N Scale

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N Scale

Beginning in 2012, the production of the N Guage layout started. Firstly from the idea of having a different scale model railway and a new start, attempting an even better result. There was numerous designs, beginning with just two simple circles but shortly changed into a highly developed plan. Over time the layout grew out of the wood, turning out to be 'jaw-droppingly spectacularistical incredibleness'. The end result agrees with all checkboxes on our list.

Above:Early development

Above:Beginning of hill construction

Above:The hill with the track base in place

Above:End of hill construction

Above:Town in place

Above:Car crash into pub scene

Above: Nearing completion. Since this picture was taken, lights within some of the town buildings have been added as have street lights.

Not long after completing the layout we realised that when trying to operate both OO and N layouts at the same time, that we had little space to move. Plus, ideas grew on possible extensions to the track, but how, when space was already a problem. So, we started to kick around ideas on where the layout could be re-housed. Richards garage – no room, so where? Having dismissed a move to number 2 Pavilion Road, first thoughts at Number 4 where of the summer house or Eve, Nana’s workroom. These were quickly dismissed, although the latter was eventually used as a temporary location; more on that later.

After discussions with Pam it was actually decided, when we were away in the van, in Devon, that we would relocate the greenhouse and, in its place, build a new shed to house the layout.

Prior to any work on the greenhouse it was essential that we could move the existing layout to downstairs, as if we couldn’t then any change in the garden was a waste. Thankfully the layout did move, without damage and had to be housed, first in the boy’s bedroom before spending several weeks in Eve, Pam’s work room. During the time in the boy’s bedroom I spent time building the new base for the existing layout and part of what would be the new extension. This work to make the base, was carried out, once more, in Eve. 

I started to dismantle the greenhouse towards the end of September, with the aim of re-sighting it below Eve, butted up to Dorothy and Grenville extension, but not touching. As well as moving the greenhouse this change would entail the removal of the BBQ and a couple of shrubs, one of which is already showing signs of disease. Sadly, the plans failed as in dismantling the greenhouse it soon became clear that to do so would mean destruction of a lot of the aluminium framework.  The bolts holding the structure together wouldn’t loosen and had to be angle ground to free them. This left much of the framework so badly damaged that it was beyond reassembly. The damaged framework ended up with a local scrap collector, the glass still resides in the garden awaiting disposal at the local tip.

With the greenhouse removed the next stage was to extend the existing concrete base to accommodate the planned 10foot by 8 foot shed. Richard and Ben kindly helped me lay what I thought was the size of base required. This however wasn’t the case and over three more attempts, three more batches of concrete, did I finally end up with the area required.  The shed was ordered from Wickes along with the cost of erection, as I didn’t feel confident enough to man handle, even with assistance from Ben, who eagerly offered, to do the job.  With the shed, now titled “The Signal Box”, erected it was time to insulate and clad the inside to give as much weather protection as possible. In addition, the fitting of guttering on both sides to aid the correct flow of water away from the shed sides and base structure. All of this work took a number of weeks, most during the time that Pam was laid up from her operation, where I had to leave her inside. Communication between us down to contact via our mobiles. These tasks soon accomplished along with installing lights and a temporary electric link, running via power from the summer house. A new base for the existing layout had been made some months earlier and was now moved to its new location, quickly followed by the layout itself.

Above: an aerial view of the completed layout that we will be rehoused in the "Signal Box". Activity in the bottom left corner indicates the place at which the extensions will take place. The new board will be larger than the existing one.

In moving the layout to a new permanent home, it was always the intention to extend; to double the size of running track which, the Signal Box size gives us space to do.

Pictures follow of the new housing, “The Signal Box” and, the changes in the garden layout which this as brought about. Then inside the Box, with the existing layout in place and the space beyond for the extension which will happen gradually through out the year. Our intention, monies willing, is to go to a DC layout, however this will incur a sizeable cost with the need for a new control system and the addition of microchips to all of Ben’s existing loco’s.

Shows the Signal Box installed and ready for us to take up occupancy

Above pictures showing the installation of the insulation board, prior to the walls being clad with plyboard.

Above show the cladding being applied to cover the insulation and to give us a nice smooth finish. Electrics have also been installed in the form of a double socket which, is simply an extension cable from the summer house, with the outside cable housed in waterproof conduit. We have two small flourescent lights mounted in the centre to provide light.

Above pictures taken now that the interior work is complete, we even have carpet, remnants from the lounge. Time to start work on building the extension base.

Above picture shows the alterations that have been made to the area of garden surrounding The Signal Box. Two access paths, one to the rear garden path, the other to the right of the Box to give access to a newly created vegetable patch and the water butt, which is being fed from the rain water off the Box roof. An unexpected benefit of building the Signal Box is the view that it provides. A completely different aspect of the garden, one which I intend to exploit with fresh planting throughout the year.

We already have plans for the extension (pictured below), both lower and upper levels which, in true fashion, will I’m sure, if the current layout is anything to go by, change, several times, as we progress. As yet only the buildings which will appear at the very rear of the extension, on the upper level have been discussed and more or less finalised.

Further developments, early on, in the month of February, within the "Signal Box" has been the installation of the final three sections of base board which, now defines the size which the completed layout will cover. Ben and I spent time to ensure that the new bases, once secured together, ran level, thus hopefully helping when the new tracks are laid for both the upper and lower levels. Using remnant pieces of ply board, left over from cladding the walls, we laid out, what we thought would be the base area for the lower level track work. With this in place we then started to lay out the trackwork, taking into account the position of the points that will eventually link the lower and upper levels. Until the work starts on the upper level, especially the two inclines, we envisage that some adjustment to the lower level,may be necessary to ensure smooth transition between top and bottom.

Caption: A memorable moment, the placing of the offical Blue Plaque on the Signal Box. The plaque is a present from Jacob to Ben and a most fitting one. It records the date the Box was erected and its notation says "where trains are lovingly kept".

Caption: Pictures with the new boards in place and work started on laying the lower level track. Note a change in design to the plan with the exposed loop on the middle board. We both thought this better than the train dissapearing out of sight, never to be seen again until it reached the old board.

With some spare time on Thursday afternoon on the 7th, I set too and linked all of the new lower level track together, cutting the lengths of flexi track as necessary. My estimation of ply board is slightly out on the two far corners, where I will need to add extra wood to provide a base on the corners. Currently the track travels over fresh air which is not the best way to proceed. To correct this will simply entail fitting a corner piece of wood, between the existing frame and a triangular piece of ply in the two corners. With all of the lower track connected, new to old, I re-connected a controller and successfully ran one of Bens diesels, his class 27,initially running solo then after a few un-eventual circuits with a full rake of seven coaches. Thankfully all went well. Once the extra pieces are in place on the two corners of the new lower level it will be ready to have a cork underlay fitted which, will entail disconnectng and removing the track, but will be worth the effort as the cork will provide a smoother operation, in the fact that it will compensate for some of the small variances in the base board and, also provide for quieter train operation.

Caption: Picture 1 shows the upper level boards in place and the cork laid with the track loosely located awaiting connection and the all important testing. Picture 2 shows in the top left hand corner the first likely location of the sidings with a run off from the down main. Picture three shows the base work required to get the old and new upper levels to connect. We are working with two different heights for the upper level. The old boards are at the height I thought appropriate for the scale, whereas the new boards are at the height to suit Metcalfe side wall, bridge and tunnel heights.

Work as moved on leaps and bounds since the last write up with the upper level structures now in place and the track basically in place, as the pictures above show, with the cork underlay laid. The two decline tracks have also been created and without yet being able to connect them up and run a train over, they still look like they will work.

We are deliberating about sidings, having originally decided to run this off the down main into an area on the centre area on the right-hand side, referred to in picture 2 above. We are now also looking at two main line passing points and a viaduct leading to a rural station. The ideas are good, as it will give more operating flexibility and be more interesting than simple loops, if we can get them incorporated.

All of this is to take place on the right hand side of the raised section, with the two lane passing points running parallel to the main track but with the inner as well as linking back to the main it will also shoot off to the centre, of the new boards, to create the sidings and the line over the viaduct which would terminate in an area to the left of the new boards. Trains like the DMU will be able to operate running in each direction with a return to the up main, either direct or through the passing lane. The above is all still in the planning stages.

Above is the model railway's first video on YouTube. Especially after christening it with the name of Shirleyshire Model Railway, it would be great to see our N gauge also on Youtube. Also subscribe to keep up to date with all of our other videos. This shows the old board with all the new parts with added, hwich includes an extra board where a big station will go and the development of a mountain in a corner, with aviaduct, cut-in the hillside and a canal. Great progress!

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