An O Gauge layout based on the now closed branch line to Ashburton in Devon

Built and described by Paul Plowman

28 March 2022 - Progress Report

Above: Stage 1 under construction

Work has continued on my new O Gauge layout based on the branch line to Ashburton in Devon. My old P4 layout has now been dismantled. Most of the supporting steel frame which supported the old layout has now been repositioned and modified as necessary to support the first stage of the new layout.

The first stage of building the layout will include the hidden sidings and the intermediate station. The second stage will include taking the line around my workshop on a shelf and building Ashburton Station.

Out of the original 11 baseboards the design of the new layout enables me to reuse five of them. On the left of the picture (above) the three baseboards painted brown are from the old hidden sidings. A new baseboard has been built to extend the storage, see the fresh timber. On the right of the picture, two old boards are being reused.

For this first stage of the layout four more new baseboards are to be built. One forming a link at the far end of the shed and three more in the foreground on the right-hand side.

Ashburton Station will be located against the left-hand wall on the far edge of the picture.

27 July 2022 - Progress Report

Above: Completed baseboards for Stage 1

I have continued working on my new O Gauge layout. All the baseboards for Stage 1 have now been completed. Stage 1 comprises the hidden sidings and the intermediate station. Stage 2 will be Ashburton Station. Eventually I propose to operate the layout to the real timetable. The intermediate station will have similar facilities to Buckfastleigh, but it will not be Buckfastleigh. So, I have decided to name it “Buckfast Abbey” after the nearby abbey.

Above: Track will eventually pass through the wall at the end of the room, run around the workshop on a ledge and then re-emerge on the right-hand side of the room. The Ashburton terminus will be located along the wall on the right.

Track laying in the hidden sidings is complete with rails connected by ‘droppers’ to the DCC buss which runs the length of the layout. I have used 15-amp cable for the buss to prevent voltage drop. Tortoise point motors have been installed but have not yet been connected. Currently a mini control panel is under construction for the hidden sidings.

Above: Hidden Sidings.

Track laying has included a 1.3m radius curve around the end of the room. Trains do not look realistic on a curve this tight, and it will therefore be partially hidden by a backscene.

Trains, generally pass around this curve without problems. The auto trains and goods trains do not have any problems propelling. The only issue is when propelling Dapol Mk1 coaches. Propelling with link type couplings is satisfactory. However, derailments are occurring between coaches where there are buckeye couplings. As the Mk1 coaches on my layout will normally be hauled rather than propelled this problem can possibly be ignored.

Above: 57xx pannier tank rounds the 1.3m radius curve.

One problem I have foreseen with construction of the intermediate station is the need to reach across the layout. The baseboards are 3ft – 6in deep and only accessible from the front. I can forsee problems with painting the back side of the rails and ballasting the track. To overcome this problem, I have devised an arrangement whereby the subbase under the track is a sandwich of plywood and cork. Sheets of 6mm plywood are laid directly on to the baseboards but not attached. They are kept in their future positions by pieces of ply offcuts screwed to the baseboard as locators (See photographs).

Above: Cork floor tiles placed ready for track laying.

Cork floor tiles have been glued to the plywood with contact adhesive. Joins in the cork coincide with joins in the plywood underneath. I have roughly painted the centrelines of the tracks with white paint on the cork. This provides a good surface to mark out the centrelines accurately. Track will then be glued to the cork with rail joints also coincident with the joins in the plywood sheets. At this stage it will be possible to lift out the plywood sections to paint and ballast the track in comfort.

Tortoise motors will also be fitted at this stage while the sections are off the layout thus avoiding the need to work under the baseboards. Holes will be cut in the baseboard to accommodate the Tortoise motors. Once the individual plywood panels have had the track painted and ballasted, they will be re-mounted on the layout positioned by the locators. They will then be screwed to the baseboards, not glued, just in case they ever need to be reused on another layout in the future. Finally, the locators will be removed.

Above: Temporary locator of plywood sub-base.

Stage 2 of my layout has already been started. The points for Stage 1 are all Peco points straight out of their boxes. However, my model of Ashburton will be as accurate as I can possibly make it. Peco points are not suitable for any location at Ashburton. I have already built all the points to match the types and geometry which were to be found there.

I have chosen Peco components for these turnouts as I think it best to use one type of rail throughout the layout. This is the Peco Code 124 Bullhead rail. In addition I have used brass ‘A’ chairs and fishplates from C & L Finescale.

Above: The long curved turnout which leads into the loco shed at Ashburton.

Above: The track to the right leads into the platform while the track to the left is Tuckers siding which leads into the goods shed.

Above:The loco release crossover facing the buffer stops.

Paul Plowman
27 July 2020

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