Alan answers some questions

Alan has kindly answered the questions posted on his last piece.

“Hi Al,

I’ve had some very nice comments about my layout so thank you everyone.

A few questions were asked, my prototype is The Western Region in South Wales.

The layout is pure fiction, but I try to replicate the operating practices of that area which is set in the late 1950’s.

You may have seen my station pilot loco, an ex GWR pannier tank complete with Shunters truck. These were unique to the GWR/western region.

They were used in marshalling yards and the trucks had running boards on either side for the shunter to stand on. It saved a lot of walking. He had along pole which was used for uncoupling and applying the brakes on wagons.

Right up to the early 1960’s loose-coupled goods wagons were still in use (no air or vacuum brakes).

Wagons were uncoupled by the shunter, then the wagon or wagons were pushed by the loco into the siding where they were needed.

The shunter then had to run alongside and apply the individual brakes on the wagons, again using the pole. It was so archaic and dangerous.

I find the shunting movements far more enjoyable than just watching trains go round & around.

The back scenes are made by Gaugemaster and are photographic. They do a selection of different views, plus there are many other makers. Just type in ‘model railway back scenes’.

Lastly, I was asked about fiddle yards . Mine is a turntable type. I wanted enough tracks to hold most of my stock so I have 8 roads. The centre one is split in two by the pivot bolt, thus creating two short roads. I then have three roads either side.

The length is determined by how much room you have, remember it has to turn 360 deg. so you have to have enough room either side.

Electrical connection is made by rod & tube method. So when the train runs back to the F/Y I just turn it 360deg and it,s ready to depart again.

Mine is 44 inches long enough for a tank loco + eight wagons or two coaches.

I hope that helps


And after ken’s brilliant video trailer, he’s sent in some ‘out takes’.

I have to say, I thought it was better than the trailer – so here it is.

That’s all for this missive peeps.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you grab the bull by the horns, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

25 Responses to Alan answers some questions

  1. Dave DeCarlo says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your ability to make it so real looking. It tells me to take parts of mine apart and re-do. Thanks again for sharing your fantastic layout. Dave

  2. ol' Puffer says:

    Hi Ken,
    I would love to have the space and skill to have a set up like this and how on earth do you get the cars and buses to move?

    Very Well Done
    I look forward to the next instalment.

  3. Ken says:

    I love to watch this videos, these and Eric’s Trains video. They give me ideas for my Christmas Garden. That means I have to be able to set it up in a month and take it down in a month. I leave it up – one month. That give me a trade off of two for one. But I can do anything preparing for it the time in between.

    I would like to know how do you get the buses to run around? Magnets underneath on a servo motor?

    Thanks for sharing AmstersKen! A great layout!!

  4. Carl says:

    Ken: I didn’t know birds sang so much in the dark, or perhaps they do in Holland?? LOL Great movies and a wonderful railroad. Thanks for sharing.

  5. svyatoslav vykrest says:

    It`s wonderful.It`s beyond any comarison. Great work! Many thanks

  6. Gavin says:

    Amazing layout Ken. Incredible realism you have achieved. I hate to think how many hours it must have taken you.

    Well done indeed.

  7. Joe Gray says:

    Loved the way you made use of mirrors in several places…Keep these videos coming…

  8. Jaaques Shellaque says:

    Great animation (busses, people, heavy equipment, etc.)
    Thanks so much for sharing pics and ideas.

  9. paul Otway says:


  10. kenn says:

    Wow! This is so awesome. It almost looks life like. I love all of the animation. This layout must have taken some major time and cost some mega bucks to producte. Great job.

  11. sundaram says:

    That was a super job. Do the buses run on (guided) embedded wires? Very realistic and fantastic.

    How long did it take? How much of it was hand made/custom built?


  12. Paul and Tonya Morris says:

    My wife and I are wondering how or what do you use to make your buses run around the city? We do not see any tracks in the roadway for them to follow. We saw that Ken asked the same, sorry for the repete. Paul and Tonya

  13. THOMAS says:


  14. Hi Alan,
    loved your layout, well done, I am only half way there with my British Layout, I would love to see this one in day light too.


  15. ron from manchester says:

    Hi Alan, love the video and your layout is absolutely wonderful, your attention to detail is superb, that is obviously a labour of love.
    Regards Ron.

  16. Rod Mackay says:

    Alan, right up to closure in summer 1999 the lads were still shunting the wagonworks sidings and yard tracks at Barry that way, complete with shunting poles and brakesticks, as most of the wagons were mixed brake types and many in for various repairs, “loose” shunting was also common where a single wagon or a “raft” of sevral would be “kicked” by the pilot to send it down one road, then the shunter would whip the points over to snd the next “cut” down a different one. It was a joy to watch – I would sit in the signalbox window in my swivel chair with a fresh cup of coffee and watch them out working in the pouring rain – I bet you can imagine how much they loved that! They didn’t have the shunter’s truck or “jalopy” as the 08 class diesel pilot engines had a wide front step with handrail for their use.

  17. D.B. Lewis, Warrenton, Oregon says:

    “rod&tube” for fiddle yard electrical connection on f / y … What is that? Btw, thank you so much for commenting on fiddle yard … Also, Rod’s comments above about shunting are fascinating ( ty ) … I really love these emails!

  18. dave says:

    That’s just too cool !!!

  19. Danny Willemsen says:


    If you look for film inspiration, look at the movie “Amsterdamned”

    Great idea’s for little scenery shots.

  20. Gerry says:

    How do you do your backlighting?

  21. Bob Walker says:

    Hi Paul, Tonya & Sundaram… my guess is that he’s using the Faller Car System – passive (non-powered) wire embedded in the road surface, battery powered vehicles w/ a magnetic pick-up at the front connected to the steering system… there are a number of YouTube videos featuring them… check out Pilentum Channel… -Bob W, NH, USA

  22. Joe Gennari says:


  23. Rod Mackay says:

    D.B., the rod in tube method for a turntable-style fiddleyard uses a sliding rod in a tube fixed to the main baseboard just before it meets the fiddleyard, each of the tracks on the fiddleyard deck has a matching bit of tube fixed beside it, so when you turn the deck round to match up one track with the entry/exit track, you slide the rod across the join into the tube, which ensures correct rail alignment and stops the deck moving as the train rolls across the join. You would also usually feed the power to one rail through the rod, so that only the track connected to the main layout was live. I had a setup like this on a TT German layout and just used a small domestic doorbolt.

  24. Alfonso Maione says:

    I just purchased a Lionel Holiday Tradition Express set for my grandchildren. It lights up, plays music. However it moves one quarter inch then stops.
    Can you help with this question, any idea what’s wrong

  25. Stephen Hill says:

    Wow! I’m not even sure I have words to describe how incredibly awesome your layout is . The planning and construction are unsurpassed . I mean that is totally the most realistic display I’ve ever seen . There are always remarkable displays on this site, kudos to all modelers , but my goodness sir yours takes the cake.

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