Model Railway Diary

Hello and welcome to my model railway diary. I intend to use this page to record the construction of my new model railway. Most pictures on here can be clicked to open a full size picture in a new window. The latest entry will be at the bottom.

A little about me. I started working for Wessex Trains in July 2004 and that coupled with having a father who is into model railways got me interested. The thing that made me go out and buy my first bits was the fiancee of my wife's friend who insisted on showing me his layout at their house warming party. So you could say that it is my wife's fault that I got started. By the way Wessex Trains happen to have some of Central Trains old class 158 units.

14/05/05 The space.

In these first pictures you can see the space I have available. You can also see the pile of flooring I need to lay as the flooring left by the previous owner of this house is not up to the job. I have purchased an Graham Farish starter set to get me going. It consists of an oval of track, a controller, and a steam train bearing the name 'Eastnor Castle', the actual Eastnor Castle being local to me. I also picked up a pack (25 pieces) of Peco flexitrack and a pair of Peco electrofrog points. The track is currently lying on the original attic floor where I have been learning about how to use electrofrog points. Oh I also purchased a class 158 DMU in 'Central Trains' livery which I will be running as a 'Wessex Trains' service just to keep the realism going.

26/09/05 A little progress.

No photo's for this entry as the attic is now getting a little full of "stuff" which hopefully will start to disappear soon. I have a grand plan for my design which is mostly in my head but basically involves two stations, one at either end of the attic, with two shuffle yards six inches underneath. To this end I have been doing some experiments with gradients and have found that my steamer 'Eastnor Castle' is bloody useless at going up hill, but the Class 158 could almost go up a cliff. The result of these tests means that in order to get the 'Eastnor Castle' to climb the six inches from the shuffle yard to the station it will have to do one complete circuit of the attic in order for the gradient to be gentle enough. I have started to build the frame for the station and shuffle yard at the one end of the attic but will have to rearrange or get rid of the "stuff" at the other end before I can start the other.

Oh I almost forgot to say that the attic has a new floor, fluorescent tube lighting, and mains electricity (without having to drop an extension down the hole).

17/05/06 The Fleet and different track.

Well I've not posted in ages and I should have put my fleet up ages ago. I have also built the open frame at one end of the attic, no photo's of that yet, and I half decided to drop Peco and give Fleischmann track a go. The mains reasons for switching to Fleischmann are firstly the point motors are tiny compared with Peco's and are mounted along the track in a long low case. Secondly the track is easy use because they supply curves which are the same as the curve on the points and when you add a standard straight on the straight section of the points the ends of the two are in line. This means that laying loops for sidings and stations is dead easy. Thirdly, although this is a minor point, the track, including the flexible stuff, is prebalasted. So with a little painting and nothing else it should look very realistic. Any way without further a do my fleet is now as follows. 1 x Central Trains Class 158, 1 x Wessex Trains Class 158, 1 x First Great Western HST (Full length all 8 coaches), 1 x Eastnor Castle Steamer with 3 coaches, and my dad's 4 Royal mail coaches which I should really give back.

07/08/06 Sidings (loops really).

I have now completed a full oval complete with sidings (loops). I have had one minor problem which I was hoping wouldn't happen but has is that in order to form an oval and get trains running I have had to use the tightest curves that Fleischmann do because the siding for the HST needs to be very long. The result of this is that my 158's derail as they go around the corners, so for now I can only run the HST. Incidentally I have decided that the Steam Loco, Eastnor Castle, is crap as it has next to no traction and derails regularly, so I will either put it to one side and forget it, or give it its own special 'preserved railway' route.

Below are a few animations of my HST in action, not very exciting but I was playing with my camera so here they are. WARNING THEY WILL PROBABLY TAKE AGES TO LOAD! File sizes are included below. The fourth one will take about eight times the time it takes the first one to download as it is that bit larger.

1113KB 1127KB 885KB 8050KB This is the HST going at full speed through each of the loops and shows how good this model and the points are.

My other half has a web cam so maybe next time, when it's worth the effort, I'll borrow it and do some better quality videos.

01/09/06 Guest Book.

I have now added a guest book to the page for you to leave your comments. Enjoy.

13/10/06 Change of plan.

Having now tried various things along the way and realised how expensive this hobby really is I have adjusted my plans slightly. Now instead of having the yard under the station I intend having the yard at one end of the attic and the station at the other end and all on one level. This means that I will be able to have a loop which will slowly be enlarged until it extends all the way around the attic. Once I have a single track all the way around it will then be a simple, if pricey, job to double the track to provide two way running. I still intend automating some of the track so that I can run multiple trains on one line without them catching each other up. To that end I need to get in touch with Heathcote Electronics who make a number of electronic devices for the purposes of model railway automation.

09/11/06 Cheaper electronics.

At last I have found a much cheaper way of detecting my trains. Instead of using the Heathcote Electronics circuits I can now build my own which can use multiple sensors that cost less than £1 each and the circuit for each section will be about £10-20. However I must thank Rob Paisley who has posted loads of really useful circuits on his website at Now my plan of automating an amount of my layout looks like it may be able to happen.

24/08/07 Track plan software.

I have now found some free track plan software which is fairly easy to use and can output pictures. I have spent hours now trying out various different designs most of which will never be built. However as I am now able to produce track plan pictures here are two new pictures the first shows the layout as it is now, the second shows what it will be like when I get some more base board built and finally get rid of the tight curves which none of my trains really like.