Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the availability of ready to run products for O Gauge. Together with the availability of trackwork from Peco, O Gauge has become a viable proposition for many who probably would not have previously given it a second thought. A significant problem for many modellers is the availabilty of a suitable location with sufficient space within their household in which to build a layout. One has to get one's head around the comparison between OO and O Gauge. Whereas one might have enough room for a main line layout in OO the same space will only accomodate a simple branch line layout in O Gauge. The trade-off is a complex layout in OO versas a significant improvement in the level of detail of individual models. As our very good friend Steven Rowe will say "Less is more"! (See Steven's West Green layout on this website)
With the problem of space in mind we thought that perhaps we should re-publish David Lord's article about the late Laurie Clark's Dibley layout which first appeared in the November 2004 edition of our MROL magazine. Laurie made clever use of Peco "Y" points to save space while not introducing sharp curves. The coaching stock was limited to two 4-wheel coaches which there was just enough length in the loop for a small loco to run around. Today with r-t-r products available the Dapol Class 48xx/14xx 0-4-2T and their superb autocoaches would be ideal for this layout. We should not lose sight of the fact that several prototype layouts had very short run-round loops. Prior to the 1930's remodelling, the loop at Ashburton would only accomodate two bogie coaches. Wallingford could only take two coaches. Watlington could probably manage only one coach while Hemyock possibly only one 4-wheel coach until remodelled in the 1930's. After remodelling Hemyock could probably take two bogie coaches at a squeeze.
When I photographed Dibley in 2004 I took more than just the four pictures which were published with David's article. Hopefully readers will be interested to see a few further images which I have added after the article at the bottom of this page.
1 June 2020
A Great Western branch in O Gauge
Described by David Lord, photographs by Paul Plowman
Above: GW 48xx Class 0-4-2T No.4816 waits to leave Dibley with a train of 4-wheel coaches
For those who knew the late Laurie Clark and Valerie his wife, they would remember them for two reasons, the wonderful welcome they gave to everybody, and Laurie’s enthusiasm for his models and the construction and playing of his Hawaiian Guitars.
In respect to model railways, advancing years and prospects of moving to Perth prompted Laurie to sell his wonderful 00 gauge GWR layout called “Wennin”, and that should have been the end of Laurie’s layout building. However, after Wennin had gone, Laurie could not resist another go this time in O gauge, hence “Dibley”.
On becoming friends, Laurie would sometimes call on myself and Chris my son, to visit whenever he had something new to show, such as this new project, an O gauge layout using Styrofoam as a base to reduce weight and designed to be portable because of the immanent moving to Perth. My first sighting was just of baseboards then basic track work being laid. The project was a little different to what I had expected of Laurie, but the workmanship was to his usual meticulous standard. At this time, the layout was not named and then Laurie and Valerie moved to Western Australia to be near their son. The next time we heard of “Dibley” was when Laurie, due to failing health, offered to sell the layout to the Central Coast group of the British Railway Modellers of Australia. (The Central Coast is located about one hours drive North of Sydney) We accepted the deal and then, despite his failing health, Laurie did a wonderful job of packing everything into two boxes, which duly arrived with little or no damage, complete with instructions for reassembly.
It was not very long after that Laurie passed away. That his creations live on in the form of “Wennin” and “Dibley” is testament to his ability to set the railway scene and complete the projects that he set in motion.
850 Class 0-6-0PT No.2025 shunts coal wagons in the small loco depot at Dibley
The name “Dibley” comes from the Television show “Vicar of Dibley”. Anyone who knew Laurie would have been well aware of his sense of humour, some of which was painted onto wagons and such like. One example had a painted label, “when empty, return to the railway with little green engines”.
The track plan is typically Hemyock on the Culm Valley Line in Devon, although it has been altered in respect of the siding arrangements and by the removal of the Creamery, which was such a feature of Hemyock. However, as a six-wheel milk tank comes and goes during a running session, there is still a possibility that a portion of the Creamery may be a future addition.
Dibley Layout diagram
The baseboards are a sandwich type being a light timber frame around the outside of a full size layer of Styrofoam as a main baseboard level. Additional layers have been added to build up the track bed, the general ground level and the hillsides. The whole is therefore very light. The river at the front is the lowest level of Styrofoam.
Track and Signalling
Peco track and points have been used throughout. The point motors are hidden under the polystyrene and to date have not been seen. They go thump most of the time and are of Peco manufacture.
Operation is by a switch that indicates where the point is to be set and then a push button to fire the capacitor discharge unit, which is a little light on the job and will be replaced with another in the near future.
The single signal is operated by a relay. The level crossing gates also work quite effectively after Rob Lees operated on them.
GW 850 Class 0-6-0PT No.2025 shunts cattle wagons into the cattle dock
Layers of Polystyrene have been used to form the scenery contours with Woodland Scenics for the green stuff.
Trees constructed by Gary Stephan are twisted wire. There are some additional natural trees of appropriate shape with Woodland Scenics applied.
The layout is operated with two locomotives. The GW 48xx class 0-4-2T no.4816 is a Springside kit. We believe this model was built, much modified and detailed by Laurie. At present it requires an overhaul to improve the electrical pickups, which have proved to be a little unreliable.
The pannier tank is an 850 Class No.2025. Tom Imeson of Brisbane built it from a Vulcan kit. It is an excellent runner and certainly looks the part. There are no plans to do anything other than maintain this model in good working order.
Most of the rolling stock is comprised of Slater’s kits including two GWR 4-wheel coaches and a Siphon.
There is an Acorn 6-wheel milk tank plus some wagons of various manufacture plus a couple of scratch built examples. The couplings are of the Sprat and Winkle type, which when properly adjusted can be made to work well. They have their limitations, such as uncoupling when you do not want them to and therefore may well be replaced in the future.
In addition, there is a set of LMS/Midland rolling stock using a couple of much modified Lima 4F’s and two scratch built Midland coaches, one in balsa wood and one in plastikard.
The small loco depot at Dibley
The layout has been and still is under development ever since its arrival. Basically, the track layout is unaltered, but the electrics have been rewired twice and need to be further modified as we learn more about operating the layout.
Two new buildings are required, a goods shed or creamery and the tunnel entrance needs attention to improve the overall general look.
GW 48xx Class 0-4-2T No.4816 waits to leave Dibley with a train of 4-wheel coaches
The small loco depot
Triang Big-Big Train Hymek motorised and detailed with a DJH kit by Graham Plowman visits Dibley
Hymek at Dibley
A Lima Mk1 coach detailed by Graham Plowman at Dibley
Lima Mk1 coach at Dibley
The Hymek shunts Mk1 coaches into the platform
The Hymek waits in the loco depot
The loco depot