When I first conceived this layout there were a couple of things I wanted to do differently to most of the layouts I had seen. The first was to frame the scene with full-depth back and end boards rather than just have a low backscene on an open baseboard, as having seen a few other layouts like this it blocks out surrounding distractions and makes the layout look more like a slice of reality and less toy-like. An added advantage of this type of construction is that the two halves of the layout bolt together into a convenient 6'x3'x2' wardrobe-size box for easy transportation without adding any extra pieces of wood.
Another idea was to avoid wasting valuable space with a non-scenic fiddle yard behind the vertical backscene, but how? I had always planned to cover the sharp curves at either end, and the hills at the north end provided the answer - extend them around the back to become a sloping rock face, a disused quarry maybe. Further along towards the town this could become a more man-made hillside, the type you see in cuttings along motorways. This slope at the back would provide enough space to cover the 8-track fiddle yard and give a more dramatic landscape, and also strengthen the backboards by adding some triangulation.
|Access to the fiddle yard is through three removable panels in the rear of the backboards as shown. The two narrow slots below the access panels are where the wiring connectors will be sited, recessed for protection.|
. . . and a closer view showing the track layout. The two centre roads have been laid in concrete sleeper track to distinguish them from the loops more easily.
Apart from the town area the entire landscape around the track-bed (including the branch line embankments) has been formed from discarded polystyrene packaging, carefully cut into chunks or slices depending on the effect wanted. This is stuck down with PVA, then in some cases carved with a bread-knife to give the desired contours.
In this badly lit picture you can see the fiddle yard 'hiding' behind the rock-face on the left.
|. . . and this is the other board with the station platforms in situ and the beginnings of the river excavation on the far right.|
|Believe me, you need a VERY understanding wife/partner if you're planning to carve expanded polystyrene in the house - this is the mess in the lounge whilst I was doing just that with the bread knife!|
Next a thick covering of papier maché made with wallpaper paste was built up in layers to give a more durable shell. This should protect the polystyrene from damage whilst remaining flexible enough not to crack when moved.
Finally, the whole thing has been given a splash of poster paint to give some idea what the finished landscape will look like, and to provide a good colour base to apply scenics to without white areas of paper showing through.
This is the North board showing the branch-line overbridge, and the Dairy site towards the back. The black area far right will be the river.
|This is the South board showing the station and car-park, basic road layout, and the continuation of the river that will contain the lock. The white area to the left will be a row of industrial units eventually.|
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