Further to the previous posting about my progress with various War Department wagon projects, I’ve been ruminating further on track plans and, more importantly, where to find the space for the layout.
I suppose it’s not the way that most layouts gestate but, after putting considerable time and effort into scratchbuilding a USATC Whitcomb diesel loco (featured in the November 2006 issue of Model Rail), I thought I ought to have a small layout on which it could run.
A number of track plans have been drawn up over the past few years, taking into account the very small area that I have at my disposal. The bare necessities of the layout are to allow enough shunting manoeuvres to maintain operational interest, whilst also showing off my kit-built, scratch-built and RTR-converted stock to good effect. I also wanted a minimum number of scenic features, allowing me to build a few interesting African buildings and the odd armoured fighting vehicle.
Some form of run-round loop will be required, with an adequate headshunt to accommodate a suitably modified 8F 2-8-0, which will be the longest form of motive power envisaged. Additionally, a hidden fiddle yard/traverse must also be incorporated. With all this in mind, the plan is growing from its original minimum space idea to a more complex undertaking.
Another diversion from the initial plan was the move towards finescale track. Initially, I intended to use up my stocks of code 100 track and turnouts that I’ve been carrying around with me for years. The nature of the real desert railway meant that the tracks were partially covered in sand and earth and I’d assumed that this would detract from the overscale appearance of the rails.
As this layout idea is a little out of the ordinary, I’ve been faced with having to experiment with various materials in order to create believable scenery. The diorama featured in these photographs was built in order to trial some of these products and processes. On the whole, I’m pleased with the results although I will have to keep the sand clear of the running rails and point blades. The fine abrasive particles could prove damaging to the locomotives’ moving parts.
The Peco Code100 track has been succesfully disguised with the sand and 'ballast', but the width of the rail heads still give it away. I think I'm going to opt for Code75 instead, although I may build another test diorama to make sure the finer metals don't disappear beneath the sand!