Friday, October 30, 2009

Scaling it back

No, I'm not having second thoughts about layout building.

You can only go so far visualizing a layout on paper. Even if you are using one of them new fangled track computer programs, Transferring the plan from 2 to 3D often throws up unforeseen problems. As my plan (while 1:1) is a collection of wiggly blue lines on a large bit of paper, its worse.
So, earlier this week, having built the baseboards, I decided to have a look to see if i could now get in everything that I wanted ('hmmm, we seem to have a fully loaded cart, now I suppose we should look at buying a horse').
Again I borrowed a trick from Barry Norman (I do read other layout books, honest!). He builds a scaled down model of the planned layout to see how it all fits together. This includes buildings, the groundform and backscenes. I'm not quite sure how much he scales his model down, but I've used 1" to 1'.

'No, its not T gauge'

The baseboards and hills are shaped from foamcore board (found in bookstores) with a sharp knife. The buildings are cut out of plasticard. Give everything a coat of paint to see roughly what it will look like. You can also use various scenic coverings to add colour and texture (I have yet to add the trees etc). This will give you a reasonable accurate representation of what the final model will look like. I used this technique on my Cass layout, and the final result was quite similar to the model I had built.

My small model has revealed that I could have problems around the water tank area of the loco depot. However I think I can lose a track on the other side of the oil/coaling stage so I can gain 30-40mm there which should hopefully do it.
the model has also indicated to me that I will need to at least build mock ups of all the buildings and structures, and that I may have to start laying track from the north (loco depot) end, as that seems to be where the entire yard and the exit tracks will hinge on. The south end is easy as its all straight tracks and I can bend things in the area over the road crossing. I think I have enough area for modeling a small part of the town, and the railway settlement.

In real layout news, I have assembled the last module, and added the internal cross braces. This was fun (not really) and involved some very careful thought on just which way was up. I only got a 2/3rds pass mark on this (requiring undoing all the screws and flipping everything over) and to cap it off, the powerdrill ran out of juice with 2 screws to go, which was a real pain, and almost had me breaking out the old hand tools. Fortunately cooler heads (and weak wrists) prevailed and I just waited 10 minutes for a quicky charge before finishing the job.

Its still a bit flexible but adding the track base in will stiffen everything up quite nicely.

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