My partner and I had a long talk about the plans for our new home this afternoon: well to be entirely honest we talked about her plans for a house and my plans for a train room with some sort of dwelling attached. I’ve managed to convinced her that “yes, I really do need all that space”. Afterall, any ground not covered by building is just more lawn for her to mow! 🙂

I’ve been doing some thinking about a post on Trevor Marshall’s Port Rowan blog a couple of days ago where he talks about keeping a layout simple and achievable. I might have a couple of years up my sleeve before I need to start making decisions about the type of layout that will end up in my new train room but that doesn’t stop me putting some thought into the topic. Now I’m a fairly confirmed believer in the idea of keeping layouts simple and achievable, however I’m also willing to admit that I’m as subject to “visions of grandeur” as anyone else.

In planning the layout that would have been built in my current train room I had settled on a simple connecting line that would join up my two pre-existing portable layouts; Queens Wharf and Morpeth. I would like Trevor to believe that the main reason for choosing to keep it simple was his sage influence on my track planning but I’ve got to admit that this only really played a minor role. Just as Ray Pilgrim demonstrates in his blog Bylong, when mentions his daughter coming back to live with he and his wife with two ankle biters in tow, life can’t be planned. The primary reason I kept my layout plans simple had far more to do with my mother’s health than it did with any high-minded layout design ideals. I made the decision to get the room lined and painted a few months ago after many years of procrastinating and made a start on building the layout. I had made the assumption that I’d get a few years out of the layout room – surely enough time to get a few metres of rack laid and some trains running – until the two women in my life did things that surprised the hell out of me. A month ago I was making pleasing progress on my new layout but within the last two weeks my personal circumstances have done a 180 degree about-face and I’ve decided to sell my home. Normally I would refuse to say “such is life” (mainly because I’m no fan of Ned Kelly) but the problem is that occasionally it’s true! 🙂

So I face the prospect of a larger layout room: what am I going to do with it? Well perhaps it might pay to remember the name of this blog is Morpeth in O-scale. While 8.5mX5.5m might sound like a lot of space, in O-scale it’s really not that much acreage. It’s way too early to plan anything in detail but this space does offer me the possibility of one thing that I couldn’t fit into my previous space and that is a “tear-drop” peninsula down the centre of the room. This feature on its own would offer the possibility of trains actually going somewhere, as opposed to the present situation where the locomotive almost arrives in one yard before the brake-van has left the previous one. In spite of such a feature pushing the Morpeth line out of the “simple and achievable” category of layout design it is a very tempting prospect and quite high up the list of desirable inclusions.

Possibly the most appealing feature of being faced with more space is the possibility of two scenic features that I was struggling to cram into my current layout room’s plan. What I would have liked to get into the plan that would have been built, prior to the change of circumstances, was at least one large bridge. I won’t try to define what constitutes a large bridge because they are pretty much all large in this scale however I will say that I would like it to be bigger than a drainage culvert and smaller than the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A steel truss design has a certain appeal. The other feature I would really like to find space for is a substantial pier scene.

It may be that meat is being loaded (or unloaded) in this photo but if those boxes in the left foreground aren't butter boxes (probably Norco) I'll eat my hat.

It may be that meat is being loaded (or unloaded) in this photo but if those boxes in the left foreground aren’t butter boxes (probably Norco) I’ll eat my hat.

There are a couple of photos of ships being unloaded (or loaded) at NSW ports that I have in a folder on my computer that inspire my ideas about what I’d like to achieve with the modelling of a pier scene. Even though the “Meat Loading Newcastle” photo above depicts a scene that in O would be well outside of my available space, I could do a small slice of this type of scene, afterall Morpeth was a port! The photo of Dalgety’s pier at Darling Harbour below is far too substantial to offer any real prospect of it being modelled however it is the detail and atmosphere that keeps drawing me back to this photo. Absolute waterfront magic!

I find this photo absolutely fascinating. The jumble of detail, the buildings and the ships are just crying out to be modelled.

I find this photo absolutely fascinating. The jumble of detail, the buildings and the ships are just crying out to be modelled.

Even at this stage I can foresee that I probably won’t be able to have both a central peninsula and a wharf/pier scene on my next layout + a substantial bridge. The choice of what to leave out is going to be excruciating 🙂

5 thoughts on “Ideas

  1. Let’s discuss your tear drop/blob in the middle of the room. Not sure that I recall your desired mainline radius but I will guess at least 1 meter if not 1.5 or more. So a 180* curve is at least 2 meters wide plus scenic/safety space on the edges so call it not less than 2.5 to 3.5 meters. I think that you will want aisles not less than .75 meters on each side of the blob so now you are at 4 or 5 meters wide leaving a total of 1.5 to .5 meters to be split between wall mounted shelf right of way to either side of the blob. If your equipment will handle the smaller radius you could hide the turnback end of the blob in a tunnel or other scenic element and divide the peninsula with a center backdrop.

    Just my thoughts .

    • Bill,
      Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve done some of the same rough calculations that you include in your comment. The amount of space I’ll have available is still the main stumbling block to coming up with a detailed design and we’re a fair way from knowing the exact dimensions yet. However I do have a dilemma in that I have to make a decision about whether I want to stay with a branch line or head out onto the main. The types of locos that are coming onto the market these days in my chosen prototype make a secondary main line doable, however this really isn’t my thing. If I were to go mainline I would need the minimum radius to be 1.8m but a branch would only require 1.5m.

  2. Hi Trevor,
    Decisions, decisions. Your partner is going to get concerned when you sit bolt upright in bed at 3am screaming layout ideas! With that extra bit of length to the space, its probably a good option to just run the peninsular out from the Morpeth module where the original pier siding curved inward. Possibly enough space between the Morpeth side and the old Queens Wharf side to model a pier (it could even extend quite deep towards where the “machinery bench” was in the room and get some ship modelling into the scene). There would be a small isle left around the back of the pier peninsular to get in to where the new Queens Wharf station is situated. Given that connecting line with Queens Wharf in the middle was essentially scenic, it could also be reasonably narrow (perhaps no more than 18″), leaving more space for a pier. There may even be scope to get some slight elevation from Morpeth around to Raworth, so when in the centre of the room, you would look across the pier scene, with Morpeth slightly elevated in the background.

    If all else fails, you could always put in a small narrow gauge interchange that runs out to the bigger pier scene…no issues with radius then 🙂

    • Dan,
      I’ve had similar thoughts but I always remember John Allens comment about mixing mainline and NG trains on the same layout. He reckoned that one or the other always suffered. I actually have some NG 7mm Krause locos for the G&B dam lines put out by Bergs in my cupboard. Who knows what might eventuate? One thought I’ve had is that whatever ends up running down the centre of the room will probably become the “exhibiton” layout component of the layout, if in fact I keep exhibiting anything. The reason I say this is that no matter how I look at it the layout I took to the ExpO will need even more modification to get it to work as a home layout. These changes will probably make it incompatible with an exhibition display. Also, as it will be running down one of the long walls, getting it in and out of the room becomes problematic. However a pier on a free standing peninsula is a far more likely candidate for doubling as an exhibition display. This would also have far more flexibility in operation in terms of a shuttle module being employed, freeing the owner/operator to talk, drink coffee and shop 🙂

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