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The Story of My Layout (Part 1)

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Hello Everyone.


The Story of a Layout.


Before I begin I must advise that this is a rather long story so I would suggest getting a coffee or a six pack from the fridge before you start.

About five or six years ago with a lot of encouragement from my partner I got back to railway modelling after a long time away from the hobby.

In my younger days I had a couple of layouts but then life got in the way & the models were stored away. Having spent all my life in Cork I now found myself living in South West Kerry where railway modelers are as rare as a Kerry man with a hurley in his hand. If any modelers from the South West see this please make contact.


Next job was where to put any proposed layout.


There was the loft which although it has a stairs leading to it & a floor of sorts also has those v joists which stop the roof from falling in. I really don’t like these but it would have been too expensive to get rid of them. We live in a split level bungalow because the site where it was built is sloped. The downstairs portion was a converted garage, a laundry room & a store / junk room with bare walls, a hole in the floor which filled up with water every time there was heavy rain & a rock face from the foundation because as I said the site is sloped.

About this time I had laid a slab of concrete at the side of the house for another project. By some miracle this stopped that hole in the floor that I mentioned earlier from filling up with water so things were looking up. I didn't mention that this store / junk room was piled up to the ceiling with junk which had to be sorted / dumped. Being on good terms with the resident planning officer I stole / borrowed about 10 ft from the laundry room, knocked a wall & leveled out the floor because the laundry room floor is about 6” lower than my proposed layout room.

I filled the hole in the floor, slabbed the walls with 2” kingspan type insulation with foil on one side & plaster slab on the other. I also slabbed the ceiling because the floor joists from upstairs didn't look very nice. The ceiling & walls were painted & a few boxes of cheap laminate flooring took care of the floor area. After all this I was left with a very nice cosy room of 23ft x 9ft & so layout planning began in earnest.


By this stage I had got hold of every book of model railway plans published since the beginning of time & the search began. I needed a plan where I could get something running in a reasonable time before I lost the urge & eventually settled on this plan from one of Freezers earlier plan books.


Layout Plan.


Below is generally the plan I set out with but certain little changes have occurred as the build went on.


Layout plan no2.A.jpg


End Layout Plan.bmp



I had decided that I wanted to keep the floor as clear as possible of baseboard legs etc so I decided to cantilever the baseboard support from the walls using this type of support bolted into the walls.

Picture of Supports.

I decided that I would use an open top type of baseboard with the track bed supported on cleats from the framework.


Picture of Open Top Baseboard & Trackbed.





Baseboard & baseboard support construction method that I used.


Cantilevered Supports.jpg


The cantilevered supports are 3 x 2. The baseboard framework & the cleats supporting the track beds are 3 x 1. All track beds are 3/8” / 10mm ply except for a very short piece of MDF because I had nothing else in stock at the time (never again because it bends to easily).

The track is laid on thin cork which I bought in rolls & cut to size.


Scenery & scenery supports.

Scenery like hills etc was constructed by fixing pieces of ply to the walls & than using rabbit / lettuce wire to support the grass rocks etc.




The wire was covered with plaster bandage & then painted with a plaster mix of hardwall plaster mixed with water & emulsion paint so that any that got knocked or damaged would have a brown colour instead of the usual white.

Most of the grass used which you will see in my next postaing is teddy bear fur which I bought from the UK. I trimmed it a bit because it was too high. I then dyed it in a bucket filled with a mix of water & green emulsion paint, squeezed it out & left it on the floor to dry. I found that using a dehumidifier in the room helped greatly with the drying. When dry it was stuck to the hills where needed with thick PVA glue which is often used to bond laminate flooring boards together. Rock faces are coloured plaster again mixed using emulsion paint & water.


Track & Electrics.

As I mentioned earlier track & points are Peco code 100. Points are electro frog type. Crossings are not available as electro frog in code 100 so I used code 75 crossings. The only difference is the rail height in code 100 is higher so the code 75 crossings where needed are laid on a piece of card on top of the cork base.

Points are controlled by various methods. Some points are controlled by piano wire & a sliding switch which is used to switch the frog polarity. Others are controlled using DCC Concepts smart switches which work well but which I found finicky to set up. I bought some at the time because they were supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread but they aren’t always totally reliable. All point motors are solenoid type like Peco or Seep. If I had to start again I would use something like Tortoise slow motion types but I used the solenoid types because I had lots of them in stock.

All points are controlled from local switch boards & panels. I use this method because I like to be close to the trains as they run.


I have run two DCC bus wire around under the layout with droppers soldered to every piece of track. The main DCC bus wires are 32/0.2 & the droppers are 16/0.2. I use suitcase type connectors to join the dropper wires to the main DCC bus wires. These suitcase connectors work well provided you use the correct size for the cable you are using. Its also important to use the correct tools for the job. So far I’ve had no failures.

I have no central control panel because I can control everything locally using the wireless system.




The ballast I use is a mixture of Woodland Scenics Fine & Medium Grey. The method of fixing the ballast is a method I picked up from a modeller in Australia. This method was given to me by Richard Johnson of DCC Concepts fame. The method involves a mixture of Meths, Water & PVA glue. It’s very easy to use & always works even though it might be a bit scary when you first try it. If anyone would like a copy of this method just send me your e mail address in a pm & I will forward it to you.

When I began I decided that I would use Peco code 100 points & track because it was my intention to run some older items of stock which I had from all those years ago. Eventually I sold off most of the old stuff but by then I had most of the track I needed for the layout & so was stuck with code 100 so to speak. If I had my time back I would use code 75 which is neater in appearance but doesn't take kindly to older wheel profiles.


DCC System Control.

I run DCC & my system is the NCE Power Pro wireless system. Being wireless I can walk around the layout as I please which is why I also use local panels to control the track points. I bought the NCE system at the start & I have never had any problem with it.

Here is a photo on one of my local point control panels.


SV101290 no2.jpg



Railway Modelling to me is a hobby not a chore so I don’t spend more than a few hours a week at the layout. The result of this of course is that the layout has gone on for five or six years now but so what. I have other interests as well so the modelling never gets tiring or boring.

What I will show over time is a series of photos taken from the start which will show the progress or lack off on the layout up to the present day.

Well that’s the story of the efforts of a modeller in South West Kerry. I know there’s still a lot to do but I’m in no hurry.

I decided to put my experiences down on paper after discovering this Irish Modellers forum recently & visiting George at Marks Models in Cork. I was lucky enough to be at the last modeller’s night which George held at the shop on a monthly basis. Unfortunately George has now moved on but I was fortunate at least to catch his last demo evening which was on Airbrushing. I have an airbrush myself but have only just begun to use it now. George’s evening gave me the confidence to start using it. So far I have only used it to weather the track & ballast but its great fun.


This covers 2008. The next time I will post photos from 2009.


I have just built an over track signal box based on the Midland one which stood at Barton Street in Gloucester but I will put that in a separate posting later on when I get a few photos together.


If I missed anything or if anyone would like to ask any questions then please feel free to ask away.

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Part 2.Section 1


We are now in 2009.


In part 1 I had a section at the doorway which slid up & down using the side walls just inside the door but this proved unreliable because the entrance door side walls weren't straight. I replaced this part with a lift up section pictured below. You can see this section lowered in the 3rd photo.


Entrance Lift Up 1.jpg


Entrance Lift Up 2.jpg


Entrance Lift Up 4.jpg


In part 1 you will remember how the scenery was set up on the right hand side using lettuce / rabbit wire. This has now been covered with plaster bandage. The grass is teddy bear fur trimmed & dyed as described in part 1. The buildings are a combination of scratch built / kit built & ready made which I got from various places.The church is a Hornby model which was a present from my daughter. There is a double track mainline under the hill on the right hand side but since the baseboards are open top there is no problem reaching the track from underneath.




IMG_1327 no2.jpg


IMG_1317 no2.jpg


That covers the first part of 2009. I will put up more photos & descriptions when I get a chance.

IMG_1326 no2.jpg

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Thank you everyone for your kind comments. They’re very much appreciated. It’s difficult for a lone modeller like myself to put my efforts on a web site having never done so before. What often appears good to the maker might in reality be not very good at all so I’m more than delighted that fellow modellers like my work. If someone can gain information or inspiration from my efforts then it will all have been worthwhile.


While I have been a member of previous Irish Model Railway sites they all seemed to die off after a period. This one however seems to be strong, vibrant & friendly with lots of very interesting projects on the go. I am relatively new here but already I’ve seen some outstanding efforts by the various members here.


Before continuing with the second part of 2009 let me mention that as I go I will have mentioned briefly all the various disciplines / parts of the hobby like Track, Point & point control, Electrics, Scenics etc but will come back to each individually later on & explain in more detail how I have done things. Fellow modellers may gain something from my methods as I have gained from others along the way.


2009 Part 2.


In my previous post you may remember that I had reached one of the corners which had a church on the hill. In the photo below you can see the church on the right & also I had done some work across the end wall.


Canal 5.jpg


Here are another few photos of that area across that end of the layout.


Canal 2.jpg


Canel 1.jpg


Canal 4.jpg


Having gone around the last corner we now come to the wall with the entrance door in it. The door opens outwards.


The first two photos show the section between the corner & the door.

At this stage very little had been done on this area except put tracks down & even then there were still track changes to be made in this area.

You can just see the hinge section of the lift up flap at the doorway in the second photo..


Towards Entrance Door.jpg


Towards Entrance Door 2.jpg


Here is a photo of the section after the door where again very little had been done at this stage.


Work in progress.jpg


To finish off 2009 & just to give you an idea of how organised I am here is a photo of the central island baseboard taken from the canal end of the layout. This central baseboard is where eventually a large terminus station will be situated.

I also include a photo taken from the other end & facing towards the canal end of the layout.

This photo also gives you some idea of the size of the room.


Central Isle Baseboard 2.jpg


Looking towards canal end..jpg


And that ends 2009.


As usual if anyone has any questions please just ask.

Hopefully I will get up another post by the weekend.

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Super work - where / when is it set?


In the British Midlands anytime during the Big Four steam era.

You can also find some early BR diesels running sometimes. I'm a great believer in time travel ;)

There was also some American stuff running as well although I've now sold all that off apart from a Rivarossi Big Boy with sound which I decided to keep even though its a bit tight on some of my curves. In any case its not run very often.

You can see it in this photo.


Big Boy.jpg

Edited by amdaley
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Hello again Everyone.



When I went to look for photos taken in 2010 I found virtually nothing. This I put down to being asleep for the year or more than likely I spent most of my time under the layout doing wiring & electronics.

I think I may have spent most of my time doing stuff like this.


This is a photo of the hidden siding diagram on the wall over the right hand end of the layout.

It shows any sidings which are occupied.





I used these Block Detector 1 for DCC by NCE (ND) 524-BD20 to show when tracks are occupied.




The photo below is one of my point control panels under the layout using DCC Concept Smartswitches which although they work can be finicky to set up.





Here are a few photos of a module I made to fit between the lift up flap & the door when the flap is lowered & the door closed.I'm sure some of you will recognize some of the kits I used in the making of it.


Door module 2.jpg


Door module 1.jpg


Door module 3.jpg


That's all for now.

Next up is 2011.

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  • 2 years later...

What a fabulous and impressive layout. Loads of interesting operating potential and some really nice scenery. Best of luck with the progress. It's a never ending journey, but hopefully an enjoyable one.


PS: Clever the way you disguised the light switch on the wall. :)

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