Returning from my walk down Memory Lane in my past posts, my thoughts have once more returned to a possible second level expansion on Philden. Having 'retired' for the time being from my decade long pursuit of a professional writing career, (for those who missed my 100th and final Railway Reminiscing post on my official author page you can still learn why), I had a clear summer schedule in which to plan and construct an upper level of my model railway. Firstly, I needed to visualise just what was possible to squeeze into such a narrow shelf of space before continuing any further. To do that, I followed the same process of using PECO's track templates to design a second bookshelf layout track plan.
|The transition underground to the staging shelf will disappear beneath the Railway Hotel.|
Now 320 mm x 1840 mm of visible bookshelf layout doesn't give you a lot of model railway space to play with in HO scale, but with my 730 mm staging shelf now finished and in position, I have a total track length of 2600 mm, or 8 and one half feet from end-to-end, on which to run trains. The idea of going up a level came from my wife Denise. Planning a second level to create a completely different scene to the one below, would provide me with double the modeling space and a total of 5200 mm of operable track length within the same amount of floorspace. Having just finished watching all of Michael Portillo's Great Continental Railway Journeys, Denise helped me pick out a European-style Church that we thought would look just as much at home in Sydney's older inner suburbs as it would in Continental Europe. We ended up buying the HO scale Auhagen Kirch Bornichen kit that measures just 185 mm long x 115 mm wide from an online hobby store in Germany.
The transition to the 2 track staging shelf will be concealed by a section of track leading beneath the two-storied Railway Hotel that I purchased from Model Train Buildings. The black painted area on the staging shelf is a simple view block from the viewing area. The upper level is going to be open-aired, not confined within an enclosed cabinet like the current level sits inside, and operate beneath overhead wires. The double track overhead stanchions are still available from Southern Rail Models, and for where I need single stanchions I plan to just cut these in half. I've decided to stick with PECO code 100 track, purely because I've enjoyed the reliable running it has provided on my current level, but have drawn the track arrangement for the upper level around a pair of large radius points rather than the medium radius points I have used so far on Philden.
|Its a simple enough track plan, but this upper level will sit directly above my present layout giving me twice the space.|
You'll notice in the above photo that the upper level staging shelf is pressed hard to the rear of the layout, so that the overhang doesn't restrict access to the 2 staging tracks on the bottom level. Positing the staging tracks here and having a centre-island style platform and the NSWGR A-8 station building by Model Train Buildings at the other end, provides a nice element of curvature on an otherwise dead-straight section of layout. Something that the large radius points will accentuate nicely. The Church will be sunken slightly below track level, finished with a nice brick retaining wall and become the feature building on the upper level that the railway track has to snake around. Trains will be able to arrive and depart from either platform 1 or 2 and proceed to staging tracks 1 or 2. There is 100 mm x 300 mm of space between the siding and the mainline for some form of industry, or more if I also incorporate the siding itself inside the structure. As of yet, I haven't decided. If you compare the above photo with the original track template plan that I first drew up, you'll see how ommitting one point in favour of having more space for structures really opens up what is otherwise a small layout area. I think its a case of less is best.
So with the upper level now clearly visualised in my head, its time to clear the top of the layout, put away the tools and set our Christmas tree up alongside my layout. Next week my shipment of railway antiques that I purchased from auction in Canberra will arrive on my doorstep on the Sunshine Coast. While this week my new replacement station platform lights arrived from Germany, along with my LED toggle switches for wiring up the staging tracks and a rather unusual Australian prototype bus which will form a connection with the train at Philden Station. Along with starting work on the upper level after Christmas, it will be a busy summer at Philden. But as usual, they are all stories for another day.
See also; Those Uh-Oh Moments or Staging setbacks: simple solutions and Using Peco track templates