With Longcarse West now retired I have more or less a clean sheet for the design of the replacement. In no particular order here are my current thoughts about which way I’m heading. Expect there to be many changes along the way.
If I want to build another exhibition layout it will need to be transportable in my old but dependable estate car. Longcarse broke down into parts that came to five foot long plus the two 3/4 inch ply boards that bolted to the ends for transportation. This was a bit tight for the car so I have decided to use two main boards of 4’9″ long by 2′ wide plus a fiddleyard of probably the same length. The two main boards will bolt face to face for transportation with the fiddleyard being laid alongside with the lighting rig and fiddleyard view blocker. Having used cheap tressles from Aldi to support Longcarse I’m leaning more towards integral folding legs for the replacement due to the space savings during transport
Construction & Operation
The boards will be made from high quality birch ply, probably 9mm, with the legs made from softwood. The boards will be four or five inches deep to take account of the point motors and fold up integral legs.
I used Exactoscale’s P4 Track Company track on Longcarse West and have had trouble with rusting of the rail top. Probably my fault after using a Peco track rubber on it and being a little careless when cleaning up after soldering. The new trackwork will be built with nickel silver rail mostly using Exactoscale chairs and sleepers. I now feel confident enough to build my own points and picked up the necessary jigs a couple of years back at Scaleforum.
The Tortoise point motors I used on Longcarse have been reasonably reliable with only a few hiccups but they are costly and take up quite a lot of room under the boards. My friend James Dickie has used servos to operate the points on his layout ‘Waterloo Street’ and I like their compactness and adjustability. I will use them in future and a MERG membership is in the pipeline to source the parts and knowledge.
I have a Roco Multimaus DCC system. It allows the ‘naming’ of locos with an up to five figure alpha/numeric name, ideal for TOPS numbered locos and you don’t have to remember what address you’ve given each loco when you’ve programed them in. It’s also an easy to use system and it works. It’s staying.
Now we get to the interesting bit. What is the new layout going to look like? It’ll still be based in Central Scotland in 1975 and will be largely freight only. Here’s a few loose ideas.
- I like 7mm stuff and will probably head in that direction one day. I reckon with the rtr 20 and 26 from Heljan and a handfull of Slaters and Parkside wagon kits you could have a nice little roster of stock without going over the top. I like the 4mm micro depot layout ‘Hendre Lane’ and I think a lightly expanded 7mm version could be a very nice way of sticking a toe into the senior scale without the huge expense of a full blooded change of scale. Of course it would have to be S7 for me although the difference between 32mm O finescale gauge track and S7 isn’t as much of an issue as the huge gap between OO and P4.
- Staying with 4mm there’s a possibility of a slightly bigger version of Longcarse West. With 30inches of extra scenic space it should be able to produce a scheme that holds true to the ethos of Longcarse. I like the ‘half yard’ idea as it allows the layout to look like it’s part of a much bigger scheme and less like a tiny squeezed up toy trainset. With a couple of extra sidings here and there and a possibility of through running to the ‘docks’ I should be able to produce a layout different from Longcarse West but retaining the flavour of it.
- I really like what I’ve seen of Chris Pendlenton’s ‘North Shields’ layout in the MRJ. A quick tickle of the plan and a shift from the Tyne to the Forth would allow the Alloa passenger trains to have never been curtailed and they could in 1975 be in the hands of DMUs with the occasional through loco hauled passenger and parcels services. Sadly the practicalities might be against this option as it’d be a nightmare reaching over the raised passenger lines to couple and uncouple the goods trains in Longcarse New Yard (Collingwood) and I’m not keen on using AJ couplings. We’d also be into van hire for exhibitions which I’m keen to avoid.
- Real pie in the sky now. Maybe I could persuade JS-W, Tim Horn and Phil Eames to let me join their huge fiddleyard for hire scheme and do Cadder Yard as it was in 1975. Should be ready for Scaleforum 2112 if I can keep focussed.