7mm West Kirby Town

Discussion in 'Layout Progress' started by dmudriver, 20 September 2018.

  1. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    Good evening.

    I've recently joined Western Thunder and, having a layout of my own, I thought it might be of interest to other members. I don't want to just take ideas from others, maybe some of mine can help others as well.

    The layout's name is as above. It's based on the real West Kirby which is on the Wirral and is part of the Merseyrail network. So why West Kirby? Well, I was born and bred in Liverpool and we had relatives who lived on the Wirral. We'd always go by train to see them and often ended up at West Kirby. The track layout really fascinated me - a double track approach to an offset island platform, including a single slip and with 3 storage sidings.

    The layout is based in the late 70s/early 80s and is, basically, blue diesel. The real location is on the third rail network but I have not modelled that for 2 reasons: 1) in that period the services were run by Class 503s and there are no RTR 503s or even kits of them - in 7mm, anyway; 2) just running the same units in and out would get boring rather quickly. My main interest in railway modelling is operations, particularly passenger terminal operations. "Roundy roundy" layouts are not my thing at all - useful for running locos in but then I get bored!! (that's the second time I've used that word in quick succession!!)

    The EMUs on the real thing are replaced on my model by DMUs and to add interest to the operation, I've added a DMU stabling point and, in addition, I run a couple of loco-hauled rakes of stock: one is passenger, made up of 4x Mark 1s and the other is parcels, made up of 4 bogie parcels vehicles. Finally, to add a real bit of variety, there's a preserved steam rake: this is a model of "The Welsh Dragon" which ran between Rhyl and Llandudno - again, something from my childhood: I used to see it when we had our holidays in Colwyn Bay.

    The layout has been under construction since 2012 and is nowhere near finished yet. I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow account (is that a big sigh of relief I hear?) but I'll describe it as it is now and then follow up with progress reports as things get done.

    Mods - I assume this is an acceptable way to do it?

    Anyway, I've seen in other threads that pictures are liked so here's a few to give an idea of what I'm doing. The first is a picture of the station in 1976 (this is taken from the book "Merseyside Electrics" by Jonathan Cadwallader and Martin Jenkins) and the second is a picture of the layout taken last year:

    West Kirby Station  1976 - Copy.jpg P1050410 - Copy (1024x841).jpg

    I think I'm getting there!! Finally a couple of "taster" pictures:

    P1050873.JPG P1050930.JPG

    In future posts, I'll look at how the layout came into being, track and electrics, signalling, stock and operations.

    Please feel free to comment. It's my first post on Western Thunder: am I doing it the Western Thunder way?

    Last edited: 21 September 2018
  2. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    Hi Rod, yes that's perfectly acceptable and great to see - although I tend to think of myself as a forum manager rather than a moderator. If what you post is something that you are prepared to say to someone face to face over a pint then it works for me.
    As long as you're building something, having a go at something new or want to learn something then I think you'll fit right in.

    As for comments - a couple of things. One is a suggestion - when you include images please feel free free to insert as "full image" because it's quicker for people to see the images ( the forum software is a little bit rubbish if you just insert thumbnails and we have plenty of space for photos).

    Second is the first image you posted; one of the obvious details in the prototype is the third rail. Do you have plans to fit it to your layout? I do think it'll make a huge difference to the appearance.


  3. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Especially if you have the older Merseyside electrics.
    dmudriver likes this.
  4. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    Hi Adrian.

    Thanks for your comments. My comments on your comments(!!) are below:

    "As for comments - a couple of things. One is a suggestion - when you include images please feel free free to insert as "full image" because it's quicker for people to see the images ( the forum software is a little bit rubbish if you just insert thumbnails and we have plenty of space for photos)."

    I used the thumbnails as that's mostly what I'd seen on threads I'd looked at. However, I've edited my post and put the full sized ones in now - and will do so in future.

    "Second is the first image you posted; one of the obvious details in the prototype is the third rail. Do you have plans to fit it to your layout? I do think it'll make a huge difference to the appearance."

    It's a fair point you make: to give a straight answer - no, I haven't any plans to put in the third rail. It was something I gave a lot of thought to when I was planning the layout but my primary aim was to use DMUs: I have an interest in them, having driven first generation DMUs on the Llangollen Railway for 13 years, following 4 years as a traction trainee/second man. Added to which there were/are no kits or RTR models of suitable EMUs - 503s in particular. It would have been a bit implausible not to have any EMUs when the station was set up for it (with 3rd rail) and the kind of operation I had planned was pretty permanent so I'd have struggled to get away with a story of short term DMU cover for a power failure, for example. So my thinking then went that the electrification was carried out from Liverpool Central to New Brighton prior to WW2 but the war put paid to any further electrification. So now DMUs run to Birkenhead North where passengers change to the electric trains under the river to Liverpool (diesels not being allowed in the tunnel).

    As I had also planned a private siding area for a steam preservation society** as well, I decided I was getting a bit far away from the real West Kirby so came up with the name "West Kirby Town" which recognises the track layout and buildings but has a rather different operation from the real thing.

    However, I also believe "Never say never": if someone comes along with a Class 503 RTR or kit who knows where that might end up? 507/508s won't count as I didn't travel on them as a kid!! (We had relatives on the Wirral and we'd always go by train to see them).

    Hope that's not too long-winded but I did say I'd given a lot of thought to it!!!!


    ** The preservation society didn't stay long as BR wanted the land for a stabling point so they were moved to New Brighton which is where they are now based. In reality, I changed my mind and went for a stabling point!!
  5. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    There’s a definite contingent of those of us who did travel on the old green emus who would love to see them!

    And, I can’t think of a better setting than WKT!

    dmudriver likes this.
  6. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    I can remember seeing at least one of the Pullman style trains in green when I was a kid, Simon!! (I'm knocking on a bit!!)

    As for 503s on WKT, I said above "Never say never", but being realistic, I can't see any appearing - limited market and all that.

  7. Pencarrow

    Pencarrow Western Thunderer

    Nice to see you and WKT here Rod. Even though it's not my period or area of interest, WKT is one of my favourite layout threads on RMweb.

    Pencarrow has also fully relocated and layout progress is now just being updated on WT. It's quieter here but with a significantly higher percentage of modelling going on in threads. You'll also note a much higher proportion of the modelling is in 7mm.

    Chris (2ManySpams on RMweb)
    dmudriver likes this.
  8. Ressaldar

    Ressaldar Western Thunderer

    Hi Rod,

    as you know, we (Wirral OGG) are building New Brighton into the centre of our continuous run layout

    P1010144.JPG P1010146.JPG

    our Chairman is scratchbuilding a couple of 503 sets and started to install the third rail after our Open Day in August (when the above photos were taken.


    Rob Pulham, jonte, simond and 2 others like this.
  9. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    "Nice to see you and WKT here Rod. Even though it's not my period or area of interest, WKT is one of my favourite layout threads on RMweb.

    Pencarrow has also fully relocated and layout progress is now just being updated on WT. It's quieter here but with a significantly higher percentage of modelling going on in threads. You'll also note a much higher proportion of the modelling is in 7mm."

    Hi Chris

    So this is where you are!!

    Thanks for your comments about WKT. I'd missed your thread on RMweb and was pleasantly surprised to find you here. Your railway room is looking rather nice now (or should that be "the room your railway's in?!) and I'm looking forward to following your progress again.

    As you say, it's quieter here but I do get a good "feel" about the forum. I've noticed that there is plenty of 7m modelling but I've also seen a couple of exquisite-looking P4 layouts that I'll give some attention to. No, I'm not leaving 7mm but they look really good!!

    Pencarrow likes this.
  10. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    "our Chairman is scratchbuilding a couple of 503 sets and started to install the third rail after our Open Day in August (when the above photos were taken."

    Hi Mike.

    Scratchbuilt 503s? I look forward to seeing those. Will he have them ready by the December Open Day?? :) It'll look good when he's done those and the 3rd rail.

  11. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    He’s tempted...

    Keep up the good work, Mike!

    dmudriver likes this.
  12. Ressaldar

    Ressaldar Western Thunderer

    Hi Rod,

    a few teething troubles with the drivetrain at present, but he is working on it and he's a dab hand with a 14lb hammer! Watch this space. Installation of the third rail is progressing very slowly as clearances for the dangly bits on certain diesel locos are causing problems and restriction notices may have to be drawn up to overcome the problem.


    dmudriver likes this.
  13. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    Hi all.

    Following on from my first post, I thought I'd just describe how the layout's home came about. I moved into this house just over 30 years ago and decided the best place for a layout would be the garden as there was insufficient room in the house. The garden is roughly 25' x 25' so I decided to run along the back and down one side. I had a 10' shed built and then built a shelf along the remainder of the back fence and down the side. This is how it looked after over 20 years' service and prior to replacement:

    Sorry for the pic in the snow, but it's the only one I've got!! The final station layout in the shed was this:


    After 20+ years the shed and particularly the outside boards and covers were suffering from rot due to water ingress, so I decided I needed a new shed and I'd have the garden redone at the same time. This time I went for a 23' shed and planned for the track to come out of a hole in the wall down the side fence. I'd learned a lot in those 20+ years about keeping track and electrics dry and cobweb free and a lot of that experience went into the new set-up. Here's a pic of the new shed (built early 2012):


    I had a bit of help to set up the baseboards and this is how it looked in the shed:

    Eventually I got the outside section built: this was fixed to posts and was not fastened to the fence at all. (The first one was and when I took it down, the fence collapsed, too - as the railway was holding it up!!). So the basic outside board looked like this:

    P1010341 - Copy.JPG

    Note the railway-themed path alongside it (I had a sympathetic garden designer!!) Having learned about keeping the railway dry, I used a lot of tongue and groove boarding from the old shed as a back and top - as seen here:

    P1010358 - Copy.JPG

    You can see the outline of the previous set-up on the wall on the right. I then put shutters along the front: these clipped over a length of timber that I fastened along the front of the board, as here:

    P1010359 - Copy.JPG

    At the top, they were held in place by the strip of wood along the top: to remove them, they lift up under the wood just enough to clear the timber underneath:

    P1010362 - Copy.JPG

    That strip of wood along the top didn't last long. It was plywood and no matter how much preservative/varnish I put on it, it rotted pretty quickly and has now been replaced. However, the shutters still fasten on in the same way. The felt I used on the top (fitted but not visible in that last pic) turned out to be too thin and has also been replaced. The outside section is, I am pleased to say, nice and dry even after 6 years - any wetness was as a result of the felt giving up and a little bit of water seeping in, but no damage was done - and even then, it was only a small area.

    So, there's a description of the infrastructure. I've (deliberately!!) left a lot of detail out, but if anyone wants to know a bit more about any aspect of the construction, please ask and I'll give what information I can.

    I hope this is of interest: next time I'll describe the laying of the track and the setting up of the electrics (the layout's DCC operated).

    PMP, Compton castle, jonte and 8 others like this.
  14. Osgood

    Osgood Western Thunderer

    You certainly have to keep your wits about you here - it is so easy to assume you're looking at another fine example of 7mm work, when it might actually be to a smaller scale!!

    Pencarrow and dmudriver like this.
  15. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    Hi all.

    For the next instalment of how my layout got to where it is now, I'll look at the track and electrics. But first, here's a layout plan**:

    WEST KIRBY TOWN - layout plan 2.jpg

    I wanted to have the pointwork to the 31.5mm gauge (I'm not sure of the correct description) to ensure smooth running over the frogs (I went to see Heyside at Richard's kind invitation and was hooked on the smooth running!!) So I commissioned a professional build. It didn't go well and after a few months of struggling to get good running, I ripped it up and built my own, using C&L kits for 4 points and a single slip. I used their ready built frogs as I didn't trust myself to get the 31.5mm ones right. I'm quite pleased with how they've turned out. However, I did build them with what I now call a "Peco mentality": i.e. I built them all separately and then joined them together. There's a couple of slightly rough joints, but with a scale 10 mph limit through the pointwork, I've had (so far) no mishaps. When I rebuilt the trailing crossover on the curve, I did build that as one unit and would do it that way again, certainly, if ever I had to. When finished, they looked like this (those to the front and the right):

    P1020185 - Copy.JPG

    The catch points are yet to be fitted. The plain track is all Peco. There are 5 Peco points on the left and I eventually modified those to look like this:

    P1020208 - Copy.JPG
    They are now a bit less obviously Peco!! The plan was to rebuild those to the 31.5 mm standard but, to be honest, that's not a priority at the moment.

    The fiddle yard is purely Peco and when laid, looks like this:

    P1010399 - Copy.JPG

    When it came to electrifying the layout, I decided not to do any soldering under the baseboard: I'd done it in the past on the club layout and didn't fancy any more!! So I used a contact method as here:


    The main bus bars are "cooker wire" (for want of a better expression!!) and are held up to the board by a 3 pot chocolate block. I deliberately left the centre one empty to avoid the possibility of any short circuits. The dropper wire are the thinner wires (brown was used as well as blue) with a strip of thinner single core wire which fitted into the larger chocolate block. With everything screwed up tight, it's worked perfectly.

    On the outside section, I kept the wiring above the baseboard to keep damp, dirt , spiders, earwigs, etc. out of it (previous experience!!). Typical look here: (I ran out of brown wire, but had plenty of purple left!!)

    That's in the fiddle yard, but the outside main line looked the same. Here I did solder the wiring together. It all looked very untidy, so I eventually put it all into trunking as here:

    P1040258 (2).JPG

    That is, apart from the fiddle yard, which I have left as in picture 3 above: it is the fiddle yard, after all!! The top trunking is for the wiring to a camera, lighting and another control point. Obviously, with the layout being outside, there will be times when the weather's too bad to go outside. However, as I operate DMUs I can still "play" at night and in bad weather as there's no need to run round, by using the camera at the end of the fiddle yard. This is the view of the fiddle yard on the camera:

    P1020663 - Copy.JPG

    There is also a fiddle yard point control panel in the shed to enable the operations to take place:


    This has since been modified to take out the middle set of switches. So, all in all, it's pretty much an "all-weather" layout, even though half of it is outside the shed!!

    I've tried to keep the commentary short, but if there's anything anyone would like to know more about, just ask and I'll explain in a bit more detail. Next up, signalling.


    EDIT: ** I've just noticed there's no catch point shown between the ground signal by the signal box and the crossover. There is one in reality, this scan is of an earlier version of the plan. Sorry!!
    Last edited: 1 October 2018
  16. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    Hi all.

    Next up, as I said above, is signalling. As with the track plan, I've tried to keep as close as possible to the real thing (but without working track circuits!!). I wanted to reflect a signal box operation, but also to see the signalling from a driver's perspective. So, starting with the signal box look, I have a signalling diagram drawn for me by the gentleman who drew those in the boxes on the Llangollen Railway. I had it framed at the local picture framers (who were somewhat bemused by what it was!!). This is what it looks like:

    P1010094 - Copy.JPG
    In use, it hangs on the rear wall of the shed, above the main control panel - as here:

    I've tried to keep as close as possible to actual signal and point numbers, as well as signal placement: however, the addition of the private siding for the preservation society (later DMU stabling point) meant adjustments to the ground signals in the Down siding area. The private siding crossover is operated by a ground frame and lever 23 is the frame release lever: in actual fact, lever 23 operates the crossover and the ground signal protecting movements from the headshunt to the station area: this ground signal is, by the way, painted yellow so that shunting within the stabling area can carry on without the bobby's involvement.

    The diagram needs updating to show this, but my story is that S&T are a bit tardy, but the signallers know how it works!! Also, signal 30 should be 39 - I misread the original drawing!!

    The signals are interlocked with the points so a signal cannot be cleared until the route to which it refers is properly set. To do this, I drew up a truth table and eventually ended up with a diode matrix - as here:

    Interlocking - strip board (3).JPG

    In use this is fastened to the supporting leg behind and under the control panel. The signals are operated by micro servos and were all built for me by Jon Fitness who, as you will see, does a fantastic job!! The servos themselves are driven by GF Controls driver boards and the clearing and return bounce is very realistic. I use one of the switches on the Tortoise point motors for the interlocking (the other is used to change frog polarity).

    The signals are all ex-LMS/BR(M) upper quadrant or ground signals and here are some pictures of them. First, the Up starters for platforms 1 and 2:

    Notice the speed restrictions, applying to each road, at the base of the signal. Also visible in this shot are various ground signals, including on the right the yellow one on the stabling point headshunt: there is also a phone to contact the box when a train is ready to leave the headshunt. These have been sunk into the ballast a little to ensure proper clearance when trains are in the sidings. Just about visible, to the right of the box is the rear of signal 34, just beyond which is a speed restriction sign for 50 mph (this should be 60, but there wasn't a 60 on the fret!!) Next up is the Down Inner Home, cleared for the Thumper to run into an occupied platform 1:


    This post carried signals 37, 38 42 and 43 and the route indicator changes with the route that is set. At the foot of the post is signal 30 which controls movements ONLY from the Down Main to the sidings: it does not give authority to enter either platform road. All shunting in the station area has to go to the rear of signals 44/36 on the Up Main - pic here (as they're hidden by the Thumper in the pic above!!):


    The 108 is about to reverse direction into the Down siding once the 25 has entered the platform. Note the speed restriction. Finally, we have the Up (right) and Down Outer Homes. These are also interlocked, but with the double slip in the fiddle yard:

    So those are the signals. I admit I do enjoy operating the layout prototypically: visitors have been known to get a bit of a b*ll*cking if they miss a signal, particularly the Down Outer Home which is kept at danger until the train is close when the Down Inner Home is at danger or set for entry to an occupied platform!!

    Finally, on the subject of interlocking, you may notice on the diagram there is a possibility of a conflicting movement at points 22 and 26 a and b (crossover): I have used relays to interlock these so that 26 can only be reversed when 22 is reversed and 22 can only be returned to normal when 26 is normal.

    I hope this is interesting - writing these up makes me realise just how much I've done over the last 6 and a half years!! Next up - stock.

  17. Dudemaster

    Dudemaster New Member


    Have you given up on the other channel?

    Paul R
  18. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member

    Hi Paul.

    No, just nothing much to report on at the moment!!!


    PS Plus trying to find a 7mm Robin Reliant!!!
    Pencarrow likes this.
  19. Stubby47

    Stubby47 Western Thunderer

  20. dmudriver

    dmudriver Member