Western Thunderer
A possible competition entry ?
Starting with, how the layout came into being.
Hope you are sitting comfortably as i think this may turn into a long post.
Some years ago, i visited a local exhibition. After talking to one exhibitor, i was invited to come along to one of their club days. This was the 3mm Society's Dorset group where i met a couple of fellow modeller's, who are now good friends. Lots of chat and meetings later, they informed me that "Pine Road" should be, and is good enough to attend exhibitions. There inlies the problem. It was never built as an exhibition layout. Admittedly it is in sections but not enough to be moved on a regular basis . They persevered with me and offered to help. "Pine Road" duly attended Five of our local exhibitions with offers of more. I was overwhelmed with the response. But 'oh' to move it just became problematic and declined the offers. The layout was also featured in Railway Modeller, April 2016.
Having got the bug for exhibitions , wouldn't it be a good idea to build a smaller version of "Pine Road" (bare with me, i'm getting to the point).
After a copy of the Model Railway Journal No 254 fell through the door one morning, There it was on the back page,the Competition. Could i build a layout to the standards required for the competition. The urge to building a layout got the better of me and the entry form was duly sent off.
The original layout was to be called either Charmouth Bay or Lockyer's Wharf. After searching around in books, on the interweb etc, i found a photo. To me this wasn't just any photo, there was something about it, it fitted in with the area and era that i have a passion for. Easiest thing to do is post the photo. If i'm not allowed to, copyright and the like, Simon will have to remove.
Barge 4.jpg

On the river Exe, This scene dose it for me. Ideas started flooding through one's head. The book "Branchlines to Exmouth" a Middleton press production was duly purchased. Any layout built to fit in a 2 metre baseboard is going to involve, at best, some modeller's licence.
Exton is a small village right on the edge of the River Exe Estuary, between Exmouth and Exeter. No quay side existed their, however Topsham, further down the line did have a quayside railway although a 1/4 mile from the station itself. The layout couldn't be named Topsham, well, it's not Topsham. As Exton never had a Quayside and as the Exe Estuary runs along side, let's suppose one was built hence Exton Quays. We now have an era, area, a scene to create and a name. What's next, yes, a Track plan.

I can post this, it's mine.
Track drawing Exton Quay's.jpg

Not the ideal way to design a layout but, hey, i new what i wanted. After a visit to "Model railway Solutions" and speaking to Martin about a baseboard. He arrives back with a quarter circle board, saying, would this be any good. A board that had previously been made for someone else but no longer required, That's ideal, well, Almost. It was a foot to long and 8 inches to wide to fit in the space available at home. We duly hacked it about, added sides, back, front and fitted out one end to take the control panel. I like the idea on page 30 of "Creating Cameo Layouts" (yes, i bought the book) now become known as the "Bible".The final dimension came out at 5' 4" x 1' 4" and 2' 2" across the centre at it's widest point. This is how it ended up.
A lot of thought went into which way round to build this layout. After many a discussion on whether to have the curve at the font or the back. They layout being wider on the curve as opposed to the straight edge (now the front). The ends are angled, the fiddle yard fits on the left hand side, so , sitting there during operation you are automatically looking at the layout without getting in the way of the viewing public. I had various discussion on "depth of field", Perspective views, etc, as we know, you look down a street and it narrows in the distance, so the narrow side should be at the back! ok, look through a window and what do you do. Go on, try it. Secretly i asked Three friends to do this and all of them looked through the window and automatically looked left to right, i rest my case! Of course, this way round, its happily sits in the corner of a room.


So, how is the layout looking so far. The next few photos were taken a few days ago.

Its all wired and running. The backscene below i temporarily printed out on A4 and i stuck them all together just to see what it would look like. I took the photograph, off the end of Bournemouth Pier back in July, so , it represents a nice British sunny summer afternoon. 20 minutes later, it was pouring down.
The Track is SMP with soldered copper clad sleepers, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" I like to use this method as so far, it has never let me down. I had a long hard think about using C&L track components but i just can't warrant the costs involved, especially when i had plenty of sleeper strip and rail to hand from previous projects. The costs went to Cobalt point motors. I do like these, again, i have never had one fail. I know, in the "Bible" Iain Rice doesn't like them much as they are noisy, i will give him that one but it's better than that clank of a solenoid motor and in an exhibition hall, they are not that intrusive .


I took the Two pictures below about a month ago

What! is that a catch point i see, yes, there's Two.

I think that's enough for now.
I would like to have posted this in the Competition entries section but unfortunately it won't let me. A note to whom it may concern, should you think that Exton Quay's may be a contender feel free to move the thread.
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Western Thunderer
That'll be me then!

If you've registered it as an entry then I've no problem moving the thread across.
Welcome to the MRJ Cameo Competition
Sorry all,
yes, it is 4mm scale, running at 16.5. I recently ventured off to Bracknell for the EMExpo show with all intentions of building in one of the EM/P4 track specification but the thought of converting all loco's, carriages and wagons to said gauge just seem to daunting a task. Time is not always on my side.
Note to Adrian;Thank you for the reply. I would be cuffed to bits to have this moved to the Cameo entries section. My application form was emailed to Simon on the 19/06/2017 Although, at the time as i think i said in the post. It was going to be named Lockyer's Wharf . Lockyer's Wharf has officially been named Exton Quays.
Many thanks.


Western Thunderer
I have to thank everyone for all the "likes" and must thank Adrian for moving the post.
Progress is progressing slowly, trying to get my head around point rodding. Until that's done, ballasting can't begin. I have never tackled point rodding before so it has been a bit of a learning curve.
Hopefully will have something more to post next week .
Westfest, in Verwood this Saturday with the 3mm Society, so if you are in the area, please drop in and so hello.


Western Thunderer
I thought perhaps it was time for an update. Some of you may already know if you have been watching my blog.
Here goes, actually, its progressing well. Has anyone ever built a layout based on a layout?
The first thing i must confess is there is no real innovative ideas here, although having said that, i have ways of doing things and tend to stick to them. I am a firm believer that if it aint broke, then don't fix it. they are 'my way' of doing things.
We have track laid and running. I didn't use templot or any of the other available software programmes, just couldn't get my head round it, the old method of laying one rail and making it up as one went along was used.


After track laying and wiring, testing, the next thing to look at was point rodding, i have never done this before, it has to be right, after all, rules is rules. The wills kits are just to big, overscale and bulky, so, what to use ? Brassmasters to the rescue. I have put some step by step instructions on my blog as how to put these fiddly little blighters together, should you be interested. Believe me, they are fiddly. There was a good aspect to this point rodding lark, the good old Southern Railway still had round point rodding on almost all of there western branchlines even into BR days, BONUS! At this point you are aloud to go insane, hope you never have to go through the trauma again and believe that the whole world is against you.

You may also have noticed that i have used the good old Peco platform edging. Again, it ain't right is it, look at the Peco variety and then look at the real thing. Tell me what you see.

Moving on somewhat, where are we at. One little teaser for you and then i shall leave you all alone for tonight.

Ps some of the glue was still wet when this was taken. just one tiny corner of the layout.


Western Thunderer
I have started work on the riverbank. Still some way to go but all going to plan so far. I was thinking of using Deluxe Materials Solid water. This was extremely effective on ' Pine Road' that was 9 years ago and still the same as it was the day I poured it.


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Exton Quays river tests


Western Thunderer
Hi all.
The next episode of Exton Quays is what to do about the river and dockside, referring more to the products available for the 'water'. The well tried methods of using layers and layers of varnish or PVA, we all know about but i feel that things have moved on somewhat.

I set about doing some test samples. Bearing in mind the layout is set in Devon, does a river in Devon look different than anywhere else in this land of ours. After searching through various images, i came to the conclusion that, yes it does, especially the tint of the water itself.


I have explained more on the test results on my blog. If you are going through the same trauma as me well, you may want to look here,

CParkstone's Railway modellers Blog: Exton Quays River test pods

were more is explained. Let me know what you think but i am heading in the direction of Number 2 or 6.


Flying Squad
Obviously your choice, but if I had a vote it'd be 2 for the dockside and a semi-stagnant river but then if the river is supposed to be free flowing I'd go for 6.


Western Thunderer
Obviously your choice, but if I had a vote it'd be 2 for the dockside and a semi-stagnant river but then if the river is supposed to be free flowing I'd go for 6.

Hi Adrian. Thanks for the input.
I thought the same. The river wont be a free flowing affair as it is nearing the sea or mouth of the river. The barges use to come up the river to load and unload freight, as in the time period i am modeling the river has yet to be dredged to take any decent sized ship.


Western Thunderer
Lighting. There is a lot said about LED lighting strips these day, you know the sort that comes in strips that one just sticks on. Even Ian Rice rates them, i have one small problem with them. Is it just me, or do they not disperse light evenly, that well.

My concern was, that along the back of the layout are a few trees, especially one that is rather tall. Is this going to create a dark shadow on the sky of the backscene when lit from the front? not a good look.


Well, and trust me on this one, but the lights are on and as you can see just the tiniest amount of shadow. In fact, the camera has picked up the shadow slightly more than my own eyes did.


See, lights are on! What have i used? its not a fluorescent tube but actually an LED tube, it looks light a fluorescent tube. A friend of mine who is an electrician fits them for under cupboard lighting. They are extremely light (that's as in weight) They run directly of the mains, so know transformers of any kind, they have a Two pin plug and socket fitted at each end, so you can link Two or more together, they even come with there own built in on/off switch.


That's not a very good picture is it, but you get the idea.


Western Thunderer

This all looks to be coming together nicely. Re the LED quandary; I have just a few trees planned for Callaton and I'm using LED stick on strips from that well known online 'auction/buy it now' place and if shadows appear on the backscene then I may consider a line of lights fixed above the trees to dissipate any shadows. I've not tried it myself but have seen the effect on a friend’s layout and it works. Not sure how you'd be on with the mains LED such as you have here but you know what they say - where there's a will, there's away...

Mick S


Western Thunderer
I was interested in the way the backdrop and lighting was achieved on Gordon Gravett's Arun Quay. Here's a low viewpoint photo showing how simple the Gravetts make it! There are three rows of closely-spaced white LEDs on a batten towards the rear. At the front, there are two rows of white and one of warm white. The simple but effective backdrop is bulldog-clipped to the frame.
Arun Quay LED.jpg



Western Thunderer
On Shelfie1 I used a fluorescent tube diagonally across the layout, with blue LED strips either side of it. I also added a strip of white LEDs behind the fascia board. The LEDs are mains powered with a transformer from Screwfix, and the intensity controlled with s simple 12V dimmer switch. The dimming facility and the blue colour allows me to colour balance the layout in a wide variety of ambient lighting.
Grassy bits


Western Thunderer
After trying various river beds, with the test pods, i have set about laying the river bed. While i was at i,t i set about doing something with the spare area next to the road bridge. This was originally going to be a harbour masters house but as an afterthought it just didn't look right placed there, with the other cottage behind it, it all looked a bit regimentale. As at present, it has become a pasture field. I think a derelict barn of some description would look better. Well, as they say, less is more.

Below is the river awaiting "water"


I am presently in the process of making some post and rail fencing for the field. The Footpath is for private fishing only.


Western Thunderer
Are we all having fun with the competition? I am still here and still in.
I have come to the stage of painting the "Fascia". What colour? Ian Rice doesn't really say about a specific colour that he feels is right, is there one? Thats a good thing, i am leaning towards the idea of "doing the opposite of Ian Rice's ideas hopefully perhaps to avoid ending up with a bunch of "Cameo Layouts" that all look the same.

No offence to anyone we all have are own ideas and ways of doing things. The Photograph on page 78 of Horsley Bank got me thinking, Red, It works. So, i came to the conclusion that the fascia should match the layout. This is were wives/girlfriends come in handy, they seem to have a knack of what goes with what. Horsley bank has a number of red brick and stone colour buildings so, the red fascia works well in this instance. I'm not a lover of black fascia's, this is my own personal opinion but they just remind me of those old seventies picture frames you use to buy. To me, just a tad to much in your face.

My way of thinking is that, if a layout has a lot of stone buildings then the Fascia should reflect this and be of a stone colour, lots of Red brick town buildings, then Red/ Maroon, Why not. More of a country seen, then a Pastel green, i think would work well, also the backscene can take a major part in this as well so, if you have a Backscene that is predominantly sky, then i think a subtle Blue could work well.

Why am i rabbiting on about this? perhaps, trying to find an excuse to use the leftover paint from the Bathroom.
Its Blueish. It seems to be perfectly acceptable from the female fraternity. Just agree and one will keep ones equilibrium. (curtain temporarily fixed)
Of course, taking photos from your phone in the dark, one ends up with something looking like this.

Moving on to the progress of the layout. The fencing has been added around the field, the field was used as a resting place for the working horses between any shunting duties that they may have performed if no engine was available.
And the River has been poured, quite a tense moment but nothing leaked. Ha-raaaah.

Still some ripples to create but progressing well.