I love this time of year. I know that may sound a little odd considering the heavy frosts we have had lately, but let me explain.
The cold wintry weather means I can justify spending a few extra hours in the railway room during the evening or at the weekend and tackle some of my outstanding modelling projects. Much of my recent modelling has been as a result of preparing locomotives and rolling stock for exhibition appearances, while I can now concentrate on my own projects, of which there are many, including adding some extra touches to the small BR Southern Region terminus station layout – Axe Regis – that now resides in my railway room.
Axe Regis was the subject of Hornby Magazine’s second ’24hr Challenge’ (HM110) and models a small two-platform branch line terminus. It became part of Hornby Magazine’s office test facility when it (along with the BR Western Region Roundhouse project from our first ‘24hr Challenge’) were added to our main ‘OO’ gauge layout, Topley Dale. Following an office and workshop move, Topley Dale has subsequently undergone a major makeover which Mike is continuing to work on, which has seen the Roundhouse section bolted on to Hornby Magazine’s BR Western Region ‘OO’ gauge exhibition layout, Grosvenor Square, while I took on custodianship of Axe Regis, to assure its future.
Currently, the layout occupies the corner of my railway room awaiting further development but is regularly used to test new models. Recent improvements include the addition of a pair of Dapol’s superb ‘OO’ gauge SR lattice semaphore signals (the originals were reused for another project) – one of the diminutive Home Starter signals for platform two and one of the somewhat taller SR Home signals for departures from platform one, which also still needs bedding into the ballast. A colour light signal with call-on – a Roger Murray custom-built example – will be added to the main approach, although strictly speaking it could do with a Route Indicator box for displaying the correct platform. Working platform lights will also be illuminated shortly too.
Whilst the original concept of the layout was a 1960s-era branch terminus, I’ve altered this slightly to the 1970s/1980s era – still retaining some of its steam-era charm, with BR blue and blue/grey liveries to the fore (although it can be easily backdated if necessary). The goods shed has gone (but not forgotten) and the modest yard has become a stabling point for visiting BR Class 33/73 motive power and the occasional diesel shunter.
The locomotive shed/water tower and coaling stage are still in place, but a small diesel fuelling structure is planned for the future to replace the latter, while the main shed building will remain for the time being, as a light maintenance facility for locomotives and any engineers’ wagons that may require attention.
Next, I’m aiming to add shunting signals for access to/from the stabling point and fuelling road. These will be a mix of Absolute Aspects and CR Signals Ground Position signals, which will bring this area of the layout to life and give it added purpose. As the layout is also Digital Command Controlled (DCC), I will operate these in conjunction with Train-Tech’s useful digital accessory decoders.
Also on the list of improvements is detailing the signal box, using Ratio’s delightful interior kit – the signalman (currently stood on the balcony) is already painted up and you may recognise him… I think today’s technology is mind-blowing and thanks to a laser-scanning session with ModelU’s Alan Buttler, ‘I’ can now oversee proceedings at Axe Regis in miniature!
For further operational flexibility, a four-foot long storage yard is planned which will be bolted onto the end of the running line. Ideally it will feature three or four roads, each capable of holding three coaches and a locomotive or similar length freight train. I do have a four-road sector plate storage yard from an old exhibition layout that I could use, but it is fairly bulky by today’s standards and I think I may opt for a lightweight option that can easily be bolted on and stored away between running sessions so that the room can also be used for its intended purpose. Plenty to keep me occupied over the coming weeks, I think…
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