DESIGNING FOR 2002 sq.in.
COURCELLE PART PO & PLM
Richard Chown

Photos by the Author

The completed layout, just before a shower of rain.


Putting the baseboards away


Courcelle packed for transit


A working wagon turntable adds interest to an earlier layout

It was Chris Pendlenton's Kirkwhelpington, in what was then known as Protofour, that first showed me that
one can build a successful layout that has just part of a station in the visible scene. Chris showed less than a quarter of the platforms of a main line station, outside an overbridge, but had the whole of the goods yard in view. No problems with trains too long for his platforms. In O gauge, where it is even easier to create a three-dimensional cameo, I chose to show just a small but busy part of a yard at a major station. My original intention was just to show goods workings, but I later realised that empty passenger stock
workings were possible as well, drawing in and rounding vehicles in just the same way as at a typical branch terminus, but with a believable frequency.

The tracks come from a sector table passing below a footbridge and end at the limit of shunt, a signal that would control exit on to the main line beyond. There are two other sidings on to which wagons can be shunted for loading and unloading. One of these has a wagon turntable leading into a factory. I knew from a
previous layout that such a turntable added to operating and visitor interest. There is also a short length of a further track, sufficient for a spare shunting engine to be stabled and serviced.

The shape and size of the layout is dictated by transport requirements. Taking the back seat out of our Renault Kangoo gives a floor space 4ft 6in x 3ft, ie 1944 sq in. Cutting that into two pieces allows a layout 9ft long that packs away; cutting it in other than a straight line adds interest. The layout packs into a box for transit, allowing other items to be loaded on top of it. The box doubles as the support system for setting up, again a ruse learned from the previous layout. The box also allows the layout to be stored dust-free, an important consideration.

Cutting of the baseboard shape and the precise track design were established together in order to avoid conflict between baseboard joints and switch and crossing components. Turnout design radius is 6ft for Scaleseven. The final shape of the layout is dictated by the buildings, two of which were already well on their way to completion for another layout, of which this is just a foretaste. Thus the largest building overflows the edge at the back of this layout, it also had to be modified to hide a storage siding. The new building, the factory, is just low relief and a short stub had to be added to the back of the baseboard to allow a wagon to be shut inside.

The most significant change, at a late stage in construction, was to ballast the tracks on the sector table so that it effectively became scenic and visible rather than hidden behind a backscene. A shunting train is now wholly visible, while it is not noticeable that other tracks do not line up. There is a lesson: it is not
always necessary to hide the off-scene areas.

This layout is designed with shunting in mind. It could also be used as a showcase for rolling stock, for there is sufficient length in the headshunt for a Pacific to run round.