|RAILWAY OPERATING DEPARTMENT|
| UNIVERSAL WORKS 2.0
|Universal Works was built during the summer of 2009 as a third layout to complement the existing Capital Works and Terminal 1
that have been a feature of the Gloucestershire model engineering
show circuit since 2007. |
As such it was designed to fit both my car and a specific shelf at home and, as an experiment in recycling waste materials in an environmental manner, the main module was made from two overlapping layers of click-together sectional floorboard that were about to be discarded by my neighbours.
However, just two outings proved that sectional flooring was no substitute for 18mm MDF as a truly sturdy layout building material. This, along with damaged sustained in transport back from Cheltenham in April 2010 ( where English Electric was honoured, as seen above) prompted the rebuilding of the layout as Universal Works 2.0.
|As luck would have it, the diorama box containing the Lost Flying Boats of Blackburn, Fairey and Supermarine had been relocated to Brockworth as part of the Jet Age Reserve Model Collection's Easter Parade the week before the April 2010 Cheltenham GWR Modeller's Exhibition.
This box had previously supported Universal Works and so defined
the space available to it under the shelf above, used to support Terminal 1.|
With the Flying Boats gone however - and a dedicated 18mm MDF shelf set up on a bracket to support the increased length of Universal Works 2.0 - work could begin on an 18mm MDF exoskeleton - far less limited in overall height - to support and protect the existing layout.
As can be seen above, the exoskeleton featured two arched apertures - made with a Black and Decker Scorpion electric jigsaw - to allow access to the point, isolating section switches and rolling stock located under the over-track buildings. In this view of the rear of Universal Works 2.0, these round-topped holes also show off the original level of the layout. Indeed, the extra height and depth now available was alsoused to enhance the scenic features of the layout.
|The taller sky background, for example, strengthened the "water tank" end building while the extra width of the new 18mm thick base enabled the original laminate flooring "step" - initially used to accept the airfield and third modules - to be raised. As such, the railway part of Universal Works could still accept these modules - suitably raised on supports of the appropriate height - but it could also now much better stand alone with the "step" forming the ash-covered towpath of a paint-and-gloss-varnish canal.|
|The vertical walls separating the operational area of
Universal Works 2.0 from the towpath and the towpath from the canal was
made from Metcalfe's Red Brick card sheets (Code M0054 ) while the
towpath itself was made from fine black abrasive paper. The light
brown "mud" tidemarks on the lower brickwork were made with the same No
More Nails mastic that held the whole exoskeleton together and the "water"
comprised Dulux Intense Truffle ( come on, they couldn't call it what
it really looks like! ) topped with several layers of gloss varnish.
In keeping with the international capabilities of Universal Works 2.0, this could eventually accept flat bottomed models of boats from anywhere that matched the rolling stock in use at the time. With a German locomotive like Deutsche Bundsbahn 80 031 for example, a Noch 1:87 scale rowing or sail boat would fit the bill.
|Much of the transport damage sustained by Universal Works had been to the brick cladding of the water tank building and this was replaced by tonguing and grooving board sections from the Wills Finecast range - which not only yielded straighter walls but material for the point shed catwalk too. Once in place and painted as natural wood, these wooden walls also hinted at a possible earlier interaction between Universal Works itself and the canal next to it - perhaps the receiving of timber inwards and barges taking finished rolling stock away.|
|The displaced Dapol engine shed wall sections could then be used to fill the "hole in the sky" behind the points shed and represent first floor offices, other gaps being filled with a flat roof made of grey-sprayed plywood and Metcalfe's brick paper, as seen above. This still left enough light coming in through the doors to allow the operator to see inside the building.|
|As was mentioned above, a roof access catwalk was added to the points building, partly to disguise some damaged roof section joints and partly as a way of increasing the number of levels in the layout - always an attractive feature in my experience. In addition, a catwalk - with a safety rail made from fuse wire and track pins - would need to be reached by a ladder, which had proved quite a talking point on Capital Works and was made from the same Ratio signal ladder set. The men holding the ladder and cleaning bird droppings off from on high were from the Bachmann locomotive crew range.|
|Finally, Universal Works 2.0 was tested for clearances on American, French, German and British rolling stock and will appear on the model engineering show circuit as opportunity permits.|