Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Maps - old and new

I've come across a few good map websites in the last couple of weeks - some were posted in a thread on RMweb and I found a couple more too. Old OS Maps has maps from the 1940s with a google map overlay and links to other interesting map sites. New Popular Edition Maps has OS maps from the 1940s and is adding postcode data to them.

Web services company Fonant have produced this cool Full window map browser which demonstrates what can be dome with the OS OpenSpace API. Another website that uses this API is Where is the path? - which supports split screen mapping with OS maps (Current, 1930s and 1940s), Google Maps, Google Earth, OSM, OSM Cycle.  It doesn't support every possible combination but it does quite a lot. In single map mode it has handy arrows that point to magnetic north and true north and the google maps screens support Wikipedia and Panaramio layers. There are more OS OpenSpace projects in their gallery.

The lounge

The lounge is fairly large and has the advantage of being a reasonable temperature, having power and light already.  I had been thinking of building a modular 009 layout which I could set up on the table, but I've been wondering if I could build a semi-modular or sectional 00 layout instead. I've always thought layouts should be at table height or slightly higher, and don't think I like the idea of building folding legs so hadn't really considered the lounge 00 layout larger than the table. However my Father-in-law's N gauge layout uses stacking plastic stools as for support. They're cheap, strong, don't take us much space and I expect a couple of us will be sitting on them for Christmas dinner. The lower hight of the layout means that it's easier for children to see, and I can still get near eye level if I sit on the floor.

So how would this theoretical 00 layout work? I'd need to make most of the baseboards fairly narrow to keep down the total baseboard area like on Richard Lake's Rothervale, to keep the storage space required as low as possible. I'll have to experiment a bit more but I think I could keep most of the straight boards down to 9-12" wide and fit in a double track main line and still have a bit of scenery. Since that's only 54-72 scale feet, and the Railway Technical Web Pages say that a modern 2 track alignment is around 50ft (15m) wide I'd better explain how I might make that work. I don't plan to have the track running in the centre of the boards most of the time, in fact some of the time the track may be very near one edge. I've checked the width of some railway lines around Southampton using Google Maps, and 2 track lines seem to be about 30ft wide.  Since the British loading gauge is relatively small and these lines aren't modern builds it's no surprise the alignment is narrower.  Within 30ft of the edge of the alignment there is scrub, grass, small trees, fences, and in a couple of places the edge of a river so I could probably imply that there is something more interesting just off the edge of the board.  The occasional bridge over or under the railway will add interest too.

I did a bit of playing with some flexi-track and an intermodal twin set an to find out what radius curve they looked reasonable on - I can't remember the exact numbers but I do know that it would fit between the fire-guard and the sofa, and wasn't far off the 800mm radius that number6 is using as his minimum radius for Southerham. To fit a continuous run in and not have to step over or duck under my minimum radius will have to be less than this - but it'll still be big enough that RTR stock shouldn't have an problems. Number6 has also started work on some baseboards that look fairly similar to the design I have in my head. They look good and he says they are fairly strong. I think I'll probably make the boards for the curves slightly wider since I intend for at least one of my curves to be scenic, and I want to be able to add enough scenery so they don't look too much like a large train set.

I don't want to be over ambitious so I'm thinking that I'll build a module that's has a small yard and a mainline, some curved boards to make an oval, and a straight board to finish the oval.  If I'm feeling really ambitious I might build a fiddle-yard too.  I think I have enough enthusiasm to get something built, I just need to find some time and that's likely to be difficult over the next few months.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The shed?

We have two sheds in the garden. A shed would probably need less work to make it suitable for a layout and has the advantage that I can go to the shed without fear of waking sleeping children. The larger shed is 8ft square, but that one is at the bottom of the garden and doesn't have electricity. I've contemplated setting up a solar power system to charge 12v batteries, but that would be a serious undertaking and I'd need heating in winter, so that's unlikely to happen. I'm not sure how much it'd cost to run mains to it but I think it will be needed for storage so it's probably not an option.

The smaller shed is 6x8th and does have electricity, but also has the freezer as there's no space for it in the kitchen. It is possible to fit a surprising amount of model railway in an 8x6 shed, but I'd need to remove everything else, and work round the freezer, and probably board up the window. I'd be limited to fairly short trains which in some ways is an advantage since they cost less to buy, but I suspect I'd be limited to 2 intermodal twin sets, and I'd like a slightly longer train than that. A narrow gauge layout in shed is still a possibility if I don't build an 00 one there.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Loft Layout?

Cropped from this photo by Jon Bryant / CC BY-SA 2.0

My dream layout is a large tail chaser where a train can run for a reasonable length of time before it gets back to where it started. I think this quote sums up what I want far better than anything I could write:

...my real hankering is for a big layout. Not just long sweeping curves and sidings you can lose a few wagons in but a recreation of the linear space the real railway has. I like the approach to a town and the junctions, sidings and yards you pass as the train slows for the stop.
- number6 of RMWeb, describing his plan for Southerham.

The only place I have room for something like that is the loft. I think it would be 00 rather than 009 and based in the South East - probably the South Western Main Line or one of the connecting lines. I'd build a double track loop round the edge of the loft with a 3rd rail, with some of the track being partly hidden (not so much 3rd rail fitting needed). There will also be some double or single track lines which leave the main line and crosses the main line at least once, perhaps including a junction loosely on Worting Junction. A small yard, and perhaps a couple of sidings elsewhere would certainly be part of the plan and I'd like to include a station, though I probably won't run many passenger trains - the station may be based on Eastleigh, but probably with smaller platforms and buildings - maybe looking more like Shawford. In my ideal world I'd also include a representation of a depot - perhaps based on the Northam Desiro MPD - however in my current house I doubt I have the space. Anyway, this is a dream and since the loft needs quite a lot of work to make it suitable for a railway it will probably stay a dream for a few more years.


Tail chasing

I mentioned a while ago that I've been considering building a mini OO layout to give me somewhere to run my SG stock until I can build something bigger. However I'm not sure if that is what I really want so I was pondering if I should build something else. Either something slightly bigger - to give longer sidings and allow the trains a bit more of a run, or build a micro shunting layout, maybe something like an English version of this French micro, or a layout in a box file or two. However I'm not sure how much I'd operate a small shunting layout, and it's not exactly suitable for running intermodal twin sets on. So I don't think don't think I'm going to build any of those options. What I really want is a tail chaser. But I don't have much space so where can I build it? Well I have 3 ideas - first up the loft...