Soon after the formation of the group, we were looking for a suitable project that we could all work on with a view to attending exhibitions. As the group models a variety of regions, periods and indeed countries, it was clearly difficult to produce a specific layout to satisfy all.
After some discussion it was agreed to produce a modular layout. Looking around at the various standards we decided on N-mod as this was well defined and gave the opportunity to join with modellers from other groups. The modular approach also gave a number of benefits to members. No restriction on what their module depicts, can work to their own pace and preferred techniques, allows full length trains to run on main lines, easier storage and transportation. The N Mod system is based on 4' x 2' modules, with 2 main through running lines and a further line that can be linked to trackwork on the module.
General module information
Bob - Industrial scene and end riser
Chris - high and low level tracks with working bus
Trevor - River crossing and end return board
Kelvin - Settle & Carlisle viaduct Now donated to the Felixstowe group
John - dual level moorland scene
Graham - double module, Redhouse Pulp and Paper Mill These modules now have a new owner and being redeveloped into a new layout
Richard - double module, main line station with branch facilities
Trevor - urban / industrial module, started by Cyril Powell
Trevor - double module, Urban scene
Trevor - double module / corner, Dawlish coast scene
Under development - industrial dual level module, double module with main line station.
General module information
Basic module layout:
The above shows a typical single module build to the N Mod dimensions. Modules built to these standards can then be combined to build larger layouts. Modular layouts are normally constructed as a square / rectangle with corner boards linking the sides. We quickly recognised that the number of modules required to build such a layout was beyond our immediate scope and decided that we would need an alternative method of constructing a layout with small numbers of modules. This requirement along with a variation suggested by some members to include a high level line in addition to the standard three through lines, led to us developing our own return boards with simple loops. This allows an additional running options when the groups modules are displayed together, but does not prevent them being used with standard N mod modules. In the diagram below the left hand board has a simple loop to return the main running lines and a rising track lifting the third line to link with the high level line. The right hand return has again a simple loop to return the main running lines and this time a dead end for the third line. To prevent accidents this has a diode section, stopping engines running over the end of the board, but able to return when the controller is reversed.
To complete a running layout the Chris has constructed a fiddle yard for stock storage. This is effectively a double length module which normally is configured for through running, but they can also be used as two separate yards for end to end running. The yard provides 4 roads for each main line and 2 for the third line. The control and power feeds to the main lines are also done on these modules. The control / power for the third line is normally run from Bobs module which has a shuttle control via the high level line.
Fiddle yard(s): Right hand return module:
As further modules have been completed, we have reached the limits of straight layout we can fit into the halls we use for our open days and exhibition. As a result we have now built a set of corner boards that enable a rectangular layout to be build. This has the added advantages that the two through lines can operate independently with the inner line either independent or able to interact with modules with connections.
One of the first modules under construction was by Bob. Construction of most modules have a common format with plywood framing with solid top for the trackbed and bolt on metal tube legs. Bob, built an industrial scene with its own internal railway moving loaded and empty wagons around the site. Using his electronics skills Bob has made this fully automated, including a shuttle linking the high level lines to the third main running line. Some of us initially thought this was a bit of a gimmick, but having seen Bob wandering around the show and drinking tea, whilst people watch the module in action, this does have its merits. Bob also constructed one of the return modules, scenically matched to his module, which forms a simple loop return for the main two running lines and a riser lifting the third line to the high level line.
Chris has been developing (and re-developing) his module with links to the passing third line. The latest version includes a new high level section and a working bus / road. Progress is at a steady pace, but Chris has also constructed the fiddle yards and new corner modules, along with a 6' x 2' layout used to give children a hands on experience at our shows.
A third module has subsequently been completed by Trevor. This is a straightforward scenic module with the three tracks passing over a river crossing. The construction of the module varies from the others as it is an open frame construction to allow building below the trackbed level. The module takes advantage of an option in the N-Mod specification to allow an additional 6" of scenic space in front of the trackwork.
Kelvin has build a module with a small country station connecting to the third line with a very impressive scratchbuilt viaduct carrying the high level line. This is built to the style of the Settle and Carlisle line line with stone being the dominant building material. This module has a loop / fiddle yard at the back which allows some local running.
Kelvin has since donated this module to the Felixstowe group. Some minor changes have been made to the rear yard to improve operation, and some minor scenic changes. This module continues in regular use.
Like Trevor, John has build a scenic module with the the lines running straight through. However he has included the high level line running on an embankment.
Graham is the first member to construct a pair of linked modules. These are around the theme of a rail served industrial site. Graham has interests in both American and British modelling (you may have seen exhibition layouts and journal articles Graham has produced) and after researching options Graham decided to build a Paper Mill. This is built in the modern era with buildings of a common style currently found in many locations around the world. With some changes to detailing features (vehicles, signs etc) and and interchangeable halt / station, it is possible to run the layout with American / British (or even continental) stock. The plant has all the elements to complete all the processing to turn trees into paper (chipping mill, chip car rotary unloader, digester, recover boiler and mill itself). The buildings and plant equipment are all scratch built from a range of plastic and cardboard parts. The modules incorporate a fiddle yard at the rear, which effectively allow the modules to be operated as a small layout in its own right.
Graham has since sold these modules to another member (Mike). Mike is intending to operate this as as a standalone layout, largely retaining the trackplan but with a totally new scenic aspect.
Richard has been busy constructing a pair of modules that includes a main line station with twin platforms to the front main running lines. The station also has a platform / bay platforms for the third line. At the rear there is a high level connection, enabling the modules to run with the other high level modules. To assist with running opportunities with the other modules (in particular to increase the number of trains running in end to end operation), the modules incorporate controllers / circuit switching.
Trevor (Cyril) module:
This module was originally started by the late Cyril Powell. Cyril had always intended to produce an urban / industrial scene and had assembled a number of building kits. Follwing his death members agreed that the module should be completed as per Cyrils intention, hence Trevor has since done this. A connection from the third rail allows access to an industrial complex. Points within this are 'wire in tube' operated, with remote uncoupling using Peco lift arms / electromagnets. There is a small fiddle yard at the rear. On the upper level there is a scene with terraced housing and a small station with bay. This can be used a terminus for the high level track or offer through running. A recent addition are controls to operate trains on the upper level including an automatic shuttle. Buildings are mainly from Metcalf card kits with retaining walls and roads from Scalescenes sheets.
Trevor urban module:
One aspect of running the modules in a rectangular form is the difficulty with access to the operating well. With boards 2'6" deep this is not easy for some members. To ease this and help speed up the setup time a pair of modules only 8" wide have been made. These are simple through tracks in an urban scenic with a retaining wall along the entire length. The backscene has has layered town images to give some slight relief / impression of depth. The boards hinge for transport and a drop in road bridge disguises the join.
Trevor sea modules:
With his interest in the Western region Trevor has build a set of modules based on the Dawlish coast area that can either form a straight pair or a corner set. The modules are all straight through roads but have some increased separation for tunnels. The front of the modules drops down below track level and extent forward by 6" to allow the sea and beach to be modelled. At the rear the land rises to model the cliffs. Also modelled are a couple of tunnels (split 2 road and 1 road).