Whartson Hall No.1 has been gathering dust in the club room during my absence, why, I don’t know. Most of the members knew the details of the project and the donkey work had been completed, even the electrical system was complete, and it only needed the final alignment of the fiddle-yard tracks to take place. However, nothing was done.
The members decided to dismantle Mk.1 and construct a Mk.2 to replicate the busy stretch of line. This was to be the same size and shape but to be in many sections so that it “fit into a family car”. I own and Rover 45 and transported the whole of Mk.1 to the club in one go, so why this was deemed a good idea or even required, I cannot say. One of the tenets of building the original layout was to see if it could be done using only what was to hand, this was to include everything except the track, and resulted in many variations from normal in construction, but it was achieved. This idea was seemingly abandoned.
In with the New
Fresh wood and ply was purchased and new baseboards constructed to allow smaller sections to transported. The fiddle-yard was shrunk to nine lines and a gap in the middle of the layout was created to allow for operators. The diagram in the top right-hand corner of this page gives a vague idea of the symmetry of the new lay-out, but is inaccurate in the form the turnouts will take. The idea of 3-way points is a non-starter because of cost.
Now here is the rub, the new model is not the same size as No.1 so many of features for Mk.1 will not fit Mk.2!!!
In my opinion the reason for building a model of this section of the railway (the amount and variety of its traffic on any track) has been lost for we are unable to move trains from one circuit to another. Freight trains are long and impressive, but each will require a complete fiddle-yard section, therefore they will be compromised in number and variety. Multiple unit services will need to be seen on all tracks, which will require a unit for each part of the yard both Voyager, super Voyager, Class 170 and HST125 (a 125 alone will consume a whole fiddle-yard section). Members seem to think they are dealing with a bucolic steam cross country line and not with a present-day major West-North express line which absorbs passengers and freight from all corners of the country and sees a large number of infrastructure trains from Bescot maintenance depot.
David and I laid track in the fiddle yard and tried to use the turnouts that were available in our “stores” cupboard to complete the job. Great fun is possible trying get an assortment of long, short, straight, curved, left and right and “Y” points to make cohesive and usable fiddle-yard. Full marks to Dave and his ingenuity, as we are slowly got there. Dave does the creative stuff and I laid the straight bits. We are using the tried and trusted method of “suck it and see”, in construction.
As for the operators “well”, we are finding that it would be advisable for:-
a. Me to lose weight or shrink b. to clone Dave as another operator. I feel the best way forward is to employ the younger members of the club, whom, do not suffer the “Ahhh” syndrome when bending and do not have the bumper around the middle as a precaution against accidents.
On Whartson Hall Mk1, I used “Water Orton” as the base because of the huge amount of information, maps, drawings and photos accumulated while building the original 20ft model as I felt that acquiring or creating more detail/information would be counterproductive. Mk No.1 was an exercise in what could be created from the “useful” drawer and was a gift “kit” from me to the club.
The scenic break “constructions” used the road bridge by the station and a hole in the western end scenery (hidden by the embankment and trees) to create the separations needed, but also provided areas for the dissemination of Club propaganda, have to be rebuilt.
Mk2 is a variant of Mk1. It retains the same scenic layout because of operational considerations, “something occurring all the time” be it slow or fast, but it is not a slavish model of Water Orton. Many of the structures originally contemplated may be awkward and time consuming to create and it has a huge numbers of trees (which seem to be problem). On Mk1 I merely created the general topography of the area and left it at that, because there has to be a reason why tracks bend the way they do. Water Orton is as it is because it heads west, goes through a range of low hills and over a river. The M6 sits on the crest of the left side of the “cutting”. The model creation is a convenient track format to allow the most entertaining display of modern traction we can muster. It is a “free-lance” model using the same track-plan. If trees are too much of an effort, then double the size of factory, bring the sewage farm forward a few hundred feet and model the ponds, make the Tame follow the railway further in towards the station before bending away. If we are really desperate, bring a short section of HS2 over the western end to create a scenic break. If we had more room; I toyed with the idea of modelling a “fix” for the delays seen by building a fly-over for the Bescot/Sutton Junction. Maybe we could sell the idea to BR?