It's been around three and a half months since I blogged about starting a new layout based on what would fit in a storage box I'd bought. In that time I've built two locomotives and a open coach for the layout as well as experimented with building a stone wall and producing a cobbled surface but, at least here on this blog, there has been no sign of me producing a track plan for the layout. I obviously need the track plan before I can make a start on the layout, and I have been thinking about it on and off since the box arrived, but it turned out to be more difficult than I expected to come up with something I was happy with.
One of the problems I had with Jerusalem was painting the track around the point on the scenic section while making sure to maintain the electrical connection (i.e. not getting paint on the wrong part of the blades). Unfortunately it can still be a little temperamental, although that also might be the manual point lever not working as smoothly as I'd like. Either way when I set about designing this new layout my initial approach was to avoid having any points on the scenic section at all.
As you can see the idea was to have a street scene with the railway simply passing through the factory yard. Assuming the layout was at a sensible height then the trains would be completely hidden at both ends of the layout behind the cottages and so these areas would act as the fiddle yards. With the four sidings I could in theory have three trains on the layout at the same time allowing me some variation. My main concern about this plan was that I thought it would be very dark, as there would be no green countryside to offset the buildings, which led me to the second idea.
As you can see the solution to the problem was to view the street from the back, so have countryside running up to the rear wall of the factory and use some half-relief terrace houses to hide the fiddle yards. While I was happier with this idea, I was slowly beginning to realise that such a layout was going to be fairly boring to operate (although potentially easy to automate) and that I'd need to have a more complex track plan, and points on the scenic section, if I wasn't going to quickly tire of the layout once it was built. The problem was that I couldn't see how I could sensibly fit more track into a purely yard based railway; I did try a few ideas but none of them are worth showing you.
As you can see from this third plan I finally hit on the idea of having the railway supply the factory which allows me a simple line through a factory yard as well as the line running off into the countryside. With the added countryside section, I've been able to reduce the yard area which should give me a nice view reminiscent of the original inspiration, and I can now hide the main fiddle yard inside the factory building and access it from a hole in the rear wall. The cottages at the other end should also hide the train so it can sit there for a while as if it has disappeared off somewhere else. That brown line will either be a wall or a fence to separate the line from the road, which might even give me a chance to try out the fence posts I designed for Penistone Railway Works before I switched to N gauge. I'm also thinking of raising the green area at the back of the layout into a small slope or crag which again will give me places to stick electronics etc, given that I don't have any space under the board to keep the height down so it will fit in the box. If I get this right then the railway shouldn't look as if it is running into the factory but off somewhere else, giving the idea of a longer line, although all of this will mean I need to add to the backstory.
What this layout has allowed me to do though is to finally pin down the name. If you remember the storage box has a volume of 77 litres and as the factory appears to be at the end of the lane it would have a reasonably high number, so we get 77 Box Lane. That may be slightly cheesy but it works for me.
Now I'm no artist (if you want sketches of layout planning then you need to head over to Iain's blog instead, this post for instance) so I'm afraid you'll have to use your imagination to get a feel of how the layout will look, but can anyone see any obvious problems or suggest any improvements that they would make if they were building this layout?