trains).

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I have to say that I have boundless respect for n gauge modellers it really takes patience and dedication. What is so good about this is that it will be good enough to be exhibited. Top work sir.

Rich,

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Very impressive so far Gerry.  Will follow with keen interest.  Very neat electrics too.

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A couple of shots of some scratch and kit-built buildings prepared for Llanuwchllyn and placed roughly where they will go on the layout. Next steps are to fill in missing sleepers and start the ballasting...

 

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Buildings and layout looking fabulous Gerry. It's coming together really nicely. Really looking forward to watching this evolve into one of your usual master pieces.  

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I'm looking at those backscenes. They could equally be Irish countryside.

Does anyone know where to get, or how to go about getting scenes of actual places? I'll be looking for something that looks vaguely like West Cork or parts of Mayo, with rolling hills and fields.

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13 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

I'm looking at those backscenes. They could equally be Irish countryside.

Does anyone know where to get, or how to go about getting scenes of actual places? I'll be looking for something that looks vaguely like West Cork or parts of Mayo, with rolling hills and fields.

Jhb, The backscenes I use are from Gaugemaster.com selecting the one closest to my prototype. They come in just the right size (4.5 feet by 6 inches) for this layout configuration but they are made in larger sizes also (9 feet by 12 inches, I think).

It strikes me that with modern drone/camera technology it should be possible to take a series of linear digital shots of a location background from an appropriate height to simulate the 4mm/foot illusion of distance. The photos could be merged and touched up by computer before printing out on a long flexible photographic sheet for mounting onto a layout backdrop. I notice a company advertising in BRM called Quality Backscenes offering a similar service (www.qualitybackscenes.co.uk ; studio@qualitybackscenes.co.uk). Might be worth checking out.

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The track has been painted chocolate brown and the side of each rail has been painted with a rusty wash. The edges of the track area are here shown with masking tape ready for the application of fine grey loose ballast...

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Reminds me of a summer holiday in North Wales in 1969. Most trains were of several varieties of first-generation railcars, or "DMUs" as themmuns over there call them.

Some were green, with or without front yellow patches. Others were all-blue. And then a class 23 (I think?) would charge last en route to Holyhead with a lengthy string of maroon or blue and grey coaches behind it. I missed steam there by no more than 2 years. But we still had it at home on the Larne line! Just for a while longer.....

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Llanuwchllyn has now been ballasted using a fine grey ballast material and a fascia board added. Track/point-work has been re-tested and working fine. Next up, fit platforms and form the landscape around the rails/buildings...

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For contrast, Cynwyd was ballasted with a beige coloured ballast, although the grey is probably closer to the prototype...

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Layout has now reached the "Blue Peter" stage using scrap card/wood, crumpled newspaper, PVA glue etc to form the landscape around the platforms and buildings...

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A couple of shots showing the weathered buildings in their approximate location:

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Snowfall on Llanuwchllyn! Plaster bandage was wetted quickly in strips and and placed over the dried cardboard/newspaper base. Polyfilla was then added with wetted brushes to provide smooth surfaces and contours. This is left to dry overnight before adding further filler if needed and wiping off any unwanted splashes on the backscene/mirrors/tracks with a damp cloth etc. Next up, once plaster is dry, paint the base landscape with undercoat to harden the surface...

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Edited by Irishrailwayman
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Great thread Gerry, and very enjoyable watching your progress.  Really useful to see how top class scenic work is done.

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We fade to grey for this phase: a good coat of Rustins grey primer/undercoat provides a hardened base on the polyfilla coating ideal for landscaping. Next up, base coats of green/brown washes and start using scatter/grass materials...

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A coat of Green Earth Undercoat and we begin to see the emergence of a model railway...

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Particularly when some model buildings are added to the scene...

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Coming along very nicely. Gerry I'm really interested in your choice of green for undercoat. It's what I would instinctively go for too, but I've heard some suggest a brown colour so static grass and/or green scatters have an earthy contrast underneath. How do you handle this? Thanks. Noel

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1 hour ago, Noel said:

Coming along very nicely. Gerry I'm really interested in your choice of green for undercoat. It's what I would instinctively go for too, but I've heard some suggest a brown colour so static grass and/or green scatters have an earthy contrast underneath. How do you handle this? Thanks. Noel

Thanks Noel. I start with a base of green then experiment with patches of the brown to give a variety of bases for scatter, weeds and static grass. This is the approach I adopted with Ballybeg, Llangollen and now Llanuwchllyn.

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An additional layer of patchy brown Earth undercoat and two tones of static grass applied on PVA using the Noch puffer bottle further adds to the scene. A little sand sprinkled on PVA gives a rough stony texture to the slopes also.

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Moving swiftly along, the buildings are now glued in place. The fencing is in development along with name-boards and many other details to be fitted later.

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