Bottom Works Sidings - An industrial what if.

Discussion in 'Entries' started by ChrisM, 15 May 2018.

  1. ChrisM

    ChrisM Member

    Hello everybody,

    Hopefully you don’t mind me jumping straight in here, rather than heading through the new members section, but it made sense to keep everything in one place... so by way of an introduction, I’m Chris, half of the double act that put together the various bodgings that appear on

    Despite never having previously posted on WT, I’ve been a lurker for a couple of years and wanted to share progress on my cameo competition entry through the forum, it feeling the best and easiest place to get feedback and take other people’s ideas on board to hopefully improve the final outcome. I planned on making the first post in November last year so am running a little late on the initial update - I’ve actually been trying to maximise time on the layout with some ‘little and often modelling’ rather than looking at forums hence not getting round to it...

    I’ve spent the last 5 or so years in a bit of a layout drought, not having actually produced something single handedly since my mid teens - looking to move out my parents house and not knowing what space would be available for a layout essentially put layouts on the back burner although I spent plenty of time working on rolling stock. Myself and Oly then built Stoating Bank in a bit of a rush, and took it out to a few shows, but since then, despite now knowing what space I have and several false starts nothing has really appeared. The announcement of this competition, complete with deadline, seemed the ideal opportunity to get myself in gear and actually build something!

    Now, onto the layout - from the outset I wanted the layout to be a little different, portraying a run down industrial scene in an early 1970’s winter. If possible the industrial railway would be supplemented by some BR action, but only if it didn’t result in things looking too cramped or too much compromise. This concept developed into an early plan for a small set of interchange sidings half way along an industrial line, with a couple of sidings serving various steel works buildings. A scale plan of this proved it fitted although somewhat cramped, into the 5ft space I had given myself to work in.

    The only flaw with this was that upon measuring the car just prior to constructing the boards, it became obvious only a 4ft 6in board would fit, and as such the baseboard was built to this size - I certainly didn’t want to go down the van hire route for something no more than 10ft in total length, and this seemed to undermine the cameo concept somehow. Putting the plan onto the shortened board did not work at all, and it was back to the drawing board for a rethink.

    Several ideas, geographical locations and plans later I finally found something I was happy with and seemed to offer sufficient operating potential. This is key to me getting any enjoyment out of operating, every movement must have a purpose and be carried out in a prototypical manner - you can’t run a ‘coal train’, but you can run 8M27, the 13.27 loaded coal from A to B.

    The original plan had gone under the working title of ‘Bottom Works’, representing the lower half of a steelworks complex, and identifying the layout, hopefully, as being set in Yorkshire. I was keen to keep this name going but as the new plan no longer featured any works buildings (a cameo sized baseboard fills pretty quickly when steelworks buildings are on the agenda!) I added sidings to the name, what is modelled supposedly being the one time junction for a line serving a plant at a lower level.

    I think the finished plan is a bit of a cross between a layout in its own right and a ‘bitsa’ - while it doesn’t try to portray a small part of a larger scene, it is totally reliant on the imaginary scene around it to work, so what am I modelling?

    Towards the rear of the layout there is a freight only branch running from a set of exchange sidings to a small steel processing plant (the exact specification of this and the traffic it creates is still TBC...) This is maintained and operated by BR, with BSC movements having running powers. Mid way along the layout this connects with a BSC internal railway system serving a secondary entrance to a coking plant (assumed to have originally been part of the steel companies property portfolio) and there are a couple of loops for the interchange and holding of traffic. There are then a couple of sidings and a lifted line, formerly heading off to the previously mentioned Bottom Works (another area of the former steelworks). The whole concept is heavily inspired by the Stocksbridge Railway. Hopefully this overhead shot from before too much had happened gives an idea of the plan:


    There is nothing special about the construction methods, the boards are a mixture of 6mm and 9mm ply - I’m certainly not a carpenter and as such the boards are a long way from perfect, but will hopefully do the job. (I didn’t want to end up restricted by the constraints of an off the shelf kit board, and was keen to follow the advice of Iain in the book with all the board components built in from the start.) In hindsight I wish there was a bit more 9mm in it for some added strength, but it is nice and lightweight... the lighting pelmet is removable at present to ease construction but is intended to be semi permanently attached upon completion - at present, my initial experiments with LED lighting haven’t convinced me this is the way to go and I may install a fluorescent tube if I don’t have any more luck, but we will see.

    A nice cold day for Oly and myself in November was spent putting this together...


    A bit more work and the front facia cut to shape - someone stole a chunk out of the front!!


    Experiments with the lighting...

    To provide a little vertical relief below rail level, I added a raised trackbed from ply, which has also helped strengthen the board a bit (too much 6mm ply remember!) and 5mm foamboard, then removed a small section of the solid top to create room for a minor stream to appear out of a culvert. This also means there is a minor but noticeable variation in height between the sidings at the front and rear, which makes a big difference in my opinion.

    I’ve built the pointwork up from copperclad and code 75 BH Rail - I wanted to ensure the trackplan flowed through the layout and there were no lines running in straight lines parallel to the board edge. It’s intended that the left hand fiddle Yard will be cassettes whereas the right hand end will be a small loco release traverser.

    image9.jpeg image8.jpeg image7.jpeg

    Thats about as far as things have got so far, I'll soon be setting too on the topography with plenty of papier mache or filler, and have already started putting a few scenic features in place, such as this groove where a stream will descend a set of steps to reach the culvert that will pass under all lines.

    I’ll leave it at that for now, in a future post I’ll cover the lines historical and geographical context in more detail (it's far too long to fit here!) as well as posting up plenty of progress updates.

    I wonder if this will be the last cameo layout to appear out of the woodwork on here...!


    Attached Files:

  2. ChrisM

    ChrisM Member

    Evening all,

    A good days progress today has seen a number of jobs done and a start on track laying - although the boring things took longer than I initially anticipated, it feels like I've made a big step forward...

    First up I finished the points by adding tie bars, I had utilised a couple of spare half hours in the week to get the sleepers gapped, so just some filling to go.

    The tie bars are a bit coarse but should hopefully be robust. In future on a 'mainline' layout I'll look into moving the tie bar under the baseboard I think, but here they will be pretty buried among the muck at track level


    Next up, and keeping the soldering iron warm it was out with the wire to start adding droppers to the underside of the rail prior to installation. Nothing complex here, the layout will be DCC operated so a wire to every rail and one to the point V's (in a noticeably different colour to pass my idiots guide to wiring things up the wrong way) is all that is needed...



    With the two main points in place, it was onto the plain track which is C&L flexi. I have however modified this by removing the webbing, hopefully worth the effort, especially since the ballast is intended to be less than perfect in the yard. I can now spend the next couple of months recovering small bits of black plastic which have fired into every corner of the loft room!!

    So far I've only managed to get the three main sidings down, held in place with a thin layer of Tommy Walsh's finest quality Poundland PVA (which is actually pretty decent I find). This will obviously be strengthened when ballasting commences.



    As there was some track on the layout it seemed excusable to pose one of the locos intended for this project; she is just waiting on couplings and some Laserglaze to bring her up to the same standards as her sister, number 35:


  3. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    Looks great Chris, keep the updates coming!

  4. ChrisM

    ChrisM Member

    Well there hasn't been a huge amount of progress since the last update, a busy couple of weeks have got in the way - we are also having a new boiler fitted which has meant moving the layout from its usual home to make space for this to happen.

    I did however get an opportunity to sit in the garden and do a bit of weathering on some of the rather lovely new Accurascale 24.5T hoppers, which will ultimately end up on the layout bringing in raw materials.


    There are some more photos and a more detailed write up/review over on the blog:

    Thank You, Accurascale

  5. ChrisM

    ChrisM Member

    Apologies for the fact I’ve been a bit slap dash with providing any updates over the last couple of weeks… A pretty hectic schedule has meant that what spare time I have had has been spent modelling rather than writing updates to go online!

    When I first built the baseboards, I went for a very lightweight design, and followed the Rice ‘monocoque’ principles touched on in the book with the front, end and rear boards forming part of the frame and therefore being integral to the baseboard, rather than being added onto a self-contained board. However, I’m definitely not overly skilled when it comes to woodwork and with much of the board being made from 6mm ply I had decided that things were a bit too flexible and wanted to add some strengthening before going much further – in future I’ll use much more 9mm from the outset to minimise the amount of extra framing required, but this was a good opportunity to experiment on a self-contained baseboard and see how light things could be.

    Anyway, last weekend I had the first opportunity in ages to get the baseboard outside and do the necessary woodwork to sort things out. As it turned out to be a lovely sunny day this also involved getting sunburnt but I guess that is all part of the experience! BWS now sports some additional diagonal framing between the already diagonal cross members to offer some more support, and the facia has been improved upon with some new woodwork to the rear ensuring all is held together tightly. While I was at it, I got the hole saw out and went a bit mad chopping bits out of the framework, deciding that I should keep weight to a minimum – I think this was a worthwhile exercise, and it has made it look vaguely professional underneath… (looking and being are both very different things!)

    New front strengtheners being added...

    That vulnerable bit of polystyrene has been protected

    New undersides in place!

    Mega weight saving!

    Track laying has continued on the front sidings, with now just the kickback to install – this will be laid in code 55 flat bottom rail as it is supposedly the stub of a long since lifted line, and to create a bit of a talking point.

    I’ve also had a chance to get some papier-mache onto the polystyrene formers for the landscape, which I didn’t find particularly satisfying – in future I will revert to a layer of filler as I have always used before I think, but, as I said earlier this is a good opportunity to experiment with 'new' (well since primary school!) techniques. While I was doing this I was struggling to get things to look natural and as a result the stream running across the layout has been filled in as it did not work with the flow of the landscape, I am much more comfortable with how it looks now although a little further work with mocking up some landscape is required I think before things are finished off.


    Finally, while the layout was outside, I took the opportunity to get a first layer of black paint on the frame – this will need a second coat to finish it at the end but I have found it makes a massive difference to the appearance of things and should help to be able to visualise how things will look as the scenery is installed.


    That’s about it for now, I don’t expect many huge strides forward progress wise over the next couple of weeks due to a busy diary but now have everything in stock to get on with the wiring so this will inevitably be the next job on the list, as well as getting a backscene in place.

  6. ChrisM

    ChrisM Member

    I had been planning on using LED strips to light the layout, and to this end had purchased both blue and cold white strips to experiment with. However I’ve not been able to get a balance I am happy with, most giving a lighting tone far too intense for what I want to represent a cold overcast winters morning in Yorkshire...

    Therefore, in a slightly retro step, I’ve invested in one of these:
    Which is now fitted behind the pelmet and wired up - being a low wattage this gives a far more balanced light over the layout and I feel much more comfortable with the results.... here are the old LED’s being pulled out in favour of the new strip light:


    In other news, I’ve not been entirely convinced with the landscape on the layout as it stands, things don’t look entirely natural in my mind. Last weekend I tied down a prototype location that worked operationally, theoretically and geographically for which some of the existing scenery doesn’t really fit - as a result I am looking at making some amendments to the look of the layout and flattening it out a bit, which will hopefully be for the better - a small step backwards but hopefully a major leap forward!
    Dan Randall, chrisb and Alan like this.
  7. Alan

    Alan Western Thunderer

    Interesting comment about LED strips, I am hoping to use them on Louville Lane. To be fair it is meant to be summer at the lane done in the South West, so hopefully a more intense light will look more natural.
    I hope your amendments to scenery go well.
  8. ChrisM

    ChrisM Member

    Hi Alan,

    The lighting I achieved when using them was quite harsh and would have been perfect for a snowy day, but I have quite a clear picture in my head of how I want it to look and somehow it wasn't quite 'right'. I could have tried some warm white LED's but decided to go for a strip instead on the basis it's tried and tested!

    I will however experiment with using a blue strip tucked up behind the fluorescent strip to see if this has the potential to add some interesting lighting effects.

    I've seen a combination of warm and cold white LED's used very successfully for bright summers days so reckon you'll be just fine!

  9. 76043

    76043 Western Thunderer

    Hi Chris, On LED diffusion, it is possible to make a diffuser with tracing paper or similar, mounted on a frame at a distance from the LEDs that provides the diffusion you require. I would think a distance of 1-3 cm would be enough.
    Best regards