Aldwyn Brook in the 1950s was a small town at the end of a 15-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 an island platform, one side serving the main line and the other a mostly industrial branch. There is a parcels depot (to serve the nearby mail order warehouse) and a small goods yard. Main line trains, mainly freight, going to or from the branch have to reverse in Platform 1. Passenger services on the main line are suburban trains from the junction station, with some express trains from major cities. Parcels trains can originate anywhere from Carlisle to Southampton. 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 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.
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. The emphasis is on prototypical operation as far as possible and a sequence is available for each period. A monitor is placed at the station end to display arrivals and departures.
Track and signals
Track is Peco code 75 and all turnouts are live frog type. Uncouplers are fitted to suit hook-and-bar couplings. Turnouts and uncouplers are operated by servo motors. The signals are modern colour light types, using LEDs. The servo motors for the turnouts and uncouplers are linked to Mega Points modules, with master processors mounted in the Control Panel and slave modules mounted below each baseboard. This greatly reduces the amount of wiring required between the Control Panel and the rest of the layout. The signals will be controlled from Arduino modules in a similar way.
The layout is operated on DC using wired hand held 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.
Buildings and Scenery
The Booking Office, Platform, Platform waiting rooms, staircase, Goods Shed and Parcels Depot are already built. Lights for the Platform and buildings have been purchased.
On January 6th 2023 wiring reached the stage where all the turnouts and track sections can be operated from the Control Panel. This marks a significant milestone in the layout development. Over the next few weeks the layout will be fully assembled and tested. The photo (8) shows the MegaPoints Modules (green), Relay Modules (blue) and servos for turnout operation (white). The Relays automatically change the polarity of the live frogs. Work has also started adding cable markers to the wires.
The uncouplers will be wired so they too can be operated from the Control Panel. The signals will be installed and tested similarly. Ballasting will be next, followed by buildings and scenery, a backscene and eventually a lighting rig.