Roughly three years after Clan Macleod first circumnavigated the garage, Newton Stewart is finally a reality, albeit one currently consisting largely of bare plywood and track fastened down with drawing pins.
About five years ago I reduced several pages of Peco point templates to 25%, took them and load of squared paper away on holiday and drew up this.
It has subsequently formed the basis for all future planning and was a lot faster than learning Templot (which I still haven’t done). I managed some messing about in Anyrail but my preferred layout planning tool is still a pile of Peco point templates, a box of flexi-track and some crayons.
A look at the 1909 25″ map of Newton Stewart showed that a few compromises were going to be necessary – to do this dead scale would result in a model 28 feet long not including any leads in and out of fiddle yards. Extending the garage wasn’t an option – our entire garden isn’t 28 feet long – so it’s lot shorter and a lot more curved than it ought to be. The fall back, had it not fitted at all, would either have been Dunragit, Creetown or a Rushby-esqe ‘less is more’ model of the Ken Viaduct and that bit of the eastern shore of Loch Ken where the line crosses and re-crosses small inlets on a low embankment.
But it fits, Just. The key to all this is selective compression of course. Three fundamentals underpinned all this – the branch platform must take five Mk 1s otherwise the Easter Tours (there were a couple) won’t fit; the relationship between the station building, footbridge and west end of the island platform must be to dead scale or it doesn’t work, and nothing tighter 3rd radius (19″) curves anywher and preferably a lot larger on the visible bits. In the end the Whithorn branch curves away around 4th radius (21″) curves and the Dumfries end vanishes into the backscene as 3rd radius (19″).
The five coach long branch platform sets the position of everything else. The sharp curve at the Dumfries end determines the position of Bridge 163 which can’t be on too sharp a curve as it is a waybeamed bridge and curved waybeams look silly. This in turn limits the length of headshunt for the down side bay to a Black Five +57′ BG – fine for dropping off the odd horsebox and I can live with that.
The other major compromise is the MPD, which is shorter and more curved than the original. The shed at Newton Stewart was long enough for two Jumbos end to end, so having a large straight thing in the middle of a tightly curved thing has left the configuration of the shed throat rather different to the prototype, even with the shed reduced to 80% of scale (it still fits two Jumbos end to end). But all the sidings are in (just), the relationship between the shed, turntable and coaling stage is more or less correct and the water tank can go in its proper place without any attending loco sticking out onto the branch. The bothy is a bit too near the shed and I would have liked a bit more room in front of the shed to stand locos on but it’s just not feasible.
But the major hold up was designing the fiddle yard. In theory it was straightforward – gradients down to a lower level and then loops all the way round. And a cassette to alllow the Whithorn branch trains to be transferred up to that layout once it eventually takes up residence in the garage as well. And a bit of a sector plate to avoid having to reach under Newton Stewart to adjust stock. And a door in the way. Not that straightforward then.
If the fiddle yard is the datum level, westbound trains leave Newton Stewart at 170mm above datum and head anti-clockwise for Stranraer, eastbound trains leave clockwise. Both lines losing height until, under the goods yard, they cross at at 100mm above datum. They then continue to spiral down until they reach the fiddle yard level almost directly below where they started, each line then splitting into 8 loops ranging in length from about 10 feet to about 20ish.
Apart from the Paddy the longest daylight trains will be the Newcastle – Stranraer trains (loco +6 or 7) so the longest fiddle yard roads will hold two full length trains.
How exactly I’m going to operate it remains to be seen, a planning session with a scale drawing and paper trains is required. Ruling minimum curve is 3rd radius (19″) with small Streamline points (about 24″ radius).
The gradients are a steady 1 in 60 so clearly a Clan with 9 on is going to struggle ! Some experimentation with DCC Concepts Powerbase and the draggiest coaches I could find proved successful – Powerbase is essentially a combination of steel base plates below the track and neodium magnets under the loco, think retro-fitted Magnadhesion. In practice a bit of 2mm piano wire up the middle of the 4 ft proved more effective than the plates being a crucial couple of mm nearer the magnets. Test results were encouraging – fitted with two magnets Clan MacLeod started 9 on the gradient without slipping and Kashmir managed its 5 coach Easter special. Half the test train was made up of the awful Your Model Railway £1 coaches from a few years ago so once my Bachmann Mk1s are fine tuned in line with Mr Franks’ advice there should be no issues. And if there are I can aways fpllow his other bot of advice and just add another Black 5 to the front !
For most of their run the higher bits of the spirals are behind the backscene (east end) or under the embankment behind Newton Stewart West box (west end). The crossover under the goods yard has just enough headroom to clear the baseboard below the goods shed but the Dumfries end of the station took some thinking about. The real line ran on an embankment and trains on the adjacent spiral will only have dropped about 30-40mm at that point. In other words, if you look along Station Road you’ll see the Stranraer-bound train under Bridge 163 ! A solution involving a mirror under the bridge and some careful management of sightlines beckons.
All the Newton Stewart boards lift to allow access underneath, although some of them are going to be easier to move than others. Newton Stewart occupies three sides of the garage, the remaining side is currently a blank space about 8′ x 2′ and a number of options are possible. It sits between the Dumfries end of the station and the dive down to the fiddle yard, so somewhere east of Newton Stewart would be the obvious choice. Options are the Cree Viaduct, Carty Siding, Graddoch Viaduct (the one no-one has heard of hidden in the trees near Palnure), Creetown station (with a lot of compromise) or the Ken viaduct which just fits! However, first to appear will be Goathland, because Mrs P wants somewhere to run her A4s and I did promise…