the construction of County Gate (station module)

County Gate goods yard. Westmacotte coal merchants lease a small site alongside. A Langley AEC Majestic, operated by Porlock Haulage, is loading empty milk churns outside.

Work began on the layout in September 2005. A great deal of planning had taken place over a number of years although inevitably, several changes were necessary as the build process continued.

The layout was to be a 'railway in a landscape' as our prime interest is in the construction of scenery. The concept was very simple: a typical Lynton and Barnstaple station with passing loop and goods shed, a viaduct scene and a branch line running down to a harbour. The engine sheds of the branch line would also be at the station. The map below is how we think the area would have developed had the railway been built.

County Gate and environs - plan by Rhys Davies

click on image to enlarge

We drew out the baseboards and developed the backdrop, which was to be quite high and an important feature of the layout. Care was taken that the diorama remained credible from all normal viewing angles.

The first things built were the buildings for the station module. These were constructed using Ratio plastic building sheets and foam board. The signal cabin was a Ratio ground level cabin, somewhat modified and fully fitted inside. All the buildings were attached to foam board sub boards which allowed me to detail the surroundings, such as the allotment belonging to the signal cabins. The station building included the platform.

Photo taken before installation onto the baseboard. The interior is fully detailed with machine tools and inspection pit. - click on image to enlarge

some arc welding is going on under the wagon

the goods shed - click on image to enlarge

the signal box, fully detailed interior - click on image to enlarge

The signalman keeps a good allotment! Ladies loo to left

The buildings were then laid out on the floor and the trackwork roughly laid out to check that it all went together satisfactorily.

Always easiest to lay it out on the floor! The station and main line was laid out at an angle across the board. We felt that this made the presentation more dynamic.

The baseboard was then constructed and it was time to lay the trackbed and get some rails down.

At the time, I was concerned that the hours taken to hand build my own track would result in too long a completion date. In 20/20 hindsight, I did the worst thing I could have done; I used Peco Crazy track. Apart from the limitations of 12" radius pointwork, they have required a lot of tuning and are still not what I would hope them to be. At the very least I should have gone for Tillig pointwork. I also started off fitting Peco point motors. They lasted for 18 months before being replaced by Tortoise.

the baseboard fully wired up
with the original Peco motors. A temporary folding stand system can be seen. This was used until we had developed and build our exhibition stands.

Once the trackwork was completed and ballasted, the topography was added using Modrock and detailing begun.

The track and basic structures are installed and scenery is under way.

The module was finished in about three months and a temporary backdrop was in place as the support for the proper one was still being manufactured. Signals had not yet been installed when the photo below was taken.

more or less complete with a temporary backdrop.

Autumn 2011

This module has undergone a major refit with a new trackplan and replacement of points with 18" radius Peco Mainline points.