The grand plan for Twelve Trees Junction’s rebirth is well underway and is making great strides towards completion ahead of the Great Electric Train Show on October 7/8. Even so, there is still a long list of jobs to be completed in the next 11 days until we have to have the layout complete and loaded into a van ready to depart for the show.
As usual I should really have started work on the new storage yards well before I did, but the pressures of keeping up with magazine deadlines and other projects mean that sometimes things don’t go quite to plan.
At the beginning of August work started in earnest to take Twelve Trees from a 34ft x 8ft end to end layout with three cassette storage yards into a continuous run which will occupy 24ft x 10ft. When I first started this layout back in 2012 it was always my intension to build a standard storage yard for the rear so that new scenic sections could be built to go in front of it. This rebuild is making that ideal possible, but on a positive not I haven’t had to start from the ground up with new baseboards – recycling has been a major part of the project so far.
All of the four rear straight boards are repurposed from the original cassette yards (I have kept the third cassette yard for use with Grosvenor Square) which has reduced the amount of woodwork required by a third. These have all been cleaned up, painted and kitted out with DCC Concepts alignment dowels which makes joining the baseboards together a simple and quick process. Perfect alignment is essential for these four baseboards as they will have 11 tracks going over each join.
The next major job was sourcing the track for the new yard. It is taking a lot – and as things stand there is more than 100 yards of track in the storage yard alone – and a large number of points were needed to create the complex approach junctions at each end of the yard. Fortunately having retired St Stephens Road I had a large stock of materials which could be recovered from its storage yard and it has yielded 25 points to go towards the storage yard for Twelve Trees. In addition I’ve been able to acquire plain track – around 50 yards! – by reclaiming it from the cassettes that we built for Twelve Trees originally. It takes a bit of time doing this type of recycling, but its well worth it. I’ve even been able to reclaim all the track pins from the cassettes too – every little helps.
Being such a large project the redevelopment is being worked on in phases. The first phase concentrated on the four straight boards to make the 16ft section between the new end sections. This is mainly because it was the easiest and cheapest place to start by recycling baseboards and track.
Progress on this first phase was rapid and within 24 working hours I had the whole area complete and ready for testing. That involved upgrading the boards with paint and alignment dowels, installing 19 points, 40+ yards of track, all wiring and copperclad sleepers at the baseboard joints.
The second phase is now complete too consisting of three baseboards which will make the curve from the new straight storage yard section round to the scenic area at the most complex end. This has seen extension of some of the storage lines, construction of a new link board for the junction and fitting of 24 DCC Concepts Cobalt IP point motors and all the associated wiring for digital control. In the fullness of time one of these boards will be fully scenic to extend the viewing area of the layout and it is planned that they will be done by the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in November when Twelve Trees goes on show once more. For the Great Electric Train Show though, sense says that this won’t be a possibility.
Completing the redevelopment is a third phase which is simpler on the track front, but calls for extension of the scenery too. As I type track work is complete on these boards and, with a following wind, by this evening all the wiring will be in, the point motors and the ballast on the scenic board. Its going to be a late one!
Throughout this rebuild I’ve been working to maximise capacity for the layout and that has included extending storage lines around the corners and even introducing an additional set of lines to feed the junction lines in what otherwise would have been an empty area of track. Doing this has meant introducing additional point work to ensure trains have the option to get back to where they came from and I’m sure there will be modifications as I go too.
With the great progress I’ve made so far the target is for the new yard to support a minimum of 30 train formations – that’s at least 15 more than the original cassette yards could accommodate – and it will have the added bonus of reducing stock handling and also allowing some of the rakes to be extended too. Plus as a continuous run the layout should be easier to operate and for the operators to provide a more consistent flow of trains for the scenic area.
It is great to be back developing Twelve Trees Junction and I’ve got even more ideas for the future for this layout including working road vehicles to run along the street scene at the back and a further extension to the scenic area at the station end too. All I need is time…