|RAILWAY OPERATING DEPARTMENT|
|MY GOODNESS! MY DIESELS!|
|Although both my previous layouts, Capital Works and Universal Works, had been
well received on the exhibition circuit neither of them could properly
showcase my larger diesel locomotives: Capital Works being just too
small and Universal Works only allowing locomotives with the wheelbase
of a Class 20 or shorter to negotiate the point without their buffers and cabs hitting the inside wall of the shed.|
My Class 47 diesels had previously formed a static display - Sulzer Gold Cup - on my Wagon Repairs diorama but with this asset is now in the Dean Forest Railway Museum at Norchard a new layout was needed. Ideally, too, this would be able to showcase my individual examples of British Rail classes 15, 20, 42, 52 and 55.
Having kicked around a number of possibilities - including something akin to Bescot Yard with a section of the M6 motorway as a scenic break - the inspiration for Toucan Park came as I was about to enter Preston station on the way south from Windermere in July 2010.
Having made some crude drawings on the margin of my itinerary, I pitched the idea to myself - and potential exhibition managers - like this:
Park Royal Guinness Brewery opened in 1937, having been built from 1933
to the design of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 - 1960), who was also responsible for Battersea
Power Stations, Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral and the K2 and K6 telephone
kiosks, the latter being introduced in 1936 to mark the Silver Jubilee of
King George V.|
Toucan Park - named after the famous Guinness advertisement which eventually inspired its depot badge - supposes that the rail connection to the Brewery was continued to meet the West Coast Main Line at Wembley as a Depression era job creation scheme, a diversionary route against future aerial bombardment ( Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe having been officially announced in 1935 in defiance of the 1919 Versailles Treaty ) and as a possible first section of a London Orbital Railway.
A locomotive depot was added in 1938 to supplement nearby Old Oak Common and Willesden and this stayed open as usual throughout the Blitz until taking a direct hit from a V2 rocket in 1944, after which it was more open than usual.
Following the introduction of Freightliner traffic in the mid 1960s, a two road diesel depot was built on the ruins of the old roundhouse with washing and refuelling plant at the rear of the workshops.
In 2005 the Park Royal Guinness Brewery - the only one outside Ireland - closed and was converted into flats while its outlying (fictional) buildings near the depot headshunt were demolished and the Toucan Park Freightliner Depot - built as an overspill from nearby Wembley - was extended to handle the latest Hi-Cube containers.
with Capital Works, a London location meant that locomotives from all
the British Rail regions could be convincingly brought together - and
Park Royal Guinness Brewery was foremost in my mind as a location of
one of my favourite Dr Who stories. |
1968's "The Invasion" saw Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines as The Second Doctor and his companion Jamie infiltrate what purported to be the London base of International Electromatics, run by Tobias Vaughn and used to secretly move hibernating Cybermen in steam hauled trains of 12' wheelbase ventilated vans. I know this premise is hard to believe, as the story was set in the 1970s and steam on BR famously finished in August 1968!
In reality however the BBC cast and crew were warmly welcomed - in contrast to later Guinness policy on filming on their premises - and Messrs Troughton and Hines in particular were copiously refreshed in with Vitamin G, Harp lager and fine wines in the boardroom before - luckily - an afternoon of being filmed running rather than talking.
Despite a number of internet searches - and the availability of a 4mm scale Tardis - I cannot find any 4mm to the foot scale Cybermen but if some did become available I would definitely want some to lurk around the buildings near the headshunt!
However, in early 2011 I did stumble across a copy of Doctor Who Adventures Magazine with a set of what approximated to 5.5mm to the foot Cybermen on the cover as a free gift. Realising that I could not afford to be picky - and that Cybermen were super-human sized anyway - I made the investment and since then the menaces from Mondas have appeared both on Toucan Park and Universal Works in Nearly Feltham.
Having said that, more hardline Whovians may point out that the Doctor
Who Adventures freebies depicted the Tenth Doctor era opponents that were
designed by Cybus Industries on Earth in a parallel universe rather than the
less muscle bound Cyberman fought in London's sewers by Patrick Troughton.
I emailed Doctor Who Adventures Magazine to thank them for their gift
and suggest more 4mm Doctor Who figures be produced in the future and after
a wait of several months late 2011 yielded more 5.5mm Cybermen, Sontarans
and New Paradigm Daleks and even some 1/24 scale Daleks complete with brush
|Having in effect written the back story for Toucan Park Depot, the next challenge was specific design and construction. |
Once again building on the experiences of Capital and Universal Works, points out in the open would be needed - but rather than use horizontal wire in tubes to work them I hit on the idea of raising the track to allow points - and signals -to be operated from beneath.
From experiences with exhibition audiences too, I realised that layouts with multiple levels are more interesting than flat ones and of course children love the idea of trains disappearing and re-appearing. Similarly, from my own travels by rail, I have always been fascinated by the idea of burrowing and flying junctions and lines that cross over each other - Castlefields in Manchester and the route north from Birmingham to Tamworth being classic examples.
As such I decided to make Toucan Park a high level depot with a burrowing junction to the imaginary Park Royal - Wembley line and the world outside, a relatively steep incline not being a problem for light engine workings by modern diesel locomotives. In practice too, a high level line would also offer storage opportunities under the running deck.
|Much as I have admired such diesel depot layouts as Les William's Kirkwood, Middlewood, Eastgate and Broadgate, Neal Mansell's Ashton and Sandy Lane 2000
by Denis Stevens I also realised that Toucan Park would have to fit in
to both the shelf space available at home and my car. |
Once again taking a cue from Universal Works - which was designed to be little wider than two Dapol engine sheds - I decided to take the format of a headshunt with three sidings - one going down the incline to the national network and the other two approaching a low relief depot entrance. The latter two sidings would each have an isolating section, allowing up to four locomotives to be parked in front of the shed.
However, at the time of building Toucan Park my skilful friend Malcolm Bell was unavailable to help with the electrics and to fit the requirement of three sidings into the available space a Peco SL-99 triple turnout would have to be used. This was the most exotic piece of track that I had ever worked with but on closer inspection wasn't that scary - the second set of moving blades just fine tuning the options of the first.
with my earlier Universal Works layout, effort was made to recycle
spare material for components although care was taken to ensure that
everything conformed to the same high standards. However, the
need for possible maximum access to under-deck point and signal
control as well as isolating section wiring meant a new approach to
design and construction. |
Like many of my earlier dioramas, Universal Works - particularly in it 2.0 variant - relied for its strength on a four-sided box made of 18mm MDF floor, back and end walls and although the back wall had cut-outs for point and railing access, this feature also supported much of the scenery.
In contrast, the main longitudinal member of Toucan Park was at the front with cross bracing stuck at 90 degrees back across the baseboard. Of these, it will be noted that only the third one in from the headshunt end spans the full width to meet the backscene - which also has point and signal operating and locomotive interface cut-outs and is screwed on to the third and fourth - thinnest - cross bracing elements as well as another element supporting the lower part of the incline. The three cross bracing elements nearest the shed entrance end run only part of the width of the baseboard to allow for the incline while the two nearest the headshunt allowed the scenery adjacent to the back wall to be cantilevered upwards, thus maximising "wrist room" underneath.
third cross-bracing element also provided a useful support for the
junction of the two flat sections of hardboard deck and the incline.
The two flat sections were glued to the longitudinal member and
cross bracings with the same No More Nails adhesive that had been used
on the substructure and a further layer of hardboard was added both to
stiffen the deck - which was later to be made even more rigid with a
layer of glued ballast. - and to heighten the track bed. This not
only made the ballasted track look more realistic but allowed the
incline to begin its descent very gently, thus avoiding any chance of a
diesel locomotive grounding its fuel tanks on too sharp a crest!|
As can be seen in the picture above, a section of this second layer of hardboard was cut out to allow access the three way SL-99 from beneath, achieved with metal rodding attached to both primary and secondary switching elements through slots drilled in the lower section. Some small hardboard offcuts were also used to build up the area around the Bachmann track clip which was then disguised by a platelayers hut LK-4 in the Peco Lineside kits range, which also included the rail-built buffer stop.
The two levels of hardboard deck were painted Dulux Urban Obsession grey and the sides of the rails Humbrol Matt 70 brick red with a small amount of copper and black.
Once both sections of depot workshop entrance siding - each with one insulating joiner to create an isolating section - were stuck down, wiring on each side could be soldered and wired fed under the deck to the control panel let into the backscene.
inner skeleton of Toucan Park was further stiffened by full height end
walls which would later serve as uprights to support a
toddler-resisting sheet of 8mm perspex. More immediately however,
one end wall would also be bound to the deck by the depot workshop
entrance. This comprised two sides, a roof and a front made of
MDF and thus offered a contact patch to the thin MDF retaining wall,
depot car park and lintel of the burrowing tunnel, all of which remain
in place when the back wall is unscrewed.|
While the roof and sides of the depot workshop entrance were painted Dulux Soft Stone to represent concrete, the front was initially sprayed matt black before assembly and the horizontal warning lines applied using Humbrol Matt 24 Trainer Yellow and masking tape. This not only gave the impression of a modern roller door but was much easier to apply to a high standard than using diagonal yellow lines on what could be seen to be representing folding or hinging leaves. Once the "roller doors" effect had been created, an inverted U-shape layer of MDF painted in Soft Stone could be applied to mimic a lintel and supporting columns. These upright members also held in place the pieces of ice cream lolly stick used to make the "concrete" interface between the workshop floor and the ballasted track outside. As a final touch, three domed inner caps from UHU glue pens - used to stick down the ballast - were attached to the roof of the depot workshop entrance to mimic skylights.
the headshunt end meanwhile, the cantilevered scenery was created from
an offcut of 18mm MDF with the straight section supporting a hardboard
centred wall and the "earth bank" on the curve created by simply hacking
away at it with a saw! This feature not only looked more natural
- and supported the only serious vegetation on an otherwise urban
landscape - but gave any locomotive coming off the outer shed road more
cab and buffer swing room when entering the headshunt. As was the
case with the retaining wall by the depot workshop, both the back wall
of the entire layout and both sides of the wall by the headshunt would
later be covered in Metcalfe's M0053 Engineer's Blue Brick paper.|
Pictured above is a typical scene in the garage whilst bringing Toucan
Park to life , with control box, camera case, Woodland Scenics fine
grey ballast, UHU glue, ballasting card and paintbrush joining the layout itself on the trestle.
Each new round of developments were recorded for this feature and
tested for continuing electrical efficiency before work continued.|
At this point, only the "four foot" and the area around the GWR lower quadrant signal - of which more later - had been ballasted although the cantilevered scenery had been painted a mixture of black and Dulux Intense Truffle to simulate tarmac and mud respectively.
The shipping containers were from the new ready-to-use Dapol range with door handles supplied on separate sprues and high quality authentic markings. However, as they are are Hi-Cube examples - taller than they are wide in contrast to the earlier square-section Freightliner types - they would only have reached Toucan Park in the mid 1990s, by which time many of my diesel locomotive fleet would have been either withdrawn or repainted in post-Privatization colours. However, either singly or stacked, these containers also make good foundations for removable structures representing earlier eras: in this case a typical long, flat roofed lineside Signal & Telecomms building and a low relief water tower made from spare Dapol engine shed end wall sections and a tank fabricated from thin plywood and painted in Guinness black and white.
|As can be seen from the finished layout too, non-working lights and a lean-to hut were also salvaged from Dapol parts used to create Universal Works while Toucan Park also finished up my remaining lichen bushes and some of the "RAF" grass mixture first concocted for The Square Airfield. Other additional features are described in more detail below.|
|Starting at the headshunt end, the Peco LK-4 kit offered a platelayer's hut with both a coal bunker and a water trough that lent themselves to various dull metallic shades and a wet-look varnish to the top of the rusty water in contrast to the dark creosoted wood. The figures in high visibility vests were metal and left over from Sulzer Gold Cup while the rest were by Bachmann, corresponding 2mm versions having already appeared on Terminal 1. The picture above also shows the coarse rubble defining the site of the old Toucan Park roundhouse against the fine ballast, which slopes up around both the hut and the running line.|
I like symmetry and needed another yellow vehicle to balance the
surveyor's Bedford TK , the Dapol JCB 3 excavator seemed like a good
choice - especially as I had often seen the kit for sale but never thought I would need one!
However, like so many vehicles I have encountered, the seemingly
workaday digger has a secret life of its own as well as a link to
Although now synonymous with earth moving equipment in the same way that all vacuum cleaners are called Hoovers, J.C. Bamford (Excavators) Limited began in 1945 with just Mr Joseph Cyril Bamford building agricultural trailers and Jeep conversions in a lock-up garage in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, with a 50 shilling welding machine.
In 1948 he built what was probably the World's first two wheeled hydraulic tipping trailer and then the first hydraulic loaders in Europe before designing and building his first hydraulic excavator, the JCB Mark 1, in 1954. This was essentially a farm tractor with a back hoe and stabilisers to take the weight off the rear wheels balanced by a system of weights between the wheels and at the front.
The more compact, elegant and useful JCB 3 of 1961 however featured dual hydraulics to work both a shovel at the front and a three-in-one backhoe loader which could dig square holes up to 11 feet deep. Indeed, the JCB 3's other breakthrough was that the backhoe's king post could slide on rails along the width of the vehicle and be locked to work in any position. A range of other attachments were also available, with power coming from a 51.8 bhp Fordson Super Major diesel engine to give a total lifting capacity of 4 600 lb.
The JCB 3 in turn was the basis for the even more advanced JCB 3C and the company moved to a new purpose-built factory at nearby Rocester in 1968. By 1984 JCB had taken 17 % of the World earthmover market with a turnover in excess of £ 150 000 000 and 65% of production going for export. In 1987, JCB built more than 10 000 machines in a single year for the first time.
Anthony Bamford took over as company Chairman from his father Joseph in 1976, was knighted in 1990 and today lives in Stow-On-The-Wold. On 22 August 2006 the JCB Dieselmax - powered by engines from standard JCB diggers - also set the World Land Diesel Speed Record of 328 mph at Bonneville, USA, with Squadron Leader Andy Green at the controls.
In 2011 JCB had 11 factories across Britain with 6
000 staff and a £ 2 billion turnover.
|Although not providing an exact like-for-like comparison with the model - first offered in 1963 as a load for the Airfix "Lowmac" railway wagon - the McGurk 3C does display the JCB logo in some of the same locations and does boast the red buckets and wheels, albeit the rear wheels having a radial fin arrangement rather than hubcaps. The 3C also offers some clues about the correct location of trafficators, head and tail lamps and warning beacon. The most noticeable differences however are the size and complexity of the hydraulics round the still-slideable rear king post and the different design of cab, which in this case is painted white. The back window is larger, the windscreen is angled forward rather than back and the sides comprise a fixed rear glazed section and a tractor type door. This door is accessed by the driver climbing up steps on the rear wheel front mudguard although the corresponding section on the model is vertical with no steps and the side of the cab is formed of one big window. How the driver was supposed to get in is a mystery to me!|
the builder's gaffer waves a health and safety document at a surveyor
during a frank exchange of views above, another railwayman is seen
below on the scratchbuilt ground frame. |
Although the main Park Royal - Wembley route was controlled from a power box ( hence the low brick S&T building) by the 1990s the remote location of the depot made, to my eyes, a locally controlled ground frame necessary complete with lamp ( made from old Airfix sprue ) for night time arrivals and departures and a white telephone cabinet to allow the signaller to communicate to the next box or panel down the incline. With only - in effect - two points and two signals to control even a small signal cabin would seem too much to ask for at Toucan Park and such a structure might also have blocked the view of the moving locomotives in a way that a ground frame would not. A ground frame also had the advantage of being small enough to be placed right next to the point, avoiding the need for large amounts of rodding.
|Although a similar ground frame was once available as R8732 in the Hornby Skaledale range, I decided to have a go myself after reading Paul A. Lunn's article in the August 2007 issue of Railway Modeller. The substructure was a piece of thin modeller's plywood measuring 36mm x 14mm with a deck on top measuring 40mm x 16mm and made of three sections of wooden coffee stirrer, as used in First Class on Trans Pennine Express and in many fast food restaurants. The six supporting legs were made from matchsticks, as were the two inset uprights for the track diagram board, also made from coffee stirrer. The lever frame was made from a single balsa offcut with grooves scored in it and three of the levers were made from plastic comb teeth. The fourth lever was the rod supplied with the Bachmann figure. Two of the levers were painted red for signals with the other two being black point levers. The three levers in the default forward position also had small dabs of silver to represent the handles and data plates. The heavily creosoted timbers were represented by an overall coat of black followed by dark brown to taste and the non slip tread was made from fine wet and dry abrasive paper. The stone steps up from track level were made from balsa and painted grey.|
|Bedford TK British Rail crew van UVY 964H is from the Oxford Die Cast range and was a common sight on and around railway land in the 1970s and 80s - in fact one of those vehicles that you wish had been available in any kind of model form years ago! Introduced in 1959 to replace Bedford's S type, the General Motors TK - with its inline engine mounted behind the cab seats - was used as the basis for everything from fire engines to horseboxes and the military MK variant still serves with the British Army. The GPO ( later British Telecomm ) version used to erect telegraph poles was known as the Polecat and British Rail also used a double decked variant known as the Lineman.|
|The three pictures below offer some clearer views of the S&T building - roofed in fine abrasive paper - and the GWR home signal made, like the ground disc signal in the foreground - from Ratio kit460. Having built more ambitious but static Ratio signals on a layout nearly 30 years ago I was pleasantly surprised when I got this one to work: an upward stroke of the subterranean wire causing the arm to move down to the "off" position, beckoning a locomotive forward. Also apparent from the high level shots in the sequence is the diluted black paint applied between the rails to replicate oil spills.|
|As the main aim of Toucan Park was to showcase the locomotives - and because all the traditionally messy areas of a depot were beyond the roller doors - the two siding roads leading up to them have been deliberately kept relatively free of clutter, although the narrow section of tarmac looking down on the engines has become part car park and part storage area with a covered rack for the depot worker's bicycles.|
|The bicycle shed was built from Wills kit SS23 an is in fact based on a design by Constructors Limited of Nickel Works, Tyburn Road, Erdington, Birmingham, as seen in this 1945 advertisement from Flight magazine.|
|There is however just room spare for a Ford Cortina Mark III of the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary - possibly investigating an illicit trade in pasties or stargazy pies on the Great Western! Lined up behind are fellow Oxford Die Cast products including Morris Minor CCF 703 ( as designed by Sir Alec Issigonis ) while Dagenham is also represented by1.6 litre three door Ford Escort XR3i C 406 PAB - first registered on 16 September 1985 - and grey Cortina II RWS 100H|
Originally due to be called the Morris Mosquito in homage to the twin engined de Havilland wartime bomber, the Morris Minor - named after a pre War Morris tourer - first appeared at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948. The millionth example rolled off the assembly line in January 1961 before this quintessentially English car ceased production ten years later. In the Daily Telegraph of 3 January 2011, cultural and design critic Stephen Bayley wrote:
"In the popular imagination the Morris Minor is the car of schoolmasters, district nurses, midwives, openly Anglican vicars, helpful rural grocers and men wearing hats who are, generally, not in a hurry. If the staid institution of English afternoon tea were motorised, it would look like this. The Minor is a symbol of a gracious England unspoiled by sodium lights, bypasses, tower blocks KFC and greedy consumerism...surely the industrial equivalent of a drover's cart."
Surprisingly then, it was designed by an engineer born to Greek and German parents in what was is now Izmir in Turkey but at the time was known as Smyrna. After the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922 led to an exodus of the city's Greek professional classes, 17 year old Alec Issigonis arrived in London and enrolled at Battersea Polytechnic. An intuitive rather than an academic designer who claimed that mathematics suffocated the creative spirit, Issigonis also raced an Austin 7 which he had extensively modified to include independent suspension with rubber springs - a feature which his good friend Alex Moulton would later further develop for the Austin Mini.
Indeed, Issigonis himself was to first of all work on advanced suspension systems when he joined Morris Motors of Cowley in 1936 and his original vision for the post War Morris Mosquito included four wheel independent suspension as well as a sophisticated flat-four "boxer" engine. Although both these features were ruled too expensive by Viscount Nuffield's organisation, the Morris Minor's engine bay remained much larger than it finally needed to be.
Early advertisements declared:
"The new Morris Minor makes the most of your petrol, goes farther on a tankful. Traditional Morris reliability and low maintenance are inherent in this modern design."
While the cars light structure and crisp steering helped make up for its slow acceleration and top speed of just below 60 mph, causing the Morris Minor to be dubbed "one of the fastest slow cars in existence." As it happened, the Earls Court Motor Show of 1948 also launched the Jaguar XK120, the fastest production car in existence and their two descendents - the Austin Mini and the E-Type - would similarly bookend the motoring possibilities of the 1960s.
Although Issigonis's "Moggy" would become as strongly identified as the British people's car as its equivalents in Germany ( Ferdinand Porsche's Volkswagen Beetle ), France ( Pierre Boulanger's Citroen 2CV ) or Italy ( Dante Giacosta's Fiat 500 ), the Morris Minor was never developed in the same way - partly due to Morris and Austin merging in 1952 to form the British Motor Corporation and also due to Issigonis focusing from 1956 on Project XC9003 - later to become the Mini.
Ironically one man who hated the Issigonis Morris Minor - and likened it to a poached egg - was Viscount Nuffield himself. Born in 1877, he left school at 15 and worked as a bicycle repairer before designing his first Morris Oxford in 1912. Awarded a baronetcy in 1934, he took his title from the village of Nuffield near Henley on Thames where he lived - at Nuffield Place - from 1933 until his death in 1963.
However, so modest was this self-made man that his bedroom was carpeted with offcuts from the Morris factory in Cowley and his only car - a Wolseley - was a gift from his workers. Having no children, he divided his wealth among charitable causes and founded Nuffield College at Oxford University. During the polio epidemic of the 1940s and 50s he also paid for 5 000 iron lungs to be distributed throughout the Commonwealth.
The original Ford Cortina was introduced in 1962 and by 1963 was the market leader, a trend it kept up for the next two decades.
The Ford Cortina II was designed by Roy Haynes and launched on 18 October 1966 with the slogan "new Cortina is more Cortina" despite being fractionally shorter than the original Ford design at 168 inches. However, the Cortina II was 2 1/2" wider and its curved side panels improved interior space. Other notable features were a smaller turning circle, softer suspension, self adjusting brakes and clutch and the availability of smaller engine sizes in the model range.
The Ford Cortina III, as illustrated by the police car, was introduced in 1970 with a radically different design to its predecessors, featuring a wheelbase 3.5" longer than the Mark II that yielded a larger cabin for the same overall length. It was also 2" wider and 4" lower with "Cokebottle" Detroit styling similar to the American Ford Pinto and LTD. Mechanically, the Cortina III had an advanced wishbone front suspension and coil springs with trailing and semi-trailing arms. In 1973, the GLX model was dropped in favour of the 2000E with distinctive rectangular halogen headlamps and a new dashboard.
Developed from a later Dagenham built popular car, the Escort XR3i developed 105 bhp at 6 000 rpm and had a top speed of 120 mph after accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds. Greatly loved by boy racers, the XR3i also featured alloy wheels, special tyres and a large rubber rear spoiler.
Although Ford's Dagenham plant no longer makes complete cars, it does produce a million diesel engines every year.