“I have to say at the outset than I am no modeller and indeed for the ham fisted like me choosing N gauge has proved a real challenge.
I confess to a lifelong interest in public transport starting with a TT gauge trainset in the late 1950s.
Adulthood, raising a family and work got in the way of furthering the hobby. Retirement provided an opportunity to pursue the interest and, with our three children having moved out, requisitioning the fourth bedroom for the purpose (a decision my wife, Jill, now rues!).
Started with the aim of building a Southern Region layout and got the ball rolling by acquiring a Merchant Navy class loco and three SR coaches plus a 4 car CEP EMU. However, having worked in Germany, I was tempted into juxtaposing the South West London environs with Bavaria. So with loads of different rolling stock I’ve ended up with a real mish mash.
I went for a layout on two levels which would provide variety with five circuits enabling a number of trains to run simultaneously.
Judgement of my modelling skills I will leave to fellow members of this group but it was great fun. Oh and early on I decided to introduce non-working overhead wiring to the German section – not particularly good for the back. Laying third rail for the Southern was relatively easy by comparison.
As to the electrics, starting off my knowledge was confined to the ability to change household light bulbs and fitting three pin plugs! The basics of wiring the layout were actually relatively straightforward. The decision to light buildings and streets came as a result of seeing what was possible after visiting a number of model rail exhibitions
I would caution against going to the next stage of introducing working colour signals and traffic lights as I did, not least because the wiring for LEDs (cathode v anode) differs in the UK to the rest of the world (something it took me several months to discover).
Adding electric points (turnouts) for hard to reach areas followed. The other hard lesson learnt is test lighting/wiring before installing it! And I still need to get round to organising the wiring.
My local shops in Essex, John Dutfield in Chelmsford and Plus Daughters in Basildon have been incredibly helpful and I would always argue for shopping at a local stockist before opting for online.
In addition, exhibitions, Layouts 4U and Block Signalling have proved invaluable in aiding my exploits.
I’m part way through writing a manual for the layout because there is so much that requires documenting which I’m happy to share if it ever gets finished!
And layout development is not over. I’ve applied my limited lifetime programme management skills to bear and been quite ruthless in making changes – buildings have gone, stations replaced and tracked uprooted.
My next project is to build a fairground on the Aldi car park site – the problem is obtaining an all singing and dancing motorised ferris wheel which is out of production … but I’m still looking.
I hope that this has provided a bit of an insight into the trials and tribulations experienced over the past six years!
All the best
A huge thank you to Peter – a wonderful narrative too. Very much looking forward to his updates. Superb stuff.
That’s all for today folks.
Please do keep ’em coming.
And if you want to make a start, just like Peter did, the Beginner’s Guide is here.
Oh – I don’t forget the ebay cheat sheet too, it goes mad this time of year.
A very nice layout you have build there Peter …well done ..Dangerous Dave
Wonderful layout Peter! From one ham fisted modeler to another you have done a great job. I personally would like to see a video of your layout in operation. Well done 😀
Wow – speechless! Thanks for sharing, Peter.
This is absolutely beautiful and how do you keep track of where the trains?
Beautiful layout Peter……enjoyed looking at your pictures. Thanks for sharing. Paul Ohio USA
Nice work Peter! So glad you mentioned wiring … that unseen, unappreciated, but all important element of any job. Like most human beans, we tend to remember it as an afterthought (after something goes terribly wrong). Good luck with your project.
Peter, you have displayed awesomeness in the fact that you have begun and have continued building your dream. This is an inspiration to all who have similar aspirations but for one reason or another have not begun or haven’t continued. Thanks for sharing your story with us. If I may copy a British icon, keep calm and labor on.
Roy from S.C., USA
You mastered N gauge. I’m working with HO and 027 on the same board and really prefer 027 because of the bigger scale. I’m always putting the HO cars back on the track. I can imagine keeping N gauge on the track around curves.Nice layout, good way to use retirement
ho and 027 on the same board
Thanks a lot for your pictures and writeup. I particularly like the idea of only adding electric for point control in hard to reach areas. I added electric control to all my points. With DCC that gets quite expensive. I expanded my N scale layout added points (switches in the US) and will do some rewiring to eliminate the need to purchase an additional controller. Several of my points are easily reached from the front where my control panel is located. Nice work. Thanks again.
a great looking layout. plenty of trains to run. good scenery.it shows you enjoyed this project. well done.
I admire the way you expanded the size of your layout and tied it into the (original?) smaller portion. Ingenuity and considerable food for thought.
I’m really sorry I missed getting your book with all the perks! I was in the hospital for 33 days and just returned home yesterday. I’m not embarrassed to say I had an emergency colostomy after developing a perforation in my lower intestine. It was for a while, but I made it. Most painful experience of my life. Anyway, I can’t thank you enough for all your emails and the effort it must take to post them all. I’ll be ordering Tuesday. I’m just sorry I missed out on all the extras. For years I hada pretty elaborate setup using “O”. This time around I’m going to try “HO”. I look forward to posting my progress from start to finish. Well finish I don’t know about that. It seems that my old layout always changed and grew.
Thanks, Jeff Gainsborg
This is a great layout. I don’t know how anyone can work with anything smaller than HO. I get all thumbs even with my HO sometimes.
A helpful hint for prototypical catenary placement: as much as will allow, place the catenary towers outside of the curve. This placement pulls the wire into the centre above the track where it should be. Whereas placing a tower on the inside of a curve pulls the wire away from the centre where it shouldn’t be. And to get a smoother wire-around-a-curve appearance use more towers placed closer together, whereas a straight-a-way has more distance between towers. Also where two catenary lines come into one, above a switch (point), there needs to be two towers, one each side of the track, with the wire switch or junction suspended between them. I hope this all makes sense! Just trying to be helpful if possible.
That’s one awesome layout Peter. You certainly have succeeded in having a beautiful n scale railroad. I agree that a video would be great.
Cary from Maryland
Did you have fun? It certainly looks like it, and that’s all that matters. Great job. The overhead wiring looks good; sorry about your back.
Peter, great job!! My wife has taken one of our rooms just for her office why? Who knows? In the meantime I have been kicking around from my youth the early electric trains used by Ford in the downriver area of detroit where I was so happy as a youth. The viaducts built to withstand an earthquake. Your mismash is exactly what you see and from reading it too, reminds you of a point in time that gave you happiness and to relive that as many have done in their modeling is exactly what this is all about. Thanks for sharing,
Can anyone help with this? I am new at this I am wiring my layout DCC
I am using Atlas Customline Mark V turnouts There is Neg and Pos going into the switch and coming out both tracks I got that. There is a connection to the frog built into the switch what do i hook up to that?