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Where do your wagons go?

Background of this design

This article is the result from an internet discussion on the VAG, the platform of the 2mm Scale Association. This ended with a call for layout designs that can show that real railways run trains from A2B in a landscape setting. Now that particular concept is for the continental Fremo club the normal starting point, thus also for the FS160 group. A Fremo meeting concerns building a huge layout using a modular concept and running trains from A2B according to a timetable specially designed for that occasion. Such modules can be depicting full stations or just pieces of landscape. The design described here would be easily adaptable to such a concept of a layout section that can also function within a modular concept.

In Belgium it is usual that once a year there is the national day of the patrimonium on which musea and preservation societies keep open house. This in itself formed a nice occasion to have a look at a preservation organisation PFT/TSP in the south of Belgium that organised a tour over the surrounding station, St. Ghislain. St. Ghislain once was part of the southwestern mining area in Belgium with an abundance of heavy industry. It was after this visit that on the way back I decided to have a look what was remaining of a minesite Bois du Luc only a short distance from there. This was inspired by some photos in one of the books from Herman Hesselink showing very attractive environment settings complete with fitting trains. A big surprise turned out as this mining site also was a patrimonium site and that in very much complete form. Because of the open house I could enter and explore the site which formed a base for this design. This trip was in itself reason for other explorations into the Belgian mining history. A lot of information can also be found on the internet and I put a series of links with more on information about various subjects at the end.

Layout petit Bassin du Cerveau

Sometimes trips back in time would do wonders for setting up a realistic railway environment. So what is this layout all about? I threw together some of the information from my own photos taken on various trips, inspiration from books and internet, to come up with a believable design. A simple exercise all according to the Norman/Rice style such as usual in the UK. That is take an inspiring photo, do some brainstorming and be left with a result that really has nothing to do with the real life situation any longer but persist in calling it 'based upon' what ever that means, all this contrary to a serious search for a real situation that would fit the available space without compression and modelling licence. That subject may follow in a future concept such as Bois du Cazier.
Although I illustrate it with some pictures of coal mines it would even be better depicting a limestone or china clay quarry or a concrete works. The combination of lime stone quarry, kiln and concrete works or china clay with pottery are far more interesting than a coal mine because of the wider call on different types of wagons. Wagons on a railway go somewhere to be loaded and the load is delivered somewhere else. As far as we don't send of complete train loads, the first stage of a wagon to its destination is a shunting yard. That could be depicted as part of the rest of the world with a fiddleyard and my version for that is neatly described on the web. What counts is that wagons get loaded and unloaded, needing constant reshuffling and exchanging with the rest of the world. Thus a layout for playing trains but capable of representing connections in attractive landscaping setting.

A photo in the Barry Norman's book on layout design formed another starter. You find an attractive photo of Coalport of C.L. Mowat on page 37 which serves as backdrop. Now you can find 100's of links if you type in Coalport but that did not reveal any useful trackplan or such that could be linked with this photo 1) . It shows a railway in a cutting and some sidings on the right hand. On top of the embankments some village houses, an eyecatching tree and on the right some backs of houses that could easily be miners lodgings. The plan is set-up to continental FS160 modus. Thus suited for the MFK coupling and using a realistic minimum radius conform the real thing. Thus points are standard 1:9 200 m radius, or 1: 7 if a prolonged curve through the crossing is applied, general minimum radius 140m as exception. The design measures 2.40 x 1.20 m in a triangular shape, just fitting the suggested 9x6 foot room (More a large cupboard because you cannnot fit a normal bed in that size) leaving ample space for our shunting yard B in the other corner and on a second level. And yes after a smallish 20 year membership I know that your first thoughts will go out to applying A4 points and trials to shrink it into half this size. But still let me have a try:

1) The discussion following publication revealed a source for information on the Coalport branch in BRJ 19. This includes part of the 25 inch OS map for 1883 showing the station track layout and also has a large number of photos.

petit Bassin du Cerveau
petit Bassin du Cerveau

Clear to see that this is a set-up with landscaping in mind. A sloping background with easy to model fields. On the right hand an entry hidden in trees. This part of the layout could end in a Fremo style flat end board of 40 cm width giving access to the rest of the world. On the left hand side the tracks are disappearing in cuttings. What is depicted here as main track could also form part of a company owned mineral network of course. It has a platform but doesn't necessarily need a station building. An abri type shelter such as found in Oisquercq or a concrete one such at Fauquez halt (a glass factory) would suffice. In order to give reason for a tight set-up the boundary at the front is formed by a canal or riverbank. The gradient is upwards on the left hand side ending in front with a steep quarry cutout or waste tip in case of a coal mine. Plenty of room for an incline or the sketched narrow gauge mineral railway for internal transport, the alternatives are conveyor belts of course.

All in all there are 13 points and a catch point with 2 sets arranged as triple points. Whether you let the mineral railway also connect with the fiddle yard on the left is a matter of use. For shows it probably functions better as a mineral loco might be changed via a unseen route. Anyway all passages there are hidden by cuttings with a view block in front in the form of buildings or trees. The center front section is where the activity takes place. More ambitious modellers may want to incorporate a time saver puzzle in the center section, most of it is there already. There is an exchange siding and a headshunt immediately along the main connection. Although there are two run arounds it is all efficiency here as may expected with a revenue earning site. In real life no shunting just because of the shunting.

The call for wagons is wide if we base it on quarry and kiln. The cement could be transferred in different types of wagons, sheeted opens and covered chalk wagons for EP1 and EP2. More interesting is of course the Ucs and Tds wagons for EP3, these are all loaded from the top via conveyor belt or by air installation. The kiln needs coal of course which could be tipped in bunkers at the back of the building. This would need Fc or Fad wagons or alternative a wagon tip installation when the open E type would be used. For temporary storing a host of wagons we have the 2 center tracks. Of course there will be goods arriving in crates for maintenance jobs and other transfers in closed G or H-wagons. This can take place at the back of the center at a warehouse and storage building with loading platform. Here you could also pose further spin-off industry sending or receiving goods. For instance things made from concrete needing K wagons with rungs such as reinforced concrete sewer pipes or receiver of loads of timber for mining purposes. In the triangle between canal and rail is an optional space left for an exchange siding and waterfront warehouse display, could be a nice spot for the MKK steamcrane operating on its own track.

ideas on construction

The design is too large to transport as single section. The right hand side from the bridge to end might be a separate module. At the back the scenic section could be split off just along the main track. Leaving the left front hand either as one large triangular section or to be split up into 2 smaller modules. This also depends a bit on how you construct your scenery. Lightweight constructions make use of hard foam reinforced with thin ply where necessary. Glue with epoxy or urethane glues. Any flat form can be bended with double layers of thin ply with foam as spacer. With a bit of cutting or by using veneer any shell shape can be produced, stiff and light. No foam but parallel flat layers of ply with wooden spacers would be feasible too, but more prone to transport damage and less resistant to impacts.

Now some ideas on buildings and further study material :

Link to landscape, stone industry and railways

dying out working class open type E

wagons don't travel without purpose

Link to coal mine Bois du Luc

Bois du Luc, Belgium
Pithead building Bois du Luc
Bois du Luc, Belgium
mineworkers carriage

Link to industry buildings

Verviers, Belgium
Huge view block on steep gradient
Verviers, Belgium
Riverside scenic arrangement

Literature and sources

Some links on mining:



published in dec 2004 by
The 2mm Scale Association

copyright: Henk Oversloot
last revision: 16 nov 2010