Aldwyn Brook in the 1950s was a small town at the end of a 21-mile branch line somewhere in the North West of England. Traffic was dwindling until the powers that be decided that Aldwyn Brook would be a good place to build houses and tower blocks for the overspill from the nearby city. Thus it expanded rapidly in the 1960s, which saved the line from the ravages of the Beeching Axe.
The station comprises a small terminus with two platforms serving the main line and a mostly industrial branch. There is a parcels depot (to serve the nearby mail order warehouse) and a small goods yard. Main line trains going to or from the branch have to reverse in Platform 1. Passenger services on the main line are mostly suburban trains from the junction station, with some express trains from major cities. Parcels trains can originate anywhere from Carlisle to Southampton. Local goods trains convey wagons for the goods yard, but most freight goes to or from the branch. The branch line serves several local industries, and there are exchange sidings down the line, where most of the freight from the branch to Aldwyn Brook originates.
The layout is currently a work in progress. It is 4.4m long x 0.6m wide (14 ft 6 in x 2 ft 0 in). There are four baseboards, three scenic and one with a sector plate for the hidden sidings, all supported on folding legs. The baseboards are made mostly from 12mm plywood, with 44mm x 18mm softwood battens, designed for easy set-up and dismantling. At the time of writing, November 2018, all the baseboards are built and painted, cork underlay fitted, track laid in the hidden sidings and all turnouts fixed. The Control Panel has been built and is awaiting fitting of switches and wiring. Dropper wires have been soldered to all rails and servo motors fitted to all turnouts and tested.
The layout is intended to be operated by children and young people, who are encouraged to bring their own rolling stock (grown-ups are allowed to operate as well). The layout can be operated in various time periods – steam only (1950 – 1968), steam / diesel (1955 – 1968) and diesel only (1969 – 1990s). The station is modelled in the British Rail era, before privatisation, so there will be times when the rolling stock does not match the station signage. There are timetables or sequences for each period to enable operation in a prototypical manner.
Track and Signals
The track is Peco™ code 75 and all turnouts are live frog type. Uncouplers are fitted to suit hook-and-bar couplings. Points and uncouplers are operated by servomotors. The signals are modern colour light types, using LEDs. The servomotors, points and signals are linked to an Arduino™-based master processor mounted in the Control Panel. Slave processors are mounted below each baseboard. This greatly reduces the amount of wiring required between the Control Panel and the rest of the layout.
The layout is initially to be operated on DC using wireless controllers. Provision will be made for DCC operation at a later stage. There are two controllers, each of which can be switched to control any part of the track. On the Control Panel, switches for track power and push buttons for the uncouplers are located on the track plan, whilst switches to operate the points and signals are arranged in two rows below the track plan.
Wiring and testing has commenced, uncouplers are being fitted with servo motors and work will commence on the scenery. Work has also commenced on the signals, so by this time next year the layout will be fully operational, albeit with scenery incomplete.