Eric’s Smeedle Valley Railway update

Eric has been in touch again.

I’ve posted quite a few of his layouts and updates over the years, so I was very pleased to see this in my inbox:

“This has taken a lot longer than expected as at first I intended a single level layout and got all the track laid and tested along with quite a lot of lighting.

Then I started on the scenery and it was after about a month and a half from starting I found that flat one level rails were very boring to run and not for me, so up it all came and I started another of my normal multi level layouts using inclines of 2%.

The lower twin tracks are my goods (freight) lines which are just a large circle with two sidings each. The next two levels are passenger lines, a twin track figure eight with three sidings and an inner loop on each track which actually act as extra sidings.

See attached track plan, it’s not very good but gives the idea used. I never plan out a layout first as with such awkward shapes to encompass I prefer to lay the track and see how I can fit it into the design in my head.

N gauge track plan

To the right, are two bungalows under construction above a small pond. (TIP) The pond is made out of a supermarket (Morrison’s) plastic pie container base cut down to around 3/8ths inch high and painted then filled with Realistic Water. Then when set plaster cloth is used around it to blend it into the ground. Note the new part tarmac road to the bungalows with the old steam roller levelling it off.

Centre back is my small town of Smeedle, the background flats are actually one of Al’s office buildings converted into a block of flats. Thanks Al. The roads that I use I hand built on the computer and printed onto thin card, not perfect but ok. A lot of fiddly work.

The police station is above the tunnel with police cars ready to roll. The Metcalfe low relief shops and Grace bros department store all extended back a little to enable lighting them up. The cinema is a Metcalfe kit with added balsa wood back with blue lighting above the entrance. The low relief office/ bank building is laser cut and two kits were used to build it.

To the left side we see a small country road leading up to a small roundabout with a garage set on the corner. Two small cottages sit down at the bottom of the hill. Quite proud of the large road signs near roundabout, taken off the internet and adjusted to suit the roads. Again a very fiddly job but worthwhile if you have the patience.

Front centre my town park and rather swollen river, after heavy rains upstream you can see a tree trunk floating down the seething river. The ramp down to the park holds a Metcalfe pavilion which here is a café, note tables also Metcalfe as is the fountain in the centre of the park all from their mini kit range. The river is done with EZ water and effects.

The street lights I got off Amazon are 6 v lights that I painted silver as the white wasn’t suitable. They have a good fat lower stem that fits into the board and if a good fit needs no gluing in place and they are reliable and reusable, a big plus as I try to re-use items wherever possible. The park lights were longer than I really wanted but they work fine.

Ok I missed adding signals for the simple reason of difficulty bending my old bones under the boards to go with my twisted fingers. I don’t do weathering, too messy and I prefer to see locos and track clean,,,ish. J

A (TIP) for cleaning track. I use the pads that fit on carriage axles with Methylated spirits (Available from good chemists (drug stores)) added to pads on each circuit of the track, this cleans and doesn’t corrode or wear the track, I have used this method for years and it works, around three trips round per track then a clean pad to wipe off any residue. Cheap and cheerful.

The various sections over the track lift away for access and the shaped plaster panels also lift off. Another (TIP), if you make lift away plaster panels that are over the rails I paste cling film under them to stop plaster flakes dropping onto the rails, it keeps the underneath area free of dust and plaster residue.

My system is run by two Gaugemaster 4 track controllers, everything is DC. One controller for the four tracks and the second is for lighting using the controls as dimmers. Wiring for the lights is all manually done on each panel with lights connected with quick release jointers for when access required so the whole panel can be removed.

The overall maximum size is almost 5.5 ft by 7.5 ft but interrupted by a wall to the right that the track has to curve round and in the middle centre area there is an access hatch, that is why my layouts are rather awkward to design.

I hope you like the new layout and welcome all your comments.

Eric”



Latest ebay cheat sheet here.

A huge thanks to Eric, especially for his narrative – it really does highlight the perils of laying your scenery before you are happy with your track.

That’s all for today, folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Best

Al


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18 responses to “Eric’s Smeedle Valley Railway update”

  1. colin says:

    Nice model. Loads crammed into a small space but looks spacious with the use of the elevated housing section and as mush open space as can be achieved. Well done.

  2. Dan Brown says:

    Nice layout and video. Like the speed of trains.

  3. NJ Mark says:

    Really love your layout and your dialogue which is filled with some great tips. Cheers! NJ Mark

  4. Raymond Davies says:

    Just wondered what his gauge is ?

  5. Tom Nishols -Shrewsbury USA says:

    Very nice ,the town looks great and the track layout looks sharp. Nice job.

  6. Cary Buter says:

    Hello Eric,
    Nicely done layout, you’ve done a great job on track layout and the scenery.
    The blended in backdrop adds so much. Enjoyed the video with all the running train action. Thanks for sharing and Cheers from the USA.

    Cary from Maryland

  7. Paul Case says:

    Very nice layout and video. I am amazed that the engines and freight cars look so different in Britain. The freight cars especially are so small. Any reason why?

  8. Jonathan Scott says:

    Eric, thanks for sharing your wonderful railroad. It reminded me of an issue which is not often discussed, that is dealing with the specific oddities of the space we have to build. In your case, it was the wall, which you handled magnificently. I hope to get my act together soon and send some pictures and a narrative to Al. It is often the space we have available which informs the final layout of these wonderful miniature railroads around the world. In fact, not all that different from the real world!! Jonathan

  9. Chuck Bartunek says:

    Very nice layout in a small area , what gauge are you working in?

  10. Eric says:

    To 11.26, the gauge in N.
    Come on Jonathon 1.07, it is easier than you know to get started all you need is a little space and an idea of how you want your layout to look.
    To 10.47, elevated areas are great to hide the boring parts of the track and I like an elevated section as it allows you to work on the board away from the layout, especially wiring in all the lights.
    Happy Modelling
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  11. paul vogel says:

    Eric….Beautiful layout and excellent workmanship. Thank you for sharing ! Paul Brookfield, Ohio USA

  12. Ed says:

    Eric,
    Beautiful layout. Enjoyed viewing it!
    EddieO Irwin Pa. USA

  13. Dale Popula says:

    Eric,
    Very nice work, do any of your tracks connect so trains can go from say track #1 to track # 2 or #4?

  14. Mike Foster - Vancouver says:

    Eric, brilliant layout and what you achieved in the size available.
    How did you handle the lighting, I assume you use led’s what voltage led’s are they (3v) and how did you wire them up – series or parallel, did you connect any resistors to reduce voltage.
    It seems we have a ton of info on layouts and track but very little talk about what goes on beneath the layouts, the wiring.
    Any tips you have that are welcome, especially lights.

  15. Brian Rockey says:

    Very nice layout Eric. Great to see so many trains running at once. That river certainly looks fierce – could do with some kayakers!!!
    All the best
    Brian
    (GWR – Grandpa’s Wonderful Railway)

  16. Rod Mackay says:

    To answer the point about wagon sizes, the standard ten or twelve ton four wheelers evolved from the early days of railways, Britain had thousands of private sidings into small industries often in cramped town settings and many had small wagon turntables to move them between lines in a building or into buildings at right angles to the railway, there were also lots of hoists or tipples that upended wagons into ships etc. and staithes where hopper wagons dropped loads into cells beneath, wagons were also often shunted by capstans or horses in confined yards. The GWR made a real effort to raise sizes around the turn of the century with 20 ton four wheel and 40 ton bogie wagons but few customers wanted to alter their premises, although big users like steelworks had some larger fleets. Oil or roller bearing axle boxes and heavier, welded rail made much bigger vehicles possible for bulk loads and 50 ton four wheel and 100 ton bogie wagons became common in the 60s, but there was a ‘Common carrier’ obligation on the railway until about 68 so lots of small loads had to be accepted by law, and the small wagons went for scrap in huge numbers after that ended, although there were some traffics where the handling facilities still needed them in the 70s eg China clay in Cornwall.

  17. Paul Case says:

    Thanks for the response re the size of the cars. Now I understand the restrictions to size that existed in Britain. I thought everyone was modelling a bygone era . Thanks, Paul

  18. Rod Mackay says:

    Well, Paul, it is a bygone era really, the China clay fleet lasted to I think the early 80s but that was about the last hurrah for small traditional wagons. I it needed to be quite a ‘big bang’ change, as the old wagons were vacuum braked whereas nearly all modern wagons built since the 60/70s have air brakes for faster speeds and release times, so you couldn’t just blend in new wagons gradually. The first signalbox I worked in 1990 had a regular ‘class9’ without full power brakes, and a guard’s van on the back, because it took both air and vacuum braked wagons from our marshalling yard down to the wagon repair works in Cardiff, and the two systems were incompatible. Almost all our freight now runs in air braked bogie hundred toners, many now with buckeye couplings instead of buffers & shackles.

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