I’ve spent the last couple of days working on the benchwork for the other side of my layout room that will hold Queens Wharf. The legs and woodwork are essentially the same as that for the Morpeth side with the one exception that it is about 50mm higher to take account of the difference in the depth between the two layouts. QW is a little thinner so it sits a little higher to bring the rail height up to the same height as that on Morpeth. I manfully struggled with the two 1.5mX500mm layout segments and managed to get them onto the benchwork with a bit of effort and without damage.
I’ve also been doodling about with plans and possibilities in the last few days, in between visits to Bunnings to allow them to become better acquainted with my credit card, and I’ve pretty much settled on what I’m going to build and add to the two layouts that I’ve just been setting up. The main addition is a section of line that runs between the layouts and joins them but I’ve also found a little space to make a couple of small but important enhancements to the track arrangements at the QW end.
Queens Wharf is only 1.5m (10′) long in total and this means that there were a couple of compromises in the track plan that I really wanted to try to overcome in this new iteration. The two problems were a head shunt that was only just long enough for a loco and a very short loop. Having a head shunt that was limited to the length of a locomotive alone severely restricted the shunting that could be carried out on the layout. Without being able to draw forward with even a single wagon and run this round the train on the loop essentially restricted the shunting moves to the loco pulling in, running round and then running out again. So in the new plan I’ve managed to extend this lead by 300mm to allow enough room for a 48 or Z(19) plus two 4 wheelers or a single large bogie wagon such as a BWH wheat hopper. I’ve also been able to add about 250mm to the length of the loop to allow just a little more length for a train when it arrives in the yard. These additions might not sound like much but they will significantly enhance the operational potential of the entire layout and this is an operationally oriented layout.
The way I’m going to incorporate these enhancements is to draw the layout apart and add two small segments to one half of the layout. I’ll essentially construct two filler sections of benchwork to fill the gaps and then lay new track across these fillers. The layout will still be in two segments but its exhibition days will be over as it will no longer be able to be nested for transport. I’m going to make the filler sections from 4X1 pine and the track-bed will be 9mm marine ply. I’m going to use 12mm ply on the totally new section of layout, however I have almost no room for adjustment on QW’s roadbed and the extra 3mm provided by having slightly thinner 9mm roadbed will give me some wriggle room. While I’m about this work I’m going to pull off the old backdrop and install a new one on the extended section and rework the scenery on front edge of the layout along with the fascia. This revamp will also eventually include the installation of a new photo backdrop to match the one on Morpeth.
So I will have two small segments of layout to blend into the scenery of QW. I’m pretty sure I’m going to try curving the backdrop on the segment at the end of the layout and this will leave little room for lots of creative scenery, however the shorter 250mm centre section will probably get a level crossing added. I already have one on QW but the real Morpeth had about four gated crossings so another one won’t look out-of-place. We’ll have to see what happens.