Wantage Upper Yard

Discussion in 'Layout Progress' started by Stevesopwith, 16 August 2012.

  1. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    With a background interest in light railways in general, and an almost subliminal image of a sketch of 'Jane' in an early Kidner booklet when I was about 10 years old, I was hooked when, as a young teacher, I obtained a copy of Pearce Higgins' book on the Tramway from the school library.

    Living in Newbury it was easy to visit the site..... I wish I'd gone more often in those early years, things changed almost every time I went, and now a giant supermarket has rendered the site unrecogniseable.

    Over a very long time, punctuated by the usual distractions.... family, work, other interests.... you know how it is..... I worked on various aspects of a possible model....attempts at modelling the locos, and the unusual trackwork, while gradually putting together a body of research material on the geography of the site and plans of the buildings.

    The station itself is so compact as to make possible accurate scaling of the site, the only question being how far outside the actual trackwork needed to be covered to capture the character of the place. Once that was established, scale became an important issue. In 4mm it's a very practical size, but these were early days.... limited choice of wheels, motors and gearboxes, and a decided lack of skill, presented difficulties for the very small steam locos, let alone the trams and their cars.

    I had a bit more success with a 7mm Manning Wardle, and a few Slaters wagons..... but the size of the layout was impractical at that time. I even dabbled in S Scale for a while....... a really good scale for the layout itself, but the locos are still pretty small.

    It wasn't till 2008 that a house move provided me with a dedicated railway annex, and even more importantly, contact with the West Mersea Group and a bunch of guys who make anything seem possible. With all the groundwork and planning done, all that is now required is to get on and do it!

    Since I was aiming at an accurate rendition of the site, I used OS maps as a basis for the layout plan. One for 1912 was enlarged, retraced and enlarged again to a practical grid size representing every 10 ft. This was transfered to a full size for 7mm grid and the details added. Site surveys provided a lot of detailed dimensions, and aerial photographs were used to confirm the overall arrangements. In addition, the card mock-ups allow comparison with photographs from the same viewpoint to check relationships between the units. I'll say more about the track layout later, but it is a lot more subtle than might be imagined. It has had many revisions and I'm still not absolutely happy with the Engine Shed. But in general it's as accurate as I'm ever going to get...... so no more excuses !

    This is the plan of the railway...... all the buildings shown either have a mock-up or the information to produce one when I get round to it The length is 14 feet, and the greatest width is 4 ft 6 inches. There is also a 4 ft double sector plate fiddle yard.... train lengths were modest!
    The layout is currently viewed from the bottom of the plan, but that may be revised at some point depending on how it works out.
    Wantage  Layout Plan a.jpg
  2. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Lovely, thank you for this sketch into the past. Many years back there was an article, in MRJ, on building a model of the yard office - by de Sousa if I recall. Where would that office have been in the sketch above?

    Your photo on Sopwith's thread about Fry's chocolate suggests that you have got quite some way with the basis of the model... please tell us about the modelling the PW.

    regards, Graham
  3. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Graham.... Simon's Wantage Office was in the Lower yard..... a goods only layout built further down the valley in 1905 to provide more convienient handling capacity. I think he's modelling the site in S4.

    I'll start on trackwork shortly, but first, some thoughts on baseboards.

    The model is not designed to be exhibitable, but some thought has gone into solving the problems associated with a layout this wide.

    Having gone through the distressing process of basically destroying my late Father's layout, I've tried to make this one dismantleable without damage. In the photo you can see that there is a central core of track carrying boards, just under 24" wide, the largest being 6' 6" long so that all the points are on one baseboard. These boards rest on a supporting framework of bolted construction. This is wide enough to support additional boards on each side, which are for the scenic sections. The actual 'scenery', ie buildings with road and yard surfaces will consist of a series of separate modules, based on wall or other suitable boundaries, fitting together and bolted to the boards.

    This design means that any board can be extracted to allow work on it, or adjoining boards can be removed to provide access. The scenic modules can be largely completed on the work bench before committing to the layout. You can appreciate the value of the level of planning that has gone on so far!

    Incidently, the tracks appearing in the right foreground are part of what will be a hidden storage area off the fiddle yard.

    Trackwork next time :thumbs:

    Wantage 7mm Aug 2012 b.jpg
  4. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    I do like your thinking and the ideas reflect an ongoing discussion betwwen Adrian "Buck" and myself with regard to the design of baseboards for "The Rookery" incorporating "Weeping Angels Yard" (those discussions have been generally off-forum). What I like about your design is (a) the ability to remove boards to reduce the front-to-back depth of the layout and (b) a structure separate to the baseboards which provides support for the "track" boards and the "scenery" boards.

    I shall be very interested to see photographs or drawings of the supporting structure.

    regards, Graham
  5. Hi Steve, I remember your S scale efforts very well, because they were truly excellent. Still, S scale's loss is S7's gain...

    As for the plan and accuracy, have you incorporated the not insignificant slope at the site? You'd need working wagon brakes if you did!
    (I visited the site - once - in 1997, and was surprised at how much lower the "gas works" end was than the station end.)
  6. 28ten

    28ten Guv'nor

    I really do like the look of this, with all the buildings, if I ever live to be 100 and do Ashburton its very much the effect I would be after. Do you have any shots without the additional boards on?
  7. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Cheers Simon, nice to 'see' you again.

    That's a very valid point about the gradient... I've known about it for ages, but never included it in any planning.

    Several photos suggest that there was a change in gradient just as the track entered the yard, ie by the gasworks side entrance. Pearce Higgins notes a 'maximum gradient, on the private section of the tramway, of 1 in 47'.... which is pretty steep, and if it applies to the station yard it would tip the far end up by two inches!

    It had a bearing on the full size operation. I read somewhere that it necessitated chimney first entry to the yard to avoid exposing the hot end of the firebox or tubes to damage as the slope changed the water level. Also it allowed the practice of uncoupling the passenger cars, and letting them roll back into the run-round; DCC and motorised cars might make that possible?

    Using datum lines such a brick courses, I have attempted to establish details of height changes between various points: one across the layout from track level at the platform roof entrance, to the yard gate; another from the track at the throat, up the lane to the wall opposite the yard gate. The figures don't match by quite a margin.... the difference being the average slope of the track bed. Failure to include the gradient would have some viual effects, so since you've mentioned it, I'll have another look at the maths...... it would not be impossible to tilt the two central track boards whilst leaving the side board level.

    Cynric, give me a day or two and I'll see what I can do.
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  8. 28ten

    28ten Guv'nor

    Thanks Steve, im interested because in the eventuality Wallingford goes beyond 4x2 I would be faced with similarly wide boards, and whilst I have no desire to take it anywhere it is prudent to construct something transportable. Looking at photos it is suprising how a supposedly flat site isnt really flat, with dips and bumps which is something I hope can be achieved with a foam board.
    Anyway, im watching with great interest :thumbs:
  9. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Cynric..... I hope this photo might be of use:

    The structure is 12mm birch ply, cut into 6" or 5" strips by a local firm. All I had to do was practise cutting it up at rightangles, ( or as close as I could manage! ) The 3 ft wide leg structures with adjustable feet are what's useable of a set of Red Dog boards made for my proposed S Scale version. Everything is held together with 6mm bolts and nuts or wing-nuts, and the holes were drilled in situ with a power drill, using a simple block jig to get the holes fairly square.

    The main longitudinal members, 6" deep , and 14" long, are two lengths fish-plated together, and bolted to the leg gussets. The 5" deep cross members have blocks glued to each end as bolting brackets to the main bearers. By gluing them while in position, any minor inaccuracies of cross-member length are taken care of. Extensive use of a large number of trigger clamps made it possible to carry out the work single handed..... although it was quite energetic at times.

    The extra width at the front is supported by triangular 12mm ply gussets, ( cut out using my Father's 70 year old fret saw! ) . These have hardwood 'beams' , which are screwed to the cross bearers, which also therefore take the downward thrust of the baseboard weight. The baseboards are attached to the whole structure by little hardwood fishplates and more 6mm bolts. In addition the boards are dowelled and bolted together in the normal way

    . Wantage 7mm Baseboards b.jpg
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  10. 28ten

    28ten Guv'nor

    Thank you, I see what you are getting at now, it looks pretty simple. do you find that the running sound is amplified by the structure?
  11. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Running !! ?? :eek:

    The boards are standard Barry Norman with 9mm birch ply tops. The track bed is 10mm Sundeala which will soften the sound somewhat, and pushed wagons don't sound unacceptable.

    I take some trouble over loco mechanisms, so they don't make a lot of noise, I sound insulate resonating body surfaces...( ie I stick plasticine everywhere..)........ plus there's a maximum speed limit of 10mph.. How noisy is it going to get. :D
  12. 28ten

    28ten Guv'nor

    That answers the question :) the track is being somewhat decoupled from the structure.
  13. I was only hemi-semi-demi-serious* about including the gradient - apart from the visual impact, it could be more trouble than it is worth, although as you say, with dcc and small motors, it would not be impossible to replicate the operations even if the gradient were not included.

    I have a question or two re the track layout. OS maps are not 100 % accurate with respect to track - not really their concern - and those which have been published in the books show, for example, a RH turnout at the entrance to the yard when photos show it to be a LH turnout. How much "interpolation" did you have to use? From the brief glimpses, he said, awaiting more on the track, you seem to have overcome this. Also, just how "sharp" are the crossing vees and curves? I have often wondered.


    *For the back of the class, that's 1/8 serious. It's a musical term, e.g. a hemi-semi-demi-quaver, which is a 1/32nd note (a quaver being a quarter-note, and not a potato based snack in this instance).
  14. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Cheers Simon... the jury is still out on the gradient issue. :confused:

    Other than as a very general outline of what goes where, I have ignored the OS track layouts. As you suggest, they are notoriously casual in their detail.
    Having arrived at the major site dimensions from maps, checked up where possible by measurements on the ground, I used photograghs to establish the exact alignments. This isn't easy,and I have made many revisions over the years. Different viewpoints, gradient changes, and track rebuilding, all present sometimes confusing information. The exact line of curve into the engine shed and platform were particularly tricky, and I cannot be 100% sure they are correct, even now. The Coal Wharf siding was originally the platform road, hence the later awkward entry to the run-round, the meagre clearance between the two tracks, and a platform track that I believe is angled relative to the roof centreline. Normal rules don't seem to apply!

    The main site dimension from throat to platform entrance gave a pretty good idea of the space available for the pointwork. The units are very close together, most have only a fishplate's length between them. So, the length between the throat and the engine shed front, divided by four, gave the likely lead lengths of the points...about 38 ft. The classic 1900's shot of the line of three locos on the engine shed entry point makes it possible to match the known lengths of the locos to the tie-bar and crossing V..... which pretty well confirmed that figure. A lead of 38 ft is compatible with 1 in 4 Vs, so that's what most of them are, which seems to hang together well enough. I don't work in radii much, but the curves end up around an average of 40". With a maximum of 9 ft wb wagons and locos with wheelbases less than the track gauge, I don't think I'll need gauge widening!
  15. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Wantage Tramway trackwork was unlike any other that I have come across. Although classed as a tramway, it's rural setting did not need the inset grooved rail common in towns. Instead, it seems to have borrowed GWR broad gauge ideas, initially even using light bridge rail.

    By the 1900s, this had largely been replaced with flat-bottom rail of varying weights, but still fitted to longitudinal baulk timbering. As this wore out it was gradually replaced by more usual transverse sleepers, but the track in the station kept the baulks until several points were upgraded, around 1924/5. I've chosen the period from WW1 to 1923.

    The rails came ready punched for round headed spikes, and from my Broad Gauge Society Data Sheets I have settled on roughly 4 ft spacing with the inside spikes staggered halfway between them. The heads can be seen in a few photos, but they take a bit of finding amongst all the other rubbish. The plain track baulks were 10" by 5", but points were almost certainly of wider material.

    The baulks were held to gauge by transoms buried in the ballast; but clearly this was not reliable. They were supplemented by metal cross-ties, possibly 2. 1/2" by 3/4", with their ends bent vertical to allow fixing to the rail web, with square bolts and hexagon nuts. At pointwork these strips passed between the rail and the baulk to span the gauge.
    Fishplates were simple strips, resting on the foot, with round head bolts on the inside... hexagon nuts outside.

    In 7mm, I believed it should be possible to represent all these features, which is one of the reasons progress has been so 'measured'.

    Here's what it looks like:

    WTC Trackwork a.jpg
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  16. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    For the last ten days I've been concentrating on 'rail preparation', for the pointwork section of the layout.

    To the previously established track diagram I've added the positions of all the 'under sleepers', the rail joints, the cross tie bolt hole positions, and a schematic of the spike positions for each length of rail. All these details need to be added before the track is assembled, so this 'master drawing' will hopefully ensure the various rails match up.

    The Karlgarin Code 100 Flat Bottom rail was pre-curved where appropriate on my home made rail-bender. This allows accurate curving whilst considerably reducing the twist that is introduced by hand bending . In the photo, the pins merely hold the rail down, they don't spring the rail to a curve.

    The rail joints were marked, and the foot cut on one side only, for now. A strip of card, marked with the spike positions for a given rail length, is used as a ruler to mark the underside of the black-inked foot. I found out by accident that a 0.017 " centre drill will produce a very neat and consistent impression of a round headed spike if it is set up not to break right through the top of the rail foot. So all it needed was a slide jig to hold the rail upside down on my Unimat SL Pillar drill, and several hours of careful 'drilling' to spike detail all the rails, including those for the switch slide plates shown in the second photo.

    Incidently, I made the above 'discovery' after I had made the crossing Vs. I couldn't see a way of using this method, and I didn't want to re-make all six Vs, so I drilled the required holes right through by hand, and fitted Scale Hardware rivets instead. Took quite a while!

    Once each rail had been spiked I had to drill the holes through the web for the cross-tie bolts. Lining the rail joints up against the drawing allowed me to fix the position of each hole. These need to be pretty accurate to keep the cross ties square across the track. Once marked it was a simple job to mount the rail in the machine vice of my other bench drill, and pilot each hole with another centre drill. Again not right through, because the centre drill taper could hit the foot. Each hole was completed using a 0.45 mm drill in a pin chuck. Why not drill right through with a normal drill ? The centre drill gives accurate placing of the hole, and I found the 0.45 drills tended to snap as they broke through the web.

    Each detailed rail was then trimmed a few mm oversize to allow precise fitting as assembly proceeds. The first photo shows the current state.

    I shall be 'A.F.K.' for a little while, on my Fry research trip..... Upon my return I have the job of adding all the fishplates. Goodie!

    Wantage Track 2.jpg

    Wantage Switch Rails.jpg
  17. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    You mean that you do not have a S7 key hammer to drive each spike home individually? Talk to Peter Hunt, he is bound to have one "somewhere" ;) .

    Please show us photos of your rail bender... that sound like just the tool to have when making curved closures.

    regards, Graham
  18. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Ok.. here it is....... from the top.......

    Wantage Rail Bender 1.jpg

    ......and from the side....

    Wantage Rail Bender 2.jpg
  19. Stevesopwith

    Stevesopwith Western Thunderer

    Apologies..... I was unable to continue the text after the second image, so a few words of explanation.......

    Basic materials...planed maple strip for the roller mountings, the two outers glued to 9 mm ply, the centre is moveable under N/Silver straps. The rollers are made from three discs of a thickness and diameter that matches the rail section.... ( If I had more skill on the lathe they could equally have been turned up from solid, ) ....rotating on plain bearings of brass tube force fitted into the wood, and retained by panhead screws. It cost practically nothing, and took about a day's modelling time. Very worthwhile!

    The rail is simply placed between the rollers, the centre one is tighted to a given pressure, and the rail is pushed through. The curve is checked, and re-run if necessary. If the curve comes out too tight you turn the rail round and run through again. It's very easy.

    I did consider fitting an adjustable stop to help with repeat curves, but with practice I got quite good at judging the pressure. Obviously an allowance has to be made for the fact that the device won't curve the last 20 mm of any length, but that's easy. Also, in the case of, say, a curved stock rail running into the straight part of a crossing, it's necessary to mark the extent of the curve, and release the pressure once you reach the straight bit.

    This one is designed for flat bottom rail, which is difficult to curve by hand..... but with different rollers it would also be useful for bullhead rail... ( for my next project :rolleyes: )
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  20. I think you may have missed one...

    (Getting coat very rapidly!)