N Scale Railways Rob

This page last updated: 7 May 2007

I had great plans for N scale railways as a child but never had the funds or the long-term view to make them happen.  However, I did badger the station master at Ystrad Mynach station (Rhymney Valley line, South Wales - where I come from) into drawing out the plans for how that station used to look pre-Beeching.  I'm returning to the hobby now and have decided to model the station properly.  For those who have Google Earth, you can see the station here.

The basic details are given below, otherwise I've given updates on progress in chronological order with the most recent at the top.

Made A Bit
7 May 2007

At last, I've made something.  I've made the frame for one of the segments.  It is 1 metre square, made of 18 mm x 45 mm timber held together by dowel joints glued with Cascamite.

A segment frame

There will be five segments in all, which I have confirmed will fit into the garage that we have now built.  This one segment weighs 2.2 kg, so we're talking 11 kg for the lot, probably double that once a surface of thin plywood and scenery are added.  Time to look for a way to lock them all together, a winch big enough to lift them and some trestles to stand them on.

The five segments

More Information
15 December 2005

Found a very useful link at Adrian the Rock's website giving details of how all the extant signals work at Ystrad Mynach.  As well as that, have purchased The Rhymney Railway Volume 1, the main line from Cardiff (ISBN 1-85794-227-2) and The Rhymney Railway Volume 2, branch lines in the Valleys (ISBN 1-85794-228-0).  Both books are buy John Hutton and are available from www.csbooks.co.uk. They contain many most excellent pictures.  What with this and Microsoft's new book on configuration management, my Christmas reading is set.  Did I write that?  Oh dear.

The Beginning
9 July 2004

Ystrad Mynach at
                25" to the mile from 1960 OS maps - the scale shows
                1 metre at N scale

My approach has been to buy 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey maps dating from 1960 from the Ordnance Survey Historical Mapping service.  This is ruinously expensive, but can't be faulted for detail as it shows the exact track layout, locations of signals, etc.  Of course, Ystrad Mynach station turns out to be on the corner of three such maps...

I've taken the maps and scanned/spliced them to produce the template map shown on the left.  The scale is given to show what a metre length would be when the map is modelled in N scale (1:148).

Then I purchased a copy of WinRail.  This is a pretty comprehensive railway modellers layout tool that knows about standard track libraries, allows addition of flexible tracks, gradients, etc, and (crucially) allows graphics such as the one opposite to be imported.

I used WinRail to lay N-scale Peco fine-scale track over the scanned map.  The resulting track layout is shown below.

Ystrad Mynach as
                  an N scale track layout done in WinRail

The thick black line on the track layout shows where I plan to insert backdrops.  I've had to curve the bottom section of track in an unnatural direction in order to make it (hopefully) fit into the garage we haven't yet built.  The whole is around 3.5 metres square and should fit onto 3 baseboards.

That's as far as I've got.  I'm currently experimenting with some trial layouts in Peco finescale track with a Fleischmann digital control unit and two digital locomotives - one digital FMZ loco that came with the Fleischmann digital starter set and a second Graham Farish Pannier Tank that I had converted to DCC digital operation by Detail Matters.  Very impressed with 18 volt AC digital operation versus 12 volt DC analogue operation.  Likely to use Lenz DCC switching units to operate the points.

Next puzzles for me are to use various scenery schemes in the trial layouts and to figure out how to add proper digitally controlled GWR signalling.

I've also joined the Welsh Railways Research Circle to get help on appropriate rolling stock, etc.

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