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SKEW BRIDGE - Attic Layout

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I've ordered some small bags of scatter material and static grasses in order to try them out before deciding how I'm going to tackle the embankments. In the meantime I've been painting up some more to

A short 60 second video of 60048 and MGR wagons through the new landscape  

Things are now taking shape on the small scenic end section despite me saying that there was no rush to finish this part of the layout. I began this morning by painting the bridge that has been i

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Well, after a couple of weeks doing nothing in particular, today I've been back up in the attic armed with a large roll of cork and a bottle of PVA glue. I thought it was about time that I got some underlay down and then perhaps I'll be able to move on to laying some track. I purchased 50 metres of Peco code 75 'finescale' track a few weeks ago but as I've never settled on any sort of time period to model I decided to go half and half, so there'll be concrete sleeper track on the main running lines and wooden sleepers elsewhere. It's always going to be incorrect because of my wide ranging interests but then, does it really matter? I'm only looking to run trains and not to pin the layout down to any specific era or region. It's just a large train set when it all boils down to it I guess. I've decided to cut the cork into strips in order to make it go further rather than laying flat sheet across the whole boards. It's time consuming and my finger ends are in close proximity to the Stanley knife but maybe that's why we were given so many digits in the first place?

TheQ said:

I notice you've not got insulation up on the rafters it's going to get ******* hot or cold without it, have you plans?

You're right Q - there's no insulation up on the rafters just yet and it does blow hot and cold. In fact it sometimes blows bitterly cold and other times stiflingly hot. Hopefully I'll do something about it one day but it's all additional work and expense and right now I've still got a lot of both to do elsewhere which apparently is "more important than the attic"!

A bit of cork is hardly photogenic, especially when it's all weighted down to dry, but if there's anything you've not seen before I'll be sure to add some photos later.

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  • 1 month later...

I love this forum, had to admit I looked twice realising it is a funny pic have to pass it on if you don't mind Mick.

Did you take the pic, what a perfect angle as well, seen other pics like it, the pic of Mick's finger is on the first page of this post

Tony from down under :D:D:lol::P:mrgreen::mrgreen::?

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  • 2 years later...

Remember this? Yes I've been up in the attic today and I've laid 3 metres of track, a set of points, and routed bus wires beneath baseboards!

What's my thinking behind it? Well I'm coming to the conclusion that if I don't make progress and actually get track laid up there I'm never going to be able to use the majority of the stock I've collected - much of which came with me from my previous Selby Garden Railway layout days. I really would like to see my MGR and HTA coal trains running again and it's hardly practical to run them outdoors when I could only accommodate probably half a train inside the shed. I wouldn't be able to have anything else on track as there would be no passing places and I really don't fancy the task of placing 36 wagons on track only to have to remove them all again shortly after. So the outdoor line needs to remain as it is and I need some track in the attic otherwise I may as well dispose of the whole lot.

The trouble is I'm gradually getting a bit fed up of always seemingly constructing and never actually having anything completed that I can use. It just seems like a never ending circle. The outdoor line gets almost finished and then it's time to re-lay the ground level section which is now pending completion when the weather is more favourable. No doubt very soon it will be too cold to be up in the attic! I'm not enjoying laying track anymore but I remember the days when I did. I'm dreading the thought of wiring up the points and installing point motors. It's all becoming something of a chore.

I've pre-ordered the Accurascale Gypsum PFA wagons and by all accounts they should be released by the end of this year so that's something else I can look forward to running. They're also partly responsible for me taking another look at the attic setup because I don't want to see them sitting in boxes all the time. I really would like to recreate the railway in a way that I remember it. I'm just going to have to get on with it.



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I've been back up in the attic today and continued laying track along what will become the storage roads. I would call it the 'fiddle yard' but as most of my trains will be block loads there'll be very little fiddling going on so they'll just need somewhere to stand and with that in mind I wanted to ensure that I had sufficient space to hold full length trains. I had previously measured the length of a Hornby MGR wagon, multiplied it by 36 and added the length of a loco and was sure that I could have storage roads capable of taking several similar length trains but today I felt the need to confirm that by placing 36 wagons on track just to be absolutely sure. In fact if it proved not possible then I doubt I would have continued because my primary objective with this layout is to run trains of realistic length.

Fortunately there is ample room as you can see below, in fact there's more space than I had anticipated leaving plenty of room to add pointwork. In the top photo there is a full 2 metres between the leading wagon and the end wall and 2.5 metres between the last wagon and the end of the layout.



There's lots of work to be done as you can see especially in the way of creating a bit of comfort up there but I think once I've made the final connection and have a continuous running loop and start being able to get more wagons on track then it should spur me on to getting it finished.

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A few more hours spent in the 'loft' today but judging by my rate of progress you'd hardly believe it. I seem to be spending more time trying to get the long straights 'straight' rather than anything else and to cap it all almost every time I push two lengths of rail together to connect them, the fishplates are so tight that I end up pulling sleepers off the rails. It's never the sleepers from close to the ends either, always the ones near the middle, so I have to slide them off and then thread the rails back between the chairs again. It's time consuming so I need to be more careful.

On what will become the scenic side of the layout there'll be two main running lines, a loop, and two or three sidings depending on available space. The sidings may become part of a colliery which would be sensible seeing there'll be lots of coal traffic about. It's going to be a rural setting so there'll be few, if any, buildings - just a couple of long straights where I can watch the trains passing by. I'm going to be using Tortoise point motors on the scenic side as I have a number sitting around after my previous aborted attempts at building layouts (yes, several I know). I just need some more spring wire for the actuator arms as the baseboards in the attic are deeper than the ones I had previously used so the existing wires are now too short. Anyway, I have some ordered and on its way to me. The storage yard will use surface mounted solenoids to make access for wiring them easier and as they won't be part of the scenic section it shouldn't matter that they'll be on view.

Today I received some Accurascale 'real coal loads' for my HUO hoppers, ordered after seeing several reviews of them. They are very nice but at £3 per wagon I'm just pleased that they don't have them available for MGR wagons! I'll take some photos tomorrow and post them here as they may give ideas to anyone considering making their own coal loads for other wagon types.

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Today has been the first day where I've actually thought I'm gradually getting there. There's not been a great deal of progress to report but it is starting to slowly come together.  I've added a couple of points which has enabled me to lay the track for a second storage road and so just to keep things rolling along I've brought out a set of 19 'mixed' EWS liveried HTA wagons. I've referred to them as mixed because some are weathered, a single one is loaded, 6 are in pristine condition and there's a right old mix of couplings which are going to need attention. 

A full set of 19 HTA's is exactly the same length as the MGR's so it leaves me ample room in the storage roads and although in their later days the HTA sets were extended in length I think I'll be sticking with how they were when first introduced.


There is the possibility of slightly widening the storage road baseboard as you can see above so I'm looking to eventually have between 10-12 roads available - at least 8 of which I will be able to fill with coal trains.



On what will be the scenic side (photo below) I have installed the two running lines and a crossover. The area to the right will house a loop line and 2 or 3 dead end storage roads. I've not started installing the loop line yet because I want the access point to be situated on the curve you can see in the distance and a standard straight point just doesn't fit properly. I'm going to try a curved point to see if that's better.


On the far wall (below) I am thinking of building a short scenic section framed with tunnel entrances at either end, much like a small diorama where trains will be able to pass through.


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13 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

Mick - are you going to put anything behind the back of the baseboard? Just to avoid any derailed stock disappearing down onto the floor?

Yes Iain, there'll be backscenes around all the scenic section and something plain behind the storage sidings too but I'm still undecided on exactly what I'll be doing. I had a quantity of polystyrene left over from when I insulated the shed and so I've cut it to fit between the rafters of the attic roof, you can see some of it in photos above. I'm not sure whether to order some more to continue insulating the roof or to do something else altogether. It all comes down to cost and determining whether or not it would be value for money. Either way I'll be making sure that there's little chance of anything falling over the edges of the baseboards by the time I get to the operational stage.

There's no further photos today due to having limited time up in the attic. I received the curved point I had ordered and it's now installed enabling me to continue the main line round the top of the layout towards the storage roads and to install the loop along the scenic section. I think I'm going to continue working from this end of the layout down towards the other as I've still got to fit the baseboard across the bottom end so I'll continue laying the storage roads on one side and loop on the other until I reach the point where I need to fit the final baseboard to connect everything together.

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I think maybe I should have a day off tomorrow because I've enjoyed myself so much today that I just know tomorrow will be a bad day - that's how it usually goes with me.

For the first time in a good while I've actually enjoyed putting some track down and I've done as much as I can do with the loop on the scenic section, installed two more points, and laid a third road in the storage yard.

Here's a view of the loop running along the scenic section with the track temporarily pinned in place...


...and this is what I'm thinking of doing - adding perhaps 3 dead end sidings alongside the loop that I intend using as a coal storage yard or something like that. It might be good to make it into a colliery yard but that will need some later planning.


Here's a view of one of the newly installed points with it's wiring yet to be passed through the baseboard and leading down to the third storage road, again plenty long enough for full length trains.


And this is just a view looking back up the storage road area from the other direction. I was going to put another set of wagons out but I'll leave that until tomorrow.


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So three becomes five!

My fears of yesterday proved unfounded (it's been a good day so far) and I've actually managed to put in two more storage roads so that's approximately half the storage area baseboard filled with track. I should be able to get 10 roads on there and possibly another 2 if I decide to extend the boards right to the front edge. I think I'm possibly going to need to do so if I want to have as much stock as possible on the layout.

I've never been able to do this before but I now have three full sets of MGR wagons on track, each comprising 36 wagons and I have 6 spare should I decide to form another set! I can almost taste the coal dust and smell the diesel fumes!


I've made up one set of MGR's entirely with canopied wagons and one set entirely non-canopied and then there's a mixed set of both types so pretty much as I remember them. They just need a bit of toning down or weathering and of course - some coal in some of them.

Waiting in the wings for power station duties is another EWS set of HTA's and a Freightliner set of HHA coal hoppers.

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I've had a break from track laying today in order to complete the baseboards at the end of the attic where our solar panel inverter is located. I've completed the corner sections so it leaves me with just a length of board to fix between the two sides and then the circuit will be complete. The reason I didn't complete it today is because I'm wondering whether I should make the final board removable so that there is easy access to the inverter as and when required. It wouldn't be too much hassle to go under the baseboard as there is sufficient room but there's just the chance we might get an engineer who refuses, or is unable to do so. Best to think it over before screwing anything together permanently.

I've had to order more flexi track and some more points to keep me going and hopefully they will arrive tomorrow. You don't realise at first how much track it takes to install a storage yard - it seems I've only just opened a full box and there's barely any left!

Anyway, all being well I'm just a few days away from having the first operational loop of track and I can finally see a train running round the attic. I suppose I should come up with a more meaningful name for the layout too.

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The baseboards are now complete and I have a full circle ready for track laying. Thank goodness I decided to keep all those boards from when we disposed of our old wardrobes as there's been enough to do the whole of the attic layout - and that's apart from the ones I used earlier inside the shed.

The photo's don't show anything special other than the fact that it's now complete - here's the corner from the scenic section (seen to the right) leading onto the new end board...


...the corner from the storage boards (seen to the left) onto the new end board....


....and this is the end board running in front of the wall-mounted solar panel inverter.


The long end section is braced with 4x1 lengths of timber and rests on lips at either end so it simply lifts up and off should it ever be necessary to remove it for anyone to work on the inverter, although there's a good 4 or 5 feet of space behind. I have some legs from a previous layout that may well fit in the middle to prevent any bowing. I still need to add secure locating bolts before laying any track along it which will then need cutting over the baseboard joins and the rail ends soldering to PCB sleeper strip. There will only be two lines of track on this board so it should be pretty straightforward. Once I've determined where the track needs to be I can then remove some of the surplus board from the front to reduce the weight - the nearest timber bracing is set far enough back to enable me to do that.

It's actually much more pleasant up there in the attic than the photos might suggest but I'll be gradually improving things now the main part of the work is done. Better lighting is also on the cards.

I've been sorting out the boxes of rolling stock so that coaches are in one spot, wagons in another and all empty boxes are boxed up out of the way.  I'd forgotten all about some of the wagons I came across so extending the width of the storage yard boards to add another 2 roads is likely to be a necessity.

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There was no update last night because by the time I'd finished in the attic I just couldn't be bothered either taking photos or switching on the PC and yes, I'm one of those who still prefers using a PC rather than a hand-held device!

My inspiration for this layout came after seeing a layout thread some years ago called 'Balbeggie Sidings'. An attic layout, it consisted of two main lines, a loop and some sidings not too dissimilar from the way I've gone with mine but I've also added some of the features I personally remember. 'Balbeggie Sidings' was a 'watching the trains go by' type of layout within a rural setting and no buildings that I recall which is how I intend my layout to be. Sadly Balbeggie Sidings is no more.

I began yesterday by extending the track along the scenic section towards the newly installed end baseboard. Rather than lay everything perfectly straight I thought I'd introduce a slight curve and swing the track outwards towards the rear before it curved round onto the end board but it took me ages to align it properly and it's difficult getting a good low down view along the track when you have to keep making your way up and down the length of the attic. I think I've managed it though there may need to be some slight adjustments before any ballasting takes place.

I then turned my attention to the storage end and tried to work out the best way of connecting the storage roads to make the best possible use of the available space while retaining as much length in each road as possible. I managed to install another two points and I'll be continuing with that today. There's currently a gap of about 5 feet between the end of the storage roads and the track I installed earlier in the day from the scenic section onto the new baseboards so I'm almost there.

So far I've installed all the live frog points to make the best use of their capabilities by adding additional power feeds, isolating the frog section and feeding it directly via a switch, but today I'm going to use them without any modifications. As they're in the storage area I think I can possibly get away with it but if not they can be changed later. It should save me a lot of time now but may require extra work later - we'll see.

I'll finish by mentioning another attic based layout that many of you will probably have seen already but one that frequently appears on YouTube through regular updates. Mouldy Raspberry's 'Yorkshire Dales Railway'


I don't think I could ever achieve anything like that.

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There's a couple of different threads about Balbeggie Sidings on RMweb Roddy and a couple of videos on YouTube as well as a Blog which follows the modellers later progress at http://thesulzer27.blogspot.com/ 

Suffice to say that my 'attic layout' (still for want of a better name) will be much more freelance in every single aspect. For instance, I don't care whether I've got concrete or wooden sleepers and I'm not concerning myself with adding trap points where the loop or sidings join the main running lines. I'm not really bothered about signals either! It's not that type of layout - it's just somewhere to watch trains rolling by and I don't believe that will lessen the enjoyment too much.

Back to my attic layout and if I'd used track planning software it would probably have made things much easier for me but as it is I've struggled along this morning trying to make points fit while maintaining decent radius curves and long sidings. I am pleased to say that I now have (in a fashion) one completed circuit and with a bit of temporary wiring I should be able to run in and out of the 5 storage roads and, with a couple more lengths of track, along both main running lines.


The photo's not brilliant due to the poor lighting but the above shows the west end of the storage roads now fully connected to the main line. There are four roads which all currently have wagons standing on them and are accessible from the outer main line and a fifth road to the left of them which is accessible from either main line so it gives me the opportunity of swapping sets of wagons over. The blue wrapper is just my packet of biscuits!

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And now the real fun begins!

I'm able to run loco's along the proposed scenic section between each end of the storage yards but until I do some wiring, which I'll probably start on tomorrow, I can't yet run through any of the five sidings. So with just the one main line available to me I thought I'd give some loco's an out and back session.

Perhaps it was only to be expected after 8 years packed away in their boxes but I can see that some of my loco's are going to be in need of attention. I took out a sound-fitted class 56 which sounds fine but just won't move. I have a class 37 with the same problem so I think it could be something to do with the Loksound decoders. I don't recall having a problem with the class 56 before so I'm not sure what's happened in the meantime and a reset of the decoder failed to rectify it. The amount of money I've lost/wasted on faulty/failed electronic chips/modules/devices while attempting to build a model railway is starting to mount up and it's not a nice feeling.

A class 66 fared better although there was a lot of stuttering initially until I'd been round and polished the rail tops. Obviously even brand new track needs a good clean. It's still not brilliant but I've yet to clean the loco's wheels and use any IPA solution to properly clean the track so I do expect things to improve a great deal afterwards. I also took a class 60 up there with me but by that time my enthusiasm had waned and I decided to call it a day.

I'm not too downhearted, I know it will take some time to get things running smoothly. There's lots of wiring to do to ensure electrical continuity and plenty of loco's that will need servicing. I have to remember that many of the loco's had been running outdoors in Selby and wouldn't have been cleaned or serviced since late 2011. Relaxing hobby isn't it?

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It's still a layout without a name but at least we now have some movement. I've threaded bus wires along the entire length of the layout except for the removable end section and by soldering half a dozen droppers in place I'm now able to run around the full length of the outer main line. After cleaning the class 66 loco wheels and collecting my trusty 26024 from the garden shed in order to haul the track cleaner round I was able to record 66022 hauling a rake of 36 MGR's along what will become the scenic section.

It suddenly seems a less daunting task than it did earlier and the fact that it's been possible to achieve decent running with very little effort makes me keen to keep going forward. 

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1 hour ago, roddy said:

Just like Balbeggie, you don't need much in the way of buildings. The landscape seems much larger without them.

There might be a signal box Roddy but I'm thinking not much more than a plain backscene and grass embankment - much like Balbeggie. I want focus to be on the trains and while there'll be trains passing there will also be trains arriving and departing the sidings alongside the loop. There will be little doubt that this is coal country!

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