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Blog: The goods loop


It was great to sit back and relax a little after the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition, but no sooner had I sat down I found myself itching to get back into layout building – again!

Fortunately, there is a project for me to indulge in even though work on Barrenthorpe and Grosvenor Square is all but complete for now – and that is the ‘O’ gauge test track.

So during December and early January I cracked open my toolbox again to restart work on the ‘O’ gauge test track. There are several areas I could have tackled including adding backscene boards around the junction section and developing track for the shunting yard on the other side, but the logical next step was to build the goods loop which joins the outer main line.

This loop is a multi-functional component of the layout. It allows trains to be reversed via the crossover, it allows a third train to be available on the track (when that time comes) and it also provides the connection point for the future depot area further expanding the potential of the layout and its ability to test locomotives and rolling stock in different situations. Moreover it also introduces a large curved point so now we have the opportunity to test models through standard points, a double slip and a curve.

Once the trackwork is complete the next phase will be to begin laying out the depot area. This will have the added advantage that locomotives won’t need handling for running sessions, which is a big advantage in ‘O’ gauge – instead they can be run down the headshunt from the stabling point area, through the junction and round to the train they are to haul.

My hand made device for marking out the underlay position for curves.

The first step was to mark out the position of the goods loop alongside the double track main line. I built a ‘Heath Robinson’ tool for the job made up from scraps of plasticard, but it works well. This is a 25mm wide strip of 2mm thick plasticard sheet with two strips of 2mm square section glued underneath to sit between the rail heads of 32mm gauge track. The strip extends over one side of the track and has a hole in it to support a pencil positioned at the right distance to mark the outer edge of the underlay. Drop the marker tool onto an existing track, place the pencil through the hole and move it around the tracks to mark the alignment. Simple but effective.

Pencil line complete, we then progressed to lay the underlay continuing with the Woodland Scenics materials we have used throughout on this build. To form the curves, this is cut in half and then glued down with PVA glue making sure that it is cut at the baseboard joints.

Laying Woodland Scenics foam underlay cut in half to form curves.

After leaving this overnight to set, the trackbed is then ready for track laying to begin. We already have the full junction formation in on one side from completion of the double tracking of the layout so this is where we started from, progressing round to the other end of the loop. Completing this took about two hours in total working in short bursts, bringing us to the point of electrical wiring.

Expanding the track bed.

This section is now complete and ready for wiring. The left hand line is the goods loop with the centre being the outer circuit and the right hand line the inner circuit.

The outer circuit, to which the goods loop connects, is digital controlled only (the inner circuit having the option of digital and analogue power) which actually makes things easier for the new additions. The loop will be made live so that it is powered all the time and this requires careful positioning of insulated rail joiners to achieve that end. This includes a pair after the double slip (achieved by cutting the track at the baseboard joint) plus a collection around the other junction to ensure that all linbes are permanently live.

With all this done we are now at the stage where point motors need introducing to allow hands-free operation of the hidden points at the back of the layout, bringing more of this project to life.

With no timescale to adhere to, the ‘O’ gauge project is proving to be highly enjoyable and as it develops we’ll bring more news to you both here and through the Staff Projects section of the magazine.

I hope you enjoy the blogs and if you have anything you would like to comment on, drop us a line to

The new series of blogs from the Hornby Magazine Editorial team give you an insight into the people, the projects and more. Hornby Magazine Editor Mike Wild’s next blog will be live on February 17 2017 and you can expect more from Assistant Editor Mark Chivers on February 3 2017.

Posted in Blogs, Mike Wild


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