Marchford Creek

Discussion in 'Entries' started by Bullhead, 7 February 2018.

  1. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Welcome to the developing story of Marchford Creek. The catalyst that brought forth this mighty endeavour was none other than the Cameo Competition. In the coming months I hope to share the experience of building my first layout after more than 40 years of solitary planning, procrastination and dithering.

    In order to share progress, it seems I must reluctantly raise my head above the parapet and expose myself (or at least my work!) to the friendly fire of other modellers. This, I hope will be an enriching experience. Thus, with great trepidation, I am taking my first tentative steps into the world of social media, a realm to which I have hitherto turned a blind eye.

    My concept was for a workable industrial scheme in EM gauge completely contained in a space no more than 1220 x 305 x 330mm (4ft x 1ft in old money). The reason for the miserly space constraint was to make the project so small that even I could accomplish it before getting distracted and to sit comfortably on a shelf at home.

    Here, by way of introduction are a couple of images of the woodwork. There is nothing too challenging about their design or construction. It’s a combination of 9 and 6mm ply.


  2. Alan

    Alan Western Thunderer

    Will it be difficult to lay track and scenery with the lid on as it were, or is it detachable?
    Last edited: 8 February 2018
  3. 76043

    76043 Western Thunderer

    Same here, that's why I entered the Cameo competition, and a similar size too so that I also have a chance of finishing it!!

    Best of luck!
    PaulR likes this.
  4. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Hi Alan, The lid is removable, a sliding fit over the base unit. More details to follow. Thanks for your interest.
  5. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Hi Tony, Glad I'm not the only one! Best of luck with yours too.
    76043 likes this.
  6. Alan

    Alan Western Thunderer

    That's good, I could see you getting into all sorts of contortions and bashing your head regularly if it wasn't removable. At the moment I haven't made the lid for mine yet and the front bar for the lighting is detachable.
  7. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Reading other threads hereabout, it seems this is not the only project using the Cameo Competition to generate some modelling momentum. So far, it’s working well and significant progress is being made. I did, however, find myself working on a design for another cameo the other day. Iain Rice himself is to blame for the distraction having included in “the book” a plan for a junction between two minor lines of the Cambrian and LNW systems. The idea of a small junction scheme got stuck in my mind and a few sketches led to some Templot activity and a session with the tape measure. The impromptu feasibility study concluded that a bona fide cameo scheme could be fitted into my “railway” room, having about 6ft of scenic frontage and a cassette fiddle area at each end.

    Back to the task in hand, focus restored…….

    The concept behind Marchford Creek was for an industrial installation in a semi-rural setting that would justify the presence of small locomotives of various designs and would need just a few wagons to shuffle around an interesting track plan. I wanted to keep the nature of the industry vague so that many types of wagons could be used. Within minutes of deciding not to offer an imaginary history for the layout the following flimsy fiction began to emerge!

    Marchford Creek is located on Southampton water to the north of Fawley. A major port was developed in the early years of the 20th century around Fawley to provide additional capacity for overflow from Southampton, which had reached its full capacity. During the two world wars the facilities expanded and a number of secretive sites associated with “War Work” were established in the hinterland of the docks area, remote from large population centres and close to the sea, facilitating rapid movement of goods from small wharves in the creeks nearby or by rail for onward shipment.

    The scene presented depicts a small part of one such location as it might have appeared in the late 1950s or early 1960s. During WW2 the whole complex was brought under Government control but has since been returned to private ownership. The LSWR freight only branch that once served the installations along the estuary has been truncated by landslides just off scene to the right of the layout so Marchford Creek is now the furthest rail-served location from Fawley. There is still some limited activity going on at Marchford Creek but few people know exactly what it is. Various materials arrive and leave by rail and sea and some ancient internal user wagons take care of material movements around the industrial sites.

    The truncated branch is operated as required from the connection near Fawley and is worked as a siding. BR engines propel incoming wagons into the remaining short spur for collection by the locomotives responsible for working the private system. In practice, things are very relaxed in this sleepy backwater. The industrial engines roam freely onto BR rails to access other parts of the private system and BR engines help-out with shunting when industrials are not available. The General Manager of the industrial complex is obviously a locomotive enthusiast as evidenced by the ratio of engines to traffic!

    The above may not hold as much water as a sieve but for me it gives enough of a background on which to base this cameo scene.

    A general diagram of the layout is given below. Further information will be posted soon.

  8. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    That looks a busy little plan, BH. It’s amazing what can be fitted into such a relatively small space.

    Not too familiar with this part of the world, although I recall being in the vicinity of Farley when I popped down to Calshot several years ago with friends to buy a boat (steer clear of multi-hulls is my advice; we learnt the hard way!). Anyway, my abiding memory of my fleeting visit was of a concrete road bridge over what looked like an old railway - or perhaps it was some sort of goods line used infrequently (funny how we enthusiasts always note these things; curiosity would have made me stop to investigate, but my party had no shared interest in such matters, so it was merely a fleeting glimpse).

    I think the reason it struck a chord was because I don’t think I’d ever seen a minor overbridge of this construction, before or since. To give you a clue, it appeared to be of the same type of concrete that formed platelayers huts and such like, that you find in the realms of the former SR. Perhaps you know the location I’m waffling on about? Just a shame I never found an excuse to model it (from memory, of course).

    Anyway, I digress.

    Another great idea; best of luck, BH.

  9. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    There's a slight air of Pollock and Brown's operations to it (especially the loco' turnover - but they did deal in scrap...) and Southampton Water is well-known to have been cluttered with minor, and major, industrial concerns. Round about the place you're describing, there were plans to erect a steelworks (which, thank goodness, they didn't). John Stein's collections on Flickr feature a few of these - lots of ESSO at Fawley - including this sequence:

    Pollock & Brown Fowler 0-4-0DM 22996/1943 running through the car park of Southern Television en route from Northam Yard to Pollock & Browns yard.

    JF 22996

    Fowler 22996

    See also: Dodging the traffic and NBL 27078/1953

    Last edited: 18 February 2018
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  10. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Hi Jonte. If you think that plan is busy, you should have seen the early drafts! I have tried to get enough in for interesting operation without it looking too cramped. Like the sound of your bridge. My only visits to the location have been via Google maps, I'll have another look and see if I can find it. Thanks for your interest.
    jonte likes this.
  11. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Hi Adam, Great pics, very atmospheric. Particularly like the car park shot.
    AJC likes this.
  12. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    They're very good aren't they? Best shots I've ever seen of internal workings at Fawley - and having cycled over the Itchen and seen the remains of the (by then) Meridian studios, I can visualise where the railway went nicely but would never have thought of it at the time!

    I like the sound of the bridge, too, but I can't think quite where you mean on that side of the water. The bridges on the Fawley branch are fairly modest affairs of concrete block with the exception of one precast rail overbridge but that's over the bypass: Google Maps so unless I've misunderstood isn't what you're thinking of. The closest thing to my mind would be the Southampton end of the Redbridge causeway:

    Google Maps

    The Salisbury route isn't exactly minor so perhaps you're thinking of the flyovers that reach into the western docks? A beguiling image though.

  13. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    It is supposed that the site around Marchford Creek developed in stages. First, a trailling connection from the branch to the wharf was laid. As the production facilities expanded in the early 1900s the brick built transfer shed was added with its own siding followed by a parallel track leading off to another area to the right of the layout. During WW1, the “temporary” timber transfer shed was built on the end of an existing factory. The site continued unaltered until the 1930s when the area off schene to the right fell out of use. In the build up to WW2, the site was redeveloped into the configuration seen today with the exception of the engine shelter; added when a diesel loco was added to the fleet (steam locos being serviced in another part of the complex).

    Here are a couple of shots taken during trial positioning of half finished buildings while the track plan was being developed.


  14. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    Last edited: 25 February 2018
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  15. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    A vital part of the design of Marchford Creek was the provision of suitable off-scene train handling facilities. Since the original design objective was to incorporate everything within a 1220 x 305mm footprint, the fiddle yard would be encased within the layout container and would not be accessible from the normal operating position at the front. Several options were considered and a simple two road traverser proved to be the best scheme. The fiddle yard occupies an area of 300 x 150mm, 1/8 of the total layout footprint. The maximum allowable train length is just under 300mm, accommodating a standard train length of two 4 wheel wagons and a small loco. The train length was used to develop the track plan, ensuring that all the required stock moves were possible.

    Two openings in the layout ‘lid’ are provided to facilitate operator access to the traverser, one on the back and one on the end face. In the fullness of time, these may be provided with some kind of light proof covering.


    As the traverser is hidden from the operator’s normal view, some controls are required to ensure smooth and safe operation. Traversing motion is achieved by the small winding handle on the front of the layout. This drives a 4mm threaded rod connected to a captive nut on the base of the traverser structure.

    upload_2018-3-17_13-17-16.png upload_2018-3-17_13-17-49.png

    At some point in the future, this will be replaced by an electric drive motor.
    Accurate positioning at each end of the traverser travel is ensured by lengths of 1.5 x 2.0 mm brass bar soldered to the outer faces of the rails.


    An infra red (IR) train detection system is under construction to give a visual indication on the control panel of the occupation status of the traverser roads. Micro-switches mounted on the underside of the traverser give a positive indication on the panel that the unit is correctly positioned. A simple adjustment mechanism is provided to ensure correct operation. Both ends of the deck need to align in order for the green light to show on the panel.

    upload_2018-3-17_13-22-5.png upload_2018-3-17_13-22-29.png

    Finally, over-run protection will be provided by another pair of IR units set to cut the traction current via relays when a vehicle gets within 15mm or so of the end of the line! More on this anon.... If all else fails, the end wall of the casing extends to buffer height and will prevent a runaway train from diving to the floor.


    Attached Files:

  16. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Marchford Creek will take its electrical power from a Power Box rather than having the power supply built in. This will enable the same power pack to be used with other projects. The unit will be based around a power supply unit rescued from a scrap computer. This provides a generous 19 amps of 12v DC with plenty of 5V, 3V and even a -12V rail if required. All this in a small, lightweight fan-cooled enclosure and completely free! upload_2018-3-23_13-12-37.png upload_2018-3-23_13-12-46.png
    Len Cattley, 76043, jonte and 5 others like this.
  17. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    To facilitate easy shunting, the ever-reliable Sprat and Winkle couplings will be used on Marchford Creek. These will be the smaller version developed for use with 3mm and 4mm finescale. I have chosen them because they are simple to assemble and fit, are reliable in operation and I have quite a few to hand! Whilst accepting that AJ couplers are the best option in terms of appearance, the gain in robustness, reliability and reduction in personal stress is considered more than worthwhile.

    A couple of jigs have been constructed to speed up production of coupler assemblies. The first is for adding the D loops to the baseplates while the second is for fitting the articulated arm and forming the bends.
    upload_2018-4-6_13-5-13.png upload_2018-4-6_13-5-23.png

    Once chemically blackened, the assembled units don’t look too bad.

    The coupling links are formed from 0.7mm soft iron wire using a bit of 2.5 x 1.5 brass bar as a former.
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  18. Bullhead

    Bullhead Western Thunderer

    Every coupler needs an uncoupler!
    On Marchford Creek, this task will be accomplished using home made electromagnets. These are constructed using round wire nails as the armature, with a steel plate at the top to spread the magnetic field. The heads and points of the nails are removed and then one end is threaded to fit in a corresponding hole in the plate. Once the two parts are united, the top face is filed flush.

    The whole assembly is then annealed by heating to red heat and allowing to cool slowly. This process improves the magnetic properties. A small gas blowtorch of the type commonly sold for kitchen use is ideal for this (and for larger soldering jobs too).
    upload_2018-4-9_13-48-9.png upload_2018-4-9_13-48-38.png

    The electromagnet coils have 1500 turns of 30swg (0.315mm) enamelled copper wire wound on a plastic former using a home made gadget to speed up the process and keep count of the number of turns. The winding handle (I seem to have a liking for these!) operates a micro-switch on each turn, providing a voltage pulse to move the counter on by 1.

    upload_2018-4-9_13-49-13.png upload_2018-4-9_13-49-22.png

    The resulting coil will draw approximately 0.5A of 12v DC and gives plenty of pull to operate the coupler mechanism effectively even when operated with just 5V. Note the hole at the bottom of the armature. It locates a pin to secure the coil in place on the armature.

    Attached Files:

  19. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Very clever.
  20. Pushpull33

    Pushpull33 Western Thunderer

    There's nothing better than seeing someone making up jigs, winding handles and soldering up bits of brass and steel. Loving the electro magnet jig. Just up my street. I think you might have an engineering background but well done.