Planning out the station

Having done some experimentation on an old piece of track, and with the help of a friend, I have taught myself to solder again. It’s taken a few evenings, but I now have the entire layout wired up with cab control. Now I can move on to planning the layout of the station.

But before we get into the station, let me share my excitement about cab control. If you saw my previous post, you’ll know that this is a term I picked up from a forum, and immediately saw the value in it for a DC layout. It splits up the track into logical electrical blocks, which can be switched such that either controller can power it. I’m using a common negative rail, and using plastic rail joiners to isolate the positive rail. I have soldered strategically, relying on the conductivity between track, which some may argue isn’t ideal, but it’s good enough for now. I can always go back and add in more feeder wires later if I absolutely need to. Anyway, it now means I can run a train around the loop using one controller and then do a little shunting with the other. Or have one train leaving the station and heading up as far as the top station, and at the same time have another train leaving in the opposite direction and going into the siding at the top. I’ve tested it out, and it really adds another dimension of ‘play’!

With all of that done, I’ve started to focus on the main station, which so far has been a bit of an unknown. I wanted a car park, and a picnic area, but wasn’t sure where either of them was going to be. I also wanted more buildings for visitors, like a gift shop or a model railway or a museum. I also wanted to add some personalisation to the buildings, so that they don’t all look like anyone else’s; my platforms and some of the buildings are standard Hornby kits, and are pretty recognisable at the moment.

The plan now is to have the picnic area over on the right of the platform, near the level crossing. I’ll make it a grassy area, and add some trees and bushes to separate the picnic area from the road. That leaves plenty of room for the car park immediately behind the platform. I’ve also decided to add my old goods loading shed behind the platform on the left hand side, to act as a bit of a museum. It’ll have a piece of track in it, but not connected to anything else, perhaps giving the impression that it might have been a bigger station in years gone by. I’ll probably put an old loco inside for people to look at. The signal box is now at the end of the platform, and I’ll need to make a small flight of steps up to the door.

The level crossings also started to take shape last night. I’m using some offcuts of card, particularly because one of the level crossings is on a curve, simply glued down with neat PVA. To make the transition from board to card even smoother I’ve gone over the edges with some newspaper, again with PVA. Once that’s dry, I’ll be able to paint it up.

While I had the paints out, I also had a go at modifying an old truck I had lying around. One of the features of my layout is that I’ll have a siding at the top of the layout where coal can be loaded on from a lorry (there’s a service road to it from the main road). A tank engine will load up the truck there, then take it down to the main station area where there will be a more convenient coal staithe. This all means having a suitable truck. I have a couple of really small empty ones, but I also had a slightly larger one that was filled with what looks like rock. So I took some acrylic paint to it and made it black. I also added some dry(ish) paint to the sides to add some weathering. Not a bad attempt!


Finally, I took inspiration from a Youtube video and coloured in the plastic bits on my points. Yes, I’m using insulfrog rather than electrofrog, because that’s the track I inherited. Not as great for conductivity, but you gotta work with what you got. Anyway, the suggestion was to colour in the black plastic insultation bits with a silver pen to make it look more prototypical. The pen shouldn’t be electrically conductive, so it shouldn’t have any impact on the electricals. The only silver pen I had to hand was a gel pen, so time will tell how long that will last. I don’t really want that rubbing off onto the wheels! But it definitely looks a lot better now.

The next step will be making the buildings look a bit more unique. My plan is to reuse the Hornby buildings but cover them in a printed texture. I’m pretty good with a computer, so this shouldn’t be an unreasonable challenge. The biggest hurdle will be making sure it stays stuck on and doesn’t peel off or wrinkle up. I’ve got some spray lacquer, so maybe that will help.

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