Although the current trend in track building is the use of plastic chairs on plastic or plywood timbers, there are still other ways to build your track. As much as I like the plastic chairs from Exactoscale and C+L finescale, they are bordering on the expensive side especially when 100’s+ are required, that’s not to say they aren’t worth it as they are exquisitely moulded. It’s just that for your average Dad, it’s getting harder to justify. Also there is a discussion with regards to the checkrails chairs in P4, that under a certain turnout radius the checkrails may not act accordingly in relation to gauge widening. So with both those issues in mind, I cast my memory back to reading about Masokits brass half etched chairs for running track and turnouts.
Michael Clark’s Masokits range of brass etched chairs require copper clad timbers to solder to. These were acquired from Wizard models and a long with a few packs of the etch brass chairs certainly is a step in the right direction for both cost to myself and allows exact control over the building of tight radius turnouts.
Today was spent cutting up copper turnout timbers and fitting them to a copy of my Templot plan on my workbench board. Simply cut with a pair of side cutters they made light work of the cladding and I had a full set of timbers within an hour. Shown here awaiting fixing to the templates with double sided tape.
Now I’m all set to start folding the etched chairs and get soldering.
I’ve been through quite a questioning of why I enjoy Model railways of late, I’ve found it so easy in the last few years to model US railroads, and I struggled to understand why I couldn’t get motivated to build something British. I didn’t lay this at the door of modelling to P4 standards, although I think that it may have crossed my mind at times, but I struggled to find something worth modelling. However after a discussion on the Scalefour forum( http://www.scalefour.org/ ) I decided that I would use a ‘Track plan’ rather than find a prototype and copy it. Its this barrier I think that’s kept me away from a British layout for some time, but I have always been fond of a track plan that Iain Rice published many moons ago, and I decided to modify the operation but keep the track plan, but it couldn’t think of a way of including my usual theme of 1980s West Midlands. However the ace up my sleave was a Cornish China Clay layout. My Parents run a B&B ( http://www.thechapelguesthouse.co.uk/ ) in Carthew, Nr St Austell and are surrounded by China clay and Wheal Martyn is just a 2 min walk away. I have always had a fascination with Cornwall and the China clay layout has a lot going for it.
So here it is, a settled plan, its small, compact with plenty of operational potential, a scenic setting and very much manageable!
The operational changes to Iain’s plan is the mainline enters from the track bottom right of the plan, and enters the loop area. A local shunter will be available to help split the train up. The exit off scene top right allows access to the clay dry which will be the long building along the top of the plan, but off scene will be a coal power plant and bagged clay loading facility, so wagons for both of those can be used on the layout and can come in full and leave empty and vice versa. From the plan the engine shed will not be present, and could be replaced by using that small spur as a cripple siding. The longer siding which will occupy the front edge of the layout scene will become a slurry loading facility.
Some stock has already been purchased and others I already have which is always good, I’m going back a little further than I usually do, back to about 1976, so I can for the first time have an excuse to use a Western, but I go as far forward as 1984, thus allowing everything from the Western, to 25s, 50s, 37s, and 47s and peaks. I’m working on the wagons to start with as this will be a slow project, little pieces will be completed over time. I plan on using the Ratio Clay hood kit and I’m not totally convinced of the Bachmann version and their tarp hood is far from pleasing. A set of old Airfix 5 Plank open merchandise wagons will be modified for a Clayliner service. There’s a myriad of other wagons that will be looked at over time and hopefully you’ll be able to follow along with my attempts at modelling these trains.