Aldwyn Brook-OO gauge

History

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 layout is 4mm / foot scale on 16.5mm (OO) gauge.

Trackplan

Aldwyn Brook trackplan
Aldwyn Brook trackplan

Description

The station comprises a small terminus with two platforms, one serving the main line and the other a mostly industrial branch.  The main Station Building with booking office is on the overbridge at the end of the layout, with a stairway down to the platform.  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.  Freight from the main line will reverse and go directly along the branch line.  Branch line freights arrive in the headshunt and are sorted in the yard.  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.

View from the hidden sidings toward the Terminus
View from the hidden sidings toward the Terminus

Controls

The layout is operated on DC using wireless controllers.  Provision is 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.  Power is provided by a floor-mounted Power Box, with two 16V DC transformers for track power and three regulated 5V transformers for the LEDs, servos, etc.

Control panel
Control panel

Construction

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 and folding legs designed for easy set-up and dismantling.  At the time of writing all the baseboards and legs are built and painted, cork underlay fitted, track laid and all turnouts fixed.  Servo motors have been fitted to all turnouts and tested.   Wiring under the baseboards is complete apart from the connections to the Control Panel.  Testing of the track sections is complete. Testing the relays which change the live frog polarity is the next stage.  Once this is done, it is envisaged that running sessions will commence.

Operation

The basic concept is a layout that can be assembled, played with operated for an hour or so and dismantled in one club night.   The layout can be operated in various time periods from the 1950s to privatisation.  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. Sequences have been written to enable operation in a prototypical manner.  Various periods can be represented (steam, steam / green diesel, green / blue diesel) depending on the availability of members’ rolling stock.

Station and Parcels Depot
Station and Parcels Depot

Track and Signals

The track is Peco code 75 with live frog turnouts.  Concrete sleepers have replaced the original wood on the main and branch lines, but wood sleepers are still used in the sidings.  All track is laid on 6 mm thick cork underlay.  Uncouplers are fitted to suit hook-and-bar couplings.  Points and uncouplers are operated by servo motors.  The main signals are modern colour light types, using LEDs, custom built by the Club’s President.   Ground signals have been purchased from Train-Tech.   The servo motors, points and signals are linked to an Arduino-based master processor mounted in the Control Panel, with slave processors under each baseboard. This greatly reduces the amount of wiring required between the Control Panel and the rest of the layout.

View from Station end
View from Station end
The Parcels Depot
The Parcels Depot